Those Who Tell the Stories Rule the World

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Youth documenter Sophia Khamis. Photo by Shaddy Mbaka, SDI Kenya

-

In a recent trip to SDI’s Kenya affiliate I was fortunate enough to meet a group of young federation members making their entry into the world of blogging. The youth came from the slums in which Muungano wa Wanavijiji organizes. Below are the highlights of their first blogs about a topic of interest to them from their settlements. I would hazard a guess that they might just be the most interesting blogs you’ve read all week. Click on the titles to read the full blog and please send comments and questions to the youth if you connect with their stories. 

If those who tell the stories indeed rule the world then I can only hope these storytellers continue to make their voices heard.  

In a moving piece called The Floating Slum”, Eva Muchiri from Mathare Bondeni vividly captures the devastating effects of recent flooding

“Some of the resident who live near the river were left homeless after their houses were swept away by the raging water, carrying with it goats and cows of a big business man called Wachira in the slum who supplies the residents with the milk. Drunkards became sober and tried their very best to reach their homes as soon as the rain subsided. A couple of residents found themselves floating on water as if they were in a Jacuzzi while a sleep, they had to be rescued by some youths and taken to nearby clinics for check up.”

In Potato Wars Asha Ali from Machakos narrated the chaotic – and potentially very dangerous – scene she witnessed at marketplace in her settlement. 

“… to my shock, it wasn’t the sellers who were throwing their money away; it was the county inspectorate 'officers' who were actually destroying food, sustenance for mankind. All this for what: just because the said potatoes were not meant to be sold in 90kg quantity, in whatever measurements that they were meted in, by small number of retailers. The market was exclusively meant for wholesale only. This was from a by-law, enacted by the hoodlums who like to be referred to as 'Honorable', otherwise known as MCAs, in order to generate 'more revenue', by denying retailers access to the larger portion of the town market. 

… Unnecessary humiliation and injury to man is not the way to handle internal disputes and grievances. We are not back in the Stone Age when all was needed to quell a mob was a whack to the head and the unlawful detention of a few… The population of today is craftier, more tenacious, and to a logic-defying extreme, more violent, if need be.” 

Mary Munyiva, a youth member from Kahawa-Soweto, conveys the settlement’s struggles with alcoholism and drug-abuse in a piece called A Small Heaven or Hell?” 

“Sometimes life seems to be hopeless when someone lives in a slum. But on the other hand “A VILLAGE OF HAPPINESS “is part of a settlement in Kahawa Soweto. Most of the people here are ever drunkard, drug addicts, and commercial sex workers among others. Marital status contract is just for the next few seconds … It has deteriorated health factors in the fact that most people are infected with HIV/TB yet they transmit it day and night. Their physical appearance looks as if they are age mates of the first president of Kenya and the most challenging factor is death almost every month.”

Sophia Khamis, a young mother from Machakos, tells her inspiring personal story in a blog called A Call to Young Mothers. 

“Being a young mother from slums having left college early and having no experience in anything it was quite a challenge to start something up! I was in this saving scheme in Mjini Machakos having being forced by my mum to join, I not seeing any significance in it … I took a loan from my group and started small business selling beauty products something I love doing, and today my business is my testimony.  So to all young mothers out there life isn't going to change by knocking your heels together change starts from us don't give up there is hope out there no body said its going to be easy but believe me when I say there is something for everyone you got to work for it.” 

Crime in Mathare, written by Kate Wanjiru, tells the story of her slum, the second largest in Kenya. Plagued by crime, Kate explores the impact on youth.

