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Kigali-Rwanda: Community-Based Processes Forum for Climate Resilient Design

East Africa holds sources of existing inspiring projects, with approaches that develop the local potentials, that are co-created and co-owned by the local communities, use locally available labor, materials, and technologies.
From 15-16 February 2023, a Community Based Processes Forum was organized in Kigali, Rwanda to discuss how best to engage the community in construction and urbanism projects.    

Hosted by the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology, the forum brought together the Rwanda’s Ministry of Environment (MININFRA), Rwanda Housing Authority, Rwanda’s Ministry of Local Government as well as Architecture students Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda to discuss community involvement for a successful design that helps the communities develop and take ownership, and which makes the projects more sustainable in both socio-economic and environmental aspects.  

In his remarks,  Jean-Michel, the Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of Belgium to Rwanda asserted the importance of community involvement in socio-economic development: “Community based processes(CBP) are really  key for us because our approaches  are based on participation of the community not only in urbanization but also in all other aspects of the development” he noted.  

The ministry of infrastructure tasked architects to work closely with communities in incorporating climate resilience apparatuses in construction project design and implementations. “The role of the community in driving implementation of SDGs through relevant infrastructure development projects and programs can’t be under-estimated”. Government has been very critical in these initiatives especially building from the famous community work “Umuganda” and the development of basic Infrastructures commonly called “Ubudehesaid Edward Kyazze Division Manager Urbanization Human Settlement and Housing, MININFRA.

Addressing around 200 participants of the forum, Dr. Ignace GATARE, Principal of the College of Science and Technology at the University of Rwanda said “Community based processes are such significant approaches to dealing with complex problems especially in urbanizing environment to respond to the community needs. This further plays significant roles in nurturing ownerships.”

“The community has the knowledge that can guide the architects in incorporating climate resilience in construction projects, thus the infrastructure is for the community and it’s the community to own and manage it” indicated Mattias Piani, Intervention Manager for Enabel’s Urban Economic Development initiative (UEDi).  

Prior to the workshop, Architecture students from various universities had an ample time to carry field work and going forward learnt a lot from the communities. They found out that communities have lots of knowledge and are therefore the knowledge base. The take home, they say, is to ensure the involvement of communities in any project to be carried out.

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