May 18, 2012
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
May 17, 2012
Informal settlements are generally ‘unrecognised’ in many urban settings. In years that have passed places like Mathare, Kibera and Mukuru were not visible on the net. With the advent of participatory mapping and Open Street Map platform, it became practical for communities that are hidden from rest of the world to be visible.
Open Street Map has now become the alternative to showing what most governmens would not want highlighted due to ‘policies’. My experience of mapping Mathare was filled with anxious moments and too many questions by the village elders. Elders in 2010 looked at mapping as a way of demacating land and plot allocation and regulization.
Upon mapping mapping Mathare; boundries and resource distribution in the community became evident and this was followed by meaningful discussions with how the community looks like and what is not there.
Local leaders, NGOs and community based groups were not left behind. The map has been become a source of inspiration and motivation to proper community development. The disparities in allocation of resources by the politicians and local administration became evident and discussions ensued.
The power of people mapping their communities can no longer be ignored as it brings out the true picture of the community.
Thanks to Open Street Map, the underprivileged, invisible can now be corrected and made visible- Simon
May 12, 2011
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