“Mathare is home to some of the toughest criminal gangs in Nairobi whereby many youths steal and engage in crime to make a living … Many youths have lost their lives, in one year fifty youths were killed, but it was so painful to see the police shooting because they would find the youths holding illegal assembly   eg ‘base’ and ask them to kneel down and start shooting in front of their parents and the community, this was a torture because before they killed them they would beat them up. The youths of Mathare transformed after the introduction of jobs by the government for the youths ‘kazi kwa vijana’ and through educational seminars. In my hood, Bondeni there are many youths that have transformed. I got a chance to interview Kim who told me, ‘‘I was one of worst criminals. I used to recruit young youths and taught them how to use guns and stealing from people especially hijacking cars but thanks God because I have now changed.’’ Kim is now working with nongovernmental organizations like Muungano wa Bondeni  to  help other youths change. Kim is working in one of the Muungano developed toilets projects and saves like other members.”

Milka Njeri, from Huruma, writes about the challenges faced by women in her settlement.  InGiving Hope to Hopeless” she tells the moving story of H-town, a group of young girls, mothers and teenage mums.

“I spoke to Nancy Njoki, a mentor and a founder member of H-town group, “As we grew up gender based violence has been a way of life among young women, but we as h-town we would like to change this belief and help reduce cases of rape and violence women.” In a recent event, one of their members was arrested, taken to court and jailed. She is currently serving a jail term at the Langata women prison for accidentally murdering her boyfriend whom it is alleged wanted to rape her.”

 --

To read the Kenya youth documenters stories in full, click here

comments

Kenyan Youth Documenters First Blog Posts

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

INDEX 

  1. "The Floating Slum" by Eva Muchiri
  2. "Potato Riots" by Asha Ali 
  3. "Giving Hope to Hopeless" by Milka Njeri 
  4. "Crime in Mathare" by Kate Wanjiru 
  5. "A Small Heaven or Hell?" by Mary Munyiva 
  6. "A Call to All Young Mothers" by Sophia Khamis 

--

THE FLOATING SLUM

By Eva Muchiri, Mathare-Bondeni

Rains seem to have awakened a certain migratory instinct in residents of Mathare. The state of total disorder has been on full display in the past couple of months as the rains pounded the slum especially after roars of flooding with sheer ruthlessness. Just as the saying goes, rain is a blessing but too much of it in this part of the capital; the aftermath shifts the other side of the cursed coin.

The area is always brushed off its glittering shinny silver lining of iron sheet houses leaving a trail of regrets and builderness of starting a new life. These are the times the residents wish the water would flow backward only for them to have a moment to collect any little thing that would ignite their hope of living.

The recent floods were never to be under estimated as they left a memory of the first day of creation. Nothing firm was left standing, not even the Bondeni rocks that were last shaken by the El-nino back in the years. Everything was left aligned to the force of gravity. It was not the first incident, but this time the incident coincidentally left a line of hope from the well wishers from the other side of life bringing forth anything appropriate to give a kick start to the mortals of the survivor series.

The problem with this side of the country is proportional to the natural catastrophe that comes as a result of geographical sloppiness of the region. The effects of the resulting flooding not only exposed fear among the residents who often bear the brunt of such a sudden deluge. People were trapped in houses for long hours as they waited for the rain to subside. Streams and waterways were submerged in knee-deep flood waters. Young children and short people were forced to pay so as to be carried and brought to the other side. The challenges faced by the residents are lack of infrastructure, poor drainage and lack of services for the poor.

As water levels rose outside, houses, shops and recreations centers began leaking inside their premises, and also sweeping away everything not sparing the wooden bridge. Some of the resident who live near the river were left homeless after their houses were swept away by the raging water, carrying with it goats and cows of a big business man called wachira in the slum who supplies the residents with the milk. Drunkards became sober and tried their very best to reach their homes as soon as the rain subsided. A couple of residents found themselves floating on water as if they were in a Jacuzzi while a sleep, they had to be rescued by some youths and taken to nearby clinics for check up. Through the Nairobi City profile done by Muungano in the year 2013, communal recommendation of slum improvement have been made by the National Youth Service works has slowly improved drainage systems which has reduced calamities like easy passage of water in streams and waterways.

