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Community Outreach

The Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) developed and uses context adjusted community outreach strategies. These strategies involve information sharing fora (in Swahili Barazas), a request for proposal (RFP) process to well established local Community Based Organisations (CBO) as well as series of community workshops.

The RFP process is used to assure that projects are demand-driven. The process is typically initiated with public information sharing fora at which the RFP is announced and the scope, as well as proposal submission requirements, are explained.


In the case of the projects showcased on this platform requirements to apply included among others:


  • Exposure to challenges related to dirty water, sewerage, rainwater, and flood water

  • Good track record of registered CBO

  • Control over public/ community space to implement NbS(s)


The public is informed about information fora and the RFP process through posters as well as flyers.

For the locations to hold information fora easy accessible as well as high frequented areas within the settlement are typically chosen.

Community Outreach

RFP Process + Awarding...

Submissions of proposals usually run for one month and close with an evaluation of the submitted proposals against a predefined set of criteria. As not all criteria can be assessed remotely field visits of the proposed project sites and groups who submitted proposals are conducted. During the field visits the feasibility of the proposed sites for NbS(s), other potential and foreseeable developments in the area, and the legitimacy of the applying group are assessed.

The team assessing the proposed project sites is diverse in backgrounds in order to make sure different aspects are looked in e.g. the feasibility of space from a technical perspective. From a community perspective in most cases, it is looked at how long the group applying for the project has been existing and if the group is registered as an official Community Based Organisation (CBO).

After visiting all pre-selected eligible proposed project sites all proposals are rated and the groups with the proposals that score highest are typically awarded. The awarding is publicly announced in awarding meetings. In these meetings, the terms of the project partnership are outlined as well as timelines, and the project scope. The project awarding is followed by a series of community co-design workshops to further establish which challenges are to be addressed with NBSs, and to identify suitable and accepted NBSs by the community.

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RFP process


Co-design process - Workshop series


To develop adequate, context-specific, and sustainable Nature-Based-Solutions (NbS) to water management challenges in informal settlements a participatory co-design process of the solutions is used by KDI.


The process can entail a series of co-design workshops which are sequenced as follows:

  • Workshop - Interrogating challenges

  • Workshop - Explaining NBS solutions

  • Workshop - NBS selection

  • Workshop - Feedback on designs

Workshop I 

Interrogating challenges

In the first workshop - interrogating challenges - local water management challenges are identified and analysed with members of the community in smaller groups. Each group is asked to answer a set of questions and report the results of their discussion back to the other groups. The questions which are asked can include;


1. Which water-related challenges in and around your area are you facing?

2. What and who causes these challenges? What are their effects on you and your community? , Where do these challenges mostly occur? 

3. Imagine the future, how would your community change if the challenges identified are solved?


The discussions of this set of questions are typically documented on sticky notes/ flipchart paper which are used for presentation purposes during plenary discussions. The plenary session is followed by introducing the concept of NbS and examples are provided with photographs and making reference to rural areas many residents have strong links to. The workshop is closed with requesting the participants to think about the challenges they identified and which natural solutions they can think of from their experience of visiting, partly living/ working, or having lived/ worked in rural areas. 


After the first workshop, a team of technical staff members and community workers analyse the results of the workshop and plan together a follow-up workshop in which first ideas on how to solve the water management challenges with NbS are identified. In addition, a strategy is developed to explain the concept of NbS to the members of the community in a simplified manner and reach a common understanding.

Co-design workshops

Workshop II
Explaining NbS solutions

In the second workshop -  Explaining NbS solutions - the participants in small groups are asked to share and to discuss their ideas on how to solve the challenges they identified in the previous workshop using NbSs.The groups are also asked to select which solutions are their favorite and to elaborate why. The group work is facilitated and documented with flip chart paper and sticky notes. The session is followed with a knowledge transfer session in which a community worker in simple terms explains the concept of NbS once more and a technical staff follows presenting different NbS options and explains their functionality, their feasibility to tackle which problem and indicates their implications to the community in terms of maintenance and space requirements.


After the presentations by the community worker and technical staff* all participants discuss the pro and cons of the different solutions presented to them and vote on their priority solutions. The workshop is closed with a recap and an outlook of the next workshop. 


