Archive for ‘Health’

July 16, 2014

Understanding Solid Waste Data

Data Presentation by Isaac Muasa from Spatial Collective Ltd

Data Presentation by Isaac Muasa from Spatial Collective Ltd

One of the most common feature in Mathare is the large amount of uncollected garbage in the community. Spatial Collective Ltd, has been gathering data on solid waste management with assistance of the community and groups engaged in handling of solid waste.

Collection of data related to solid waste in urban areas especially in the informal settlement can be a complex affair. Garbage collection is big and territorial business in the informal settlements with some groups enjoying near monopoly in their zones.
Groups engaged in this business are both registered and unregistered while we have people handling garbage collection as a private business.

Spatial Collective Ltd, has been collecting data on solid waste from both residents and groups engaged in management of solid waste. Spatial Collective Ltd has managed to gather for the first time comprehensive data on solid waste management in Mathare Constituency. Change is the management of solid waste can be realized if the community, stakeholders and the Nairobi County government understand the situation.

Spatial Collective Ltd has started a series of forums to share the data with the groups, community and other stakeholders. Today (16/72014) was the first such meeting and 37 groups from Mathare participated in the forum. Currently 43 groups from Mathare Constituency are involved.
A platform to spearhead a clean community, “MTAA SAFI” been started, which will involves a multi-social media approach.

One can be part of the campaign by subscribing WhatsApp: +254 707482472; – Simon

March 6, 2014

Letter from Aliens to Earth

Alien SoundI was abducted by a ‘Aliens’ and taken to a higher ground in a floating spaceship and this is what they told me about earth’

“We come in peace to visit our dear lost cousins.  From our world which you refer to as Alien, we are told of our long lost cousins who disappeared into the space never to return. Our mission on earth is to discover how you are doing and how we can co-operate and sustain the entire universe. We are happy to note that after many years of wars amongst yourself, you have tried to make initiative to unite your countries through United Nations and regional trading blocs which is slowly forging a common understanding on human existence.

Our main mission is to alert you about the depleting ozone layer, greenhouse effects and its impact on your existence and future. We have noted with concern your appetite and greediness to harness natural resources. You extract more than you need and hence there is increased solid waste generated which you have no plans on how and where to dispose. You have ended up throwing more waste into the lakes, rivers, forests and oceans. What has been the impact of these actions? You are now witnessing unusual weather patterns in your planet. In our experience, nature has a way of cleaning itself and it does not forgive when it come to correcting wrong actions. Please our cousins, your own expert predicts that is nothing is done on time then one fourth of your species on earth will disappear by 2050.  We are happy, a few leaders like Al Gore from USA have tried to explain the impact and in 2007, you awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize in for his efforts in raising awareness on Climate Change. But are  acting to save your planet?

Experience from our culture shows that wars caused extinction and not development. We are aware during the First and Second World Wars some families lost a whole generation. You have invested so much in weaponry than in human development. In the year 2012/2013, according to your calendar, we noticed some increased human activity at a place you call China, which has increased its military budget allocation and we are equally concerned with high level of air pollution and we are disappointed. Wars and conflicts are almost in all corners of African countries from Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo to West Africa apart from the never ending conflict in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israel, while there is still no sight for a solution to the Afghanistan war. As your experienced cousins, we implore you to reconsider your investment priorities.

We advice that Earthlings should invest more in their own current and future development. Discovering Us (Aliens) will lead to disappointment which we are not sure whether you will be able to handle. This planet is blessed with enough resources for all. You don’t need to discover Us at the expense of human development.

When you launched Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the Alien Council decided that we shall come and visit you and celebrate the success together in 2015. We are disappointed despite advancement in technology the levels of disparities, diseases, extreme poverty and poor governance have continued with little progress worth showing. We have been made aware through our satellite imagery of earth some areas people asking for their human rights in Syria, Egypt and homosexuals are threatened with imprisonment and death threats. This is an unacceptable. A report from one of your own, Prof. Jeffery D. Sachs tells us that you are now moving towards Sustainable Development Goals. This is a good move since you are now focusing more on human development, investment and sustaining it. For now we shall postpone of our visit to earth until 2030 since there is nothing to celebrate. In Peace we Leave But We are Watching Your Every Move….” – Simon

May 18, 2012

Community First Aid Kits

Walking through any urban informal settlement an outsider will see ‘disaster waiting happen’ scenes. Looking at small children playing cooking games with fire, women washing clothes in dirty river, haphazard crossing of Juja Road, open electric wires, possibility of being mugged in dark place,  regular fire outbreaks and people living next to big rocks. The dangers posed broken sewer and open ones are even great incase of major disease outbreak. All these are scenes one will encounter while walking in Mathare.

