2024-ABIDJAN KOUMASSI 5 - © Cabanon Vertical
La Pépinière urbaine d’Abidjan

One year after the end of the UFI Abidjan: the animation programme team returns to the sites

In April, an assessment and capitalisation mission took place in Abidjan, one year after the closing of the UFI. The management group returned to the sites to assess their use, the sustainability of the facilities and the operation of the management committees (CoGes) that had been set up.

This week of exploration was invaluable in understanding the conditions for successful sustainable management of facilities and the long-term impact of UFI.

Commune of Abobo, PK18 district

The municipality of Abobo is one of the largest and most densely populated in the district of Abidjan, made up of various neighbourhoods resulting from successive formal and informal housing developments. PK18, the district in which the Abidjan UFI is active, has undergone restructuring due to its precariousness, resulting in denser spatial occupation and a scarcity of space for community facilities and uses. The UFI has taken these challenges into account to improve the existing infrastructure, in particular by developing a sports ground and recreational areas within the BAD school.

2024-ABIDJAN-ABOBO 1 © Cabanon Vertical
  • Current uses

The facilities in PK18, which include a playground, benches and a football pitch, are used to the full by the schoolchildren during breaks and after lessons. The playground offers shelter from the sun and rain, the benches provide a place to sit and eat or do homework, and the football pitch is a central play area. These facilities encourage children to stay at school and prevent them from dispersing outside. Outside school hours, these areas are used by local associations, particularly sports clubs. The football pitch is very popular for evening and weekend training sessions. Local residents also use the facilities for various ceremonies such as weddings and christenings, after making a request to the school headmaster.

  • Facilities management

The school's management committee (CoGes), headed by the headmaster and including traditional chiefs and representatives of the local population, is responsible for maintenance and access to the facilities. A caretaker is present 24 hours a day to monitor the premises and ensure that the rules of use are respected. Although the football pitch has suffered some minor damage, such as silting up and a football goal post being torn off, the school has the resources to carry out the repairs.

  • Feedback from the local project owner

The municipality is satisfied with the improvements made. Moussa Koné, Director of Technical Services at the town hall and focal point for the PAQRA project, visited the sports ground and was inspired to replicate this type of infrastructure in other neighbourhoods. A budget of FCFA 30 million per pitch has been allocated for these future projects. The UFI demonstrated the importance of community involvement from the outset of projects to ensure their sustainability and meet the needs of local residents.

Commune of Yopougon, GESCO district

The commune of Yopougon, the largest and most populous in the district of Abidjan, is home to the GESCO neighbourhood. Initially created to house staff working on the northern motorway, GESCO has become a precarious neighbourhood with a predominantly immigrant population and no adequate infrastructure. Within the framework of the PAQRA, the State has undertaken to restructure GESCO. The UFI choose to intervene on the "Calcio field", a public playground, to make it a pilot operation, despite difficulties of spatial delimitation that were resolved thanks to consultation between the commune, the chiefdom and a local parish.

2024-ABIDJAN YOPOUGON 2 - © Cabanon Vertical
  • Current uses

The Calcio pitch in the GESCO district of Yopougon has become a vital space for the local community. It is used daily for sporting activities such as football, fitness, rollerblading and taekwondo. Although the sports activities are predominantly male, women are also active participants, particularly in fitness classes on Saturdays. The ground is also a venue for various ceremonies (weddings, christenings and funerals).

  • Facilities management

The site is managed by a Management Committee (CoGes) set up by the Socio-Cultural Services Department. The chairman of the CoGes is elected by the local youth and women's associations. The CoGes, which has a two-year term of office, does not ask for any financial contribution for sporting activities, but receives a token fee for the organisation of ceremonies. A fixed timetable regulates the use of the pitch, and fines are applied if the rules are not respected. Funds raised are used for maintenance and minor repairs to the site.

  • Feedback from the local project owner

Amon Kouassi Aimé, deputy director of infrastructure projects at Yopougon town hall, expressed his satisfaction at the community's ownership of the site. Unlike other projects, where residents were less involved, the UFI has shown that community involvement is essential to the sustainability and success of local infrastructure.

Commune de Koumassi, Quartier de Divo

The Divo district, located in the almost island commune of Koumassi, is one of the UFI's intervention sites. Formerly a flood zone, Divo's low-lying areas have gradually been drained to make way for housing. The UFI decided to intervene on part of the administrative land intended to house a primary school and a police station, by building a multi-sports platform. Despite initial tensions with the local authorities over development standards, a compromise was reached to bring the projects to a successful conclusion with the active involvement of the local authority.

Divo terrain de foot - © Cabanon Vertical
  • Current uses

In the Divo district, the purpose-built pitch is used daily for football, fitness and ceremonies. Sports activities are well structured, with slots reserved for local teams. Women and girls also benefit from specific slots for their activities. The development of the pitch has made it possible to rehabilitate an area previously used for illegal activities, thereby centralising use in a safe environment.

  • Facilities management

The initial management of the site saw a few conflicts, but the situation stabilised with the appointment of a local resident to regulate access and manage potential conflicts of use. The CoGes and this caretaker are responsible for maintaining the site, with funds provided by donations and token contributions for use by people from outside the neighbourhood. Regular repairs are carried out to keep the pitch in good condition.

  • Feedback from the local project owner

Koumassi town council supports community management initiatives and has confirmed that the land will not be affected by the canal development project, despite certain uncertainties. The UFI has demonstrated the importance of effective local management and community involvement in ensuring the sustainability of developments.

Commune of Koumassi, Aklomiabla district

Like Divo, the Aklomiabla district is landlocked near the Abidjan lagoon, but its embankment has been regularised and approved by the public authorities. The district's rapid development has led to heavy land pressure, leaving little land available for new development. The UFI, in consultation with the local authorities, finally laid out a pétanque court on the forecourt of the youth centre, thus meeting the demand of the local community while respecting the existing land constraints.

2024-ABIDJAN KOUMASSI 1 - © Cabanon Vertical
  • Current uses

The pitch in the Aklomiabla neighbourhood is mainly used for football, with lesser use for petanque. Young people use the pitch after school and at weekends for sporting activities. The development of the site has also led to the creation of a nearby maquis, which serves as a friendly meeting place for young people.

  • Facilities management

The site has suffered damage as a result of tensions between users and initial conflictual management. The CoGes, made up of members of the community, took steps to regulate access and maintain the site. A padlock has been installed to secure access, and a respected local resident has been appointed to manage the site on a daily basis. Repairs and maintenance are funded by local donations and token contributions for use by people from outside the neighbourhood.

  • Feedback from the local project owner

The Town Hall has given assurances that the development will not be destroyed, despite the World Bank's plans. Local management has demonstrated the importance of transparency and communication in ensuring the sustainability of infrastructure. The UFI has demonstrated how effective community management can transform a space into a safe and functional gathering place for residents.