OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Designing Public Spaces for Neighbourhood Resilience through Social Cohesion

Support informal settlement (Korogocho Ward in Nairobi) to improve designing and development of public spaces for improved social cohesion

Photo of Kevin Mugenya
2 2

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Problem: Limited well designed public spaces for social cohesion in Korogocho hence weak resilience of its inhabitants. Idea: Public space provides room for social and cultural interaction and can foster a sense of belonging and pride in an area. A public space that is open to all, regardless of ethnic origin, age or gender, provides a democratic forum for citizens and society. Public space can bring communities together, provide meeting places and foster social ties. How does it work: Through inclusive participatory urban design, identify common public spaces within Korogocho that have the potential to improve social cohesion of its inhabitat and as a result reduce improve on safety and security of community especially children who are the most vulnerable. By improving on safety and security of the inhabitats through social cohesion, it provides a foundation for resilience building in the urban neighbourhood. The benefits of a well designed public space has impact on improving the environment and public health of an urban neighbourhood. Solving the problem:Public space is important for the marginalized urban poor since it has the ability to foster integration between different socio-economic groups. Improving access to good public spaces for the most vulnerable urban residents is a powerful tool to improve equity and promote inclusion. Public space is important for recreation, social, cultural and economic developement of urban poor hence imporve thei resilience

WHO BENEFITS?

Beneficiaries? The community as a whole benefits from public spaces, however, the most vulnerable are often children and women in using public spaces to access various basic urban services and goods necessary for their well being. The project is anchored on inclusive participatory design and planning of public spaces with children and women being a primary target. The project is to be implemented in Korogocho Ward, one of the informal settlements within Nairobi City.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

The idea aims to build on efforts by the government on urban slum upgrading and drawing on other partners who are working in the area as well as drawing expertise from UN-Habitat with whom we have worked with in the same area. The idea takes into account the design principles of this course. It emphasizes more on the following – designing with, not for through inclusive participatory approaches; Design for gender equity – women are a primary target beneficiary; Consider the system – the idea clearly understands the mandate and role of each of the institutions responsible for resilience with emphasis on the principle of subsidiarity when it comes to strengthening resilience; & it plans for the ordinary challenges for instance solid waste management that have an impact on resilience.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am the Urban Technical Specialist for World Vision Kenya as well as support our global office on Urban programming - the Center of Expertise Urban programming in advancing urban programming within the organization

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

Its a recent idea for our urban programming portfolio but builds onto what we already do with communities in urban neighbourhoods but from a sector based perspective. The uniqueness of this approach is that it uses public spaces as a point of entry to promote social cohesion which is one of the crucial bedrock of strengthening Urban Resilience of Neighbourhoods. This work build’s onto some processes we have started in Korogocho and Kariobangi around public spaces, specifically focusing on 3 key areas – first, promoting clean public spaces through our youth empowerment through solid waste programme(2 .5 years of Implementation); Secondly, in partnership with UN-Habitat and Nairobi City County, documented a model for promoting schools as safe centres in urban neighbourhoods;and thirdly, children empowerment program as agents of change for safer cities – a focus on children’s voices in urban planning of public spaces

HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?

This innovative approach tackles urban resilience using public spaces, a setting for a multitude of activities for community life and livelihoods. Public spaces within poor urban neighbourhoods are actually the most vulnerable places for the poor, its where you find most crimes happening, illegal waste dumped & used as sanitation hence public health and environmental problems; yet it is in these public spaces if well designed and managed that they become key assets for a City’s functioning and has a positive impact on its economy, environment, safety, health, integration and connectivity. Therefore, well designed and managed public spaces reduces the vulnerability of the residents of urban neighbourhoods and as a result strengthens social cohesion on which you build on to create public spaces for economic development, clean and healthy environment thus reduced diseases of resulting from poor public health, and enhances safety especially the most vulnerable in accessing public goods and services hence the well-being of the society. In summary, it presents an opportunity for a holistic approach to address neighbourhood resilience as opposed to household resilience hence sustainable

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

How to build on already existing or on going work by other partners who may be working on the same area but with a different philosophy and approach to development

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

Much of the efforts to promote urban resilience has focused more at household level and given the reality of mobility in urban (cities) contexts, they move to better areas and there spaces are filled by other vulnerable people - hence a cyclic and as a result not sustainable. Using public spaces, approached urban resilience from a neighbourhood point of view and targets to address through an integrated and holistic approach critical drawbacks to resilience in these public spaces hence a more sustainable approach with community ownership. Individual household resilience should build onto neighbourhood resilience and not the reverse.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?

It is clear from the urban lessons we are realizing after years of implementating programmes in urban areas and the feedback from the variou segements of society we work with (children, youths, women, men) - participatory urban planning, designing and management of public spaces is fundamental to building urban resilience. The most vulnerable, that is, children, are actually never involved in urban planning yet they have very innovative and informative insiights that would strengthen and improve urban resilience. Youth on the other hand feel they have not been adequately been involved in urban development, yet they provide a very good labour market force and with very innovative ideas that would add a lot of value if incorporated in urban planning, designing and manaement of public spaces.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

The ultimate achievement is strengthening social cohesion of the urban poor communities through public spaces and as a result build urban neighbourhood resilience. I think the next steps will involve identification of key threats in public spaces hence drawbacks to resilience within Korogocho through participation of the various segments of community members. At least for children has been done - youths and women should be the next once.

2 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on making it to the Feedback Phase Kevin! We would love it if you can take some time to answer the new Refinement questions that we've added to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Also, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 11/16" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

View all comments