By By Hellen Nyamweru, AcTogether Uganda
The National Slum Dwellers Federation fraternity was well represented at the recently concluded Commonwealth Local Government Conference held at Munyonyo Kampala from the 14th to the 17th of May, 2013.The conference with the theme ‘Developmental Local Government: Putting Local Government at the Heart of Development’ saw delegates and high ranking personnel coming from all over the world to look into how local governments can be empowered to reduce poverty, stimulate the local economy and ensure provide better services to the community.
The event was launched by the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on the 14th of May in an event twinned with the opening of the exhibition arena by His Excellency where the federation displayed a myriad of items from their small income generating activities such as beautiful crafts, artifacts, jua-kali works, charcoal briquettes, jewellery, mats among others. NSDFU also displayed sanitation and housing models demonstrating low cost technology and to help demonstrate the cost effectiveness of federation projects.
Local and international organizations such as ACTogether Uganda, SDI, and Cities Alliance had information desks where they publicized their works as organizations in the quest to promote good local governance.
Muturi Joseph, a federation leader from Muungano Wa Wanavijiji Kenya gave a brilliant presentation on the 16th of May in a panel chaired by Julian Baskin from Cities Alliance. The presentation that centered on urban challenges from a community-city-national and global perspective was able to ‘speak’ to the delegates in attendance and generate debate in the house .It stressed on the truth that slums and informal settlement are a reality that cannot be ignored and that governments must plan for them.
The team at the ACTogether/SDI/NSDFU booths also established contact with local governments within and outside Uganda some of who had little or no information about the federation. It was a privilege for the SDI fraternity to be invited in so many municipalities by local governments officials from all over Uganda and a promise of their support once we journey to these municipalities to mobilize the urban poor. Delegates from outside Uganda who happened to come from countries where the federation exists were given a contact of the SDI family to follow up back home.
Many delegates visited the SDI/ACTogether Uganda booth to see the library of books published on the works of the SDI federations. They also interacted with the participants and availed their email addresses for further correspondence to enable them access more information and softcopies of publications by NSDFU/ACT/SDI.
Vicky Nakibuuka from Kampala Central federation and Diana Najuuko from Makindye federation coordinated and supervised the NSDFU exhibition booth, which sold items produced by federation members throughout Kampala. They sold out some of the items they had, most especially the artifacts and made a profit of about UGX 800,000, approximately USD 320. ‘’When I went back to Makindye on Friday evening, those who had given me items to sell told me I have to find out if there was another conference next week so that I can continue selling for them! I found it very interesting’’
In the words of Sri Lanka’s President, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa, “Local governments are the most practical expression of the ideals and aspirations of a functioning democracy.” We, the SDI fraternity, share the same insight having worked with many local governments in mobilizing the urban poor in innovative ways to set priorities, make decisions in participatory, deliberative, collaborative way to overcome conflicts and to solve critical community problems. We continue working together to support positive change and achieve positive tangible outcomes in the communities, regions and the world as a whole.
Quiet Conflict: Social Movements, Institutional Change & Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa
Ben Bradlow has worked with Shack/Slum Dwellers International and the SA Alliance since 2009. Ben’s thesis considers the experience of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN) in building coalitions of the urban poor and partnerships with local government, which he calls the “Quiet Conflict”. During his time at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): International Development Group where he studied Master’s in City Planning, Ben was active in promoting critical thinking of African urbanism and co-founded the UrbanAfrica group, and a MIT student group on planning and development issues in African cities. For his active contribution to learning, Ben was rewarded with the “Harold Horwitz Research Fellowship” by MIT School of Architecture & Planning and received an ”Honourable mention for intellectual contribution”. The SA Alliance is proud to showcase Ben’s research.