It is said that slum dwellers would rather be rained on than close their daily business or lose money. It’s never advisable for people to find shelter near water masses, due to rapid rains that cause flooding and the rivers break their banks. Poor drainage can cause a lot of harm to people when the sewer lines block because of the muddy water. The chaos that results from the residents is like wildebeests crossing the Mara river that would be comical; were it not punishing in the unusual manner. It’s very sad watching your property being swept away by the heavy rains and there is nothing that can be done to at least save anything. The Muungano federation introduced farming methods to the residents which transformed them to farmers in the land near the river bank. This has helped in the reduction of flooding cases. The farm products harvested are always sold to the villagers at a fair price compared the normal market. The farm has also been a site for agricultural studies to nearby educational centers. 

--

POTATO RIOTS 

By Asha Ali, Machakos

Since the devolved system of county governance, Machakos has been one of the best performing counties in Kenya. However, it had its own fain share of challenges. In one morning of December 2014 as I was strolling by, in my own mental shadows walking with me, I heard some funny noises. Funny being it was both attractively curious, yet potentially harmful to my well being. Well being, meaning my current state of sanity.

Shouts, grunts, babblings, amongst other assorted rabbled noise, was what I heard from the market, with the usual haggling going on, but with a more civil-disoriented chaos. I saw, in my comical disbelief, sacks of potatoes sprawled all over the market floor, spilling their contents all over. Knowing that this must be a rejection action towards some government initiated scheme/plan which wasn’t confirmatory to the citizenry; I stood to watch the debacle, from a far distance all the same. These events usually turn out to be violent in the culminating stages of order in chaos, often witnessed during market days.

But to my shock, it wasn’t the sellers who were throwing their money away; it was the county inspectorate 'officers' who were actually destroying food, sustenance for mankind. All this for what: just because the said potatoes were not meant to be sold in 90kg quantity, in whatever measurements that they were meted in, by small number of retailers. The market was exclusively meant for wholesale only. This was from a by-law, enacted by the hoodlums who like to be referred to as 'Honorable', otherwise known as MCAs, in order to generate 'more revenue', by denying retailers access to the larger portion of the town market. As ludicrous as it seems, it had taken full effect, and the county council was intent on maintaining the ghastly law, even to violent endings.

In retaliation, the retailers did the natural thing that any gruntled mwanainchi did; teach the council askaris a thing or two about mixing business and its disruption. Which scholars have duly labeled it rioting, in effect made legal retaliation a necessity, considering the retailers decide NOT to use any weapons except their own hands. Maybe in their reasoning, they would be spared the usual dose of the dreaded rungus, the usual batons and the occasional pleasures of kicks and blows. One trader, Mrs. Amina Ali said, "It is unfortunate that the county government is introducing policies that are detrimental to hardworking through violence." Well, the whole event turned out pretty docile than expected. None was actually hurt, with the chairman and two loud mouths being arrested and taken to the cooler for some 'debriefing'. Was it a lenient path of containing civil strife, or just the basic and sudden lapse of sensible thinking for the citizenry, will never be known but that was a change in the right direction, with regards to handling civil strife in a humane way? But all ended quite amicably.

The Chairman, Mr. Isaac Mutua, and his two accomplices were arraigned in court and subsequently charged with incitement, that being a tap on the wrist, considering what was initially 'arranged' for them. Grateful they were, as they should have been, the whole affair taught me something.

Leniency is a trait most county governments have to embrace to if to have a peaceful and harmonious co-existence with the citizenry. The effect should recommend to the highest authority in the land. Unnecessary humiliation and injury to man is not the way to handle internal disputes and grievances. We are not back in the stone age when all was needed to quell a mob was a whack to the head and the unlawful detention of a few, and everything was back to normal. The population of today is craftier, more tenacious, and to a logic-defying extreme, more violent, if need be.

This approach will enhance human relations. The elite and the governed will have a patriotic sense of togetherness. Just like any household, all disputes are settled amicably. Through muungano wa wanavijiji , has written a petition to the county government of Machakos to come up with a standard potato  weights that will go a long way in addressing such potatoes wars. 

