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An initiative to improve the neighbourhood’s streets in Dandora, the location of East Africa’s largest informal landfill site, has been named a Finalist of this year’s World Habitat Awards.

‘Model Street’ – Making cities together is changing Dandora’s reputation for high crime and pollution to one of innovation and inspiration. It has transformed the physical appearance of a street in the ‘Phase 2’ neighbourhood with paving, painting, children’s play areas and the planting of trees. Clearing drains and new rubbish bins have improved sanitation while better lighting has increased safety for residents and business owners.

The planning stage of the project included innovative Minecraft workshops, during which residents used the gaming software to visualise and shape their new shared space. Weekend building parties helped to engage as many residents as possible during the three-year construction process before Model Street’s official launch in April 2018.

The success of the initiative and the positive impact it has had on the safety and wellbeing of residents is now influencing projects – and even policy – across Nairobi. The Dandora dumpsite may still exist, but the community that has lived in its shadow for so long has now become a leading light in the transformation of the city’s neglected public spaces.

Christine Ndinda, who has lived in the community for over 12 years with her children, said: “The life I lived before the upgrade of this street was just bad. No other word can come to describe how dangerous this street was and for years I lacked hope and envied other neighbourhoods. Now with a cleaner, safer and colourful street I cannot imagine living anywhere else in Nairobi. I love what this neighbourhood has become.”

David Ireland, Director of World Habitat, said: “This project has enabled the local community to take control and transform their neighbourhood, from one of high crime and pollution, into a safe and vibrant space.”

The World Habitat Awards Advisory Group said: “Using Minecraft encouraged young people to get involved with this from the beginning. They have worked really hard to include the whole community in improving their neighbourhood – this has led to safer and more accessible streets for everyone.”

Each year the World Habitat Awards are presented to ten of the most outstanding and innovative housing projects from across the world. In 2018 over 200 projects and programmes entered the Awards.

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