The South African government’s attempts to provide land and housing for the poor have been focused primarily on interventions at the policy level and within internal state bureaucracies. But experiences of social movements for land and housing have shown that significant opportunities for formal institutional change occur through relationships of both contestation and collaboration between such movements and state institutions, especially at the local level. Such a relatively underexplored mechanism of institutional reform enables us to understand exactly how such change processes gain legitimacy and potency. This thesis draws on case studies of two recent, formalized partnerships between grassroots social movements and local authorities in the metropolitan municipality of Cape Town and the municipality of Stellenbosch. The studies examine exactly how such relationships create the space for both conflict and collaboration between communities and city government. They are based on semi-structured interviews with government officials, community, and movement leaders, and participant observations of engagements between the movements and city authorities in January and June-August 2012. The evidence suggests that theories of the state and institutional change require much greater attention to the multiple ways in which social movements interact with the state in order to realize rights of access to land and housing. The contingent endowments of these actors allow them to be more or less able to trigger institutional reform processes. When change has occurred, collaboration has been essential. But these cases also highlight the value of a credible threat of conflict based on city-wide mobilization, no matter how quietly such a threat lurks in the background. Policy interventions in the urban land and housing sector in South Africa, pitched as rational bureaucratic recipes, are unlikely to realize such rights without institutionalized engagements, especially at the city level, with organized social movements of the landless urban poor that articulate both conflictual and collaborative tendencies.
**Cross-posted from Living The City: Urban Informality**
By Baraka Mwau, SDI
"When the modern city does not adapt to the people…The People will adapt to the city” (Urban Think Tank, Trailer-Torre David: the World’s Tallest Squat)
Living in the Tenements of Nairobi – Part One
Typical Tenement Building: Pipeline, Embakasi-Nairobi © B.Mwau 2012
Tenements, or if used informally vertical semi-slums, are in their own version congested settlements which have been around since the industrial age and have been witnessed in all regions of the world, and especially in particular urban growth stages. These settlements, often strategically located near key urban services (mostly commercial areas) are a representation of the role of market forces in housing provision for a particular class of urban residents. These settlements maximize space use (mostly by exploiting ground coverage and plot ratio standards) and leverage huge capital investments with many housing units for which residents pay “affordable” rents. Like in many parts of the world, this phenomenon is rive in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya and one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. In this article and its subsequent series, we will highlight various aspects of living in tenement buildings in Nairobi as told by individual dwellers.
It is 5 am on Saturday May 11 2013 in Pipeline Estate, Embakasi – Nairobi, one of the most notorious areas for unregularised tenements in the city. Milcah Kioko* (not her real name) has just woken up. No, it isn’t an early day because she has to report to “work”. Throughout her stay in the city, a day must start early, regardless of the fact that she is a housewife. Milka is however somewhat optimistic about landing a reliable job someday that will enable her to support her husband and combat the ruthless and indiscriminative escalating living cost in Nairobi. Having migrated from Eastern Kenya a few years ago to the city, she started urban life in a Nairobi slum, Mukuru kwa Njenga, where she was lucky to be sheltered by her elder married sister while looking for a job. Many slum residents can narrate how agonizing life can be for rural converts, making a fresh start in Nairobi slums. Without critical social networks, such as Milcah’s, the ‘arrival city’ (slums) can turn out to be one legendary, horror narrative to pass to your descendants. Even after being nested by her sister and tirelessly hunting for a reliable job for years, Milka has made very little progress. After the first few years, she had to leave the nest and continue with her job hunt from somewhere else, a move that opened a new chapter in her life. She got married and shifted focus to raising her young family. Life might have improved after her husband managed to move the family from Mukuru kwa Njenga slum to the adjacent ‘concrete jungle’, the high-rise tenements of Pipeline Estate, Embakasi.
Since her move, waking up early is Milka’s Saturday routine. The day normally begins by climbing down the sharply-inclined staircase from her unit on the sixth floor to the ground floor, where she joins the long queue at the water tap. Having migrated from the dry lands of Eastern Kenya, queuing for water is ‘normal’. She migrated from her rural home in the quest of living the ‘urban dream’ and creating a new ‘normal’ life. It’s almost a decade now, and the city still seems unforgiving to her.
