“Infrastructure is the cornerstone of modern society. From the supply of energy and water, and the treatment of waste, to the provision of effective healthcare and education services, it is infrastructure that enables society to function effectively, grow and prosper.” (The Importance of Infrastructure for Development, UNOPS, IMPG Publications, May 2017)
During my time at UNOPS I have learned that infrastructure is more than just an asset. More specifically, I have come to understand the importance of infrastructure as a means of providing access; access for individuals to reach the marketplace and services, access for farmers to bring their yields to market and access to potable water sources. Having the proper infrastructures in place to create points of access is essential in creating food and economically secures regions, as well as creating environments which foster healthier and happier citizens.
Being in Nairobi for the rainy season has brought to light many Transport infrastructure inadequacies. In many areas, I have noticed that the roadways are starting to crumble and become perforated with many potholes. I have been told that the poor road quality is due to the lack of proper drainage systems alongside the road. Essentially, when we experience a heavy rainfall, the rainwater has nowhere to go, the water sits on the tarmac and penetrates the material making it weak and susceptible to great damage.
Apart from the mass damage done to the roads, I have been learning about how flooding paired with inadequate infrastructure has had a major negative impact on the overall well-being and health of Kenyan citizens. For example, many of my taxi drives have shared with me stories of how flooding has hindered their ability to do farming. Some stated that during the rainy season the roads would flood, collapse, and they would no longer be able to bring their yield to market. As a result, farming is no longer a variable option for bringing in income and they have had to come to Nairobi in seek of more sustainable forms of employment.
One of my drivers told me something about the effects of flooding that I did not expect. He said, that since the water pools and has nowhere to go, that it brings many mosquitos, thus the spread of diseases like malaria become rampant; and it is diseases like this that can severely harm the lives of vulnerable people (ex. children and elderly).
Overall, I have learned how many infrastructures are connected and that the assets are more resilient when they work together in a cohesive manner (ex. tarmacked roadways paired with drainage systems). Importantly, I have learned that properly set up infrastructures are essential for people to be able to have access to livelihood and social opportunities, to reduce the impacts of severe weathers and to be protected from harm (ex. disease). #qescholars