-- 

GIVING HOPE TO HOPELESS

By Milka Njeri, Huruma

Huruma is located in northeast of Nairobi the capital of Kenya. I got an opportunity to visit a Muungano affiliated group in Huruma Kambi Moto settlement Mathare constituency.

H-town is a group of young girls and teenage mothers; it was started by two members in 2014 due to the high rate of gender based violence in the area, after mobilizing other members it was officially registered in the same year of July 2014, currently the group has fifteen registered members.

Gender based violence has been serious issue in Huruma settlement; this group is among other community based groups which is trying to address gender based violence in informal settlements.

I spoke to Nancy Njoki, a mentor and a founder member of H-town group, “As we grew up gender based violence has been a way of life among young women, but we as h-town we would like to change this belief and help reduce cases of rape and violence women.”

In a recent event, one of their members was arrested, taken to court and jailed. She is currently serving a jail term at the Langata women prison for accidentally murdering her boyfriend whom it is alleged wanted to rape her.

Through the support Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Kambi moto saving scheme the group has strengthen its savings and loaning capacity .H-town is the leading model within Huruma in curbing incidences of sexual violence against young women.

Some of the impacts demonstrated by H-town include; some members have been sponsored to attend specialized courses such as driving, home economics, mentorship among others.

The group is currently offering trainings to young girls and women and through settlement campaigns that aim at decreasing cases of social violence among the Huruma community and is a model that can be replicated to other informal settlements.

--

CRIME IN MATHARE

By Kate Wanjiru, Mathare

Mathare is the second largest slum in Kenya after Kibera with approximately 73.3 hectares with an estimated population of 400,000 people who live in 13 villages; its just a few minutes’ drive away from the city centre. Mathare is home to some of the toughest criminal gangs in Nairobi whereby many youths steal and engage in crime to make a living.

Mathare has been greatly affected by insecurity mainly perpetrated by the youths in  a place known as Huruma in Kiamaiko. The youths of Mathare were influenced by the youths from Huruma  who have  introduced them to access cheap guns - mostly homemade guns.

In 2000 many youths reportedly joined street gangs and they would terrorize people in the community especially in Mathare no. 10 area, this incidences became too much and the community decided to take action by demonstrating  at  a nearby police station.

Many youths have lost their lives. In one year fifty youths were killed, but it was so painful to see the police shooting because they would find the youths holding illegal assembly  eg ‘base’ and ask them to kneel down and start shooting in front of their parents and the community. This was torture because before they killed them they would beat them up.

The youths of Mathare transformed after the introduction of jobs by the government for the youths ‘kazi kwa vijana’ and through educational seminars. In my hood, Bondeni there are many youths that have transformed. I got a chance to interview Kim who told me, ‘‘I was one of worst criminals,  I used to recruit young youths and taught them how to use guns and stealing from people especially hijacking cars but thanks God because I have now changed’’. Kim is now working with nongovernmental organizations like Muungano wa Bondeni to help other youths change. Kim is working in one of the Muungano developed toilets projects and saves like other members.

-- 

A SMALL HEAVEN OR HELL?

By Mary Munyiva 

Sometimes life seems to be hopeless when someone lives in a slum. But on the other hand “A VILLAGE OF HAPPINESS“ is part of a settlement in Kahawa Soweto. Most of the people here are ever drunkard, drug addicts, and commercial sex workers among others. Marital status contract is just for the next few seconds.

This was named so because everything you want is available such as alcohol, any kind of food you need and more so sex desire.

It has deteriorated health factor in the fact that most people are infected with HIV/TB yet they transmit it day and night. Their physical appearance looks as if they are age mates of the first president of Kenya and the most challenging factor is death almost every month.

