Kota Kita is a non-profit in Solo, Indonesia, specializing in citizen participatory design and urban planning. They promote dialogue between government and citizens to achieve inclusive cities, focusing on representation of marginalized or excluded communities. Kota Kita provides organizations and constituents with action research, stakeholder engagement, urban co-design/co-development, civic education, awareness-raising campaigns, and strategic planning for joint ventures and projects. Kota Kita assembles stakeholder programs for common urban management plans, providing workshops/trainings for local facilitators. Kota Kita has developed an online platform allowing citizens to report on safety needs and file repair requests directly to government agencies. They have also implemented mobile surveys and collaborative mapping digital platforms. The data collection campaigns and accessibility mapping rely on volunteer and civic action, and the results are used by government officials, activists, NGOs, and civil society to update services and needs. Kota Kita provides consultancy services for facilitating joint ventures; for example, organizing partnerships between international multilateral organizations, educational institutions, public agencies, and volunteer grassroots movements. Kota Kita offers its expertise through a fee-for-services model, thus diversifying its organizational income.
Using a participatory process, Kota Kita carried out several pilot projects in response to COVID-19. Urban designers, architects, and spatial engineers developed strategies for efficiently using building facilities to achieve responsible circulation and density of people to avoid the risks of COVID-19 spread. This has been an acute issue especially at the SDN Gadang school in Banjarmasin given that 67 of the 350 students have special needs and may be at higher risk of severe illness or complications from COVID-19. As a result, Kota Kita established Inclusive School Zones that focus on the distribution of students at different times of day, as well as workshops to educate students and teachers about social distancing. Kota Kita facilitated the co-design workshops, which included schoolchildren in the strategy and problem-solving process. As part of the safety and hygiene goals, stakeholders also developed solutions for waste management and centralized waste depositing stations surrounding school zones.
Theory of Change
Promoting dialogue between governments and citizens spurs civic engagement and collective citizen action to establish inclusive, informed, and innovative city planning.
Kota Kita relies on participatory mapping, with citizens reporting on access to water, sanitation, poverty levels, number of children enrolled in schools, and so on. Kota Kita’s mapping tool was used for planning disability-inclusive initiatives, expanding urban transportation systems, designing safe bicycle tracks, and gender-based safety mapping. Kota Kita facilitates participatory budget forums to involve citizens in how public money is spent. Putting power in the hands of local residents improves scrutiny and monitoring, resulting in fair resource allocation and consensus building among diverse populations in urban areas. Kota Kita has scaled their decentralized mapping model and participatory budget planning across cities in Indonesia and South and East Asia. They have identified cities facing similar challenges related to fast-growing peri-urban areas, which are most vulnerable to flooding due to climate change.
Since its founding, Kota Kita has added mobile surveying to increase participation and has expanded its work to 13 project locations. In Solo, mapping has scaled from seven to 51 neighborhoods. As part of their annual Urban Social Forum, Kota Kita hosted several online panels with over 27,000 participants. Over 70,000 people have accessed the data on the Kota Kita’s online information tool since it was launched in 2010. While about 70 percent of these users have come from Indonesia, the site has been visited by residents of 146 other countries. Kota Kita’s research on climate change has produced a manual focused on the most vulnerable communities. They have run six co-designing and three capacity-building workshops in Indonesian urban flood regions — Bima, Manado, and Pontianak — where facilitators conducted risk-based diagnostics. Kota Kita also organized urgent engagement of local stakeholders in Semarang (Indonesia), Khulna (Bangladesh), and Chennai (India) to solve water-related climate crisis challenges (i.e., floods, pollution, water scarcity, etc.). The PolyUrbanWaters project aims to produce a scientific understanding of water management.