The Bringing Bricks to Kibera project was a pilot project implemented in partnership with Nexon Foundation, the Kibera Public Space Network, and Kibera residents. The project had a two-pronged approach. The first piece was to use bricks as a tool for creative play and participatory design in Kibera, with the ultimate goal of promoting healthy child development, fostering learning, and furthering social interaction. The second step was to enable creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration through play in designated, clean, and safe play spaces called "Playbazes" ("baze" being Nairobi slang for "hangout spot").
In Nairobi's informal settlements, where approximately one million children reside, there are extremely limited options for not just basics, but also accessible and affordable childcare, safe spaces, and time for play. The built environment is key in providing these opportunities for children who spend up to 40% of their waking time outside of school and the home. This time could be designed to provide an enriching experience and promote child development.
KDI partnered with Kibera residents and Kibera Public Space CBOs, including a school and its students, on a series of co-design engagements that helped identify challenges and potential solutions with regard to play, learning through play, and childcare in various neighborhoods. These engagements included community meetings, focus group discussions, mapping, and a photo frame exercise that culminated into fixed and mobile "Playbazes." The Playbazes were mainly operated and maintained by the community who underwent training to support the Playbaze activities and operations. During its pilot phase, the project measured its impacts on children, their families, and the wider Kibera community on multiple levels.
The Bringing Bricks to Kibera project provided an opportunity for creative play through Playbazes. These neighborhood-serving Playbazes were located at two of the existing Productive Public Spaces and one school through the Kibera Public Space Project Network to support brick play and other forms of creativity and learning. These Playbazes aligned with school times and different age needs, allowing for ongoing, curriculum-based learning through play. To support these fixed versions of the Playbazes, the mobile Playbaze moves easily and can be temporarily set up in various neighborhoods that lack playspaces.
The Playbazes and accompanying use of bricks provided improved access to opportunities for creative play and development for children. The project also supported caregivers through child care services at the Playbazes to lighten their caregiving responsibilities and provide them with income-generating opportunities. Overall, the project had a positive impact on Kibera's children and families, as well as the wider community, by providing safe and accessible spaces for children to play and learn, promoting healthy child development, and empowering the community to improve their built environment.