It really paid a lot of attention to the entire community whereby a parent remains a parent. Most of their income is pickpocketing especially during the night but among them there graduates  ‘Of KUPIKA CHANGA’A’ funny enough they have been surviving with ‘TWAKS’ [pig intestines] of which

We are not sure of their health degree, when they are being cooked they do produce that sound of TWA TWA TWA that’s why they were named after that. Unfortunately, it was terminated from the source company through political influence, a neighbor MCA went to the company had the conversation which was held terminated the TWAKS.. Their lives changed since they were taking alcohol without eating.

With the effort of federation members and the community as a whole, there was a group which was mobilized called ’KAA SOBER’ and also they do contributions every Sunday of twenty shillings each and after that they go back to their normal life. We were able to join efforts with stakeholders like NACADA, SWOP among others so as to have a future generation.

-- 

A CALL TO ALL YOUNG MOTHERS 

By Sophia Khamis, Machakos

Often people think success comes because of luck or exceptional talent though it might be true for some but most successful people will tell you that the reason they are there it’s through persistence and burning desire to do something extra ordinary. Well this how mine all started.

Being a young mother from slums having left college early and having no experience in anything it was quite a challenge to start something up! I was in this saving scheme in Mjini Machakos having being forced by my mum to join, I not seeing any significance in it. I can vividly recall this certain date like two years ago there were visitors in our group/ chama known as Muungano wa Wanavijiji they targeted young mothers, well after some processes was one of  the lucky seven girls chosen from Machakos county, and 60 young women from 7 counties in Kenya.

We underwent trainings having a little baby "champ" it was quite a challenge but I couldn't give up for anything because I could see it was something beneficial to me. Well I remember this one time we went through a training in Nakuru for four days after it all we were given 100/=for motorbike.

All I can do is laugh about this. It was quite a show people were mad and that is where some gave up but not for me and a few others because we had benefited and could see light in it. We started mentorship on entrepreneurship and politics, I chose entrepreneurship! It was both local and international mentorship. I remember my mentor from Australia Hanna Carlson she inspired me a lot gave me inspirational books to read! Shared life stories this made me feel so empowered as a young woman. 

I took a loan from my group and started small business selling beauty products something I love doing, and today my business is my testimony.  So to all young mothers out there life isn't going to change by knocking your heels together change starts from us! Don't give up there is hope out there no body said its going to be easy but believe me when I say there is something for everyone you got to work for it.

comments

"I have an erection.... of the heart."

Monday, 29 June 2015

Photos by Herbert Kalungu, ACTogether Uganda

By Skye Dobson 

That get your attention? Yes, well it got ours too. It was late on the third day of an international conference in a slightly stuffy hotel in Kampala. Delegates were giving closing remarks and I wont lie, I was checking emails and I think my colleague was reading the news. Unbeknownst to us a prominent Kampala politician was handed the microphone. Standing up he stated in a bellowing voice, “I have an erection” [2 second pause – in which my colleague and I dropped our phones and clutched each others arm in delightful disbelief] “… of the heart.”

The honorable politician was emphasizing just how happy he was with the partnerships between communities and government that were emerging in the various countries represented.  From that day – about five years ago – my Ugandan colleagues and I have used this phrase to describe our feelings for any big achievement related to our work.

And so it was yesterday when we drove back to Kampala from a day in Jinja aroused by the energy and the progress being made by the SDI Alliance in Uganda. It was overwhelming to witness just how seamlessly all the elements of the SDI “toolkit” are being deployed by the community, allowing us to witness the holy grail of development: an authentic people-driven holistic urban development process. The federation has remarkable agility for a community movement – an agility that is the result of a long hard slog and methodical refinement of its skillset. Like a talented boxer it makes everything look so simple.

