Ethiopia’s capital city is growing rapidly. New buildings and hotels, roads and car parks are being developed all over Addis Ababa. But there is very little space in the city given to play: currently the only playground in Addis Ababa is on the grounds of the expensive Sheraton Hotel.
Psychologist argue that play is vital to a child’s development. All children have an innate capacity and love for play, and through it they learn social skills and problem solving, enhance their cognitive development and stretch their imaginations.
New organisation Out of The Box (OTB), founded by Sally Duncan, aims to create child-centred, community-managed adventure playgrounds in the heart of Addis Ababa. Working with the residents, Out of The Box have consulted parents and children on what they want from playgrounds in the urban environment and recruited local architects and artists to help draw up plans. The lead architects are Estifanos Kilfu and Regbe Hagos, both graduates of the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building and Construction (EiABC).
The first playground that OTB will be creating is in the Balderas condominium, which is home to 6000 residents, a third of who are under the age of 16. The construction of the first phase, which will include an adventure playground, children’s permaculture garden and a 30 metre art wall featuring sateilite dishes paintings by the children, will begin in January 2016.
The second phase of building will see the creation of a multi-purpose youth centre, which will function as an early years daycare centre, evening and weekend youth hub, children’s library and small family café.
The daycare centre will meant that mothers of young children in the community can return to work and know their children are safe.
In November 2015, OTB successfully raised £5000 in a crowdfunding campaign. The money will be used to complete the first phase of building.