Posts tagged ‘gender and leadership’

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.

July 4, 2014

Ombudman’s Mathare Launched

2014-06-04 11.52.37The living condition in places like Mathare and the level of neglect by the government warrants quick measure by the residents to hold public servants accountable.
In some quarters it is said that 60% of Nairobi residents live under deplorable conditions.No existence of important service is a common feature.

Launching of the local Ombudsman Committee, ten members in Mathare has come at time when we have several government services being devolved at ward levels. The Mathare Constituency Ombudsman Committee will be based at Mathare Valley Polytechnic next to Mathare Chief’s Camp.
It is hoped that unlike before when resident did not know where to report, this time round things will be different.

Cases of police harassment, lack of responding on time to emergencies like fire outbreak are common. Kenyans are yet to fully trust that systems work like the judiciary and accessing proper justice for slum dwellers in still a pipe dream in Kenya.

With the office coming closer to the people, it is time for people to seize the opportunity and hold all public servant accountable. When forceful evictions occur this time round, we hope it will be investigated and proper action be taken against any public official abetting the vice.

Case Handling Levels see the website: (http://www.ombudsman.go.ke).

February 19, 2014

Mathare or Kibera?

Both places, Mathare and Kibera are a reflection of low income areas with overcrowding, lack of social amenities, high crime level, unemployment, teenage pregnancy cases, gender based violence and general lack of strong accountability and governance structures. Mathare a place of less than 3 Km sq has more than 200,000.

kiberaMathare and Kibera share four things in common. First both had quarry at stage in life. Second they neighbour some of the most rich neighbourhoods. Kibera has Karen while Mathare is to Muthaiga. Another interesting observation is that the too have golf courses nearby. Mathare is next to Muthaiga Golf Club and Kibera has Royal Golf Club. Major road road construction are going, across Kibera we have while Mathare has Thika Highway.

Despite all these abundance nearby there is imbalance in the investment made by civil society. Kibera attracts high profile attention and funding than Mathare. The slum upgrading in Kibera is just one of the example how huge investments have been made. One might argue that most of the land in Kibera is government owned and that is why is easy to carry out housing projects.

Poverty level in Kibera is more glaring compared with Mathare. From housing condition and to terrain the place is terrible. In Mathare people also suffer too but they ‘hide’ it wth smile and welcoming charm. So many research have been conducted in Mathare but very little has been used to transform people’s life?-Simon

February 1, 2014

Slums and Nairobi Master Plan

I have had the opportunity of being engaged in consultative meetings regarding Nairobi Integrated Urban Master Plan (NIUPLAN) which my parents never did in 1973, this is was the last plan for Nairobi. The 1973 – 2000 master plan was developed and one of the most important issues I have noted was recognition of the urban poor, investment in provision of housing by the council and well equipped city with accessible social amenities like playing grounds and social halls.

In the meetings I have attend, lack of space and high population have been attributed to the break down in provision of services. Listening to various presenters, one easily concludes that the city has been running without master plan for 14 years while urban planning department never had experts and qualified staff to enforce some of the recommendations in the 1970 Nairobi Master Plan. During the 14 years period, Nairobi City went to the dogs. Parking spaces in some city estates were grabbed, sprawling of slums along major Nairobi river become coupled with forceful evictions, the once safe and City in the Sun paradise became Nairobbery.

Slums are not an issues. The current Nairobi master plan assumes that slums will just disappear. Listening to concerns of residents from Marurui, Thome, Kasarani and Mathare issues such as controlled development are never adhered to. In some residential areas such as Huruma, Kayole and Pangani it is common to find buildings with more than six storey without lifts.

Poor road net has greatly contributed to uncollected garbage lying in low income neighbourhoods with garbage collectors’ lorry unable to access inside these place hence continued accumulations on solid waste.

The Nairobi Master plan is a good to start in the right direction.