We had gone to Jinja to visit the Jinja Materials Workshop in Walukuba. The project is in the final stages of its last phase of construction.  On a 1,800m2 plot, secured through negotiation with Council, the federation first constructed a building materials production center with a basic shed, curing pit and storage container for the fabrication of Interlocking soil bricks, ladies (prefabricated concrete minislabs), t-beams, pavers, tiles etc. In the second phase a demonstration house was constructed using the low cost materials fabricated by the community on site. And in this, the final stage, the federation has constructed a three-story building with a community center on the ground floor and a guesthouse with 18 rooms on the upper two floors for students undertaking training and visitors of the federation. This three-story building has been under construction for a mere two months and the progress is outstanding. The site is also home to a biofill worm digester toilet, which was as the first of its kind in Uganda and was built by the federation about 18mths ago. Today it is as clean as it was back then, despite being used by a construction site full of youth every day. The toilet does not smell at all and the flapper pan ensures a neat and tidy toilet for the community. These toilets have now been replicated throughout Kampala and the worms for the toilets are bred on-site by the federation.

Now this all sounds great, but it is not the full story. What I have described could have been achieved without affecting any kind of change in the community and without any potential for transforming business as usual in the urban development process. The land could have been purchased. A developer could have constructed the building. An NGO could have hired a consultant to manage the trainings. A contractor could have been hired to build. And nothing would be different in Jinja. But things are different.

The project and its potential cannot be assessed in isolation from the messy, tireless process of movement-building from which it sprung. It’s a process that began in 2002. The stories of the members mobilized throughout the years are captured exquisitely in a collection of mini-memoirs compiled in a book entitled: 10 Years of Okwegatta: A History of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) Narrated by Members It details the mobilization of members by federation members from Kenya, India and South Africa. It documents the growth of saving groups, the networking of these groups at the settlement and municipal level and the way peer-to-peer exchanges with other federations taught the Ugandan federation to use profiling and enumeration to understand their community better and to negotiate with government from a position of greater authority and collective capacity.

As documented by Nyamweru and Dobson (2014), the introduction of the TSUPU program in Uganda provided the federation and opportunity to scale their process in unprecedented ways and the Jinja federation seized this opportunity with both hands. It quickly emerged as a learning center when it came to: city-wide profiling, to initiating and sustaining municipal and settlement development forums, and undertaking small upgrading projects in partnership with government. By 2011 the federation had emerged as a highly competent player in the urban arena, ensuring Community Upgrading Funds targeted communities in greatest need (as identified in profiling), were demanded by the community (through forums) and would be managed by the community (through its savings groups and project management committees). It convincingly demonstrated the dramatic cost savings to be achieved through the use of community contractors.

And now, as construction of the Jinja Materials Workshop nears completion, it is clear to anyone that has watched this federation grow, that the project is utterly infused with this history and this energy and it is that which makes it a game changer.

Our trip to the project was motivated by a request from Jinja to add a solar component to the innovations at the workshop. They had learned of the “Solar Hub Model” from the SDI Council (which unburdens the poorest from the responsibility of investing in the trunk infrastructure required to set up a solar system through establishment of a central hub where communities bring rechargeable batteries that power a simple solar home package.) SDI’s solar projects officer, Charles Hunsley, was there to explore the idea further with the local affiliate. The discussion around solar illuminated the game-changing x-factor very quickly.

First, the federation members steered the conversation. They did not defer to the professional visitors, but interrogated their ideas and suggestions in a way that enriched the ultimate conceptualization of the project. When assessing the viability of the project the federation members made reference to the existing energy options in the various surrounding settlements – information they had gathered during profiling, but also regular engagement with groups in each area. They explained how the poor often pay more for power than more wealthy city residents and often expose themselves to grave danger illegally tapping the main supply (too often resulting in electrocution by live wires), or mixing kerosene with diesel to prolong it’s use, exposing themselves to high respiratory risks and fires that can wipe out a settlement. Fishing communities along the banks of Lake Victoria in Jinja live in such conditions, with wood shacks offering little protection from highly flammable an unregulated energy. Their stories exposed the energy injustice SDI’s solar agenda seeks to combat.