Being a Saturday, her two young daughters are in slumberland until mid the morning. It’s not a school day and in any case, they have nowhere to play, except the dangerous and narrow balcony at their doorstep. This is highly unappealing for the kids. The numerous warnings they have received from their mother not to play near the balcony as well as the obvious physical danger has cultivated sufficient fear in them. They have also adapted to routine everyday re-organization of the house. The family lives in a single room, which similarly to a shack, is partitioned by a curtain and is accustomed to space-use transformation at different times of the day. After getting her water, Milcah is going to undertake a makeover of this temporal children bedroom to the living room and the kitchen.
The queue at the tap is long, taking several loops on the open-indoor space at the ground floor. You are never too early for it, unless you have a ‘good relationship’ with the building caretaker, who sends signals to his ‘friendly tenants’ when he is about to open the tap. That’s how powerful this position can be in these kinds of tenement buildings where communal facilities exist and infrastructure services are rationed. Often, the caretaker (mostly men) doesn’t send the signals for free; there are ‘payments’ involved. The ‘payments’ range from cash money to a beer in the bar at the ground floor and/or more ‘personalised’ forms from certain female tenants. This system is a clear illustration of how survival in tenements can be constructed through social networks. In these residences, the city council and utility companies are partially to blame for the inadequacy of services. The other half involves complex dealings with all sorts of actors, mainly including the landlord, property care taker, utility company workers, and service cartels.
Milcah has no choice but to join the queue and get her usual ration—4 jerricans (20 litres each). She is no party to the ‘exclusive club’ in the building, hence no favours from the care taker. As an offer of support, her husband will give her a hand in ferrying the water to their unit in the sixth floor, before he goes for work. Despite the building exceeding 4 floors (recommended threshold for a lift in Kenya), this particular building does not have a lift.
Her husband will also help to ferry the household solid waste (collected into a polythene bag) to dump it somewhere along the road side, on his way to work. Solid waste collection is yet another scarce service here. At least the City Council will pick up that garbage, when the ‘mountain’ gets visible enough.
The building used to have a booster pump which pumped water from the mains at the ground floor to the 7th floor. However, this pump worked only for a few months when the building was new. After its starting to malfunction, the landlord did not bother to repair or replace it. Surprisingly, Milcah is not even aware that there was such a pump in the building, even after living there for over a year. She is actually surprised that water indeed flowed in the taps and shared toilets/ bathrooms beyond the ground floor. It is not that she is ignorant, she just copes with the situation as is, and is motivated by the fact that her rent is just worth what she gets.
Front View of a Typical Tenement Building in Pipeline Estate, Embakasi-Nairobi © B.Mwau 2012
In most tenements, the utility bills (mainly water and electricity) are inclusive in the rent and only the landlord knows what goes to the service providers. In roomed tenements, sharing of toilets and bathrooms is the norm. The maintenance of these shared facilities is in most cases left to the tenants. Where there is no proper ‘maintenance plan’ formulated and followed by the tenants, the ‘tragedy of the commons’ triumphs. Should the later prevail, chances are that some tenement residents will find themselves grappling with the dilemma of ‘to have or to avoid guests’, just as it has been narrated by numerous shack residents. The dignified visitors could easily loathe the reception at the “small rooms”, especially those coming from upmarket areas. In most cases tenants develop a duty rooster for maintaining common spaces and facilities. Its not surprising to see tenants being actively engaged in managing the asset for the landlord, to whom they pay rent. For them, the free service they offer semi-consciously for the landlord is more to their benefit, and particularly in safe guarding their public health.
Similar to shack areas, infrastructure services in most tenements are constrained, either as a result of collapsed (or on the verge of collapse) building infrastructure, or inefficacies of the service provider. For electricity, the stories are agonizing as well and particularly in buildings where billing is on a shared meter. In these areas, meter reading is classified information that should only be known to three parties – the service provider, the care taker and the landlord. If not rationed by hours, the voltage limit will not permit tenants like Milcah to use certain appliances such as iron boxes, cookers, water heaters etc.