There have been cases of fire outbreaks which led to loss of life and this was contributed by lack of access road in the inner parts of the community; There are no emergency numbers readily available in the community that people can call for assistance. When assistance is called it takes longer than usual since most people will expect community leaders to be the person to call.

Those who gets injured through various activities both good and back have to seek assistance in far places since the health centres near the community do not operate of 24 hrs basis. This mean that if a disaster strikes at night then it is most likely that number of causalities will be very high compared with day time. Availing first aid kits in strategic points within the community can help reduce number of casualities.  While there has been investments in improving infrastructure, very little has been done to deal with disaster. Having emergency telephone/mobile number people can all and erecting first aid centre can help reduce the number of causalities.  – Simon

February 7, 2012

Womb’s for hire in matharevalley

Getting employment in Kenya informal settlements has become a very difficult and that’s why many youths involve themselves in various activities so as to sustain themselves. In mathare there are lots of illicit brew being sold in broad day light and nothing is being done by the government to control it commercial sex working has become a major gold mine in mathare especially in Huruma during the night you will find very nice ladies dressed in seductive cloths so as to attract attention of men passing by I recently interviewed one street girl in which I had to pay her one hundred shillings for a talk with me. I spent 20 minute chatting with her but what truly impressed was a story old ladies who usually come requesting them if some can volunteer at a cost to give birth to their husband.

By the way It didn’t last for twenty minute a very old lady came in driving a very nice black Mercedes Benz which was playing soft vernacular music she later parked her car outside and come in waking majestically like a queen what surprised she come straight to where I was sitting and requested the lady I was talking with to come for a minute since she was a well known street girl around, I was left wondering  on what they were planning something knocked my mind that I was about to be drugged or killed but I prayed God for my security then I took my time to listen keenly drinking my soda slowly but all my attention was set to get what the old lady telling the street girl but the only thing which I was earring was that can you accept to give my husband baby and then I will pay you huge sum of money after birth.

The lady decline the offer but later referred her to another street girl for negotiations after thirty minute she accepted offer to give birth to her at cost of one hundred and fifty thousand:-  Javin


February 7, 2012

Drug trafficking in Matharevalley Schools

Primary school students in slums are being used to traffic drugs. This was revealed by various teachers and other education stake holders based in Mathare. It is emerging that some parents and guardians have forced school children to engage in drug trafficking during schools holidays and other free days.

Speaking to map mathare, mathare north primary government School Head Teacher, Mr. James onyango noted that the most affected are the girls. He also noted that the most commonly abused drug in the slum is chang’aa. “The pupils are forced by their parents and guardians to sell the illicit liquor and other drugs to the slum dwellers,” he complains.

The head teacher further noted an incident involving one of the girls in the school who had been sexually abused and kidnapped by her mother’s drug clients. Though the community rescued the minor, the mother has been reluctant to press any charges against the abuser, afraid to lose business.”I wrote a letter to the police informing them of the incident but no action was taken. It is alleged that the mother owes a lot of money to the kidnapper and that’s the reason she is afraid of confronting him,” he alleges.

onyango added that such cases of sexual abuse are common in the slums especially when the children are involved in drug trafficking. As a result, many pupils have been forced out of school because they have slowly turned to drug abuse while others prefer to continue with their parents’ trade. While the girls are forced to give birth at an early age as a result of sexual abuse, most of the boys end up as hard core criminals. These children learn at an early age how to earn easy money through drug trafficking. As a result, they drop out of school and turn to crime to be able to sustain their economic needs. Joyce, a teacher, has decried the low moral standard which has led to child abuse by relatives and family friends. She noted that there is need to sensitize parents and guardians on the importance of education and respect for children rights.

However, the teachers were quick to add that the main reasons for the failure to protect the rights of children are lack of education, and poverty among the parents and guardians. They are therefore calling upon the government to put in place stricter laws to ensure that children from both poor and rich backgrounds are protected against such kind of abuses:-javin

November 28, 2011

City wide clean up campaign held in mathare huruma

May 12, 2011

Right to Sanitation-Mathare

Mathare area DO joins in celebrating sanitation with residents

On 28 July 2010 United Nations General Assembly declared, “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” Kenya being a member of UN I believe Mathare people are too.
Looking at the situation in Mathare, it is sometimes too much to bear for the residents. The government officials are overburden with situation due to lack of equipment and little investment by the local authorities. This has forced youth groups to organize themselves to bridge lack of resources by the government to address water, environment and sanitation challenges in the slum.

Today (11/5/2011), I was part of a team that saw the launching of new type of toilets by Plan Kenya through partnership with local groups such as Community Cleaning Services, Tunaweza Youth Group and MANYGRO from Mathare.
The event was attend by Plan representatives from Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Plan Australia and Kenya office among other countries.

