The Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) in Nairobi is a collective of architects, urban planners and engineers working with residents in impoverished communities in Kenya and beyond to develop sustainable, low-cost design solutions to unique environmental challenges.

Kibera is the largest informal settlement in Nairobi.

Kibera is the largest informal settlement in Nairobi. (courtesy: KDI)

Since 2006, the group has successfully carried out 7 “Productive Public Space” projects in Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Nairobi, by reclaiming dumping sites and other under-used land areas in the community.

Before Kibera Public Space Project 2 was completed

Kibera Public Space Project 2 before (courtesy: KDI)

Public Space Project 2 after completion

and Public Space Project 2 after (courtesy: KDI)

Kibera Public Space Project 3 before.

Kibera Public Space Project 3 before. (courtesy: KDI)

Public Space Project 3 after completion

and Public Space Project 3 after (courtesy: KDI)

KDI’s newest public space project will be a ‘model’ household and social resilience center where people from the community will learn how to become better prepared in the face of flooding, during the region’s rainy season.

Types of damage typically sustained by houmes in Kibera because of flooding. Also shown are proposed low-cost measures to increase resilience.

Types of damage typically sustained by houmes in Kibera because of flooding. Also shown are proposed low-cost measures to increase resilience. (courtesy: KDI)

The KDI team has these 10 suggestions for those who would benefit from setting up a ‘Flood Hub’ in their community.

  1. Use locally sourced, low-cost materials like stone, wood, mud and dry grass

    KDI low cost materials

    (courtesy: KDI)

  2. Use landscape-driven solutions to make a great aesthetic and be eco-friendly

    Design proposal of plant revetments along the Ngong river in Kibera.

    Design proposal of plant revetments along the Ngong river in Kibera. (courtesy: KDI)

  3. Be all about inclusion – a hub should be designed and operated by the community

    Kibera's residents join in a workshop conducted earlier this year by KDI.

    Kibera’s residents join in a workshop conducted earlier this year by KDI. (courtesy: KDI)

  4. Help foster local preparedness through community awareness campaigns and flood management committees. Create early-warning systems and access to open data for flood risk maps and graphics.
  5.  Set the standard for building “smarter” infrastructure in informal settlements
  6. Be a place where people can come together for constructive discussion and fun
  7. Give local craftsmen an opportunity to grow their skills and their businesses
  8. Help reduce the risk of contracting water-borne diseases by building structural adaptation measures in and around the hub
  9. Use mobile devices to help track improvements to the community’s flood prevention infrastructure 
  10. Make it easy to replicate your hub in settlements facing similar challenges