Towards more inclusive urban planning in Udon Thani (Thailand) and Nakuru (Kenya)
Principal Investigator:

Dr Diane Archer, Stiftelsen The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)


Nakuru County Government, Kenya

Udon Thani Municipality, Thailand

Local communities in Udon Thani and Nakuru


SEI’s City Health and Wellbeing (CHeW) initiative is exploring the linkages between urban form and the health and mental well-being status of its residents. Walking and enabling active transport has previously been shown to be an important determinant of this as it enables urban dwellers to live a healthy lifestyle and identify with their neighbourhoods, while also promoting a low-carbon lifestyle. SHLC capacity building funds were used to support the CHeW initiative in undertaking research at the neighbourhood scale to further explore these linkages and to collect non-traditional data on exposure to pollutants and irritants (air pollution and noise) to inform urban planning processes.

The project team carried out several key activities:

Udon Thani’s residents were asked about their experiences and challenges in walking around the neighbourhood and for suggestions to improve their walking habits. The team used two interactive methods: photovoice and mental mapping, to understand the enablers and barriers to walking.

Envisioning A Greener Healthier Kaptembwa Together: A Stakeholder workshop was held, related to Integrated Urban Nature Planning in Nakuru City’s Kaptembwa Settlement. This involved public and Non-State actors and Kaptembwa’s residents. The workshop was a feedback and discussion session of the results collected through a PGIS survey aimed at highlighting stressful spaces as well as areas where people relax, exercise and socialise.

This project expands SHLC’s research focus into new country and city sites, in addition to producing societal impacts by pushing for inclusive visions of city building to planners and policymakers. Specifically, citizens/city residents played a central role in the study which aimed to understand how participatory monitoring through citizen science can usefully improve on sparse data on drivers of health and wellbeing in urban settings. The work also pushed for participatory workshops with local policy makers, planners and residents working together to foster inclusive urban futures.

The Nakuru workshop provided an opportunity to commonly identify opportunities and challenges for planning of green infrastructure which is key in promoting equitable resilience in informal settlements housing the urban poor. This contributes to SHLC’s two focus areas of sustainable cities and communities and good health and wellbeing.

Credit: SEI Asia


The objectives were met in the following manner.

In Nakuru, there was co-designing of the vision where urban planners, policy makers and residents collectively settled on the area’s vision: “Clean, Safe and Accessible outdoor spaces situated within a community with infrastructure and services which is driven to improve and sustain their wellbeing.”

The opportunity for the policy makers and the local community residents to share a platform to exchange ideas and local knowledge associated with the identified urban spaces greatly contributed to the inclusivity and sustainability of the proposed visions


  • Udon Thani community workshop 1: 7 November 2021, 18 participants (all community residents)
  • Udon Thani community workshop 2: 8 November 2021, 33 participants (all community residents)
  • Udon Thani policy workshop: 12 November 2021, approximately 20 participants (all municipal staff including the head of the Public Works division)
  • Nakuru Kaptembwa informal settlement workshop: 28-29 July 2021, 11 participants on day 1 and 13 on day 2 (community residents plus SEI team)
  • Nakuru County Government workshop: 1 December 2021.

Contributions to challenges in low and middle-income countries (LMICs)

Importance of green spaces: the activities gave an opportunity for urban residents, urban planners and policy makers to appreciate and reflect on the important function of green spaces in climate resilience and health.

Creative and innovative green spaces provision: the participants were able to identify possible areas and mechanisms of increasing green infrastructure in the area by highlighting and mapping out various spaces and how they can be transformed into useful green spaces.

Consultative platforms: though local planners are limited with the local normative urban planning handbook, the city planners appreciated the possibility of having adaptive planning standards which can consider the local green space needs by having flexible standards which can accommodate the needs of the urban poor and also expanding this to the larger part of the city.

The appreciation of the multi-disciplinary approach to provision of sustainable urban spaces was also appreciated as the contributions from the health, environment and governance experts were useful in generation of functional and sustainable spaces such as green infrastructure.


Udon Thani:

  • Raised awareness of urban residents of the different ways in which they can perceive and interact with their urban environments and the relationship to their wellbeing.
  • Identified roadblocks to accessing green spaces and improving walkability at the neighbourhood level.
  • Brought together policy stakeholders from different departments (public health, municipality, public works, environment department), helping to address silos.
  • Communicated results of participatory workshops to policymakers to identify barriers and solutions.
  • Created opportunities for more participatory planning processes which take specific account of the particular needs of marginalised populations such as the elderly and the urban poor, through participatory visioning workshops.


  • Raised awareness of the policy makers and urban residents on the importance of urban green infrastructure.
  • Developed a common vision of provision of functional and safe open spaces.
  • Communicated results of the residents’ workshop and snapshot of previous results in linking the importance of green infrastructure status and need for urban planning interventions.
  • Creation of collaborative platform which brought together various policy stakeholders and organisations in identifying opportunities and the need for working together across the departments and organisations based on mandates and existing strengths.
Credit: SEI Asia

Project Outputs

Udon Thani:


The team is in the process of working on related articles.

Local Involvement

Udon Thani:

The team built on existing networks in the municipality and the municipal council, who helped in identifying the problem areas relevant to the communities and participants / communities to attend the workshops. They worked with community leaders who have experience in mobilising communities


In collaboration with local partners (Nakuru County Government), the team reached out to the local leadership and community members to identify community representatives and organisations supporting community initiatives. The project partnered with the Nakuru County Government Department of Environment in facilitating the residents’ workshop. There was also active participation of the private sector, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the workshop and especially in deriving of the green infrastructure provision vision.

Credit: SEI Asia

Future Activities

In both cities the project team will be continuing City Health and Wellbeing project activities until the end of 2023, with a focus on synthesising the methodologies and findings applied, the lessons learnt, and the implications for further use by planners and city stakeholders in other secondary cities globally.


  1. Working with both the County Government of Nakuru’s Department of Environment and Nakuru Municipality in influencing of the budgetary allocation for provision and maintenance of green infrastructure facilities in Nakuru city.
  2. Organising for a citywide green infrastructure seminar beyond the identified pilot settlement of Kaptembwa.
  3. Exploring the opportunities for inclusive urban governance which takes into account the concerns of the residents and other urban stakeholders.

Capacity Strengthening

Communities: Through the use of simple data collection/evidence the project created awareness for solving communal problems. The community members were surprised by their own ability to use a map to detail the location of their environmental problems and opportunities for expansion provision of green infrastructure in their neighbourhoods.

Local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs):  In Nakuru, using citizen science for constructive engagement with service providers, the capacity of local partners (e.g. Umande Trust) to collect evidence was enhanced. They noted that they are used to advocacy without engaging with the government and local authorities. The project’s form of interaction with both the government and community was effective in identification of the problems and creation of solutions which makes it easy for sustainable interventions.

Professional bodies interest in green infrastructure: Kenya Institute of Planners (KIP) became interested in the form of platform used by SEI in bringing the community and the government agencies together to discuss green infrastructure planning but also with the opportunity for adaptive planning standards for provision of green infrastructure in urban areas.