Town Build

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a finalist.

Town Build: Participatory House Planning

Nansana - Kampala, UgandaKampala, Uganda
Year Founded:
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A community engagement project to develop a planning and design solution to the housing challenges of underprivileged households in Nansana. The result will be a neighbourhood plan for decent and well-organised living settlements, for 150 low-income households.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if all poor slum-dwellers could own & live in a 5-star mansion with renewable energy, adequate water and sustainable technologies?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Towns and cities in Sub-Sahara Africa are seeing an influx and growth of informal housing and squatter settlements. In the city-slums, low-income households end up settling in valleys and swamps, building rudimental ‘shacks’ and living in dire conditions; with no water, poor sanitation, inadequate energy, disease, and poor-housing-related social issues and vices. Uganda has not been an exception... Towns like Kampala struggle with this dilemma

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Through the lense of the locals and vulnerable households, develope a housing scheme that is truly achievable, accessible and appropriate. In Phase 1, a template /prototype neighbourhood plan for decent and well-organised living settlements, for 150 low-income households will be developed. The project brings together a multi disciplinary of experts, city-building professionals and students to engage local beneficiary slum residents and the town council in the planning for their area. Focus will be on local context and relevance, quality of living, climate & environmental sennsitivity and basic infrastructure (including water, energy, sanitation). The participation is orchestrated to develope partnerships for housing development.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

currently in Nabweru North, a suburb on the outskirts of Kampala, We engaged 150 low income households in planning and have developed: a) A neighbourhood plan of community services and infrastructure. b) A low-cost housing/building scheme. The Local Town Council is now trying to incorporate these schemes into their broader structure plans. The Next step is to physically build a prototype to illustrate the innovations in the house. All the above project deliverables will exhibit the following qualities: • Affordability • A local ‘building language’ • A response to local culture and socio-economic aspirations. • Positive reception and local ownership of the projects would be shown by participation of the slum dwellers.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The development and construction of a low-cost housing module will be a process that: • Transfers skills to the local labor-force (thus indirectly making some individuals better candidates for employment or entrepreneurship). • Introduces new technologies and re-interpret materials in forms that aid sustainability and affordability. • Encourages materials-suppliers and developers to innovatively address the low-income-household sector. • Spurs further university research into solutions for informal settlements. • The ‘big-picture’ is to improve the quality of life and sanitation, along with well-planned and serviced environments and public spaces for slum dwellers. "Where will the land for the project come from?" - Firstly, houses will be developed for land owners. Secondly, the town council partnership presents opportunities to allocate land. Thirdly we will buy some land.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

• Building Professionals and developers will adopt new ways of involving local communities in design and begin to commit more time to serve underprivileged communities and poor households. • Poor households will know the importance of proper planning and the relevance of qualified architects and engineers. • A revolution in the planning processes, with locals beginning to participate in planning. Hopefully this participation will be the beginning of a positive influence on legal planning policy on informal settlements in towns.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Given the new entry into a relatively dormant sector (housing specifically for low and middle income, urban households), this 1st year we have been researching, refining & developing a lowcost prototype. In 2nd year, we will build 2 demo houses, to interest prospective owners. Then develope 25-50 housing units for 5-10% profit through a Partnership: local government + private sector + BANK mortgage support + option to purchase in modules.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Currently, most housing on the market in Uganda is targeted at high-income households: The perspective of real estate firms, is that 'affordable' means 60,000 – 120,000 USD a house. But the reality is that poor households which are earning 100 to 1500 USD per month, would not even consider purchasing houses at such a price. What is also notable is a local banking sector that is restructuring credit services to reach the lower income households bracket. There is also a budding middle class who are looking to purchase homes at reasonably prices figures.

Founding Story

During my University education, I was trained to design nice fancy and trend buildings of steel and glass, urban towers and cutting edge living spaces. However the reality in my capital city presents a different need: many flock to urban centers in search of jobs and opportunities - some end up squatting and settling in low lying unwanted swampy terrain, under terrible shelters. In Uganda, we have about 200 registered & 250 graduate architects, but all these architects are serving about 15% of the population (those able to pay), so what happens to the 85%? I therefore want to find a way to adapt the latest of technology, material and building solutions to the shelter challenges of underprivileged urban households.


S.Munyaneza - ICT/Admin Building Material Experts: J. Kwagala (Stabilised earth blocks) P. Kimera (Recylced plastics) D. Turyasingura (Construction Methods) Board of Advisors: • Anthony Mwai - Senior Expert on local housing marketplace • Anthony Lubandi – Audit & Finance. Head of Finance at Sanlam • Ray Lifchez- Professor of Architecture and City planning • Anna Rubbo - Expert on Participatory Planning
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Please select

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

Organization Country

, Kampala

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Nansana - Kampala

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Foundations, Businesses, Other.

Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

United States African Development Foundation Grant (Mandela Washington Fellowship USADF grant)

Where have you learnt about the competition?


Tell us about your partnerships:

• Makerere University, College of Environment, Design and Technology (involving the students and academia in research and fieldwork)
• Nansana Town Council (has joined us in re-planning and developing a structure plan, neighbourhood plan and growth vision for their jurisdiction and town)
• United States African Development Foundation (providing seed grant for research)
• Microsoft 4AFrika (providing technical advise and support)
• T4T

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Some of the locals residents do not understand the relevance of the project. We have therefore engaged other knowledgeable local residents to spearhead the sensitization drive throughout the neighbourhood.

The input from some participants was lacking in pragmatic and realistic solutions. We therefore introduced design-drills and informative sessions to spur innovation.

Participation has some inherent challenges: conflict of interest, grudges, dominancy by one party etc. We have therefore had to train facilitators to moderate the sessions.