Posts tagged ‘Poverty and Development’

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.

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.

March 6, 2014

Letter from Aliens to Earth

Alien SoundI was abducted by a ‘Aliens’ and taken to a higher ground in a floating spaceship and this is what they told me about earth’

“We come in peace to visit our dear lost cousins.  From our world which you refer to as Alien, we are told of our long lost cousins who disappeared into the space never to return. Our mission on earth is to discover how you are doing and how we can co-operate and sustain the entire universe. We are happy to note that after many years of wars amongst yourself, you have tried to make initiative to unite your countries through United Nations and regional trading blocs which is slowly forging a common understanding on human existence.

Our main mission is to alert you about the depleting ozone layer, greenhouse effects and its impact on your existence and future. We have noted with concern your appetite and greediness to harness natural resources. You extract more than you need and hence there is increased solid waste generated which you have no plans on how and where to dispose. You have ended up throwing more waste into the lakes, rivers, forests and oceans. What has been the impact of these actions? You are now witnessing unusual weather patterns in your planet. In our experience, nature has a way of cleaning itself and it does not forgive when it come to correcting wrong actions. Please our cousins, your own expert predicts that is nothing is done on time then one fourth of your species on earth will disappear by 2050.  We are happy, a few leaders like Al Gore from USA have tried to explain the impact and in 2007, you awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize in for his efforts in raising awareness on Climate Change. But are  acting to save your planet?

Experience from our culture shows that wars caused extinction and not development. We are aware during the First and Second World Wars some families lost a whole generation. You have invested so much in weaponry than in human development. In the year 2012/2013, according to your calendar, we noticed some increased human activity at a place you call China, which has increased its military budget allocation and we are equally concerned with high level of air pollution and we are disappointed. Wars and conflicts are almost in all corners of African countries from Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo to West Africa apart from the never ending conflict in the Middle East between Palestinians and Israel, while there is still no sight for a solution to the Afghanistan war. As your experienced cousins, we implore you to reconsider your investment priorities.

We advice that Earthlings should invest more in their own current and future development. Discovering Us (Aliens) will lead to disappointment which we are not sure whether you will be able to handle. This planet is blessed with enough resources for all. You don’t need to discover Us at the expense of human development.

When you launched Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the Alien Council decided that we shall come and visit you and celebrate the success together in 2015. We are disappointed despite advancement in technology the levels of disparities, diseases, extreme poverty and poor governance have continued with little progress worth showing. We have been made aware through our satellite imagery of earth some areas people asking for their human rights in Syria, Egypt and homosexuals are threatened with imprisonment and death threats. This is an unacceptable. A report from one of your own, Prof. Jeffery D. Sachs tells us that you are now moving towards Sustainable Development Goals. This is a good move since you are now focusing more on human development, investment and sustaining it. For now we shall postpone of our visit to earth until 2030 since there is nothing to celebrate. In Peace we Leave But We are Watching Your Every Move….” – Simon

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
November 30, 2012

Mathare for Credible 2013 Elections

On 29th November 2012 political representatives and aspirants for the constituency and ward, NGOs / CBOs representatives, religious leaders, elders, youths, people with disability women representatives and provincial administration gathered at Mathare Valley Polytechnic to be addressed by the local IEBC representatives.

IEBC had their agenda while most people had questions, which they wanted addressed. IEBC wanted to sensitize public about voter registration in Mathare constituency, perception on the public on BVR kit, public, violence, role model and morality. When it came to questions, public were more concerned about accessing identity cards, extension of voter registration, transportation of voters into Mathare, voter education and the process which was used to recruit educators, what are the current numbers of registered voters and target for each ward? From the meeting it was clear that the public agenda and that of IEBC was different.

The IEBC official(s) present informed the public on the progress as from 19/11/2012 a follows but these figures were given as estimates (only for the 1st week of registration)

Ward Target Expected 1st wk registered voters
Kiamaiko 16,000 4,481
Huruma 17,000 4,846
Mabatini 14,000 3,670
Hospital 10,000 2,423
Ngei ???? ????
Mlango Kubwa 18,000 4,617
Total (Estimates) 90,000 30,000

During the meeting, an aspirant brought a public address system to the meeting, which the public rejected. The IEBC officials should have rejected this move. By accepting ‘resources’ to facilitate an IEBC meeting from an aspirant amounts to being compromised.

The meeting was on a short notice. It was clear that supporters of certain politicians were more than others. IEBC needs to ensure that all aspirants are invited on time and their apologies acknowledged otherwise the public will view IEBC as collaborating with certain sections of the community. The public seems to be unclear on the new boundaries since it causing confusion among the potential voters. In Hospital ward for example, the Kenya Gazette had indicated that Gitathuru and Mathare 4B are still in Mabatini Ward. IEBC ward educators are expected to sensitize the public on the boundaries and other voter’s related issues. The Mathare area District Officer was very categorical that all residents have a duty to ensure that the elections are peaceful both at the party nomination and national elections. Public expect a credible election and IEBC officials should act in ways that will boost public confidence in the process.- Simon

October 21, 2012

Mathare Elections

Time for voting

Finally Mathare people have their own constituency; Mathare. This will mean that people will elect a new Member of Parliament along with six ward assembly representatives. The two new wards that have createted are Hospital and Ngei wards. The other wards are Mlango Kubwa, Mabatini, Huruma and Kiamaiko

There is alot of political movements on the ground. People who so far come forward seeking parliamentary seat are the current councillor for Kiamaiko ward Mr. George Wanjohi, former Mathare aspirant during KANU era Mr. David Irungu, a Huruma resident Mr. Francis Mbai and the son of the current MP for Starehe Kariuki popularly known as K1.

In 2013 the people will make their choice. for now it is for the aspirant both for county assembly representatives and members of parliament to convince the electorates why they are suitable. – simon

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

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