November 30, 2012

Mathare Constituency Map

Mathare Constituency has been created out of Starehe. Below are the six wards.

map

Mathare Ward Population IEBC Target
Hospital 20,463 10,000
Mabatini 28,260 14,000
Huruma 36,247 17,000
Ngei 36,248 15,000
Mlango Kubwa 38,374 18,000
Kiamaiko 33,824 16,000
Total 193,416 90,000
January 18, 2012

Violence and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Mathare 3C: Violence victim at Kenyatta National Hospital

Mathare 3C is well known for brewing of chan’gaa and on several occasion for eruption of violence. On 15th January 2012 rumours had it that 16 pangas had brought into the community in readiness for the announcement from Hague. In another section of the community, small traders located opposite Moi Air Base are living in fear of possible eviction from the site. Reason? Several soldiers have been attacked by criminals hiding in the nearby slums. Small traders are waiting for possible eviction anytime from now. Traders from different ethnic background have decided to deal with criminal and they have formed a group to keep vigil and ensure no more thieve will operate in their zone.

Elsewhere women are discussing increased insecurity in the area whereby their husbands have been attacked by criminals on their way from work

In the evening of 15th January 2012; local leaders, small traders, administration and senior police officers have organized a meeting to discuss the escalating insecurity and tension in the area and also looking at the rumours about the pangas. Why did someone bring 16 pangs?

After meeting that night, violence erupted.  Five people who actively contributed and participated in the security meeting are attacked. They are left bleeding and nursing serious wounds after being attacked. Two people are admitted in intensive care unit (ICU). A few community members come forward to donate blood.

The following morning tension is high and the real reason behind the violence has been overlooked and distorted. The area MP, Hon Margaret Wanjiru appears on the scene…as usual being a politician she politicize the whole issue. The criminals who were being pursued by traders turn it into tribal war. From the above scenario it is becoming evident that gangs are emerging and insecurity is slowly creeping in. At the end of it all weapons of mass destruction to watch out as we approach elections are; rumours, politicization of issues, stones, pangas/machete, tribalism, fire and forceful eviction. –  Simon

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

May 19, 2011

A letter from Mathare to US Ambassdor

Dear United States ambassador to Kenya, Jonathan Scott

I am simple resident of Mathare Valley and may I take this opportunity to welcome you to Kenya on top of being officially acknowledged by our president. Kenya is a land of plenty but enjoyed by a few in the political and ruling class elites. I have read that you once lived and worked in DRC which might mean that you speak some Swahili. Karibu Kenya.

I have watched over the years your predecessor enjoying himself and curving a niche in the Kenyan politics. The current MPs have protested how he is close to the youths in Kenya and his low appetite for corruption.

I am sorry he is leaving without finishing the good job that he had started. I hope you will pick the pieces and continue.

I believe that having lived and worked in Africa, you know how things operate in Africa and hope the you will not disappoint.

My main reason for writing is to inform you that Nairobi has many slums apart from Kibera. Please make it a point of visiting Mathare and Mukuru so that you can see the other side on Nairobi.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely

Simon

May 17, 2011

Mathare, Youth Election

Youth Election, Mathare

The youths from wider Mathare have been engaged in serious campaigns to elect youth representatives right from the grassroots to national level. Tomorrow (18/5/2011) the elections will be held country wide for the local youth representatives. Both male and female candidates have come out to vie for various positions.

The process so far has been peaceful and there is total difference with how ‘adult’ led elections are conducted. In Kiamaiko for example, those vying for various position were called by the youths so that they can share their vision if elected.

Walking in the community one will notice poster allover while other have printed brochure outlining their agenda if elected. In Mathare I have liked the creativity by those seeking to be elected.

Many contestants have avoided being associated with the local MP, hon. Bishop Wanjiru or councillors as this will cost them votes.  This should be a pointer to the 2012 general election direction.

On the criteria set, the election is bound to lock out youth who have been active in the community because of education requirement. It is common sense in places such Mathare slums, it is youth who are less educated that have always been available to volunteer in community led projects. In the place of education, the Ministry of Youth should have substituted the requirement with how one has been active in the community. Above that, the government should be commended for putting system in place being the first election.

Our centre provided a base for voter registration and from the look of things; it seems that very few youths registered. If the youth are to capture power, then voter registration should be taken seriously. The only thing missing is the vibrant involvement of big NGOs and the United Stated of America embassy in Nairobi unlike the general elections when there is huge investments by NGOs and foreign mission. The USA ambassador will have done the job half way he had started of grooming youth leaders for 2012 and beyond. – Simon

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