Nairobi, Kenya – Friday, October 13, 2023 - In a momentous collaborative effort, the University of Nairobi (UoN) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) have officially launched the Centre for Urban-Rural Linkages in Africa (CURLA), marking a significant step toward bridging the urban-rural divide and promoting integrated and sustainable development across the continent.

CURLA, with its mission to foster mutual urban-rural relations, innovative urban and territorial development, and ecological sustainability, is poised to become a hub for research, policy dialogue, capacity building, mentoring of youth, and collaborative efforts among various development actors. The Centre will be housed within the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the Faculty of Built Environment and Design at the University of Nairobi.

The launch of CURLA follows the successful conclusion of the research project titled "COVID-19 Impacts on Transportation of Food and Related Commodities in the Urban-Rural Nexus." This project was a joint initiative by UN-Habitat and the University of Nairobi, which delved into the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the spatial interactions and flow of food and related commodities between urban and rural areas in Africa. CURLA is a legacy outcome of this research project, conceived based on the recommendations derived from its findings. The centre's official website can be found at

Ambassador Jean Kimani, who graced the event as the Chief Guest, lauded the dedicated team of researchers for their groundbreaking work and their commitment to disseminating their findings globally. She expressed her unwavering confidence in the University's capabilities to effectively implement and diligently pursue CURLA's objectives.

Prof. Stephen Kiama, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, expressed his enthusiasm during the launch event, stating, "Today, we celebrate the culmination of the COVID-19 Impacts on Transportation of Food and Related Commodities in the Urban-Rural Nexus (COVID-19ITFCURN) Project. The insights garnered from this project laid the foundation for the inception of CURLA at the University of Nairobi. The project was a collaborative effort involving a team of researchers and practitioners from the University of Nairobi, University of Gaston de St Louis du Senegal, University of Zimbabwe, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, the Ministry of Housing of the Government of the Republic of Cameroon, and Niger State in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, alongside UN-Habitat. A total of five countries participated in this project, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Senegal. CURLA will provide a long-term institutional framework for partnership in research, policy dialogue, outreach, capacity building, and planning on urban-rural linkages in Africa."

Mr. Oumar Sylla, Regional Representative for Africa at UN-Habitat, also spoke at the launch event, emphasizing, "UN-Habitat is proud to join hands with the University of Nairobi on this and other initiatives. We share the belief that by strengthening urban-rural linkages, we can enhance livelihoods, protect the environment, and foster the development of sustainable cities and communities. UN-Habitat is committed to using CURLA as a vehicle to further its partnership with UoN, Kenya, and Africa. I encourage all of us to actively participate in shaping the activities of this Centre."

During the launch, the project leads from the University of Nairobi, Prof. Isaac Karanja, and Dr. Remy Sietchiping from UN-Habitat provided a comprehensive overview of the "Road to CURLA" and offered background information on the findings from the participating countries. They detailed how these findings will inform policy development and bring about transformative change across the African continent. The project components aimed to deepen the understanding of the potential challenges and opportunities within Urban-Rural Linkages systems and practices in the case study countries, and these lessons are now the bedrock for the establishment of the Centre for Urban-Rural Linkages in Africa at the University of Nairobi.

CURLA represents a beacon of hope for Africa, signifying a dedication to creating a more sustainable and equitable future for all Africans. By strengthening connections between urban and rural areas, CURLA holds the potential to generate employment, enhance access to essential services, and boost agricultural productivity.

The Centre is a clarion call to action for policymakers, practitioners, and academics to unite in crafting a more inclusive and prosperous Africa, where urban and rural areas thrive in harmony.