Milcah’s experience is just a tip of the iceberg. Life in Nairobi’s tenements is deeply dynamic and cannot be covered enough within the scope of this article. Mathare-Huruma, Pipeline, Zimmerman, Githurai, Roysambu and Kawangware neighbourhoods epitomize the tenement phenomenon in Nairobi. In these areas, buildings have plot coverage’s of 100% and plot ratios of upto 10 times the recommended standards. Yes, the buildings are built back-to-back, from beacon-to-beacon, go as high as 8floors, and use designs, shapes and space standards that can never be found anywhere else. The vertical densities in these neighbourhoods are extreme, filled with densely massed multi-storey buildings. The facades often decorated by hanging clothes or repugnant like windows that appear as engraved rather than fitted, and at times a view from the street will land on a solid wall.
In tenement areas, social life is influenced by the codes stipulated by landlords to tenants, and fully enforced by the tenants, such as locking the gate or the main entrance at certain times of the night.
The roads in these areas are rough and dusty. When it rains, they turn to muddy streets making walking and driving unbearable. Space convertibility is a key element in these areas, with streets converting into busy business areas in the mornings and evenings. During these times of day, the massive activities taking place on the main streets leading to public transport stops often mimic mass migration.
Subsequent series to this article will illustrate some of the urban qualities produced by tenements, the variety in housing they offer, their production and perhaps their implication to the urban future in Nairobi.
**Cross-posted from the South African SDI Alliance Blog**
By Jeff Thomas, CORC, South Africa
Havelock informal settlement is located 8km outside Durban central, close to the northern suburb of Greenwood Park. The first settlers – a coloured man and his wife – settled on this land in 1986. Since they were “scared of living alone” – as they put it – they invited other people to join them. In the early years, the new settlers were continually harassed, especially the women, who were vulnerable to attacks on their way to the main water sources. In subsequent years, the settlement grew to a sizable settlement of 389 residents living in more than 200 shacks. The land is privately owned; one part by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Department of Human Settlements and another part by a private owner. Havelock is built against a hill and the shack density is high. Read more about the background to the settlement in this profile.
In the following report, I endeavour to give context to the unfolding dynamics in Havelock, where to community has completed all the design, received an in-principle go-ahead from government, and started preparing the site. The re-blocking project has been approved by Community Upgrading Finance Facility (CUFF), an alliance seed capital fund, and the eThekwini Metro has indicated a willingness to collaborate. The report tracks the activities over the weekend of 10 – 12 May. The Not-In-My-Backyard (NIMBY), a wicked complex layered with racial, class and land rights dynamics, have blocked the incremental upgrading of the settlement.
Thursday 9 May
Over the past few weeks, the reblocking site has been cleared which required tree felling, clearing away undergrowth, and gathering together discarded pieces of building material. A consulting Civil Engineering firm manager and his operator arrived in the morning to discuss how we should proceed with the terracing work. Points made were:
- need to stay well clear of the sewer line that runs between the site and the church property above it
- further cutting up of the logs from the felled trees to allow the tractor to carry them up to Havelock road for later disposal
- need to remove various bottles lying around that could puncture the tractor’s tyres
the engineer’s preliminary assessment of the work was that it would take at least 4 days. We arranged for the tractor would come on site on the morning of Monday 13. In the afternoon another engineering firm, a subcontractor to the municipality’s Water and Sanitation Department tasked to install new services (following a presentation by the Havelock community on their re-blocking layout plan and dire shortage of ablution facilities), came to site to assess the need and contemplate possible locations for further ablution containers. The outcomes of the visit were:
- confirmation of the position of the sewer line between the site proposed for locating the re-blocked structures and the church property
- there is another sewer line across the settlement parallel to the first but about half-way down – almost where CORC architect and the community had allowed for additional ablution facilities in the layout designs
- the open area on the other side of the small stream and adjoining the bottom of Sanderson Road is the best first option with the one within the settlement to be contemplated only once re-blocking has progressed to that point
- community should liaise with the owner of the property adjoining the site at the bottom of Sanderson Road to identify if the manhole that is shown on the map the engineer had with him is indeed there. Poor visibility meant that surveyors could not accurately plan the line from the proposed ablution container to this existing line.
- the engineer also commented on the extremely poor condition of the existing ablution containers and said he would propose that these be replaced with new ones.
