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Ex-marathon star calls for re-branding of Nairobi

26 June 2013, 14:20 Ben Ochieng

Nairobi - Kenya's first world marathon champion has called for the re-branding of the city of Nairobi in order to make it safer so that it can bid for major sporting events.

Douglas Wakiihuri, who won the world marathon title in 1987 in Rome, said on Tuesday during the launch of the Safer Nairobi Initiative in Nairobi that safety is paramount when considering bids by host cities and therefore should be upheld.

"Most marathons take place in cities. Kenya is one country that should not miss in the world of sports owing to the vast contribution it has made in global sports and therefore needs to host as many sporting events as possible," the 50-year old veteran runner said.

No other male Kenyan runner had ever won the marathon at the World Championships or Olympic Games until 2007, when Luke Kibet became a world champion.

Wakiihuri subsequently went on to win the silver medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, the London Marathon in 1989 and the New York Marathon in 1990.

The initiative, which is being undertaken in collaboration with the United Nations Habitat, aims at making Nairobi free from violence and crime.

Safer Cities Programme was launched in 1996 with an initial focus in Africa and at the request of African mayors who were concerned by the extent of violence within their cities and wanted help with the development of prevention strategies at city level.

Wakiihuri called upon the residents of Nairobi to be law abiding in order to make the city a safe haven and hence attract investments that can improve their living standards.

"We should not hide behind the fact that crime and violence is not unique to Nairobi, and that no city in the world is spared of the menace, but should instead do the best we can to reduce its prevalence."

The UN-Habitat has been championing the program under the Global Network on Safer Cities drive, with the goal of equipping local authorities and urban stakeholders to deliver urban safety, thus securing the urban benefits for all.

Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) Joan Clos said urban design, planning and management play a big role in minimizing risks and thus enhances security.

"There is great need to address violence in city streets and other public spaces. Crime and the fear of crime is one of the most influential factors in our daily lives; dictating where we choose to live, where to go and where to work," the Spanish national said.

- Xinhua

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