With more than 1.4 million inhabitants spread over 260 km2, the city of Niamey, which is the capital of the Niger, is sorely lacking in any real urban planning document. The authorities have not sufficiently taken into account the importance of restructuring the city which is developing in an anarchic manner. However, with the advent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), public spaces are in the spotlight. For the first time in history, public spaces are recognized as an international priority thanks to their inclusion in the SDGs through SDG 11 and officials within in Niamey have taken notice. HealthBridge's partner, Public Spaces for All, intends to play its part by focusing on achieving outcomes in three main areas:
- Streets - Walking is an unsafe, unpleasant experience in Niamey as there are no footpaths on most of the roads and, where they do exist, they are of low quality materials, degraded and/or occupied for other purposes. Public Spaces for All is working with local government officials and parliamentarians to ensure all future development plans have specific measures to encourage walking.
- Parks and Open Public Spaces - Parks are important areas for physical activity and relaxation, which reduces stress, mental disorders, and health inequities as well as air pollution. Parks also increase social cohesion and provide space for interaction between neighbours. However, despite their many benefits, parks and open spaces have not been a priority for policy-makers in Niger. Advocates for Public Space is working with local community groups to pilot test innovative park infrastructure changes. They are also working with local and national government to develop supportive open public spaces policies.
- Local Public Markets - Local public markets serve the community in numerous ways, including acting as a main trading centre where people can earn a living, creating social spaces in neighbourhoods for locals to meet and interact with one another and linking rural and urban communities. Advocates for Public Space is is working with local and national government to develop supportive strategies for markets in Niamey.
The expected results of this project include:
- Increased number of local public markets
- Increased number of quality improvements to local public markets
- Increased number of people using their local public market
- Increased number of streets that support and encourage walking and cycling
- Increased number of streets that support street and informal vendors
- Increased number of open public spaces
- Increased number of quality improvements to open public spaces
- Increased number of people using open public spaces.
After several years of advocacy, the city of Niamey has begun recognizing the importance of public spaces and parks in the community. In 2020, despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the city of Niamey funded and built four new public spaces in the city, which has increased the number of public spaces from six to ten. This is a significant achievement.