Much of the Western world considers design to be the creation
of aesthetically pleasing products, appealing and available
to the consumer. While this is one function of design, there
are other functions far more important to local communities.
is problem solving – it’s a work in progress which
requires non-conventional, abstract and creative thinking.
A design arises from the application of an uncomplicated method
that can be learnt by anyone with an open mind. This method
applies to all products and services regardless of shape,
size and function.
Design for Africa is a project
concerned with the application of this method and the recycling
of materials. It will be implemented during a yearlong trans-african
crossing, culminating in Kibera, Kenya, beginning October
In 2005 we will be two newly graduated industrial designers
with the ambition to assist the people of Kibera and apply
our creative and constructive problem solving skills. We aim
to build self-confidence amongst the youth groups and to encourage
Kibera is one of the largest ghettos in Eastern Africa with
almost 800,000 people living in an area the size of Manhattan’s
Central Park. Half of the population is under the age of 15.
This area is home to 5 of Kenya’s 6 ethnic groups and
suffers still from crucial ethnic clashes in recent years.
for Kibera is an international non-governmental organisation
working to prevent ethno-religious violence. The base for
their involvement is founded in the concept of participatory
development. It means "solutions to problems involving
poverty are possible only if those affected by it drive development.
Outsiders can help by mobilising communities, advising and
providing resources. Ultimately, however the community possesses
the knowledge and motivation that are necessary to solve its
own problems" (CFK, July 2004).
Design for Africa will not
only treat the topic recycling in Kibera but on the whole
journey in order to gain knowledge about the recycling habits
in all the countries coming through. This will hopefully help
us to learn and understand the people's needs and habits better
thus give us the opportunity to bring the skills during the
stay in Kibera more efficiently into account.
The trip is planned for about 12 months with the Kibera project
somewhere in the middle. This would mean around Feb. - March
2006. However, due to unforeseen events, such as political
situations, weather conditions, mechanical failure, the exact
date for the project is impossible to predict so far in advance.
The goal is to reach Cape of Good Hope sometime around Okt
2006 (see route). As mentioned before, the route might also
have to be changed and adapted to the situation.
We are of course aware of the fact that the reality of the
youth in Kibera is quite different from the western. Their
social references and cultural framework also differ greatly
from the industrialised world. Therefore it is very important
to find a mutual channel through which communication can take
place. We want to achieve this by focusing on the most basic
needs of humans as a base for the project. Small interdisciplinary
groups will find and identify problems in their own surrounding,
regarding housing, hygiene, food, storage etc.
of the lack of resources and the poverty in the area, recycling
is an everyday issue and a natural part of living. The aim
is to look at new ways of creating useful items from garbage
and other rejected materials. This could generate products
or services that can be sold to tourists and other communities
outside Kibera, thus bringing capital into the community.
Design and Africa might not fit together at first sight and
one might ask what African people need design for. This is
one big goal and challenge of this project. Design is much
more than nice shapes, packages or expensive "designer
products". We want to show that design is a method, which
works even in very poor parts of the world.
Design shouldn't be a first world country privilege.