Tag Archives: development

Painting the future of Anam

8 Aug

a gathering

The children of Anam are talented and creative individuals. They are strong, smily and friendly. Most importantly, they are eager to learn and have an incredible potential to do so. As it could be derived from Aristotle’s thinking on “potentialities and actualities” and from Amartya Sen’s “capabilities approach”, children are a seed project par excellence. If the freedom to choose between a different set of alternatives is given at a sufficient level, they can embody the biggest force of change in society.  They therefore represent the future of  Anam City and the future of their community and culture.

Last weekend, I gathered a group of ten kids between four and fourteen years old coming from Mmiata, Iyora and Ebenebe to draw everyday life scenes in Anam. I will here underline several findings that came along this interesting activity by discussing a number of drawings. These will allow me to verify the initial statements of this post.

When children were given the opportunity to draw, they approached the paper with some fear. Initially, they copied my drawings with care. However, they quickly took their own initiative and uncovered their character, humor and savoir-faire. A multiplicity of colours and forms started spreading on the white sheet of paper.

Here one can observe some examples of the first attempts to draw a house. It was fascinating to notice how they quickly improved their creations, after understanding fully the shape they were dealing with and adapting it to the local standards.


The drawings were mostly separate objects floating on paper, scattered images without no real relationship between each other. The beautiful figures drawn by Oniebushi, as shown below, are isolated, independent and enclosed in thick lines, as if they were guarding a secret. However, as a group they do not tell a story, but rather many individual ones.

floating objects

Some of them where particularly fortunate when using colors and creating shapes, while others had a particular obsession with numbers and rather complicated calculations which reminds us on how diverse human abilities are.

numbers vs colors

It was interesting to see how they twisted and mirrored numbers in a row, letters in a word or  even full words. Notice, for example, how they write the word “cup” below. I took advantage of this moments to clarify the state of the art of our alphabet and our numbers. As an unexpected gift, the chilfren thought me how to count in Igbo! Indeed, interacting with Anam children is a shortcut to learn their language.


The most repeated objects in their drawings included: houses, churches, trees and coconut trees, men with machetes, women carrying buckets, shirts, chicken and roosters, fish, yams and other fruits, cars, vans, helicopters, canoes and canoe paddles, umbrellas, chairs, benches, cups and pots, football scenes and finally mobile phones and their power supplies as you can observe below.


The compilation of these random objects illuminates clearly the everyday life experiences of  children in Anam. On the one side, it tells us about their culture and their values. It makes one understand better their surrounding environment and one can even guess which are the sounds of this area, what are the main weather challenges and even which are their nutrition patterns. On the other side,  these drawings can also inform on how some ongoing seed projects that are growing Anam New City, such as the introduction of mobile money, can be nothing else than a success. In particular, by observing how mobile phones are already an important part of the everyday life of Anam children.

After playing with them for several hours I learned that these girls and these boys are exceptional. There is much potential in their little hands. All in all, this confirms how children can play an essential role in the social engineering of  Anam New City and Anam New City can, in return, offer them the necessary opportunities to fully develop their set of innate capabilities. As the Igbo proverb tells us, “ora na azu nwa”, it takes a village to raise a child.

Post by: Isabel Carreras-Baquer

New LOGIC for Africa

1 Sep


The urgent need for sustainability today demands new systems of thinking and new approaches to problem solving — new spheres of logic.  Societies are no longer considered independent of the natural environment and neither can both exist outside of the influence of technology.  The Logic of the ANAM model is the unique conceptual basis and theoretical underpinning of our sustainability perspective, which lives in the confluence of three spheres: Sociologic, Ecologic and Technologic (SET).  The three spheres together form a regime of sustainability in which all three interactively control viability, performance and outcome.  These mutually reinforcing logics are used to assess each urban design strategy.

Sociologic: Communalism and interdependence are embedded in most African traditional cultures, yet often lost in modern society.  Because a truly sustainable urbanism is facilitated and manifested through its social roots, it must be grounded in cultural heritage, both in practice and in form.  Thus the system of collective progress, as defined by the society itself, is most resilient against socially destructive forces and reflective of the African tradition of development.  Therefore, a sociological strategy is understood as one that is culturally relevant, collectively improves human quality of life and encourages responsible citizenship.

Ecologic: Africa is blessed with abundant and diverse natural resources. The local ecology has been a source of physical sustenance, creative inspiration and a struggle for survival.  These three experiences are independently significant yet must be fairly and simultaneously addressed. Therefore, an ecological strategy is a balanced and respectful management of natural resources that meets human needs, enhances natural beauty and mitigates natural hazards.

Technologic: There is an urgent need in Africa for practical solutions to life-threatening problems stemming from natural and man-made causes.  An ‘urgent practicality’ means solutions must be readily implementable, scalable and able to yield tangible results for the present generation. Furthermore, local innovation within traditional systems is an important counter to the vulnerabilities of aid dependency. Therefore, a technological strategy is a practical, problem-solving application that appropriates indigenous knowledge systems, advances innovation, supports resilience and optimizes processes (time, money, resources).

Economics, though traditionally understood as the third sphere of sustainability, is excluded from this SET not as a devaluation of the global phenomena, but to advance the assertion that a system of production of material wealth is not central to, but results from the collective endurance and progress of humankind as derived from this SET.  The model posits the Logical SET of interrelationships as the basis for articulating a truly sustainable city, one that is both uniquely African and universally laudable.

Internship Develops Innovations in Sustainable African Urbanism

15 Aug

After two and a half months of intense research and design work, the internship program is drawing to an end.  The work has been foundational towards the development of the Master Plan document.   The following summarizes several of the overall outcomes of the design and principle goals for the Anam City.


A vibrant economy, building on regional strength in agriculture and an abundance of natural resources like clay & bamboo will accelerate growth and prosperity. Generously distributed community facilities to support good health and educational advancement, as well as public amenities such as parks and recreational spaces will improve the quality of life for residents.


The physical design of the city and supporting activities will nurture sound environmental stewardship. Regionally appropriate architecture will respond better to the tropical conditions and promote responsible resource use. Protecting the existing ecosystem will also create a healthier and more enjoyable city environment.


The city’s infrastructure demands will be met by a distributed network of small-scale energy, water & waste systems. A balance of low cost and state-of-the-art technologies will tap into extensive renewable energy resources such as solar and biomass and will balance with ecologically sound water & waste infrastructure.  Smart information technologies will also optimize system performance by increasing efficient monitoring and minimizing resource waste.

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