Maternity and community health center project now underway
Next Generation Ambassadors explores architectural transformation
Last updated: September 22, 2023 Nkweshoo, Tanzania
To help address a longstanding community need, a trio of young architectural practitioners are working with community members to expand Nkweshoo’s existing dispensary and maternity facility to improve the quality of care and childbirth services.
Funded by the recently launched Holcim Foundation grant program, the Clinic of Care: Tanzania project led by Holcim Foundation Next Generation Ambassadors Meriem Chabani, Twaha Kyomuhendo and Vedhant Maharaj with Stefan Novakovic is undertaken in partnership with Tumbili, a local NGO that has been providing ad hoc financial aid and healthcare volunteers to the Nkweshoo community since 2017.
Clinic of Care: Tanzania responds to a long-established community need, expressed through years of advocacy for an expanded healthcare complex. Nkweshoo’s existing dispensary comprises two barrack-like structures that do not provide adequate daylight, ventilation, or sanitation – a reality reflected in local birthing practices. The project will deliver a 200 square meter extension, as well as maintenance and renovation work on the current structure, and landscaping using indigenous species.
In 2022, 85 women gave birth in the maternity building, while 150 had to be redirected elsewhere. However, the nearest hospital is located in another valley, a considerable journey via a road which may be blocked to traffic depending on the season. Meanwhile, larger urban hubs are several hours away by flight.
Now underway, the project is rooted in a deep understanding of local context and culture. In the spring of 2023, Kyomuhendo and Maharaj conducted a site visit, working closely with community members and healthcare providers to understand needs and priorities, while also undertaking an assessment of the built environment and site context.
The dispensary staff identified the need for an additional dedicated childbirth facility, as well as four new rooms for patients in pre- or post-natal observation. Moreover, locals have stressed the importance of a comfortable, dignified setting that embraces the cultural meaning attached to childbirth.
There is immense community support for the project, including from community leaders, politicians, and the local healthcare community. The project plan is in the approval process via the national Health Department and district engineer.
A first workshop with architecture students from Ardhi University (Tanzania) and École Paris-Malaquais (France) will be held in October 2023. The construction phase is expected to take place in early 2024 and will also include the collaboration of The University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa).
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