Posts tagged ‘Pamoja Trust’

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

Mathare, Informal Financial Services

Mitchel, a member of women go round from Mathare

Mitchel, a member of women go round from Mathare

Not everybody is a friend of banks and especially in the informal settlements where communities’ have circumvented established financial institution and devised ways of accessing credit facilities outside government controlled channels. Informal financial services vary from shopping of credit without paying an interest, shylock and merry-go-round initiatives.
It is common to meet a group of women meeting in homes or social places within Mathare to discuss ways of sharing collected money without think of banking. But what makes this kind of arrangement better than a variety of services offered by commercial banks? Eunice Wanjiku a member of unregistered women group believes that financial institution are not good for startup initiatives found in the Mathare like selling groceries, second hand clothes or starting chang’aa a local beer businesses. She quips “can you imagine a bank giving me Kshs.5,000 to start chang’aa business?, this is impossible. My previous engagement with a financial institution nearly made me develop ulcers. I will never take a loan from a bank again. They nearly sold my house”
There are many different types of businesses which are profitable according to the locals but unfortunately one cannot get easy credit to invest from established financial institutions. Fortunately, people have developed alternative strategies of attracting credit like forming merry-go-round and table banking initiatives. These groups are formed by likeminded and people who know each other very well. Here, loans are given out of trust with little intrusion from the lending group on the exact nature of your business. Mish, a young enterprenuer consulted fellow women and is in the process of getting Kshs.10,000 which she will refund with 5% interest over a period of six months. She was frustrated by commercial banks which asked so many questions and required her to save for at least three months before she could access the loan.
Requirements to access start-up business loans suitable for slums based businesses are minimal and this has contributed to mushrooming of shylock businesses within slums. In some places, community members own more than one or two expensive electronic item such as phones of TVs which they use for accessing loans from shylocks. Here the interest is quite high with the value of your item being determinant of how much you can access. The local shylocks are very strict and merciless. Failure to pay of time your valued good is sold to friends at a throw away price.
Our financial institutions have a long way to go in understanding how informal financial transaction operate and varied opportunities which needs to be tapped. In the informal settlements, most loans are on short term basis between 1 week to six months and default rates are quite low compared with commercial banks.

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; Facebook.com/Mtaasafi: http://www.mtaasafi.com. – Simon

April 13, 2014

Street Children: Dr. Manu Chandaria

Dr. Manu Chandaria Reaching out to the less fortunate in society

Dr. Manu Chandaria Reaching out to the less fortunate in society


Can you imagine asking 200,000 questions to 40,000,000 people? This might seem impossible. Meet Dr. Manu Chandaria, Kenyan Industrialist who is currently the leading advocate for the plight and rights of street children in Kenya. I met him and his brother at International Day for Street Children on 12.04.2014 at St. Teresa’s Girls Secondary School. This day has been set aside for ‘giving voice to street children so their rights cannot be ignored.
Globally it is estimated that there are 100 million street children who live and work on the streets under very difficult circumstance however debate abound about the figures. But one thing is certainly is clear, the number of street children have been raising and more importantly street families especially in Kenya. Kenya is estimated to have between 200,000 – 300,000 street children. To witness the problem in Nairobi, one needs to walk around Globe Cinema Roundabout either in the morning or evening.
There are only two people in Kenya, late Fr. Arnold Grol and Dr. Manu Chandaria who have dedicated time and resources to help street children passionately and genuinely. Dr. Manu Chandaria speaks about street children with ease and one would easily conclude him to be an expert in this field.
The usual picture of street children in Kenya is that of dirty clothes, glue sniffing, unruly, rough and hunger. But behind all these, we have normal human beings who are positive about life. I attended the celebration to the mark the International Day for Street Children and had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Manu Chandaria ask, “What can 40 million Kenyans do to address the plight of 200,000, street children? For Dr. Manu Chandaria OBE & OBS, a famous industrialist he sees potential in street children and that is why during the event, he mingled so easily with the street children.
Dr. Manu Chandaria would like to see an environment where street children are treated with dignity and facilitated to be part of wider society since he believes that they have potential to make a positive contribution in making Kenya a better place.
I spoke to more than 50 street children from different ‘bases’ and they all expressed desire to live in a decent environment where they can access education, training, medical care and jobs. Some Non Governmental Organizations have managed to organize themselves to provide services such as vocational skills training, health, food, clothing and shelter but this is not enough. While the problem of street children is a worldwide concern, our government can do better to address problems faced by 300,000 who live in inhuman condition. If we can invest billions for roads, railways and drilling oil in Turkana then what about investing in our own children? The 47 County Governments in Kenya can be pushed to allocate special funds to address issues related to street children.
Street children problem is human problem which can only be solved by human beings. If Kenya had so many Dr. Manu Chandaria then we would have been able to provide decent life to our children on the street.