Monday 13 May
Over the weekend the community had attended to the preparations required by the civil engineering firm to bring their tractor on site. Having cleared a way through the bushes down to the area to be terraced it proceeded to cut a “road” down past the ablution containers, thus creating easy access for possible removal of these and replacement with new ones, as suggested by the subcontractor. Then a line was pegged across from South to North to ensure no encroachment on or damage to the sewer line between the area to be terraced and the church property. After this, the community and supporting engineers started to work on the top terrace, cutting and leveling the soil and removing stumps.
At this time, they were approached by a group of people from the Greenwood Park neighborhood’s ratepayers association, who demanded that the work stop. Allegedly the ratepayers went as far as threatening to burn the tractor if it continued to operate. The Havelock community was obviously angered by this perceived interference in something that they felt had been well-negotiated with all parties and there was then a stand-off between the two groups.
Somebody from the formal community group had already contacted the Land Invasion Unit of the eThekwini Metro and some of their staff, including a senior officer, arrived on site. Somewhere within the ensuing discussion the issue of a High Court interdict order (Order 3329/2013) allowing the Municipality and the police the right to demolish structures and to evict people who occupy or attempt to invade certain designated pieces of Municipal land was introduced. This comes after the courts’ clampdown on alleged “land grabs”, as a front page article of the Mercury, a local Durban paper, reported.
The upshot was that the Land Invasion Unit told the Havelock settlement that in terms of this broad order granted by the High Court they could not proceed with the terracing and re-blocking. The small area that had been leveled would need to have some of the stacked soil returned to it so that there was no place where a structure could be constructed. However, this seems to be highly inconsistent: Why now, when the ratepayers called the Anti Land Invasion Unit a week prior regarding tree-felling activity – at which time the community explained about the re-blocking – they didn’t refer them to this Court Order?
Once the Land Invasion Unit had left, a group of the neighbouring residents continued to stand at the top of the site where it adjoins Havelock Road in order to see that the tractor operator adhered to the instructions of the Land Invasion Unit.
At this point I arrived and was confronted by the ratepayers with a barrage of questions and complaints, on the one hand, and an understandably irritated Havelock community on the other. The ratepayers complaints were ill-informed despite the fact that ISN had printed notices some of which were distributed in the area and others put on light poles. I then contacted the Land Invasion Unit to confirm exactly what his instructions had been. I wanted to understand whether the tractor should replace the soil.
By this stage the local DA Councillor for Ward 34, Mr Ganesh, arrived and was also vociferously greeted by the questions and complaints of the ratepayers. The Havelock community was displeased at the situation since their continuous interactions with him and the ANC PR Councillor up to date. The community felt that the councillor had failed to keep the Municipality adequately informed about what was happening. A pastor from a local church stepped into the situation and suggested a mediated meeting between grievances of the ratepayers and the community. The meeting is scheduled for the 1st of June at the nearby Greenwood Park Primary School. Representatives from CORC, ISN and the Municipality will also be present.
In order to find a way forward that might allow for the re-blocking project to continue the following actions are proposed:
- Make contact Legal Resources Centre, who has recently been involved in the Madlala Village community in Lamontville. We need to come to grips with the implications of the High Court order. But the primary litigation point will be the 37 sites to which it apparently refers as well as to possibly explore any legal action the community can take.
- Set up a meeting with the Land Invasion Unit to understand why the project was not stopped when the trees were felled.
- Co-ordinate a meeting of CORC and ISN with the Housing Unit who is also a member of the Interim Services Committee (responsible for informal settlement upgrading) on Havelock project plans issue tabled at the many previous meetings
- Attend the mediated meeting with the ratepayers to negotiate outcomes
- Discussion of the Havelock issue at the next Ward Committee meeting to be held on 15/5
**Cross posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
Ben’s life Story as Contributed by Henry Otunge (Savings Scheme member, Korogocho) and Aggrey Willis Otieno (Brother)
Benson Erick Osumba lived a short but fulfilling life. Though we are deeply hurt and in inconsolable grief and disbelief, hidden in all the pain and sorrow that we feel, we celebrate him for having touched our lives in a million ways.
