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Nairobi 2050

Water Equilibrium 

Project City

Nairobi, Kenya

Student Name

Zien Chen

Qinyuan Tan




As a result of global climate change, Nairobi in 2035 must confront increased seasonal variability in precipitation and higher land surface temperatures. This reality has led to disparate periods of both prolonged drought without water and heavy precipitation with abundant water throughout Nairobi. Compounding this situation is Nairobi’s projected population boom—14-million residents by 2050, up from 4.5-million in 2020—which likely means the city will have to grow towards the east.


However, lands to the east of the city are lower in elevation and more savanna-like in their landscape—drier and hotter—making their occupation extremely challenging. Furthermore, due to climate change, increasing areas of savanna not only undergo serious desertification during the prolonged drought but also suffer from severe erosion and scouring during periods of heavy precipitation. This vicious circle caused by seasonal water imbalance continuously exacerbates the ecological degradation in the savanna region and dramatically decreases its suitability for living.


Challenged by both degraded landscape and water imbalance, the Kenyan and Nairobi governments have chosen to launch a Water Equilibrium & Conservation Project (WECP) supported by the Pan-African Union, which not only develops a regime of savanna settlements adapted for the oscillation between the abundance of water and the absence of water, but also copes with the desertification problem common around areas of new settlement.


During the rainy seasons, these newly constructed settlements manage to harness a large amount of water through various water infrastructures and cultivate the degraded land with modified plants that limit erosion and desertification. During the dry seasons, these new settlements  redistribute water collected in the rainy season and create or maintain areas of intensified habitat through automated irrigation systems. The residents of each development are employed in activities intended to manage water and experiment on anti-drought plants capable of protecting the savanna against desertification and water erosion.


Maruja is a new-arrived scientist employed by WECP. Our story is about the contrast daily life for Maruja in the rainy and dry seasons in their new home.


Click on the button and zoom to detail




The name “Nairobi” comes from the Maasai phrase 'Enkare Nyrobi', which translates to “cool water”. The area Nairobi currently occupies was essentially uninhabited swamp until a supply depot of the Uganda Railway was built by the British in 1899 linking Mombasa to Uganda.

Flooding in Nairobi in May, 2020

Nairobi, Kenya Climate Graph (Altitude 1798m)


In the era of climate change, it is predicted that the flooding periods will last shorter. However, the natural flow regulation reduces across most of the basin in future time periods, resulting in increased seasonal variability in flows and potentially larger floods, the expected increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events will amplify the destructive impacts of climatic shocks in the urban area.

Predicted Nairobi, Kenya Climate Graph (Altitude 1798m)



Nairobi’s growth can largely be traced back to the arrival of the railway system in 1890, when the British were busy connecting parts of its empire by building a railroad from Mombasa on Kenya's coast to the neighboring colony -- Uganda.

With an elevation of 5,889 feet above sea level, the area was chosen as a stopover point due to its cool temperature and the availability of food and water. In 1899 Nairobi was founded by the colonial authorities as a rail depot on the Uganda Railway.

Nairobi Railway from past to present


The new railway--Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway line is supported and financed by the Chinese Government, connecting Mombasa and Nairobi, the railway line is designed to carry 22 million tonnes a year of cargo or a projected 40% of Mombasa Port throughput by 2035. The railway line opened in 2017 and celebrated 1,000 days of operation in February 2020.

Slide Show




Nairobi County’s population growth rate stands at 3.8% as compared to the national rate of 2.1%

This coupled with a further 4.36% annual urbanization rate. Meanwhile, 60 % of Nairobi’s residents live in informal settlements now.




The landscape on the east side of Nairobi has been 90% developed, so new settlements are more likely to develop on the west side of Nairobi which is the savanna area, hotter and lower in elevation.


Rapid population growth is exacerbating the existing problems of imbalance between human numbers and available arable land, leading to deforestation, inappropriate land use and farming practices, thus the landscape is degrading faster now than it was in 1988.



Rainy Season






The Railway+ is the new, fast transportation, it reduces the impact for the ground landcover and ensures long-distance travel between different settlements and large cities.

The citizens in the new settlement start to follow special water regimes. They have personal water credits to control the use of water. Besides, new fashion activities have occurred under the new regime, for example, people have to do spa before they go outside in dry seasons. 


Slide Show

New settlement manages water in different ways. The roadway can be part of the water sewage system. In the wet seasons, the roadway goes down, allowing water to go through. The buses - the matatus also adjust to such change and transform to be amphibious vehicles.


Slide Show

When planting periods begin, some staff go out of the inverted pyramid and head to the planting land near the urban space in the savanna area. They will control the 8G signal tower and irrigate the land.

Overview of new settlement


Copyright Christopher Marcinkoski, 2020