Archive for ‘Water’

May 22, 2011

Access to Shelter in Mathare

Having a comfortable shelter is dream to many slum dwellers. The business of accessing shelter had always been in the hands of elected leaders, village elders and local administration (sub-chief and chief) in  Mathare Valley. In Mathare village 2, it was the village elders who would identify a space and collude with elected leaders and local administration to decide who to benefit.

One of the key requirements in the 1980s was availability of funds by the beneficiary to put up the structures. Failure to put up the structure on time would lead to the re-allocation to another ‘investors’. Since most of the people in Mathare could not afford to put up the structures, the community was invaded by ‘private developers’ who were mainly outsiders.

When allocating space to build houses elected leaders, village elders and local administration never considered leaving spaces for social amenities.  One of the repercussions of not engaging community in development matters is that by 1995, community owned nursery schools in Mathare and Huruma were dished out churches that were pro-establishment.

By mid 80s, most structures were owned by absentee landlord and village elders and cronies of the local administration.  This made it very difficult for tenants to make long term plans for the community.

However with time and opening up of democratic space in 90s, it led to the formation of human rights and social movements in Mathare Valley. These groups have been instrumental in engaging the elected leaders, village elders, local administration and other government agencies about their rights.

Currently any development being initiated in Mathare Valley, the community must be engaged. This has helped control illegal evictions. – Simon

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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

February 9, 2011

Water is life but in Mathare north there is none

Mathare north consists of four areas: 1,2,3,4 with a population of approximately 23,000 thousand.

As from last June there have been water scarcities in Mathare north and its environs due to a road upgrading project along Thika road. Since then the government has constructed extra roads to ease the jam of vehicles travelling on thika road, and along the way destroyed and ‘vandalized’ water pipes which are supplying water to the communities living in and around Mathare north area and its environs. Up to date there has been no communication or assistance made from the relevant ministries or from the Department of water and irrigation and Nairobi water company to assist people living in these areas. Cartels who are using handcarts to distribute water have taken advantage of  the situation and are supplying water to the residents at a price of 70 shillings par jerrican (1 us dollar).

A lot of women and children have become victims of rape and other violente actions like muggings, some have also been killed, by people who have taken advantage of the situation to pray upon people walking on paths, and roads (sometimes at night) which lead to water points.

Most schools within Mathare north also have no water, which in return has led to a wider spread of water born diseases like cholera and typoid and other neusences like bad odor which emits from the school toilets.

Our request to the government and the donor community is: “We need boreholes to be drilled, we need more water reservoirs and water kiosks to be constructed so as to ease the water problem within Mathare north and its environs!”

– – Javin

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