The second workshop is very critical in creating an understanding and acceptance of the NbS concept. From KDI's experience, it might be necessary to repeat the workshop in a similar format to ensure the concept is internalised sufficiently.


[*Landscape architect, engineer or architect]

Workshop III
NbS selection

The subsequent, third or potentially fourth workshop - NbS selection - is one of the most critical workshops. In the workshop first designs of the prioritised NbSs are presented, their location and implications for maintenance are discussed as well as their construction process. Lastly, to formalise the commitment between the community and the organisation to build, maintain and manage the NbS a draft memorandum of understanding is introduced.


The first designs of the NbS are presented and it is explained which challenge each NbS will address. In addition, it is highlighted which issues could be faced with each solution and their maintenance requirements. The residents are given the opportunity to ask questions to the team. The team following this session spreads to the areas where the solutions are intended to be implemented and the workshop participants in smaller groups rotate between the different NbS stations where the NbSs are further explained and more questions can be asked. The questions asked are documented by the team and the outcomes of the rotation discussions are presented in the plenary.


Following the rotation session, the management and construction process of the planned NbSs are explained. It is announced how labour is going to be selected as well as how long the construction of the NbSs will approximately take. The construction briefing is followed by introducing a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) to formally agree on the scope, space, and procedure of construction and maintenance of the selected NbSs.


Workshop IV

Feedback on designs

In the last workshop - feedback on designs - residents are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the pre-final designs which are developed based on the outcomes of the discussions and questions asked in the previous workshops.


The steps to sign the MoU are also layed out once more as well as the required meetings to sign the MoU with all signing partners, such as structure owners surrounding the NbS intervention sites, the community-based organisation building, and managing the NbSs as well as the local government and administration.

Final designs + Localising of solutions 

All the information collected during the workshops is analysed for incorporation in the design process, and the design team further embarks on doing in-depth investigations of the site and its context. A site inventory and analysis takes place alongside a topographic survey, various tests such as infiltration, soil particle distribution, and water tests. The design development follows a methodical process that extracts a lot from this vigorous investigation resulting in an understanding of the activities that take place and the dynamics of place. This is helpful in understanding the context of the problems highlighted in the workshops. Thereafter, a matrix is developed that assists in identifying realistic alternative solutions fitting this context and its dynamics.


By engaging engineers and landscape architects, an evaluation of each of the solutions is done ascertaining the practicability of integration and other practical limitations that ought to be addressed. The NbS design analysis informs the concept for the integrated project. An initial concept costing exercise follows the concept drawings developed with the engineers. The back and forth of costing and development of concepts concludes the initial design phase ushering in detail development and construction planning.

Final designs

Participatory construction

This approach is to ensure that the beneficiaries contribute in the project implementation; this participation ensures project realization, completion, and sustainability will be assured as the beneficiaries acquire skills during the construction of the project. This helps and enables them to manage and maintain the projects after completion and also can take development initiatives on their own to share and scale up the solutions.


The labor selection, both skilled and unskilled,  is based on this idea, and therefore important to begin selecting from the participants of the workshops preceding implementation. Others are selected from a group that will be managing the project while the rest are selected within the project proximity that has a direct and indirect benefit from the project. The latter are volunteered by the group.

Diversity is emphasised when executing this selection allowing representative presence of women, men, and youths.


Through constant assessment from the construction foreman and project supervisors, we are able to pick out persons fit to constitute the maintenance committee.

Participatory Construction

Maintenance committee building + Maintenance manual

A  maintenance manual for the implemented NbSs is developed to play two roles in maintaining stewardship and guaranteeing the sustainability of the built NbSs. It mandates the establishment of a committee with specific roles to the NbSs. While some participants will from the onset indicate their readiness to participate in the NbSs’ operation and maintenance, they may remain negligent of their roles, this, measures to define and instill responsibility are vital in the project realization.

Upon establishment of the committee, workshops are organised to discuss maintenance whilst the different solutions are being installed; these discussions are fed into the maintenance manual ensuring an integrated participatory approach in the formulation of the maintenance model, the language, and the ownership of the maintenance procedures.


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