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Planet Smart City provides digital tools for UN Habitat's slum upgrade programme

The smart affordable housing specialist Planet Smart City will provide data analytics and other solutions to help upgrade two of the oldest and biggest slums in Nairobi.

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Mathare: one of the informal settlements in the PSUP programme ©UN-Habitat-Kirsten Milhah
Mathare: one of the informal settlements in the PSUP programme ©UN-Habitat-Kirsten Milhah

Smart affordable housing specialist Planet Smart City is joining forces with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, to help upgrade two of the oldest and biggest slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

The company will use its expertise in technology, data analytics and community engagement to help improve lives in informal settlements in Kibera and Mathare as part of UN Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme.

 

Digital solutions

 

Planet will deploy digital and on-the-ground solutions that empower slum communities to coordinate locally led initiatives and raise living conditions.

 

PSUP is a partnership initiative of the African Caribbean and Pacific group of States Secretariat, the European Commission, and UN-Habitat. Since 2008, the PSUP has been working to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 11.1, which aims to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums by 2030.

 

This partnership will use the broad experience of the PSUP in slum upgrading and gather lessons learnt from leveraging private sector engagement for improving the living conditions of one billion slum dwellers worldwide.

 

“With the Covid-19 momentum, we all need to play a part for a bigger mission to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our cities,” said Kerstin Sommer, manager of the UN-Habitat Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme. “That won’t work without the contribution of the private sector.”

“With the Covid-19 momentum, we all need to play a part for a bigger mission to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our cities”

At the heart of the initiative is Planet’s proprietary Planet App, a mobile platform that will act as a digital hub for community engagement. Through the app, slum residents will be able to access news and services, including materials for the prevention of diseases, as well as book medical point services, and borrow shared tools and equipment.

 

The app will also serve as a platform for local coordination, allowing residents to organise community initiatives, participate in savings groups, and view a calendar of activities and educational courses.

 

Covid-19 prevention work being carried out in Kibera. ©UN-Habitat-Kirsten Milhahn
Covid-19 prevention work being carried out in Kibera. ©UN-Habitat-Kirsten Milhahn

Core to the long-term goal of realising financial independence for slum community members, the Planet App will also be deployed to support local entrepreneurship, providing a platform for residents to coordinate and promote their services both within their communities and to the wider area around the slum. It can also be used to link slum community members to employment and training opportunities in Nairobi.

 

Through this partnership, Planet will also support communities to develop a community hub where events and activities can take place. Planet and UN-Habitat will work in collaboration with local partners, community champions, and NGOs such as Shining Hope for Communities and Slum Dwellers International, to collect and analyse data on the needs of local residents. This will allow the organisations to engage collaboratively with local people on the design and implementation of new community services and resources.

 

Local engagement

 

Data analysis and the tailoring of the app will be supported by the PSUP team on-the-ground in coordination with Planet’s community manager, Elena Fabris. Their aim will be to engage local people and more effectively empower their initiatives utilising digital tools. This participatory approach will allow the slum communities to evolve according to local priorities and with a high degree of community ownership.

 

“Africa is in the midst of one of the world’s most exciting technological metamorphoses, with Kenya right at the heart,” said Alan Marcus, chief digital strategy officer at Planet Smart City. “The country is already the world leader for mobile money penetration, and connection to mobile services has surged from 30 per cent of the population in 2009 to over 50 per cent last year. The forces of innovation that are transforming lives in both Kenya and across the continent can be harnessed to empower the people of African nations.

 

“Slum communities are tight-knit, resourceful and brimming with potential – if we give them the tools, these communities can be the catalysts for real and long-term transformation.”

 

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