A participatory and gender-inclusive construction process for community owned Nature-based Solutions
Updated: Apr 4
Building NbS at Bridge School in Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Nairobi
by Teresia Wanjiru
After completing a series of co-design workshops, the r u NbS team KE embarked on building selected NbS at Bridge Community School which is one of the 2nd phase r u NbS intervention sites in Mukuru, Nairobi. The process was initiated with pre-construction preparations that included holding a pre-construction workshop with the community. At the workshop the construction team was introduced to the community, the team went through the labour selection and labour rotation process, and discussed a Worker’s Agreement which casual laborers working at KDI’s construction sites typically sign. It stipulates construction site rules and regulations, health and safety, payment rates and modes, portage of construction materials, construction phasing, construction timelines, and measures to achieve gender inclusivity in the construction process.
The reason why gender inclusivity is emphasized in the worker’s agreement and expounded on in pre-construction workshops is that the construction industry is known to be a predominantly male work environment and is very susceptible to discrimination while the r u NbS team and KDI at large advocate for more opportunities for women to get involved in construction. Therefore, to achieve greater gender inclusivity in construction, the r u NbS team treats every worker equitably, addresses stereotypes and creates an inclusive job listing, proactively recruits, and provides support to female construction workers where required among other measures.
Apart from that, the r u NbS team uses a participatory, community-led construction approach which involves sourcing construction labour from within the community. This increases ownership of the project, by them contributing towards making their community vision a reality. This, further, spearheads operations and maintenance of the site even after the project completion, which contributes greatly to sustainability. Having the community contribute to construction also transfers construction skills and confidence, which is a form of capacity building. In addition, the community is economically empowered as they earn an income as construction workers.
The construction at Bridge Community School in Mukuru Kwa Reuben began in September, 2022 and is on-going. The construction has been phased into three different stages to have some space left for the school operations to continue while construction is on-going. Phase one and 90% of phase two were completed in December, 2022. The team is looking forward to completing the remaining work over the next couple of months.
“Whatever good things we build end up building us.” – Jim Ron