April 21, 2015

Students from Denmark write about their experiences with Kenasvit

Copies from:https://kenasvit.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/students-from-denmark-write-about-their-experiences-with-kenasvit/

The informal economy is a global phenomenon and a serious development issue around the world. Workers in the informal economy are widely neglected in terms of enjoyment of rights and formal recognition as workers. In Kenya about 70 % of the population is employed in the informal economy and they contribute as a major factor in the national economy. This has motivated us to focus our studies on how people organize to improve their situation and fight for their rights as workers.

Through six weeks in Kenya, we learned how the members are facing a range of different challenges such as land and space issues, lack of water and sanitation at the work place, harassment, lack of security and lack of political influence and representation. In this respect, KENASVIT has done a lot to improve both the relation to the authorities and the general conditions of street vendors and informal traders.

With the help of the KENASVIT National Office, we visited four of the seven urban alliances – Nakuru, Migori, Mombasa and Nairobi. We were overwhelmed by how warmly we were welcomed as students. Everywhere we went the members of KENASVIT made us feel at home and went out of their way to accommodate us.

By talking to a great number of KENASVIT’s members in their working places – streets, markets and stalls –we learned about the challenges that the informal traders face. Though workers experience challenges and possibilities different e.g. gender or tribe, many of the same issues are at stake for informal traders all over Kenya. KENASVIT has done very important work with focusing on keeping and supporting unity among traders after the post-election violence as well as encouraging women to participate in line with men. However, there is a need to enhance the structures in order to make everybody able to participate in the trajectory of KENASVIT, for example with regard to seminars, workshops and elections. These were issues that many members spoke about.

From KENASVIT’s members we also got a good impression of the way the informal traders work as civil society actors to make their voice included in the political debates and developments.
From our viewpoint, one of KENASVIT’s greatest strengths is the fact that the organisation is truly grass root based. KENASVIT has a close feeling of the local level and is capable of bringing their issues to the national and international level. That is unique in pushing for policy change and for uniting informal workers on a larger scale. This is key if the ambition is not only to improve the living conditions on a short-term scale (e.g. small-scale loans with only a limited transformative potential), but also to realize worker’s rights as well as political change as a long-term goal. Hence, communication and information among members on all levels is crucial in order to enhance a strong common voice. This being said, we were deeply impressed by the commitment, will and strength of the informal traders in coming together in a national alliance. Like one street trader told us: A good member is one who contributes, not only with member fees, but also with ideas for change.

This reflects that KENASVIT has a true potential to transform the situation for many informal workers in Kenya.

April 2, 2015

Upgrading Occupied Space: What is the National Youth Service Doing in Mathare and Kibera?


By Simon Kokoyo

The Kenyan government through the National Youth Service (NYS) has decided to improve the general living conditions in poor neighborhoods of Nairobi, namely Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru. These neighborhoods are known for high population density, inadequate health facilities, insecurity, unemployment and almost nonexistent garbage collection systems. The poor conditions in Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru can easily create an impression that there has never been government intervention or development plans for these areas and creates the temptation to address problems that seem amenable to a ‘quick fix’ like picking up garbage.

In Mathare, NYS personnel together with selected community members conducted a mapping exercise to identify needs or places that require a ‘quick fix’ such as uncollected garbage piles and blocked drainage and rivers. They are also  planning to construct dispensaries, police posts, fish ponds, markets, posho mills and urban farming areas. When President Uhuru visited Mathare and said that dispensaries, police posts, markets, fish ponds, posho mills and sewer lines will be constructed creating employment opportunities for more than 3500 youths including women, everybody was happy and waiting to see the new look of Mathare and other neighborhoods earmarked for improvement. After three weeks of clearing garbage, cleaning drainages and opening rivers, questions are now emerging; do we really need the planned 12 police posts, 12 dispensaries and how did NYS team arrive at all these figures in Mathare? It has now also dawned on the community that these facilities will require space, which is currently occupied.

Affected area

It is common knowledge that certain open spaces that were set aside for social amenities have been occupied or grabbed a long time ago. None of this grabbing has ever been addressed. Now, as amenities are being built, people will have to be displaced. For example in Mathare 3B, more than 500 residents have already been issued with 30 days notice by the Nairobi City County to pave way for NYS projects in Mathare or to move out of a piece of land identified for market development. In Kibera people who had occupied spaces meant for sewer lines, toilet blocks and roads were expected to vacate immediately. Some have already been displaced without compensation.

