A group of graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley, last month visited UN-HABITAT for presentations and discussions relating to their field work “studio” on slum upgrading in Mathare, a slum in Nairobi.
The studio primarily involves drafting upgrade plans/improvement strategies for infrastructure, public health and livelihoods in the entire Mathare Valley. The Berkeley group came to Nairobi for field work, presentations and to work collaboratively with their partners at the University of Nairobi and Muungano Support Trust. After their visit, the group returns to Berkeley to complete their project by end of August.
The visit to UN-HABITAT included presentations on urban energy, approaches to slum upgrading and community safety and a critical review of slum upgrading in Nairobi. The Japanese Center of Conflict Prevention introduced their work in Mathare and representatives from True Heroes Under Grime, a group utilizing art as a tool, talked about community involvement.
The discussions involved safety and security aspects, traditional and alternative infrastructure, such as decentralized urban energy centers and thinking of art as a form of infrastructure, as well as considering and learning from previous experiences when working with slum upgrading.