KAMWOKYA COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
The Ameropa Foundation has been active in Kampala since 2016, specifically in the low-income settlement of Kamwokya, a poverty-stricken urban district on the margins of the city. From 2009 the neighbourhood has consisted of close to 20’000 inhabitants that live in very dire conditions, including lack of sanitation, limited access to clean drinking water, no electricity and no paved roads.
In addition to these issues, large parts of Kamwokya are frequently subject to flooding, as a direct result of the neighbourhoods topography (lack of proper sewage systems and an ever increasing number of blocked trenches due to constantly growing housing density).
From 2016 to 2020 the Foundation added play-based educational classes within nine schools in partnership with the international organisation Right to Play. In addition, Finem has offered loans to around 750 SMEs in the Kamwokya community. These experiences highlighted that there was a lack of safe spaces for the children of the community to play and convene.
Therefore, the Ameropa Foundation decided in 2016 to initiate an urban development project. A project that would serve as a social band for this underprivileged neighbourhood and create a safe space for many children, adolescents and adults, and provide them a space that encouraged moments of leisure and happiness.
The Ameropa Foundation sought out creative partnership for the project and was absolutely delighted to win over Francis Kéré, the internationally renowned architect from Burkina Faso, to design the project. Francis Kéré, who was awarded the 2022 Pritzker Prize for Architecture, offered his own personal work pro bono.
Francis Kéré’s design provides a space that is conducive to the activities that were already taking place on site, such as - educational activities in health, literacy and numeracy, sports training and matches, neighbourhood games, informal gatherings, community events, skills training workshops and music and dance classes. The site is a pocket of public space carved from a thicket of dilapidated houses and zigzagging alleys.
The project has grown to include open-air areas for gathering, a small gym, an internet café, a music studio, restrooms, and a multisport pitch. Kamwokya Christian Caring Community, a local non-profit that partnered with the Ameropa Foundation, will oversee management of the site.
In addition, it was specifically designed to be self-sustaining, both financially and environmentally. Environmentally, the low-slung pavilions flank the field, all covered by Francis Kéré’s signature butterfly roofs. These sheet-metal canopies, raised on delicate supports, provide a barrier against a punishing sun while improving ventilation (a tried-and-true, low-tech means of thermal comfort in a tropical climate). On the west side of the pitch, a covered area offers shade for watching a match, resting, eating, or dancing." Across the field, a brick building houses spaces for learning and exercise.
Financially, the project has been designed to generate income from renting out spaces, organizing events, running educational programmes and renting parking spaces for motorbikes. Overtime, we hope to generate enough income to cover maintenance staff and running costs, aspiring for the project to be fully self-sustaining in the years to come. Our current goal is to further support the community as well as generate additional income for the centre as part of their financial sustainability plan.
Construction of the Kamwokya Community Playground began on the 1st of February 2021, the milestone was set with a ground-breaking ceremony organized by the project management team.
In the sense of community participation, wherever possible, community members were hired for construction jobs and other jobs necessary to build out the centre.
The construction took a total of 16 months to build and was inaugurated and handed over to the community in October 2022 - The “playground” is open to everyone; it is the property of the community, who manage and run it daily.
Nicole, Founding Member of the Ameropa Foundation, shared that “We wanted to give a place of quality and beauty to the people of Kamwokya, a place where they could sit down, take a rest from their daily struggle and dream, a place also where the children could play in a safe and clean environment.”
The hope is that this playground and community centre will also lead to an enhanced commitment of the public authorities (as it has in Mãe Luiza) and better the life for the people of Kamwokya, providing them with new perspectives.
“You realize you don’t just build a community center.
You are trying to create it depending on the residents’ needs.”
“It’s the place to go now,” Kéré says with pride.
“The kids want to play soccer at the national level!”
Quoted by Francis Kéré, AD Magazine, October 6. 2022