Fuel from Waste @ #DIS2012 – Perspectives on Participation

A paper reflecting on the approach to Participatory Design which formed the core of the May 2011 unConference has been selected to be part of the:

Perspectives on Participation: Evaluating Cross-Disciplinary Methods, Techniques and Practices

Workshop at DIS 2012, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.

11th June 2012


The team from redLoop Design who organised and facilitated the unConference, with Terra Nuova East Africa, wrote-up their approach and proposed a new methodology for condensed time-period Participatory Design.

They call it the ‘4 Es’. Have a read of the paper, on the link above, under “Wyn Griffiths – Middlesex University”

Fuel from Waste Participant News – Dandora White Charcoal Youth Group – Feature in ‘The Standard’ Newspaper

The Standard Newspaper, in Kenya, recently ran a feature highlighting the fantastic work of the Dandora White Charcoal Youth Group. Peter Mwangi and Joseph Ndinya talk abou the genesis of the organisation, their environmental and social mission, their approach to entrepreneurship and their work with charities and NGOs (including Fuel from Waste, through their associates at Kenyatta University) in supporting and extending their mission.

“Eight years ago, Peter Mwangi and Joseph Ndinya stared at death. Mwangi was walking to a football pitch to join his friends in preparation for an upcoming football tournament when the police arrested him.

The policemen, he says, alleged that he was among the gang that terrorised motorists in the area — a claim he denied.

“They pointed a gun at me and I thought I was going to die. I was later released. They didn’t have evidence against me,” Mwangi recalls.

He says police have shot many young men in Dandora on similar allegations, some totally innocent.

The deadly incident completely changed the lives of the two from slum idlers to businessmen.

The duo are members of White Charcoal Youth Group located in Dandora. The youth group makes eco friendly charcoal from waste paper and saw dust.”

The full story can be read via the link above, or you can donwload a pdf version, here: Slum boys’ trade that is a ‘death’ armour – Dandora News

New Fuel from Waste – unConference 2011 photos up on Flickr and on redloopdesign.com

Lots of photos from the event now up on the Flickr link. Showing the lead-in, preparation, lots of the people and places in the FfW network, the exhibition of technology and produce at the event and the unConference generative co-design activity.

A new gallery and posting about the unConference, from the perspective of redLoop – the mdx design and innovation centre, one of the network partners, about their involvement in the Service Design of the event.


Lots of new reports from FfW Network members, active in Nairobi, wider Kenya and Sudan, on their way soon.

Designing WITH People


An interesting essay by Cynthia E. Smith reviewing hybrid design activity between professional and community groups.

It includes some very useful examples of the types of work being done and good links for further reading.

Designing WITH people.

Some excerpts:

“It will be difficult to meet the extraordinary challenges that our urban areas face as a result of the massive population shift from villages to cities. We need to plan for transformative change, include people in the planning, and educate for urban complexity. The projects included in Design with the Other 90%: Cities explore new social, spatial and economic structures. It is critical we find ways to share information — the urban success stories, the efforts to implement and sustain promising initiatives and their impacts over time. This will require more inclusive urban design practices; responsible economic and environmental policies; the establishment of new institutions; transparent governance; improved equity and security; and land reform for a more just and humane urban world.”

– “Formal mechanisms are not adequate to tackle this rapid informalization of the city. We are not able to make services available as quickly as the growth. We should make our process more appropriate for this new reality by creating an interface between the formal and informal.”

– Edward Glaeser writes, “Cities don’t make people poor; they attract poor people. The flow of less advantaged people into cities from Rio to Rotterdam demonstrates urban strength, not weakness.” [6] The participation of slum dwellers and the urban poor is changing the dynamics of design at all levels.

Some Kenya/Nairobi examples:

“Trash and pollution cause many social and health problems in the Kibera settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. The Community Cooker, or Jiko ya Jamii, designed and engineered by the Nairobi architectural firm Planning Systems, is a large-scale oven that uses trash, collected by local youth for income, to power a neighborhood cooking facility. Community members bring collected trash in exchange for use of the cooker (one hour or less to cook a meal), or twenty liters of hot water. Elsewhere in Kibera, a collective of local artisans and groups of landscape designers, architects and engineers have reclaimed a dumping site next to a stream that runs through the slum. The Kibera Public Space Project incorporates a variety of uses, including micro-enterprises, a community pavilion, youth playground and gardens for composting.”

“In Bangladesh, Venezuela and Kenya, Google Map satellite images help reveal the density of settlements. Using open-source mapping software, the GroundTruth Initiative works with local youth to pinpoint water and sanitation locations, security problems and health clinics via Map Kibera.”

“Alternatively, a group of families who used to beg on the streets of Nairobi saved enough money to purchase land 43.5 miles (70 km) outside the city and are manufacturing their own building materials. They formed the Jamii Bora Trust and worked with architects to erect Kaputiei New Town, a safer, cleaner village with over 700 houses and temporary storefronts, primary and secondary schools, churches, factories, and a town generator. [47]”

“Slipping and sliding at times, stepping over open sewage, we made our way in Kibera, Nairobi, to several shower and latrine blocks constructed by the local NGO Maji na Ufanisi, whose motto is “Water is life; sanitation is dignity.” Part of K-WATSAN (Kibera Integrated Water, Sanitation & Waste Management Project), in Soweto East, one of the 12 villages in Kibera, the NGO worked with the UN-Habitat/World Bank Cities Alliance and the Government of Kenya to build eight such sanitation blocks. Users pay a small fee to the community-based organization, which runs the sanitation block and maintains the clean water, showers and toilets. Also in Nairobi, Ecotact has created Ikotoilet Malls, which provide similar services for the urban poor and business community. Users’ nominal costs are offset by local enterprises, such as shoeshine booths, mobile phone services, newspaper vendors, barbers, and snack shops, and also by advertising. Biogas from human waste is used to generate light and hot water. Umande Trust, a local “rights-based” agency, designed 14 BioCentre community latrine blocks in Kibera. Three stories high, they feature toilets and showers accessible to the disabled and free “child-only” toilets; kiosks selling affordable clean water; and a community center and offices on the top two floors. A biogas-generating latrine block treats human waste in situ without requiring sanitation infrastructure. Built with locally available technology and unskilled labor, it requires minimal maintenance and has no movable parts.”

The ‘starting-point for a plan’ proposal from the storytelling and co-design session

The storytelling and co-design sessions were a great success. We managed to create, debate and agree a vision for the starting point for developing a plan for briquetting (and other Fuel from Waste activities).

The fantastic ideas, that we distilled this from, will be up on our Flickr site, presently.

We’ve been working on developing and refining this plan, and what it could be/mean in reality, with the FfW community. More to come soon. 🙂

Co-design, storytelling and exhibition demonstrations

We are making progress on the next stages of the plan.

We’ve established the network with all the participants, and more community groups are joining up.

In the meantime, here are some more of the pictures taken at the unConference:

The co-design participants, ready to create!

Lots of co-created ideas.

Voxpop storytelling from all particpants.

Community group documentary team.

Demonstrations to Saturday visitors.