Kibera Public Space
Project 03 (KPSP 03)
Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, if not Africa, and is infamous for its scale, location, history, and degraded conditions. Kibera is just four kilometers from downtown Nairobi and occupies a space two-thirds the size of New York City's Central Park. Kibera has no formal trash collection system and limited sanitation facilities. Many residents live on less than USD$1 a day and unemployment and crime rates are high. Land tenure is precarious and housing density leaves little traditional open space for children to play or communities to gather. KDI recognizes that poverty in Kibera involves a complex set of interconnected problems — financial, environmental, physical, political, and social — but also acknowledges Kibera's assets: community activism, informal economies and entrepreneurship.
In early 2011, KDI identified a space in Kibera for a third Public Space Project. Requests for proposals were evaluated and two community-partner organizations were chosen in Spring 2011. The site lies along the river that runs through the settlement and is located in the Southwest part of Kibera. There are two large riverbanks that flood with water during the rainy season. The site is used for waste disposal throughout the year. Located on a hillside, poor drainage along the access roads greatly decreases residents' pedestrian access to and from their houses. The river is currently used as a play area for children, a laundry area for families, and gathering area for nearby residents despite pollution. An existing bridge connects the two banks of the project.
During summer 2011 the KDI Kenya team conducted numerous community workshops with residents and the community-partners to prioritize needs, create design solutions, and explore micro-enterprise opportunities at the site. The resulting project design includes: a poultry farm, improved drainage, flood control, a community center to house a school and health clinic, kiosks, and a playground.
Construction began in Fall 2011 by improving the drainage channel along the main road that connects to the bridge crossing the river. Gabion construction began in September 2011 with excavation and leveling of land. Gabions were constructed from stone and wire and are covered in a layer of cement to encourage their use for recreation and leisure. The playground, constructed from locally sourced lumber and recycled metal, consists of three shaded play spaces, a slide, swing set, fire pole, drum tunnel, see-saw, and balance-beam. The poultry farm, community center, and kiosk construction began in Spring 2012. During the kiosk construction KDI hit a natural spring as the foundation area was being excavated. Unfortunately, the kiosk was reduced in half because of construction limitations, but the spring provided a new and exciting amenity for the site. With the help of Summer 2012 interns, a spring box was designed to capture the spring water and bring it down to a landing pad for residents to use the clean water to wash their laundry. What came out of an accident is now one of the most used components on the site. In addition, artist Helen Lessick worked with local sign painters to create plaques for the site that would add color and information to the site taking the complex relationship of soil to food production, community health, and ecology.
KPSP 03 was launched in December 2012.