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Public open space initiatives for healthier cities in Rwanda

Abstract

With a population of close to 13 million, and an annual growth rate of 2.86 percent, Rwanda plans to position itself as a climate resilient, low carbon, low unemployment, reduced poverty country, with a strong services sector by 2050. Its projected increase in its urbanization rate from a current value of 18.4 percent to 35 percent by 2024 is driven by strong political will, significant investments in infrastructure, service provision, and human capital development. Rwanda’s secondary cities, identified as economic nodes of growth, are currently undergoing revision of their masterplans in consideration of climate change realities and the pressure on infrastructure and services due to rapid urbanization. Currently, cities in Rwanda do not yet have a system of public open spaces. Where available, such spaces are usually hardly accessible and need upgrading. To address this, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda Housing Authority, City of Kigali and six secondary cities have committed to deliver on public open space related activities and targets under the yearly performance contract ‘Imihigo’. The outcomes of their commitments support the climate-responsive revision of masterplans of the City of Kigali and six secondary cities. This paper presents public open space initiatives in Kigali and the results of the technical assessment of public open spaces and participatory planning and design workshop in Nyagatare, secondary city in Rwanda’s. It also discusses ongoing policy changes and initiatives that aim to promote public open spaces as crucial for urban public health.

Published:
Pages:129 to 146
Section: Systems
How to Cite
Gubic, I. and Baloi, O. (2020) “Public open space initiatives for healthier cities in Rwanda”, The Journal of Public Space, 5(2), pp. 129-146. doi: https://doi.org/10.32891/jps.v5i2.1287.

Author Biographies

Global Green Growth Institute
Rwanda Rwanda

Ilija Gubic is a senior urbanization and infrastructure officer embedded to the Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure by the Global Green Growth Institute, working on advancing sustainable urban development of secondary cities. He is also appointed visiting assistant lecturer at the School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Rwanda. Previously, he worked for the UN Secretariat in New York supporting the process of development of the New Urban Agenda. Prior to that, he worked for UN-Habitat, mostly in Asia and the Pacific on post-disaster processes. Ilija Gubic did research with Columbia University in New York City, USA and Politecnico di Milano in Italy, and has published on urban development in least developed countries.

Global Green Growth Institute
Rwanda Rwanda

Oana is a MSc graduate of landscape architecture with experience in urban planning for inclusivity, climate change mitigation and adaptation projects in Europe and East Africa and has specific interest in nature-based solutions and disaster risk reduction in vulnerable urban areas. Relocated in East Africa since 2013, Oana managed the implementation of spatial development projects such as urban wetlands, green public space, spatial rearrangement and upgrading of protracted temporary settlements in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Oana led partnerships with government counterparts, and worked with grassroots communities, indigenous peoples and people of concern in participatory planning and design. In the past years, Oana worked in Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure to support the revision of the master plans for Kigali and secondary cities, Rwanda Environment Management Authority for increasing the capacity to access climate finance for green city development, and Ethiopia Ministry of Urban Development and Construction to develop and implement inclusive urban planning for displaced and vulnerable communities. Oana is proficient in planning and design softwares and previously published on landscape architecture and design, public space, urban planning, and public health.

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