This action-research project stemmed from the idea that residents have valuable knowledge that should be part of the process to identify solutions to flooding. The objective was to create a “toolkit” that can be used to implement flood risk reduction strategies in Kibera (and ultimately in other informal settlements) while incorporating these local perspectives.
Informal settlements often proliferate along the waterways of rapidly urbanizing cities like Nairobi.
Around 22,000 Kiberans live within 30 meters of the Ngong River and over 50% of Kibera residents reported that their houses flooded during the 2015 “long” rains. Flooding is just one specific climate risk in Kibera, but it is tied to a much broader set of vulnerability issues, including public health, security, and livelihood.
KDI carried out in-depth consultation and participatory analysis with community groups, nearly 1000 households, and local government.
We modeled flood extents with partners Buro Happold before implementing a drainage and access project that applied a combination of engineering, science, and local knowledge. We then integrated the findings of the research into national and international frameworks and shared with a range of stakeholders in Kenya and more widely.
The resulting toolkit incorporates local community perspectives into flood risk reduction strategies in informal settlements.
It includes community-level data, flood hazard maps created using hydrological and hydraulic modeling and physical surveying, and risk assessments from Kibera, as well as policy recommendations for applying the toolkit around the world.
The project brought together issues of public space, water, sanitation, flooding and watershed remediation from the perspectives of community, while also supporting government engagement.
In addition to the flood extents being used in three City planning exercises and the installation of 40m of new drainage for approximately 300 local residents, the project led to an award-winning publication on “Community Responsive Adaptation” and has informed subsequent research collaborations.