Community vitality and frugal practices in informal settlements in Nairobi: Towards a typology

Jan Fransen*, Beatrice Hati, Rosebella Nyumba, Erwin van Tuijl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


While community vitality is of increasing importance, it remains understudied. This study explores community vitality in informal settlements by turning to the concept of frugal practices, defined as activities to develop and implement low-cost robust solutions that address communities' needs within resource-constrained contexts. Based on literature and case study analysis in Nairobi, we define community vitality as dynamic relationships between residents and other local actors to cope with uncertainty and to meet community goals. The study finds that community vitality in informal settlements is indicated by strong bonding among community actors searching for affordable practices to overcome resource constraints. The study introduces three types of community vitality. Poverty-driven community vitality plays a crucial role in survival but is likely to offer low levels of community control and poor-quality services. Robust community vitality offers informal settlers more control, but opportunities remain isolated within the confines of informality. Dynamic community vitality enables the improvement of living and working conditions in strong and open partnerships. We recommend upgrading practitioners to acknowledge and support robust and dynamic community vitality. The challenge lies in dealing with poverty-driven community vitality, which requires addressing power abuse and poor-quality services while maintaining frugal functionalities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104179
Number of pages9
Issue number104179
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Vital Cities and Citizens of Erasmus University Rotterdam and the International Centre for Frugal Innovation of Leiden, Delft and Erasmus University .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors

Research programs

  • ISS-CI


Dive into the research topics of 'Community vitality and frugal practices in informal settlements in Nairobi: Towards a typology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this