Habari za leo? What’s the news of today?

Day two of the collaborative design project at Kwale Homeopathic Centre!

The tasks for Today’s Collaborative Workshops:  Announce the chosen Design Challenges / Recognise Existing Knowledge / Formulate a research plan.

Today’s session began with each of the 5 design groups taking turns to describe to the assembled class, which one of their “Design Challenges for Kwale” they had chosen to pursue and the reasons why they had selected that particular brief.

Two of the groups picked challenges to develop better solutions for the provision of clean, safe and affordable domestic fuel; two groups have opted to explore innovative solutions toward the provision of sanitised water and one group has decided to focus on innovative alternatives to Malaria prevention.

Now that the design groups had each identified a challenge to focus on, we could now begin a period of research to better understand each topic.  This began with a “What We Know” session where  each design team was given some Post-It notes and asked to write what they already know about the topic (one piece of information per post-it note) as well as any early ideas for potential solutions.  After 30 minutes, the groups were flush with ideas and the results were analysed for patterns, connections and for areas where knowledge was strongest.  Of course, the girls took great pleasure in sharing and critiquing the ideas of rival groups at half-time!

Next, the design groups performed a similar exercise, this time recording “What We Don’t Know”, as well as things that they feel they need to learn and the challenges they may face in their quest to satisfy the challenge.

The class then discussed how they might ‘fill the gaps in their knowledge’ and began identifying key sources of information, such as speaking with relevant people, seeking expert opinion, secondary-research and carrying out direct observation.  They also identified many methods for gathering such relevant data e.g. conducting door-to-door as well as targeted interviews, ‘Facebook’ surveys, direct emails, questionnaires, video and sound recording.

The workshop concluded with each group writing a research plan, drawing from the findings of the previous exercises e.g What they need to know?  Who (or what) do they need to approach? What questions should they ask?

The design process I am using has been adapted from the ‘Human Centered Design Toolkit’ which was developed by international design firm IDEO for use by NGOs and social enterprises as an innovation tool.  The HCD toolkit is open-source and free to download here. The IDEO HCD has won many international design accolades and has been used successfully by many hundreds of NGOs to deliver on humanitarian design projects.

The girls have all selected ambitious challenges I am sure you will agree, especially for such a relatively short project!  However, they are all fundamental challenges to improving the quality of life in Africa and I am confident that even during the short-time we have together, the girls and I can hit upon some exiting innovative ideas for the benefit of Kwale, indeed, possibly for much of rural Africa.

The girls’ youthful enthusiasm, optimism, energy, their caring natures and their intrinsic knowledge of African concerns all add up to make them ideal candidates for the tasks ahead.  I also sincerely hope that the ‘DIY Kenya commission’ provides something of a pre-cursor – an introductory exercise if you will – to a much longer-term project and relationship with Kwale over the coming years.  I anticipate that any ideas coming from the 2-week DIY Kenya project will not be abandoned once the commission ends, but rather form concept proposals for further development and delivery over time, drawing in further collaboration and expertise as needed.

Kwale Market

There was a lot of rain-fall this morning – somewhat pertinently for the two design groups wishing to investigate domestic and agricultural water management!  The weather brightened considerably around midday however and so the girls were mobilised to Kwale town centre where it was ‘Market Day’.

The girls arrived complete with a PA sound system and microphone and broadcasting from  their own market stall, they began promoting the various offerings of the Homeopathic Centre to the passing public.  They were supported by some of the grooviest and seriously loud African beats and a slightly eerie-sounding microphone which projected the spoken messages of the Kwale girls in a manner that one could simply not ignore!  The stall attracted many on-lookers and some enthusiastic young male dancers and, thankfully, there were many people also interested in the clinic!

Kwale Market: A very cool kid with a very cool toy car!

Kwa heri!  Bye for now!  Hwyl!

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4 Responses to Habari za leo? What’s the news of today?

  1. David Hathaway says:

    Well done to the girls for some great ideas – good luck with the projects. The lad with the wire car shows that there are some resourceful, natural designers about.

  2. Catherine Tryfona says:

    It just all looks so beautiful out there. Hope I get to visit one day. Well done girls for all that effort!

  3. Glynn says:

    Looks like you’re having a great time out there.
    I’m really impressed with the way that you have planned the design processes and managed them in a new environment.
    I’m sure this time will go past too quickly!

  4. diykenya says:

    Excellent work Peter and all the students at the Centre! Beautiful colours and I’m glad the students have been introduced to post-it’s and their incredible flexibility.

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