A PLANNING-BASED APPROACH TO ADDRESS FIRE DISASTERS IN VIETNAM VILLAGE IN MUKURU KWA NJENGA

ABSTRACT

Fire disasters were identified through the previously consolidated research project as the main disaster affecting Vietnam village in Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum. The research project also yielded other findings such as, though fire was indeed the most frequently occurring disaster in Vietnam village, other disasters such as disease outbreaks, forceful evictions and floods were also identified. The main causes of fire were identified as illegal electricity connections, use of stoves, candles & paraffin lamps and carelessness. It was also identified that fire spread rapidly within the settlement due to factors such as poor electricity connections, flammable building materials, overcrowding, storage of flammables and furniture. The main impacts of disasters were identified as loss and damage to property, homelessness and diseases. The coping mechanisms in the event of fire disasters were identified as often only responsive in nature and not indicating any prior preparedness. The findings pointed to weak policy framework, poverty and lack of disaster management knowledge as the contributors to the low levels of disaster preparedness in Vietnam village.

As a result of these findings, several recommendations were put forward in the research project including the establishment of fire disaster management infrastructure, community awareness programs on fire safety and prevention and also linking Vietnam village to city services. Out of all these recommendations, the establishment of fire disaster management infrastructure has been selected for development in this project. This recommendation has been modeled in a small portion of the settlement.

 

Literature on relevant policies, plans, official documents and case studies were reviewed with the aim of highlighting planning standards and regulations to guide this study. On the Kenyan scene, the physical Planning Act, the Fire Safety Policy of Kenya, the National Housing Policy and the physical Planning handbook have been discussed in light of the project title. The global standards reviewed include the MANTAG standards, and those in the Metric and Neufert handbooks. Relevant case studies have also provided relevant lessons to guide this development project.  Finally, a conceptual framework has been developed that serves as the guide to the actual development of the project.

The study area has been analyzed and its characteristics discussed in detail. The fire risks identified include the overcrowdedness of the house structures, the poor condition of the road network, lack of fire disaster preparedness knowledge, the storage of flammables within the houses and use of flammable building materials. The opportunity that exists in the project area for addressing fire safety is the presence of a large open space at Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School.

The occurrence of fire in the project area if no intervention is adopted to address fire risks is modeled showing the need for planning. In response to this need, three alternatives have been developed. The first alternative proposes the total demolition and redevelopment of the project area while the second proposes a purely community education approach. The final alternative, which is the preferred plan, is a hybrid of the two previous alternatives. This preferred alternative has been developed in detail through detailed action plans, implementation schedules and guidelines for monitoring and evaluation.