The town of Moengo (a two-hour drive from Paramaribo), is a former well-equipped companytown of a bauxite company that closed in 2015. The town has potential to revive as the urban employment and amenity center for the surrounding village communities of the Marowijne district. In this way, migration from the villages to the capital Paramaribo could be tempered.
The population of Moengo changed drastically after the Surinamese internal war (1986-1992) and the end of bauxite mining. Although some of the former residents returned to the city after the war, many houses remained empty and are now inhabited by Maroons who left their villages as war refugees (Maroons are descendants of escaped African plantation slaves who began a new life in settlements in the forests of Suriname's interior). According to local sources, many residents still struggle with war trauma today. Because of the war, the region also has a bad reputation in the rest of Suriname. With the departure of the bauxite company, control over the houses and their maintenance also disappeared. Although it is not clear who is now the owner - residents assume it is the government - the houses and yards are being rapidly transformed.
Unemployment in Moengo is high and many residents live below the poverty line. The town also suffers from systematic neglect of public infrastructure (roads, sewers, water supply, schools, housing). The residential areas are highly vulnerable to flooding due to the lack of maintenance of the sewage system but also due to climate change. Because the population is growing rapidly, there is a lot of construction activity, often in flood-prone valley areas.
This master's thesis research will explore with the community of Moengo how residents themselves can take action to renew and densify their residential neighbourhoods in a climate-resilient and culturally resilient manner (and where and how to possibly expand the city). This research builds on the ISTT master thesis research by Van Campenhout K., Smits L. and Versteeg M. (2022) "JULIANADORP. Investigating a climate-robust & culturally resilient renewal in Julianadorp". This examined the spatial possibilities for the renewal of housing, yards and sewers in the Julianadorp residential area. The sub-study on a 'klusgroep' for Moengo examined how the community could organise itself for the implementation of this renewal.