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IDEO's Amplify program grants funding and design support to organizations with early-stage solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems, choosing its winners from a series of innovation challenges. During a recent Amplify Open IDEO challenge, which focused on how urban slum communities might become more resilient to the effects of climate change, IDEO.org selected KDI for its “Rivers and Peoples Plan:Re-imagining the waterways of Nairobi, Kenya through learning, building, and a network of flood resilience,” which will focus on KDI's work in the productive public spaces (PPS) of Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Nairobi.
With the support of IDEO.org, KDI wants to showcase how communities can create awareness of flood risk and thus generate resilience along its riparian zone, which will not only link and strengthen Kibera's multi-sited PPS network but also identify potential public spaces along the river. KDI plans to do this by installing tree prototypes in the physical space of the community, allowing us to investigate how public spaces can be used as local hubs to share information, unite the community, and strengthen preventive actions towards common crises. The prototypes will consist of:
- A flag to warn and inform better decisions
- A mural to tell community stories and educate kids about flooding
- A phone communication group to create early warnings and more efficient communication around flooding
Together, these three physical prototypes will allow for deeper engagement with Kibera PPS communities, revitalizing local public spaces, boosting place-making processes, and strengthening site identity. Once in place, this system will enhance the communication and information exchange within individual PPS communities and across the PPS Network, providing the foundation for informed social and political discussion around flooding and other common crises. KDI will test the prototypes within a number of strategic sites located along the river. Based on their effectiveness, KDI will select future protoype locations later decide how to expand the system to other existing and/or potential PPS sites within the network.
Alongside IDEO and community residents, KDI will strengthen Kibera's existing PPS and enhance the area's larger PPS network by providing the community tools for collecting, sharing, and integrating “hard data” and stories about local flooding. KDI plans to gather enough research to create a community voice too loud to ignore, enabling residents to benefit from the natural gathering and exchange points for living data made available through the PPS, simultaneously creating a framework for facilitating the community's development of future plans.
The data gathered from on-the-ground testing, combined with advocacy for communicating flood-risk to residents, will allow government and external bodies to spur interest in and momentum towards implementation of the framework in future upgradings. By investigating how public space can be used as a medium for river remediation and climate change adaptation, governments and local communities will also be able to provide better infrastructure provisions, improve local services, generate local opportunities, and engage in an alternative approach to mass displacement that ensures safe housing and limited environmental risk.