It is now apparent to the resident that the right to clean water and adequate sanitation has to be led by the people and not by government officials. The joy exhibited by the residents during the launch was a demonstration of their determination to make it a reality and an enjoyable right.

Having access to clean water and sanitation is no-longer a matter of health but people appreciating their environment and respecting their surrounding.

The water, environment and sanitation is the next biggest employer in the slums. Nearly all toilets employ more than ten people per toilet. All water points are managed by people who ran them on daily basis. Tunaweza Youth Group in Mashimoni has been able to construct a bio toilet. Through this venture, they have a meeting hall and are in the process of harnessing gas to generate electricity and sell to the community.

The Map Mathare group has been mapping water and sanitation points to establish the real situation. It is through generating information that the community can engage either development partners and government top facilitate more development projects. Mathare team has managed to map nearly all the open drainage in small section. This will help identify points where there broken sewer and water pipes.

Plan Kenya and Plan Australia have managed to help the community achieve their potential to enjoy their to water and sanitation. – Simon

May 6, 2011

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

March 31, 2011

Coping: Poverty in Mathare Valley

A menu from a local hotel

I am not an expert of the topic of poverty but I am an experienced expert in living with the poor and poverty for 40 years in Mathare. Looking at different projects that have been initiated in addressing poverty, very few invest in poverty according to the basic definition of what is poverty. I am student of development studies at Kampala International University and listening to my lecturer at the campus, I have come to note that many projects do not genuinely address poverty in slums.  The basic definition of poverty is a situation of lack of or limited access to basic human needs. While communities struggle to empower themselves, expert do their best to investigate best practices to address poverty.

A very good example is the innovation and creativity of vendors in Mathare, Korogocho and Kibera who started selling small amount of sugar and maize flour for shs. 5/- to Shs. 30/-. With time, the corporate sector was forced to adapt to the changing times and reality in slums after investigating the buying trends in slums. We now have Blueband Kadogo. A spot check on various menu in hotel revealed that people operate on small budgets. When it comes to water and sanitation, people will try and look for a house near toilet blocks or water points. House next to these two areas is considered to be expensive.

On the financial front most people operate on informal financial systems. Groups meet once per week to repay and take loans. No money is ever taken to the bank. This system is very popular in slums since most needs are urgent. The banking and micro-saving institutions take long to process loans. While formalizing this kind of system, people prefer where they can access their money without difficulty. – simon

March 29, 2011

HIV and AIDS pandemic in Mathare

HIV and AIDS victim living in Mathare North

Rhema Slum Transformers Organization is situated in mathare north area three and it was started in the year 2007 with focus to work among the HIV and AIDS-affected people in mathare due to early death and stigma of parents out of the same scourge of HIV and AIDS. Rhema Slum Transformers Organization was founded under the leadership of Rev. Simon Owino Ogolla in collaboration of like-minded people.

On realizing that his HIV status was actually positive, Rev Simon attended several seminars and courses on HIV management and awareness through which he was inspired to come up with a forum on how to fight the spread of the same in his area and other regions within reach. He then started organizing seminars in mathare, huruma, kayole and mukuru Kwa njenga to train both the affected and the infected on HIV prevention methods and management as well. Through this, we managed to train many HBC/ home based care givers, who went around helping terminal patients in their homes. We also provided food, soap, detergents and clothes to victims in areas such as jangwani slums in mathare north and kiamaiko, huruma and john saga.

  • In the process of our determination to assist the victims we have encountered several challenges, such as stigmatization: 79% of employers nowadays do not want to give employment to those who are infected with HIV and AID’S
  • Donors who want to help the victims have also landed in greedy hands, that have always withheld help from the right people
  • Other smaller organizations that are willing to help genuinely have no access to sufficient funds to do the job of helping affected people. This therefore has enhanced acute poverty among the victims.

Rhema Slum Transformers Organization has therefore thought of ways on how to come up with a special forum on how to get loan funds from willing partners, to provide means of starting some small scale business among the victims to approach NGO’S and the government to assist in the area of establishing some micro finance projects.

Rev.Simon Owino says that he has realized that this kind of operation will really help us to eradicate poverty, rather than just receiving food from well wishers. 68%  of victims are young parent with children go to school and families to take care of; therefore, they need sustainable income-generating projects. Statistics of the infected people in mathare show that out of every 10 adults 3 are infected and in every one year 20 children become orphans.

Rhema Slum Transformers organization therefore target

  • To train more HBC providers to work in homes among the victims, since most of victims are left alone by the relatives to die
  • Establish micro finance systems to help generate funds among the victims since many are out of work
  • Conduct more seminars and courses on preventive and management measures

ARV drugs

— Javin

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