February 26, 2014

Mathare Population Structure

statisticsIn the above age distribution chart for Mathare Constituency, I have tried to analyze  age based of the total area population as per 2009 Census and percentages from the latest CIA website; https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html while the total population. (Next implication of poor CDF investment to Mathare population)

February 7, 2014

Maps and Slums

mathareNairobi is home to more than 100 informal settlements with little basic social amenities of low standards. The most ‘famous’ slum in Nairobi is Kibera. This is a place with many NGOs activities than schools.

There is high presence of NGOs in Kebera plus the place being put on the world map courtesy of OpenStreet Map However the residents continue to live in usual conditions found in slums. However there is hope for Kibera unlike Mathare. If the Kibera slum upgrading is completed and the houses distributed fairly without corruption then we headed to good times. Slum Upgrading projects are better off if the development process is monitored by various stakeholders.

kibera

Looking at the informal settlement in http://www.openstreetmap.org , in Nairobi section one notice that some of the informal settlements mapped are, Mukuru, Kibera, Mathare, Baba Dogo, Korogocho among others. Amazingly, the most mapped slum in Nairobi is Mathare! Almost all schools, health facilities, disaster prone areas have been mapped in details and shared in the OpenStreetMap platform. But has this visibility translated into Mathare being a popular destination with donors compared with Kibera? And what could be impeding factors? (Next week Mathare and Kibera)- Simon

May 17, 2012

Why Map Urban Informal Settlement?

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

January 27, 2012

Elections and Food Insecurity

Urban farming demonstration centre in Mathare funded by European Union

Mathare depends on mainly food transported from outside. This therefore means that if a small disruption occurs then outsider traders cannot access Mathare and sell their food. It also mean that people will not have enough food for survival.

Walking down the valley, there is very little efforts being put by either the government or NGOs to invest in food security. It is common knowledge that during the last election period, traders could not access market to sell their commodities. In one of the villages-Mathare 4B and Gitathuru in 2008, people resorted to breaking houses to steal food and not electronics equipments.

I remember when peace had return after post election violence many NGOs started initiative addressing food insecurity. Currently the most visible programmes on food security in Mathare is the one being led by COOPI where by vulnerable community members are given Kshs. 1500 for food per household. This has been going on close to one year.

Given that we are nearing elections in Kenya, it will be good for various actors to invest more on ensuring that there will be enough food in the market by exploring ways of creating community based silos to store food in vulnerable communities so as to avert food crises. Currently various parts of Rift Valley such Burnt Forest have bumper harvest on maize. From previous elections in Kenya, it is common knowledge that whenever we have elections, case of food insecurity has always been reported.

There can be no free and fair elections if people are hungry. Democracy and access to food and security will always go together. In urban centres it is even worse. Investing more in urban farming and food storage facilities would help avert previous cases of food insecurity before or after elections. – Simon

August 6, 2011

Map Kibera Trust in Dar es Salaam

Community Mapping, participation, involvement and engagement are commonly used word when it comes to development. I have been Dar es Salaam for the last one week and I have manage to learn the real meaning of these words.

Starting tomorrow, be ready to be taken through ‘use of participatory approach and simple technologies’ in enhancing development. Technology is the only universal language that speak development for people by the people.

Welcome
Simon

May 25, 2011

Children of the World

Children growing up in slums are free yet faced with daily health hazard and bleak future as their parents. If there is one thing you cannot take away from slum children, is happiness and smile.

Children in Mathare smile and laugh not because of ignorance but because they have inner peace which the rich and powerful cannot even buy. Playing and dreaming for a better future is all what preoccupy their minds. I once visited a local school and when I asked children what they want to be in future, nobody mention wanting to be a criminal or police. Why? Lets finds the reason later.- Simon

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