Building Child-Friendly Cities in Mozambique

Building Child-Friendly Cities in Mozambique


Block by Block empowers young girls in Mozambique to redesign public spaces—and rapidly pivots to help rebuilding efforts after the devastating Cyclone Idai.

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Building Child-Friendly Cities in Mozambique

Quelimane and Maputo, Mozambique
Project type
: Public space assessment
Collaborators: UN-Habitat, UNICEF
Region: Africa
Tags: children and youth, natural disaster recovery, public safety and security, public space assessment, innovation and technology


Healthy cities provide more than a street grid. Cities need to be welcoming, accessible for all, environmentally sustainable, and safe for residents. In Mozambique, a public assessment showed a need to design for some of the most vulnerable locals: young girls. UN-Habitat and UNICEF invited children to participate in Block by Block workshops to design ideas for their hometown.

Building Child-Friendly Cities, Block by Block

Two workshops were held in Maputo and Quelimane, involving over 60 participants total. A four-day workshop in Maputo welcomed 26 children, and a month later, a second three-day workshop in Quelimane included 40 more. The participants, mostly young girls, did a walk-through of the neighborhood with smartphones in hand to map their neighborhood. Using an app, they marked where they play, how they get to school, and other significant locations in the area. The map included indications of where the girls felt safe or unsafe.

The next steps of the workshop introduced the basic concepts of Minecraft as a tool to redesign public spaces. Groups pitched ideas and created design proposals together on computers. At the end, two sites were chosen for upcoming renovations.

Safe and secure community spaces are extremely important to vulnerable communities, especially adolescent girls and women. As communities and families learn to design, build, and manage their common spaces, they build their collective resilience and capacity to address more precarious issues, such as eviction threats, natural disasters, and relocation.
— Celine d'Cruz, Block by Block

A 3D rendering of the proposed design in Mozambique.

Block by Block aims to involve youth in the planning process in urban areas by giving them the opportunity to show planners and decision makers how they would like to see their cities in the future.
— Pontus Westerberg, UN-Habitat


In March 2019—just a few months after the workshops—Cyclone Idai hit Southern Africa. The catastrophic tropical storm affected thousands of people and remains one of the most severe of its kind in history. Sadly, Mozambique experienced the strongest force at the center of the storm. Severe winds and flooding destroyed homes, schools, hospitals, and other vital resources in the region.

The Block by Block Foundation responded to Cyclone Idai with an additional contribution of $50,000, given through UN-Habitat. These funds aim to help disaster relief by restoring infrastructure and public spaces. True to form, this rebuilding will engage the affected communities in the most devastated neighborhoods in order to have truly collaborative public efforts. Through community involvement, UN-Habitat and Block by Block hope to accelerate the healing process in Mozambique.

More Resources

3D Minecraft Model of Maputo on Sketchfab