Once the NYS and some community leaders identify a piece of land for improvement or development a short notice is issued and occupants are expected to carry out a voluntary demolition and in some cases NYS locally hired youths will assist. There is lot of movement (shifting) within Kibera and Mathare, which is not painless for families, and if the intent is to improve the conditions of the poor, then these people require some support and compensation for their sacrifice for the broader community. In addition, in some place like Lindi-Kibera rents have increased after improvement on road and other social amenities. These adverse impacts of the NYS interventions on the very poor should be addressed. In the past, unless there are safeguards, slum improvements tend to drive out the poorest who are meant to benefit.


Everybody agrees that the inhumane conditions in the poor neighborhoods need to be improved urgently. However, the government should be sensitive to the fact that such communities have emerged over long period of time and as a result of certain push and pull factors common with cities experiencing rapid urbanization such as poverty, forceful eviction, conflicts, job opportunities, closeness to resources or affordable housing. Past experiences in Kenya (Mathare 4A and Kibera Upgrading Projects) show that slum or informal settlement upgrading is a complex and time-consuming process. Residents require some compensation for their losses or need to be shown alternative land for displacement to be humane and in compliance with the law. When people are moved this will impact their ability to access jobs, customers and services. It also affects children who are schooling in the area. The National Youth Service projects should think about how it is approaching evictions. It is good that the government is in a hurry to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods, but it should go beyond the “quick fix” mentality to have a long term vision so that the amenities are staffed and financed and can have an impact on people’s wellbeing. Finally, if this initiative is to be pro-poor, the government should also be sensitive to the needs of those who will be displaced in order to improve poor neighborhoods. The government must also comply with the law in moving people which entails proper procedures and some compensation or alternative location.

Nairobi Planning Innovations is appreciative of the attention the government is paying to these poor communities. It is still important, however, to note that interventions should be compliant with both the constitution (Article 43(1)(b)  which states that, every person has the right to accessible and adequate housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation) and the little known The Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act, 2012 which sets out guidelines for how displacement is to happen to respect the rights and dignity of the displaced.

February 4, 2015

The Key to Unlocking this African Moment


This is a crucial moment for Africa. At the opening Intergovernmental meeting on the Post 2015 framework in New York in January I was invited to share the voices of African people with those tasked with drafting the key documents for UN member states to agree in September. These documents will replace the Millennium Development Goals agreed by member states in 2000.

Together with my colleague and former volunteer Nancy Maina, we tried to stress the importance of African communities being part of the decisions that affect their lives.

Asking people what they need

I have been part of the Participate Research Initiative which did months of consultations with people across Africa (as well as South America and Asia), documenting the perspectives of ordinary people through a series of participatory research workshops.

When grassroots communities described their realities, they taught me that the development they envisioned is not the same as the development the majority of the world imagines they want. In their own narrative, the strongest message from communities is a deep desire to be given the ability to do it for themselves.

These people identified critical blockages standing between them and their ability to function. This catalogue ranged from feeling vulnerable and excluded based on social norms, legal and political discrimination, corruption, insecurity and crime, inadequate skills and lack of opportunities to own assets. Unlocking the African moment requires removal of these blockages.

So first of all, the new development framework mustn’t just ask, “what can I do for the people?” but also “what are the people doing?” and “how can we accompany them in their local development innovation?”

Shifting focus to the often-unrecognized people like volunteer groups, grassroots community led organizations and marginalized communities will be crucial to the success of any new and ambitious plan.

Name checking the volunteers
If all the volunteers in the world were put into one country, that country would be the 9th most populous country in the world. This is not always acknowledged so I was determined to set this straight when I was given the opportunity to speak on to the UN.

I explained that for every paid member of staff that the Red Cross has globally, they have 20 volunteers. Back in sub-Saharan Africa where I come from, that figure is even greater (the Red Cross and Red Crescent have 327 volunteers for every paid member of staff). At VSO , the numbers of national volunteers supplementing the work of international volunteers in education, livelihoods, business and health have also been growing significantly in the past 15 years.

