Anna Tehlova


Statistics show that urban green public spaces deteriorate globally. In African cities, where the urbanization rates are the highest in the world, public spaces quickly disappear under layers of garbage or are grabbed. For public authorities having to deal with other pressing socio-economic challenges in the context of outdated regulations, insufficient capacity and resources and wide-spread corruption, public spaces are not a priority. However, the research worldwide has demonstrated the potential of public spaces to become the key catalyst of socio-economic growth given their environmental, economic and social benefits that are however largely ignored by public authorities and the general public in African cities. This article suggests a citizen-driven public space upgrading movement can address these challenges and presents a gamification approach for citizen mobilization and raising awareness: The Changing Faces Competition that has been piloted by Nairobi-based organizations Dandora Transformation League and Public Space Network.


How to Cite
Tehlova, A. (2019) “Changing Faces Competition. Mobilizing Citizens to Reclaim Public Spaces in Nairobi”, The Journal of Public Space, 4(3), pp. 61–86. doi: 10.32891/jps.v4i3.1221.
Art and Activism
Author Biography

Anna Tehlova, Public Space Network

Anna’s background is in urban policy with a focus on fast-growing cities in developing and emerging countries, especially in Africa. She has co-founded and coordinated the Nairobi-based Public Space Network (PSN), an association bringing together a diversity of stakeholders involved around public space management to facilitate public-private-people partnerships and ensure a sustainable management of public spaces across the city through fostering the community ownership of spaces. Under Anna’s leadership, PSN has scaled up the international award-winning Changing Faces Competition from the neighbourhood to the city-wide level, mobilizing 114 community groups to adopt and transform the same number of previously neglected and abused public spaces into clean, safe and productive community spaces. Anna graduated from Sciences Po University in Paris, with a masters in urban governance with specialisation on African and Latin American cities, and bachelor degree in multidisciplinary social sciences with majors in African Studies and Development Economics.


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