Benson Erick Osumba was born in Nairobi on 28th February 1980 to the late Richard Odhiambo Osumba and Peninah Awino Osumba, and so begun the life of the man that people gathered here today were proud of to call their husband, their father, their son, their brother, their friend and leader.
In his early childhood days, Benson grew up in the sprawling slums of Korogocho without beating his siblings. He was very playful and humorous that his mum would quickly forget punishing him when he was in the wrong.
Benson Osumba joined Scouting at a tender age while in primary school and was an active member of Tegemeo Scouts Center, he was appointed a patrol member and a stave master of their unit / troop. He was among those of his troop who represented Nairobi Province in the National Inter Patrol Competitions. He underwent various Leadership Trainings; in the words of the founder of Scouting, Osumba did his best in leaving the world a better place than he found it.
As early as he was 9 years old, Benson started exhibiting a sense for indulging in community service by becoming a Cub Scout member in Ngunyumu Primary school. He moved up the rank and file of the scout system and eventually not only became a cub scout but also an admired troop commander. He was also a talented stave commander. This talent made him to be called upon on several occasions to lead the passing over parade by Boy Scouts during public holidays in front of the second President of Kenya, H.E Daniel Arap Moi.
As Senior Wang’ombe recalls, “the most memorable moment was when President Moi put some cash inside Benson’s pocket at State House during one of the public holidays”.
Benson started his schooling life in 1986 when he joined St. John’s Nursery school. He joined standard one class, at Ngunyumu Primary school in 1987 and left in 1992 to join Jina Primary School where he continued with his studies for Standard 7 and 8. Having excelled in his KCPE exams in 1994, Benson got admitted to St. Theresa Boys High school, Nairobi in 1995 and sat for his KCSE exams in 1998 in the same school.
Benson had a checkered illustrious career; Benson was a well liked and respected young man. He dedicated his entire life in serving the urban poor where he sharpened his leadership and problem solving skills. He has served in the boards of various Non- Governmental Organizations notably being Pambazuko Mashinani and Muungano Support Trust.
Though many within the civil society remember him as an urban poor advocate. Benson Osumba was also an entrepreneur in his own right. He registered Bencastro Engineering firm in 2008. Through the firm, Benson has left behind a number of buildings that he drew their architectural designs the latest being the telemedicine centre that belongs to his elder brother – Aggrey Willis.
Benson was a bit of a perfectionist in everything he did, he liked things to be just so. While not engaged in community service, Benson dedicated his time to perfecting his architectural drawing skills. To quench his thirst for more knowledge in the same field, he enrolled for a distance learning course.
Osumba joined Muungano wa Wanavijiji in April 2000 through his local savings scheme, Korogocho Needy; in Gitathuru Village, Korogocho Network, Nairobi Eastern region. He joined the group after an enumeration exercise conducted in Korogocho settlement under the supervision of Muungano federation and the Korogocho people settlement.
His enthusiasm to learn the Enumeration tool unveiled by Slum Dwellers International, Osumba was selected as an Enumerator representing the Gitathuru Enumerations team. His hard work during the enumeration exercise was noted by the Gitathuru community leaders; he was approached by the settlement leader; Martin Okumu to join their group, Korogocho Needy, who were in need of a group secretary.
Benson agreed to be the group’s secretary; he was deputized by the Late Tobias Ndege. Osumba embraced SDI’s concept of savings for a better life out of poverty and a developed well knit Korogocho settlement. Despite the fact that he lacked a job and a steady source of income, Osumba set aside every penny he could afford, so that he could save and be a good example with his savings group.
Benson managed his duties very well as the group’s secretary until 2005, when he joined the Federation to help out on Data Entry Training and Enumerations team, in Nairobi’s Eastern region by then. His brilliance and his ability to analyze perspectives on a broader perspective, gave his the opportunity to take part in numerous enumerations exercise in various towns and settlements in Kenya and abroad.
In his capacity as Secretary of Korogocho Needy; he together with the members set up systems and structures that would ensure all members get access to loans, ensured proper documentation and filing, transparency in running the group’s affairs and more importantly he ensured the role of women in the management of the group was achieved.
