Human Needs Project was co-founded by Connie Nielsen, and David Warner of Redhorse Constructors, in 2010 following Connie's experience shooting "Lost in Africa" in the slum of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.
In Kibera people live in dire circumstances and with little hope of escaping a crushing poverty, because access to basic services is fractured, expensive and unreliable. Long years of assistance-based development has created an environment of mistrust and resentment, as little has changed in Kibera over the last 40 years.
From the HNP website: "Hundreds of thousands of people are squeezed into small, disputed slivers of land, where they often have no right of tenure, can be forcibly removed, and yet, it is hard to escape from here into a better life. Aside from basic needs of clean water, food and hygiene, there is also a lack of access to the basic tools of empowerment — skills training, affordable internet, interaction with new products, loans and credit, environmental solutions, Hygiene and health information, and networks of opportunity. Slum dwellers are often stigmatized and discrimination is common when searching for work.
Poverty's heavy toll. The effects of living without infrastructure are many: high infection rates, high maternal and child mortality rates, and low productivity rates  due to illness and lack of education. Poverty, social pressures and lack of access to affordable education condemn many to a life of unrelenting hardship."
A Plan for Action, not Assistance. Human Needs Project was founded to create a central service facility in the slum, The Town Center, from which to offer empowerment services - education, information, banking and communications - on a platform of water & sanitation based services, the income from which provides the financial self-sustainability of the Town Center.
The focal point of the Town Center is to empower the community through engagement, investment and education, and to provide clean, sustainable technology and a sound business plan for the long term financial sustainability. Once the community of the Town Center consumers is organized into a democratically viable cooperative, and successfully educated, organized and positioned to sustain the Town Center's long term goals of financial and technical independence, the Town Center itself will be donated to the Coop.
The First Year - Grassroots and Clean technology. Having first spent a year doing extensive research, building a volunteer based organization in the US, gathering a group of distinguished scientists, professionals and tech leaders, HNP simultaneously established firm stakeholder relations in Kibera and created its grassroots organization in Kenya, while also establishing its Kibera based Community Coordinating Committee - "the 3Cs" as we call this group of elders and community group representative established during our second public 'baraza'. In 2011, HNP continued to build its organization, finalized work on the green design and technology of the center, providing for the Center's complete off-grid capacity, own water source, full waste-water recycling, land title and commenced fund-raising.
Capacity building. In 2012 Human Needs Project commenced the education of 30 young Kiberans, equally representative of gender and tribal affiliation, providing training in both the administrative and technical aspects of running the Town Center. Economics, Business management, IT and accounting figured prominently along a strong emphasis on values: Self-sustainability, Transparency, Accountability, Tolerance & Equality. Electrical and Plumbing were taught along with other technical classes to provide each Management Trainee with real, practical abilities to repair the systems of the Town Center. The cross training program innovated substantially in its capacity building approach by including a strong emphasis on self-leadership, meant to recognize the particular emotional and psychological burdens on our team members from a life time of being discriminated against and from at times living through brutal conditions, and violence, in the slum.
Construction. Also in 2012, Human Needs Project broke ground on Kamakunji Grounds, a central square in Kibera, creating its borehole (more than 300M depth) which confirmed a strong source of clean potable water, and initiating construction which lasted through 2013. The Town Center finalized construction in March 2014, having built a high tech facility entirely with Kibera based labor, and, mostly, without the use of heavy machinery.
Services - Help to self help. The Town Center provides showers, toilets and potable water for thousands of users per day; a laundry; a micro-loans and savings coop; entrepreneur services; adult learning; computer room with high-speed internet; an Information kiosk for our collaborating partners to workshop and inform of its public health initiatives; and a green market place where our collaborating partners can sell products and clean technology at Bottom-of-the-Pyramid prices, helping to enhance the quality of life of people living in slums.
A Platform for Networking to and from the slum. Human Needs Project partners with universities and corporations to provide a platform for better coordination and communication between knowledge and technology providers and the people often excluded from this nexus - slum dwellers. In this capacity, Human Needs Project aims to provide better networking access for its community members - in both directions.
Keynote speeches HNP
Necker Island - Virgin Unite Leadership Gathering May 2014
CN Keynote speech: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Water and Sanitation Conference, Barcelona, May 2013