We need to name check this vital group in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As Nancy said in her speech at the civil society forum on January 14th, both the Political Declaration and Means of Implementation Agreement that will sit alongside the Sustainable Development Goals, Targets and Indicators, must be just as sound and robust as the goals, targets and indicators we choose.

Volunteering is often the first step in people’s active participation in their communities and countries as evidenced in the inspiring 500 Ways initiative. With effective support and planning, we can mobilize the huge pool of skills, capacity and passion that volunteers have for the realization of the SDGs.

Shoulders to the wheel
Wrapping up the two day meeting, the co-facilitator, Kenya’s Ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau, said that by September we need to have Heads of State coming to New York with real enthusiasm for this agenda. He called on us all to work together – civil society, government and academics – to tell the world why these are important and how they can be transformative. I, for one, am determined to put my shoulder to the wheel with my people so we can unlock the barriers to making this Africa’s moment.

January 28, 2015

Population by country – Thematic Map – TOP 50 – World

Population by country – Thematic Map – TOP 50 – World.

December 11, 2014

Bringing the data revolution to education, and education to the data revolution

Originally posted on Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?:

Written by Pauline Rose, Professor of International Education, University of Cambridge.

Calls for a data revolution are putting the spotlight on the importance of more and better data as a means to hold policymakers to account for post-2015 goals. In many ways, education has been at the forefront of approaches to measuring progress over the past 15 years. The influence of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) and the efforts of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in improving the availability of education data provide important lessons for tracking progress post-2015. This experience should play an important contribution to informing the practical next steps for the data revolution.

Building on this experience, a roundtable held at the Overseas Development Institute on 17 November brought together over 40 technical experts, who debated approaches to measuring progress towards post-2015 education targets, with a focus on learning and equity. The…

View original 887 more words

December 11, 2014

Why statisticians should welcome the Data Revolution


Data belongs to all

Originally posted on Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?:

Written by Bill Anderson, Data Standards and Systems Advisor at Development Initiatives.

“Here are two ideas of the moment:

-Monitoring the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires a huge investment in an international framework that delivers globally compatible statistics.

-Sustainable development requires a huge investment in data collection capacity so that decision makers at national and sub-national levels have access to usable information from sustainable sources.

They are not the same thing. Herein lies the problem with Morten Jerven’s critique of the UN Independent Expert Advisory Group report on the Data Revolution.

Statistics and data are not the same. Statistics are derived from data. The more (reliable) data that exists the fewer extrapolations statisticians need to make and the more they can focus on quality and consistency within and across datasets.”

Read the full post here.


View original

December 4, 2014

Youth well-being: measuring what matters

Originally posted on Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?:

4-15 December

Wikiprogress invite you to join their online conversations on how the goal of youth well-being can be better incorporated into measurement and policy.


The aim of this discussion is to map out the main issues for youth well-being and to identify organisations and initiatives working in this field. This discussion will provide the foundation for a more in-depth online debate that we will be hosting in early 2015.

Everyone is welcome to join the discussion, and we are especially interested to hear from students and young people from around the world.

There are more youth living in the world today than at any other time in human history. There are now an unprecedented 1.8 billion adolescents and young adults aged between 10 and 24, making up over a quarter of the world population (UN Population Fund). However, young people’s voices are not always heard in measurement and…

View original 68 more words

December 4, 2014

A critical moment to engage young people


We cannot be guaranteed to have a good future is we don’t involve the real stakeholders and in this case, the Youth

Originally posted on Post2015.org - what comes after the MDGs?:


This post is by Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat. In 2013, the Commonwealth launched the first-ever global Youth Development Index, which measures the status of young people in 170 countries around the world. This blog has been posted as part of the Wikiprogress discussion on “Youth well-being: measuring what matters!

As the world deliberates on the post-2015 agenda, there has never been a more critical moment to engage young people. The inclusion of youth perspectives, and the energy, diversity and talent that young people bring, is a clear-cut imperative. Young people have an incredible amount to offer to national development processes, and, with the right support and opportunities, can be empowered to realise their full potential.