That very year, 2005; Benson opened himself up to attend the federation’s workshops, trainings on savings, community organising and lobbying and advocacy. His confidence and passion for community processes and participation matured.
In August 2005, Benson left Korogocho Needy group and formed a new group, called Cup Kenya, of which he was able to maintain his membership until his untimely death. Osumba managed to organize many groups in Korogocho and outside and within Kasarani District; such as Kariadudu United, Bsucola Youth SHG, Laundy Youth and Hunters in Korogocho. Kariadudu United and Hunters picked up momentum and are performing well.
Benson took life in his stride and appreciated what life offered him. Alongside countless people from Muungano wa Wanavijiji, civil society, global networks, and community-based organizations, Benson traversed the country and the world, trying to conceptualize and support poor peoples’ initiatives.
In 2007, the Nairobi Regional Council members of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, from both Eastern and Southern regions held an election to elect the Nairobi Regional Chairperson. Benson was then elected as the Nairobi Region Chairperson, where he was given the mandate to address the plight of the urban poor in the city.
In May 2008, the federation (Muungano wa Wanavijiji), decided to restructure its organizational structure, that would see a more vibrant and all inclusive and people centered movement. After the reorganization of the federation’s structure, and election was called for. Benson was elected the National Chairman of the Kenya’s Slum Dwellers Federation (Muungano wa Wanavijiji) for a renewable term of five years.
His experience garnered at national and international SDI processes, Benson implemented the operationalisation of the new look federation. Benson also transformed himself to a critical thinker, strategist, activist and a brilliant community organizer, a unique trait indeed.
It is out of these special character traits that; in May 2008 Benson was nominated by the Kenyan Federation to sit on the board of Shack/Slum Dwellers International, representing Kenya. Benson served with dedication as Chairperson of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, and SDI Board Member till his untimely demise.
Martin Nyawina Okumu a grassroot community leader; Korogocho describes Benson as a best friend. “He was born a leader and a listener. He went out of his way to help the poor regardless of their status or affiliation to the federation, we will dearly miss him”. “Henry Otunge, a member of Muungano Korogocho network and advocacy team, remembers Benson, as a brave community organizer and coordinator, when he had money he called himself, “Osumba will pay”, when he had no money he called himself,” Osumba will organize”, we went to the extent of nicknaming him; OKEW GI YESU!
The late Benson Osumba was in perfect health until March 2013, when he started ailing and immediately started the prescribed treatment for his illness. Benson began getting better and returned to his normal duties.
On 15th April 2013, his health deteriorated and was admitted in Hospital where he was getting specialized treatment. His health deteriorated on 17th April, 2013 and he succumbed to his ill health. Benson went to be with the Lord.
Despite his ill health, Benson was never at any one given time discouraged; he was ever jovial, vibrant, energetic and charismatic. Benson was full of life and valued every moment he spent with his family, regardless of his busy schedule to serve the Federation of Kenya’s Urban poor as their national Chairman.
He has left behind a wife and four children, namely Cynthia Awino, Marion Atieno, Fidel Odhiambo and Victor Ryan.
Benson will be laid to rest on 4th May 2013, at his Yala home, Gem.
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- SDI Participates in Commonwealth Local Government Conference, Uganda
- Quiet Conflict: Social Movements, Institutional Change & Upgrading Informal Settlements in South Africa
- ‘The Tenement City’: The ‘Inconvenient' Urban Reality Facing Nairobi
- NIMBYism Blocks Development in Havelock, Durban
- An Introspect of the late Benson Osumba, Chair of Muungano wa Wanavijiji
- Creating Organised Communities of Slum Dwellers in Uganda
- SDl Joins World Urban Campaign
- In a Risky Place: Women & Sanitation in Nairobi's Slums
- Using Enumerations for Upgrading: Namibia to Cape Town Learning Exchange
- Benson Osumba on Mindset Change Amongst Youth in Africa
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- The Zabaleen of Cairo
- Community Policing in Slum Settlements
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