realising urban NbS

Realising urban Nature-based Solutions (r u NbS) is a collaborative initiative led by KDI Kenya and supported by our partner the Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The project, funded by SwedBio, aims to build practical evidence for the uptake, efficiency, adaptability, and scalability of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for water management in urban informal settlements in East Africa.

Around this initiative we have set up a Regional Community of Practice for East Africa on NbS, urban green infrastructure, and ecosystem-based adaptation to support further collaboration and knowledge exchange across the region.


An overhead shot of Mukuru kwa Reuben, Nairobi, one of the seven NbS project site locations.
Informal settlements in East Africa face severe impacts from climate change, compounded by lacking and inadequate conventional water management infrastructure, which leads to recurrent devastating floods and increased risks to livelihoods and ecosystems. The project recognizes NbS as key to addressing these challenges through climate change adaptation when integrated with traditional infrastructure solutions.


Mukuru kwa Reuben residents engage in a participatory design process during a community workshop.
KDI and CCI collaborate with residents in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam to co-design and implement adaptive NbS through community-led approaches and knowledge transfer while applying gender inclusivity and human rights-based approaches to planning and design. A Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) framework is applied to track and assess the NbS interventions continually, providing a knowledge base on the design and management required for their implementation in similar contexts. The program further intends to influence the integration of NbS at scale through a participatory planning process called ‘Rivers and People plan,’ co-developed with residents and city actors to influence policy on how rivers are shaped by and for the people while contributing to river and ecosystem services regeneration.


Community residents address water management challenges with NbS at the Bridge International Academy project site in Mukuru kwa Reuben, Nairobi.
The project aims to leverage learning from residents and local governments to ensure practice and policy impact, as well as academic contribution. Incorporating urban nature, green infrastructure, and Nature-based Solutions to flooding issues prevalent in the planning process of informal settlements, the project emphasizes resident-driven gender-equitable informal settlement improvements, as evidenced by initiatives like the Mukuru Special Planning process in Nairobi.


At the St. John’s Community School project site in Kibera, Nairobi, residents tackle water management challenges with NbS like filter drains, permeable paving, infiltration tanks, green landscaping, and rain gardens.
Since 2019, the project has co-developed and built seven project sites in four unplanned settlements in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, integrating over 17 NbS. Multiple data collection cycles have been conducted on interventions implemented between 2019 and 2023. Rivers + People plans are being co-developed in five informal settlements in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. The project's findings and learning have been shared at various fora, including the IUCN World Conservation Congress, Rise Africa, Africities, and the UN Biodiversity Conference 15 in Montreal. The project has also initiated a multi-actor regional community of practice with interested collaborators in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania in the fields of community service, infrastructure, urban planning and management, construction, and risk and resilience management.