Mapping Poverty

For the last five months, I have been part of a wonderful team mapping public places in Mathare. These places included social and economic issues which concern the community. The team is composed of 20 active mappers who are all residents of Mathare from different villages. The team was trained by mappers from Kibera on how to do it using the GPS and loading the information in the internet.

After five months of mapping one can clearly see what is there and also form question of what has not been mapped.  I asked one community elder from Kosovo how many toilets are there? He quickly mentioned 5! But when I showed him the map, he got a rude shock. He said, “I always thought that I know many things about community”. Participating in the mapping exercise was a time for reflection on what we have in the community and how we can transform the information for fighting poverty in the Mathare.

Critical part of the process was the people as a resource! Without their blessing and involvement, there is no way we would have penetrated the slums. It was good to note that the District Officer for Mathare division appreciated the work and he hangs one map in his office.

But above all these, what clearly comes out is the naked truth on the level of poverty and how the community is coping with the challenges. On water and sanitation, there are many types of toilets and water points of interest to the community. The number of toilets seen on the map might give an impression that there are enough toilets but this is wrong. If assessed how many family members share one toilet, then you will get shocked. This brings out the limited access of sanitation. Looking again where and how the raw sewer flows over to the next phase! Then one can see the time bomb waiting to explode-DISEASE OUTBREAK. Looking deeper, how many hospitals are there are?

On water points you will expect that the water is always there since water points are many. But what a shock as the water is never there and when it comes, it is sold between Shillings 2-5 per twenty litres far much expensive than in rich places like Muthaiga and Lavington.

The open defecation areas have taken over the children play grounds. Children have no-where to play

The next phase is to use the maps to engage local leaders and government officials towards action.

What do you see in the map of Mathare? – Simon


One Comment to “Mapping Poverty”

  1. I can’t seem to look at this post from my droid!

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