Children participate in discussions on Public Spaces in a refugee settlement in Kenya’s Turkana County
Kalobeyei Settlement, Turkana, Kenya, November 2019 - Children living in and around a refugee settlement in north western Kenya suggested their settlement came up with a wide variety of ideas about how public spaces could be used including swimming pools, football fields, playgrounds and green spaces.
Their suggestions were part of a programme to involve children and other vulnerable groups from both the refugee and host communities in planning and designing open public spaces in at the Kalobeyei Settlement in Turkana county which was set up in 2016 after the nearby refugee camp of Kakuma became too full.
Most of the infrastructure for both the 36,000 refugees and the host communities has up to now focused on shelter, water and sanitation, healthcare and education.
UN-Habitat has partnered with Peace Winds Japan and GIZ Kenya to support the development of a Public Space project in Village Two of Kalobeyei Settlement, overlooking the main road called Kenyatta Avenue.
This space is close to shelters, shops and other public utilities and the Public Space project is aimed at promoting greater social mix, cultural interchanges and social cohesion to encourage integration.
A third of those attending the workshop, part of an ongoing participatory planning process, were children.
The workshop included collecting community-level data and a map reading exercise of the local neighbourhood to increase participants’ understanding of various land uses and to look at issues around accessibility and flexibility of public spaces.
After the site visit and map reading, participants were divided into six groups, with a separate children’s group to sketch and develop initial ideas for the Public Space. The groups presented their proposals to the community and discussed areas such as inclusivity, safety, resilience and sustainability.
In his group’s presentation, Emmanuel Hassan, a refugee, said that their design includes “a learning centre where people can learn different skills, regardless of age, gender, and whatsoever,” and “there is an Arts and Crafts centre where people could create cultural costumes, or different cultural ornaments.”