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
May 6, 2011
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 22, 2011
The next war in slums will be about access to water. Can you imagine 5000 residents with only one water point? While in the neighbouring estate one household has more than 5 water points. And not forgetting that we all get water from the same company. As we celebrate the World Water Day, my hearts goes to all residents of Nairobi who are willing to pay for the service but they can’t still access it. In 1975 I remember as small, our house in Mathare Valley was surrounded by six water points and the vendors would pay Nairobi City Council. Currently there are very few points than in 1975.
In slums, women are known to carry their dirty clothes to the nearest water point. Across the valley next to Utalii Hotel, one will see men bathing. One day while travelling to Thika, there was a big traffic jam near Utalii Hotel and people were bathing upstream while down women were washing clothes. Passengers inside wondered why people would bring a whole family to river.”they should be arrested for being nude” one passenger shouted.
This is the reality today in slums. Access to adequate water is an issue which has not been addressed. In Mathare Village Two and Three, one will be met with ‘stalled’ water kiosks which has taken long to implement despite a colourful launch last year. Women walking from one water point to another is the order of the day. Women bears the greatest brunt of water shortage in slum.
Today millions of shillings will be spent in World Water Day, but how many water tanks have been set aside to harvest rain in Kenya given that rains have started?- Simon
March 21, 2011
Broken water pipe running across open drainage
Strolling in small paths between houses in Mathare Valley, one will notice exposed water pipes and most are always leaking. If you following the water pipes, you will again note that the pipe either runs over or below an open drainage with dirty water mixed with raw sewer! One does not need to be a scientist to know what would happen in case of disease outbreak. The improvement of proper water distribution and repairing the broken water pipes coupled with constructing good drainage system, is the key to fighting common illness in the slums. All NGOs working in the water sector are in a hurry to facilitate access to water in the slums forgetting about the safety and costs which might result because of not putting proper safety measures and structures. Access to clean water and proper sanitation is a right and it is only achieved when the targeted user access it safely. – Simon