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Left to right: KDI's Prisca and Teresia with Andolo community members Esther and Prisca at the KPSP10 opening ceremony

Hello friends,  

Happy 2020! To kick off the year, we’re sharing the stories of two very special community partners: Esther and Amada. Their accomplishments and vision for the future serve as huge inspiration to all of us as we look ahead to the next decade.

Wishing all of you a very happy, healthy 2020 - now let’s get to work!


Esther Wanja, Secretary of Andolo Bridge Community Group at KPSP10

Sitting on the banks of the Ngong River at the edge of Kibera lies the village of Andolo, home to tenacious and resourceful activist Esther Wanja. A core member of Andolo Bridge Community group and a partner on our KPSP10 project, she recently told us about the changes she’s witnessed over the years in her neighborhood. 

“I was born and raised in Kibera; it has been my home for over 30 years. Andolo was a green area, but as the population rose, it became a dumping site. That is when the flooding issue began. The name 'flooding' was synonymous to Andolo. Waterborne disease became common and many people who lived in this area moved away since they felt unsafe to live here.”


Esther and her neighbors decided to join hands to improve the area and better cope with flooding. They put forward their ideas to KDI under the
Community-Responsive Adaptation to Flooding research project  in 2017 to co-design, build, and evaluate KPSP10, a public space combining needed flood protections with basic amenities such as a playground, laundry area, and water tap.

The KPSP10 laundry pad and seating area, built on top of the newly stabilized riverbank

Thanks to this new physical space, as well as flood warning systems and education programs co-designed by Esther and other residents, the community is no longer living in fear of flooding. "We have introduced the word 'flood' to be our friend and not our enemy. The drainage system has improved, the gabion wall has been really helpful; now we do not panic when it starts to rain."

Now that KPSP10 is complete, Esther and her fellow community activists are looking forward to future improvements for the neighborhood. 

“My vision for Andolo is to see a united community. We plan to influence the local government to work with us so as to make this community a better place for everyone. I want a better Kibera for my kids. They do not need to move from Kibera in search of an ideal place; I want Kibera to be the ultimate place for them.”


Left to right: Amada Valle, founder of Brillante Watts, with KDI's Chelina Odbert and Eric Riley

Amada Valle has dealt with many challenges during her 12 years of living in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. We recently chatted about her vision for the community on a vacant lot that she is about to convert into a public space under the Adopt-A-Lot program alongside Brillante Watts, the local resident group she founded.

“A police officer told me ‘Amada, this is a really violent area’ - and I told him, ‘of course!’ But that’s what it’s about, turning violence into something beautiful, productive: something that can help us change the community, because a lot of people are still living in violence.”

With vacant lots often symbolizing decades of disinvestment – “there are residents who told me ‘they’ve been promising to transform that lot for years, it’s pure corruption and lies’” – Amada is excited to turn this one into a lively space that the community can be proud of. She envisions a meeting area, a space for Zumba and yoga classes, and a patch of garden where they will grow vegetables.

The lot Brillante Watts will be converting is currently a green and shady but unused space

“That’s what interests residents most,” she explains, “sowing the seeds, cultivating them, caring for them, and of course eating them! It’s a great process, and that’s what we have to do for ourselves - care for ourselves day after day, so we can bloom and bear fruit!”

Next month, community members will vote on what amenities they want to build on the lot using KDI’s custom-designed Kit of Parts - transforming it from an overgrown, underused patch of land into a vibrant public space!


“Making this a reality, we’ll demonstrate that everything is possible. It’s simply a case of doing it, wanting to do it - having heart and love. Everything has to be done with a purpose.”



And finally...

We’re excited to share that we will be at the tenth session of the World Urban Forum in Abu Dhabi in February, where we will be launching the new World Bank Handbook for Gender-Inclusive Urban Planning and Design, co-authored by KDI!

The groundbreaking new handbook explores what it means to design and plan gender-inclusive cities in a practical way - bringing unheard voices to the table, creating cities that work better for everyone, and promoting gender equality through the built environment.

KDI and the World Bank will be presenting the Handbook before leading a panel discussion with experts from the City of Buenos Aires, Global Utmaning, and Arup International Development
to explore gender-inclusive approaches and projects from around the world. Q+A will then be followed by networking to foster new partnerships and initiatives in gender-inclusive planning and design.

If you will be in town, do come see us at 4:40 pm on Wednesday 12th February in Session NE 155.


Otherwise, look for updates on our social media platforms!




Thanks for reading!
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