A child-friendly approach to urban planning

This article first appeared on Arup.com.

Children living in informal settlements in areas of rapid urbanisation are severely affected by a lack of basic services, inadequate living conditions, and limited opportunities for individual and community growth. A child-centred approach is required to ensure their needs and constraints are included in decision-making and planning.

As part of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Programme, Arup is assisting the municipality of Salvador in Brazil to develop a child-centred approach to resilience building in informal settlements. In the favela of Novos Alagados, Arup is working to improving the liveability and safety for children and their caregivers. The project is being delivered in partnership with Bernard van Leer Foundation’s Urban95 initiative and Avsi Brazil, an NGO that has been operating in the area for over 15 years.

We conducted a spatial assessment of the favela Novos Alagados in collaboration with Avsi Brazil using both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. The observations and GIS analysis were linked and mapped spatially to indicate the challenges and risks associated to the area.

An inclusive approach

Using the Child-centred Urban Resilience Framework, developed by Arup in collaboration with Plan International, we organised a participatory workshop with children and caregivers living in Novos Alagados. The aim was to understand the area through the eyes of the children, to understand the challenges they face, and to help identify possible interventions and solutions to improve their quality of life. We used relevant best-practice design solutions and employed participatory methods and tools to ensure the views of the children became firm actions.

By adopting this approach, we tackled and prioritised the needs and aspirations of the children in the planning and design of their urban environment, whilst strengthening their capacity to be a part of the decision-making processes that affect them.  We identified short and mid-term interventions aimed at improving the liveability and safety of the favelas, which will be included in the Salvador Resilience Strategy to be launched in January 2019.

Creating safe cities for all

A child-friendly approach to urban planning has the potential to unite a range of progressive agendas, including health and wellbeing, sustainability, resilience and safety. As a catalyst for urban resilience and innovation, putting children’s needs at the centre of planning can contribute to the creation of inclusive, liveable and safe cities that work better for everyone.

We organised a workshop with children and caregivers living in Novos Algados