In order to gather additional information about present expenditure on energy the federation decided it would conduct a mini enumeration to rapidly assess affordability across Jinja’s informal settlements. For communities requiring a loan for the purchase of fittings or batteries the federation noted that SUUBI (Uganda’s federation-established Urban Poor Fund) could provide loans that would be monitored by the local SUUBI loan team in the same way they monitor sanitation and livelihood loans.  

The federation members were excited by the prospect of communities coming to the center every four days to charge their batteries. This, they agreed would enhance the dialogue between the federation and communities across Jinja around their incremental upgrading needs. Some slum dwellers may begin with an energy upgrade and move on to upgrade their sanitation situation or the permanence of their house using the low-cost materials available on site. During visits for charging the community can explore the materials center – which may eventually more appropriately be called a Resource Center for Incremental Upgrading and view various prototypes or create their own. In the process the dialogue and practice of incremental upgrading will grow, wholly driven by the local community.

The skillful athlete had blown us away with his left and right hooks and came in for the knock out punch. Head of the Jinja federation’s negotiation committee, Joseph Sserunjoji stood at the end of the meeting to challenge the professionals: “The question is not if we are ready, but if YOU are ready?” And that’s when the … err … heart got excited. This community is in charge of a precedent-setting project for incremental, in situ, affordable, inclusive urban development and is impatient for the rest of us to catch up.

Activity photos: 

comments

Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia in National News

Friday, 19 June 2015

**Cross-posted from the SDFN Blog**

The Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia has been busy submitting regional reports to government on land allocation and housing across the country in order to inform negotiations with local authorities on resources for permanent housing solutions for Namibia's poor. 

“I have not seen an institution as serious as the federation. I am happy with what you have achieved... Do not give up engaging the government. If you fall down, stand up again. I assure you that there will come a time that they will hear what you say. Rome was not built in one day. Never give up,” said Khomas Regional Governor, Laura McLeod-Katjirua in her speech during the SDFN national meeting on the 13th of June 2015. The purpose of the meeting was to share 6 months regional progress reports and plans on savings, projects, repayments of loans and enumerations.

comments

Launch of Public Toilets in Blantyre, Malawi: Building a Citywide Sanitation Strategy

Monday, 25 May 2015

Written by CCODE. 

On Friday 22nd May, 2015, the normally busy market in Ndirande was even busier than usual. This time, there was a reason to celebrate: local authorities, Councillors from different areas, Traditional Authorities, community leaders and community members came together to officially launch the five new public toilets that have been recently constructed in market places in different informal settlements across Blantyre.

The toilets have been built by the Malawi Alliance as part of the Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) project, which aims to test an approach to pro-poor citywide sanitation strategies driven by communities and supported by public authorities. One of the challenges that communities identified during the community-driven research stage of the project was the problem of public sanitation in the informal settlements. It is against this background that CCODE and the Federation has facilitated the construction of five public paying toilets at market places in the settlements of Ndirande (2), Manase, Nancholi, and Likotima.

The public toilets have two main features that make them unique:

1) They have been constructed with the EcoSan technology – which means they require little water for their maintenance (something that is scarce, especially in high density areas like Ndirande) and the waste can be harvested as humanure – a safe, nutrient-rich compost manure that can be utilised as fertilizer to improve crops.

2) They will be paid toilets – ensuring their sustainability in the long term. People will pay a small fee for using the toilets, which will ensure their maintenance and cleanliness. A percentage of the profits obtained from the toilets will go towards the repayment of the facilities, and the majority will remain in the community for community-led projects. Local and City-Wide Sanitation committees have been created to oversee the management of the system, which include members of the City Council, Traditional Authorities, community leaders and Federation members.

The new toilets will benefit the communities in many way: not only they provide a safe sanitation option for crowded areas (and comfort for those who reside of visit the areas), but also will give a sense of pride and a small profit to be put into the most pressing needs of the community. Furthermore, the involvement and commitment of the City Council in a community-led process of improving the living conditions of slums sets an important precedent for the future.

comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archive

BlogRoll

Popular Posts