In 2006, six design students traveled to Kibera, Nairobi, for a summer project. There, they began working with residents to design and activate a network of Productive Public Spaces that could meet their physical, social and economic needs. The network continues to grow and build resilience across the settlement today.
Home to around 250,000 residents, Kibera is characterized by crowded conditions, a lack of waste disposal and sanitation services, high unemployment and crime rates and severe flooding.
Yet despite these economic, social and environmental challenges, Kibera also has many assets: entrepreneurship, a strong social fabric, and extensive community activism.
The process to develop each site in the KPSP network is completely collaborative, connecting local assets with extant resources.
We work with community groups and residents to design built components through an iterative series of workshops, while providing business and leadership training to help them program and manage each completed site.
The KPSP sites are hubs of cultural exchange, economic activity, and environmental remediation.
They provide water, sanitation, and laundry facilities, and reduce flood risk through green infrastructure and flood protection. Resident-managed programs, many led by women and other marginalized groups, generate income to maintain the sites while building residents’ skills.
The KPSP network has transformed polluted, unsafe sites into vibrant assets, building community resilience and capacity while remediating the entire watershed.
Women and youth in particular benefit from income-generating opportunities and increased security. Together, the sites anchor a network of leaders who share knowledge and skills to effect widespread change.