Today, almost half of the world’s population (48.9%, according to Euromonitor International) is aged under 30, and the proportion is generally much higher in developing countries. It is…

View original 414 more words

October 3, 2014

Service and Youth

Is the National Youth Service (NYS) the way to go in bringing up a citizen who is service oriented to his country? The NYS act of 1964, envisaged Kenya creating a platform of reintegrating militant youths then to reorient, assimilate and create a pool of employable disciplined youths who can support the army or police force while pursuing national cohesion agenda. Forty nine years later, Kenya is at cross roads seeking betters ways of involving and motivating over 60% of its populations in nation building through the NYS.

Over the years, Kenya government and private sector have made huge investments in education which has seen high enrolment from Early Childhood Education to University level. On the other hand we have yearly police and armed forces recruitment drives absorbing many young people. However the rate of unemployment, deterioration of public service is quite evident in urban centers where provision of basic services such as garbage collection and poor roads and housing is in dire need. Above all these, Kenya is still a fragile state as witnessed in 2008 post election violence.

How then can the youth be involved in a constructive way without exploitation? Participation in nation building should be an obligation which a good citizen must carry out with pride. People have rights and the state has responsibility to do whatever is necessary to fulfill these rights. One such right is to ensure that we all live in safe and clean environment. Institutions such as education, military, police and work place should assist in fostering a sense of cohesion among the citizens.

The Ministry of Devolution recently launched a programme of recruiting young people through NYS and youth are equipped with skills to offer various services to the vulnerable communities. In Nairobi, the entry point has been participating in garbage collection in the informal settlements starting with Kibera. All over the world, governments have always strived either to control or involve youth in development. It is easy to control people who have passed through forces training since there is respect attached to chain of command. However the danger lies when it comes to demilitarizing the youths and reintegrating them back into civilian life. Conflicts in the region and ‘cheap’ labour might make Kenya a fertile ground for recruitment. The rate of unemployment is quite high all over Kenya which sometimes back, the World Bank had warned us that this is bomb’ waiting to explode.

In general, youth are very innovative and creative and Kenya government should think beyond controlling and militarizing the youth. Uwezo Fund must be ready to accommodate fresh ideas in this modern time. At the local level the youth should also take part in the real management of political parties, government to establish real funds for entrepreneurship ventures like implementing some of the ideas generated by students at the annual science congress while making access to information technology platform a priority especially in the informal settlements to bridge the disparity when it comes to access to information.

August 17, 2014

Why Mathare By-Election was Peaceful

ODM Mobilizing Voters

ODM Mobilizing Voters

The recent Mathare by-election campaigns were held in peaceful atmosphere despite open and rampant voter bribery across board. The By-Election was occasioned by successful petition by Stephen Kariuki of ODM against George Wanjohi of TNA. The by-election attracted a total of nine candidates all targeting more than 80,000 registered voters from different ethnic background.
The leading political alliances Jubilee and CORD managed to invest a lot of resources in ensuring that their candidates captured the vacant seat. There are four reasons why the by-election was peaceful.
First during the previous elections in Mathare, there was always presence of gangs such as Mugiki, Taliban or violent youths ready to be hired by politicians. This time round, none existed to be hired by politicians.
Secondly, the heat generated before the Saba Saba rally which ended peacefully also encouraged the local residents to maintain peace. When the TNA candidate opted to woo only Kikuyu voters this became counterproductive even amongst his supporters. This resulted even in many young Kikuyu voters shunning Wanjohi of TNA for Stephen Kariuki of ODM who is a Kikuyu too.
Thirdly, of late there have been many forums organized by various organizations such Sisi ni Amani Kenya, Inuka, Sauti Yetu Debates and other government led initiatives which all played an important role in integrating people from different ethnic background to meet regularly
Fourthly, when President Uhuru visited Mathare for a church service cum campaign trip for TNA candidate at Redeemed Gospel Church he never openly told the residents to vote Wanjohi rather he talked more about referendum politics and which Raila did later. The President body language betrayed his mission in Mathare thus helping cool the temperature down.
The heavy presence of police cannot be attributed to the peaceful election but can be praised for ensuring law and order was maintain during elections. However it was disappointing to note that most political party agents did not know how a BVR Kits operate. At the end of it all, Mathare has a new MP…Hon. Stephen Kariuki.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,278 other followers

%d bloggers like this: