Posts for Kenya
Back in April, we posted an article about women and sanitation in Nairobi's slums. ("In A Risky Place: Women & Sanitation in Nairobi's Slums" ). Recently, we revisited the audio recorded interviews with the women of Mukuru kwa Reuben to give you a first-hand account of their experiences and opinions on living conditions in the slums. Below is a short audio recording, followed by a transcription of their words for your convenience.
Doris Museti: "We are here, and then that person after 30, 40, 50 years, they are claiming the land back. Where do we go? We are not trees. You can say that 'I am selling this land, it is 5 acres, it has 20,000 trees, so the cost of the land it is this much, the cost of the trees it is this much,' so now, we are the trees.... When the land value has gone up, they want to develop. When the land value was down, they did not want to develop."
Evelyn Apondi: "It has been very difficult for us, especially when there is a father, brother, big brothers & sisters in the same cube [shack] and there are no toilets. It has been very hard, but when life is like that, sometimes you just bear it because life is a gift from God. So, we have just been surviving."
Doris Museti: "Getting to the toilet at night is very difficult. They are closed, so you have to get an alternative. So it is very risky. You have to get two or three women to escort you. If you do not come with two or three people, it is a rape case and it will never hear it reported."
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust blog**
By Shadrack Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (Kenya)
According to the English dictionary, the word eviction is the removal of a tenant from possession of premises in which he or she resides or has a property interest done by a landlord either by reentry upon the premises or through a court action. Eviction may be in the form of a physical removal of a person from the premises or a disturbance of the tenant’s enjoyment of the premises by disrupting the services and amenities that contribute to the habitability of the premises, such as by cutting off all utilities services to a settlement.
On the other hand "exclusion" is the act or an instance of excluding or the state of being excluded from state of affairs.
This is literally the sad state of informal settlements across the Slum dwellers International (SDI) global network. On one hand, urban poor communities are legally or illegally in a forceful manner transferred from their areas of shelter and on the other hand locked out on platforms that seek to make decision in addressing issues of informal peoples’ settlements.
Planning for development has remained an important role of subsequent governments that come into power. Unfortunately, government departments entitled with this responsibility have remained myopic to the data needs of informal settlements. For instance the Kenyan 2009 census was conducted in frequencies too sparse to accurately track the rapid growth of slum areas or informal settlements. Edwin Simiyu, a spatial data specialist at Muungano Support Trust, and Emily Wangari, a community profiler from Mathare, are a bit skeptical on the functionality of national census in making slums inclusive.
“In this kind of covenant between the urban poor and their resilience to be part of the city, more often than not data analyzed and made public by the Kenya Bureau of Statistics takes a long time to be computed and presented. By the time it is consumed it's already outdated and does not serve its purpose”, says Emily.
Joseph Mwendo of Muungano Training Dagorretti community on the New Settlement Profile Tool piloted by SDI this year.
Edwin points out that, “the national census data may be inadequate in the overall national planning owing to the fact that most of this data does not reflect the reality on the ground as far as informal settlements are concerned.”
Over and above, informal settlements have remained excluded in the citywide planning agenda. Lack of adequate data on slums has placed the urban poor between a rock and a hard place. In every dynamic slums have remained an eye-sore to most global governments to planning. The end result is that high costs are used to justify why cities fail to install water, sewerage and drainage facilities or plan land use for slum areas.
Slum Dwellers International has continued to support the Kenyan federation of slum dwellers to fill this data void by generating accurate data touching on informal settlements aimed at influencing urban planning, decision making and placing urban poor communities at the heart of building inclusive and sustainable communities. Over the last one and a half decades, Muungano has continued to conduct settlement profiling and community led enumerations, which have painted the dire state of informal settlements.
Citywide Settlement Profiles
Sustainable development requires continual and integrated consideration and analysis of social, environmental and economic issues, as well as their evaluation and prioritization against current and planned land uses in order for potential development conflicts among those three systems to be minimized. Planning of sustainable development alternatives and making decisions adjusted to sustainable development strategies and policies requires technologies with capabilities of presenting the actual situation of informal settlements.
The year 2013 saw SDI embark on the journey of developing a standardized tool for settlement profiles, questionnaires and data management systems with the aim of making the data faster to access and quicker to map while still lending itself to be easily updated and administered by local slum dwellers. While standardization will mean a certain level of comparability across regions, local federations will still be able to add their own area and context specific questions to ensure that the profiling tool meets its core aim of providing urban poor communities with a tool that can measure and capture the nuances of their own communities’ development needs.
Jockin Arputham, SDI President, takes a tour of Kiandutu Slums, Thika Kenya
In a recent visit of SDI President Jockin Arputhum to the Kenyan SDI affiliate, his take on settlement profiling is that, “Settlement profiles tells the global network, countries, counties and governments how much land the urban poor occupy, what level of services and infrastructure we are accorded and, most importantly, who are we going to engage to ensure our issues are addressed in tandem with the national or global planning agenda”.
Jack Makau of Slum Dwellers International holds a similar view, he says, “ Looking at the global world view, settlement data is becoming an important phenomenon and various technocrats from governments, multi-sectoral organizations and NGOs have come together to look at how best this global data can be compiled to make sense. So far we have been able to look at data touching on over 7,000 cities with informal settlements.”
Profiling of informal settlements draws primarily on repeated consultations and discussions with residents of the settlement by a survey and mapping team that includes federation leaders. This produces a rich set of data about the settlement, its inhabitants and the problems they face. A settlement profile does not produce detailed data on each household but instead provides a detailed overview of the settlement, its inhabitants, brief history, land tenure, quality of housing, extent of provision of infrastructure and services, and the residents’ main problems and priorities.
Partnership Planning and Empowerment
Community planning has been an epitome of community inclusion in the planning and development of both social and physical development. Over the last two years, since the interment of the Kenyan Constitution and devolvement of resources to the grassroots, Muungano wa Wanavijiji has been in the forefront in engaging county governments in 15 counties on community planning, which drives the need of inclusion of the poor in shaping their settlements.
Hon. John Kihagi, Member of the National Assembly for Naivasha Constituency, agrees, “Settlement profiling provides slum dwellers, and we as leaders, an impeccable understanding of the real situation of our informal settlements. My interaction with Muungano informs me that this strategy is a starting point to help create visibility for informal settlements”.
Naivasha MP. John Kihagi compare notes with Jockin Arputham.
Such engagements with government departments and elected leaders have leveraged support and goodwill for communities. In Nakuru County, where Muungano wa Wanavijiji enjoys community support, Nyamarutu settlement hsa received support from the Constituency Development Fund to fast track land regularization of a 7 acre land benefitting 200 households, owing to the community's enumeration data and strong lobbying and advocacy prowess. The federation is also working on a framework with members of the National Assembly for Naivasha and Nakuru on the need to conduct a joint settlement profile for two wards in Nakuru County.
For the last fifteen years, community-led enumeration has been one of the core rituals of the SDI network, as far as data gathering at household level is concerned. However, the settlement profile tool intends to generate very accurate socio-economic description of informal settlements. Muungano wa Wanavijiji hopes to link these surveys to citywide and county impacts.
Community driven processes are indeed exceptional planning tools to be utilized by urban poor communities and county governments to start including, analyzing and implementing the needs of the urban poor in the global planning agenda.
The continued exclusion of slums and informal settlements from the city’s planning processes, in particular the non-enforcement of existing sanitation standards, results in stark disparities in access to sanitation facilities between slums and informal settlement areas and other residential areas. Many women, for instance in Mathare Valley, have suffered rape and other forms of violence as a result of attempting to walk to a toilet or latrine some distance from their home. Sanitation facilities are inadequate and inaccessible.
Data gathering processes currently underway by Muungano wa Wanavijiji intend to empower communities to negotiate for better services from government. Rashid Mutua, Muungano wa Wanavijiji national chairman explains, “The aim of the federation is to look at every opportunity from community planning, settlement profiling, savings, partnership building and linkages to community urbanism solution models that is set to improve the quality of life for poor people by providing access to clean water, improved sanitation, and waste management services; and supporting secure land tenure and affordable housing”.
The federations’ core is;
- To strengthen the capacity of local communities to engage with county governments and local authorities and other service providers for the sustainable provision of basic services.
- To scale-up the delivery of basic infrastructure services for safe water, sanitation, better and affordable housing, waste removal and access to land tenure rights through collaborative efforts.
- To support income-generation activities, and community-managed savings and credit schemes that enable households to secure funds for the improvement of physical facilities through the Muungano Development Fund.
- Advocate for the adoption of pro-poor policies and practices for slum upgrading and land tenure at local and national levels
Both government and civil society ought to engage in collaborative strategic planning for slum upgrading. Coordinating both government and civil society spending on upgrading is likely to limit duplication of roles and projects, increase accountability and most importantly form a platform for planning and evaluating impacts.
By Anni Beukes, SDI Secretariat
“We are able to appreciate that we need to have a more holistic view of the cities where we are working” (Frederick Mugisa, Uganda, SDI Alliance).
“...now we are planning the profiling in the settlements we are working and also see city wide settlement profiling to help in planning of the city with the slum dwellers” (Shekar and John Samuel, NSDF/SPARC, India, SDI Alliance)
While focus on the local remains the core concern of SDI federations, the question, increasingly pertinent is, how does the global network of the urban poor make itself globally visible and relevant on the global urban development agenda? Peer exchanges have long served SDI federations as a learning space to share experiences of everyday life. They serve as a platform from which urban poor communities can share local concerns, challenges and successes. Like SDI enumerations and settlement profiles they too have traditionally been centred on particular contexts and the particular concerns of local slum dwellers.
SDI and Santa Fe Institute’s (SFI) global slum profiling project aims to aggregate and analyse the around 7,000 federation profiles collected over the past twenty years in more than 15 countries across the global south. The objective is to yield a "science of slums" powerful enough to leverage city wide and global sustainable developmental appeal for ‘slum data’. With renewed vigour the network is looking towards two of its most powerful tools (exchanges and enumerations) as learning and innovation spaces to foster this goal.
Making slum communities visible to their local authorities has been the driving force behind local actions to stave off evictions and leverage land, basic services and upgrading of slums. Mugisa, Shekar and Samuel’s appreciation of the value of the June learning exchange around the SDI and SFI Partnership, during the SDI-SFI Field Visit Cape Town June 2013, echoes the hope expressed by Sheela Patel, director of Indian NGO SPARC and SDI Board Member, that “communities of the urban poor living in informal settlements [will come] to believe that aggregating information about settlement and households is a valuable tool towards improving their lives” (Patel in Fieuw 2013 and elsewhere ).
Over the course of ten days in and around Cape Town’s UT Section, Khayelitsha, federation members along with NGO support staff from Malawi, Kenya, India, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa and Namibia were able to test the new tools (including a questionnaire, geo-tagging smart phone application, etc.) developed through the SDI-SFI collaboration to improve and standardise the data capturing processes of the network. Rosey Mashimbye of FEDUP, South Africa, commented that the use of these new technologies is certainly an improvement from manual capturing. While there remain some concerns among federation members that the new standardised questionnaire may not speak to all their local concerns, according to the Namibian alliance’s report, “standardised rituals and practices [may have] the possibility to incorporate local concerns/issues” (Harris, Namibia Alliance).
Informal settlement communities have come a long way in showing that their settlements and communities are not just spaces of perceived and real deprivation, but rather innovation and resourcefulness. They have consistently shown that slum dwellers themselves are the most capable of showing local authorities, who they are, how they live, make their livelihoods and contribute to the economies of the cities from which they are so often excluded. By standardising profiling and enumerations and marrying our techniques to cutting edge technology and analysis through the learning space of peer-exchanges, we are well on our way to leverage on of the most powerful tools of the federations of the urban poor in creating sustainable and resilient inclusive cities.
For more on SDI enumerations and profiling see pages 46-52 in our latest Annual Report.
SDI President, Mr. Jockin Arputham (Right), signs MoU with Mr. Conrad Sidego, Mayor of Stellenbosch Municipality, in Langrug settlement, South Africa.
Our network of urban poor federations has, over almost two decades, pioneered community organization strategies that are able to influence formal authorities in an age of quickening city growth. SDI’s “ten cities” program over the past three years has made clear the terms of engagement for building cities that include the poor. The link between the “hard” outcomes of infrastructure accessibility and economic opportunity, and the “soft” processes of planning and decision-making for provision of such infrastructure is the chief driver of urban development today.
The urban poor federations and professional NGOs that comprise the SDI network now have a set of experiences that speak to the main challenges that persist in engaging the link of processes and outcomes. We understand these challenges through three major themes of finance, planning, and politics.
We have learned that financing shelter for the poor is about much more than mobilizing the resources for increasing access to land, services and housing. Most important is developing the systems for delivering projects and scaling up projects that make this finance meaningful. The urban poor federations in the SDI network have used the basic unit of the savings group as the means of building financial capacity in order to impact project planning and political capacity internally. The lessons from these experiences implicate persistent trends towards highly rational top-down project financing for city development.
Our approach to evaluating calls for funds from individual affiliates has always emphasized the need for projects to leverage: (a) funds from external sources, in addition to SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International (UPFI), and (b) relationships with formal authorities that extend the voice of the urban poor in planning and decision-making. This report shows how thinking about the financial equation of urban development in this way changes the ways in which projects actually get delivered.
When SDI federations have tried out alternative development financing approaches with government authorities they trigger new relationships that can scale up project delivery at citywide scale. For example, in Pune, authorities were utilizing funds for informal settlement upgrading projects that often could not reach their promised delivery outcomes. Both grassroots leaders in Mahila Milan and bureaucratic officials acknowledge that it has not been the lack of allocated funds that made projects often fail to get off the ground. Instead, the primary impediments were the top-down mechanisms for using the funds that excluded community priorities and voices.
So the Indian Alliance worked to build partnerships with government programs to demonstrate through practice how these institutions can be better designed to put more of the financial management and decision-making in a joint relationship with informal settlement community leadership. Now the Indian Alliance has been able to make federated groups of women-led savings groups in Mahila Milan an intermediary institutional mechanism for large-scale delivery of upgraded informal settlements, especially in terms of provision of housing and communal toilets.
We have learned that planning is not just about policies and physical designs on paper. Most important are the specific institutional designs and relationships through which physical planning interventions occur. By building accountable and strategic leadership at the citywide level, urban poor federations in the SDI network are creating an institutional mechanism through which development decision-making can change meaningfully. These experiences suggest that governments, especially at the city level, need to focus on supporting and engaging the mobilization of urban poor communities to represent themselves and network across the city. Once informal settlement communities have strong, accountable leadership and network across the city, they are able to put forth an articulate vision with authentic grassroots backing. Likewise, governments are enabled to orient development decision-making to incorporate better the priorities of urban poor communities, and to counter-balance much more dominant actors that drive urban growth.
One approach has been to scale up community planning activities, such as profiling, enumeration, and mapping, to regional and citywide scale. For example, in Kenya, communities have linked across the Mathare Valley in Nairobi to enumerate every household. Further, they have documented the exact availability of public services across this major informal region of the city. These activities have allowed Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan federation, to bring together communities to link with University of Nairobi, and University of California — Berkeley, to develop a joint “zonal plan” for upgrading the entire Mathare Valley. Now, Muungano is beginning to sit with local authorities to see how the institutional environment can best be mobilized to achieve this plan.
Building institutional capacity to deliver on the promise of inclusive governance remains a major challenge as SDI gains a wider and richer set of experiences in working citywide. For example, in Kampala, Uganda, the National Slum Dweller Federation of Uganda has negotiated a joint Kampala Community Development Fund in which the Kampala City Council and the Federation sit together to manage funds specifically earmarked for informal settlement upgrading. The fund is growing in terms of available finance, and the governance of the fund proves to be the major growing pain, in order to respond to the acute demand for upgrading projects that the Federation is articulating.
We have learned that very significant impact for SDI urban poor federations occurs through policy changes. Projects and political relationships have to be geared towards enabling significant policy reform in order to make development processes more inclusive of the poor. Over the past year, urban poor federations in SDI have been able to achieve various key policy shifts. These changes have been possible because a mass mobilization of informal settlement residents has called for them and proven their viability through federation-led projects.
Indeed, the challenge here is to innovate through practice, and then to institutionalize the learning that occurs. In Cape Town, South Africa, the South African SDI Alliance now has multiple precedent-setting projects for “re-blocking” dense informal settlements. This approach to community-based design of shack alignments, has generated new community leadership structures, and enabled the city government to install basic services for residents. And this is in settlements where the government had initially planned to relocate large percentages of residents because the neighborhood was deemed too dense for upgrading.
The South African Alliance has utilized a formal partnership with the City of Cape Town to make the case that these pilot approaches to in situ upgrading of informal settlements can be scaled up to the city level. And the city has responded. Now the city council has approved a new policy on “re-blocking” citywide. This emphasizes both the need to redevelop informal settlements in their current physical location and the extent to which influential participation of the community is a prerequisite for successful implementation of such a physical intervention.
This article highlights the lessons of SDI’s work to trigger city development processes that are more inclusive of the poor. In our 2012 / 2013 Annual Report, we begin to uncover the process of learning that is taking place within the network for impacting the flows of finance, planning, and politics that drive urban development. The lessons learned are the basis of a poor people’s agenda for triggering the relationships between the poor and formal authorities that will produce more inclusive city growth.
As the global development discourse formulates the post-MDG agenda, sanitation is a core area that demands attention. Having for too long been neglected by governments, as is reflected by sporadic service and dilapidated infrastructure for the urban poor, it is one of the MDG’s that will not be met by 2015. Sanitation provision has a key role to play in creating the political and legislative conditions for well-located land to be made available to the urban poor. The work of the urban poor in Uganda, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, India and many other countries across the SDI network demonstrates explicitly that sanitation is not just about toilets. It speaks to issues of equitable access and tenure security. If governments and urban poor communities provide sanitation facilities in partnership (as has been the case in countries like India and Uganda), then an in situ political and financial investment has been made in slum areas and, as a result, eviction (or relocation) become far less likely. Additionally, sanitation provision implies discussions around water provision, drainage, solid waste management and connections to bulk city infrastructure.
Alongside evictions, inadequate sanitation is a central crisis in slums. For several decades the sanitation development framework was driven vertically by engineers, with those in greatest need of sanitation facilities given the least in terms of access, design, usage and management. SDI federations have begun serious local and national discourses exploring all elements involved in ensuring that slums are initially open defecation free, and subsequently, have adequate sanitation for all.
Debates about whether toilets should be located at the household or community level continue worldwide. Within SDI, the pragmatic sequence is as follows.
- For slum dwellers, sanitation is a governance issue. It is the duty and obligation of cities to ensure all fecal matter is collected and disposed of hygienically in a manner that is non-threatening for citizens and the city.
- The present deficit is huge and cities having ignored the issue for many decades, which now makes initiating solutions very difficult.
- Cities have to participate in the challenge of ensuring universally available sanitation. It is an essential contribution of community networks to document lack of facilities and engage the city to ensure sanitation access.
- Infrastructure (water sewer lines), density, finances (of communities and the city) and available technologies are key factors in the choices that cities and communities make about the best approaches to sanitation provision.
- In old, densely populated slums where houses are very small and sewerage access does not exist to clear fecal matter away, community toilets with safety tanks remain an imperfect solution.
An incremental approach to informal settlement upgrading remains key to a long-term process that develops community capacity alongside infrastructure. Toilet construction and management has the potential to bring organized communities and local governments together in partnerships that have the possibility for replication in other settlements across the city.
In addition, making a citywide impact through sanitation opens up the space for other relationships with government to be developed around associated services and infrastructure (e.g. solid waste management, grey water recycling or the provision of water). Communities are also able to access upgrading funds and, as in India and Uganda, become the contractors who build, maintain and manage sanitation infrastructure. The momentum this generates has potential for both local and national policy reforms and articulations. It is becoming increasingly clear that sanitation interventions and the partnerships that they create can lay the groundwork for partnerships and outcomes at a citywide scale.
To read more about SDI affiliates' work creating people-centred sanitation solutions at the citywide scale, check out the following blog posts & our Annual Report:
**Cross-posted from the MuST blog**
By Shadrack Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (MuST), Kenya
Muungano wa Wanavijiji has been mobilizing and positioning saving schemes groups within its umbrella on the concept of collective group savings to spur up housing development and upgrading. In efforts geared to empower the structural development framework of the federation in addressing the needs of the poor, savings are often restricted to their own small extra income which may be contributed in a small spread ways.
In Kenya today housing finance institutions such as the Housing Finance, Jamii Bora and other major housing credit organizations have the mandate to support low-income groups and give them low interest loans to build or improve their homes. Unfortunately, most of these institutions have conditions of institutional guarantee for the loans that are not easy to fulfill by slum dwellers in Kenya. While, on the other hand, mainstream commercial financial institutions give loans to recognized and salaried individuals, which in most cases need to be accompanied by tax returns and land documents as collateral for loans.
In the Kenyan development and upgrading scope this has remained a major challenge. Unlike upgrading, redevelopment is capital intensive. The Kenyan housing and development policies are major proponents of slum redevelopment, with the aim of attracting private finance, a good example being the Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Programme (KISIP) and the Kenya Slum upgrading Programme (KENSUP). The Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) is the result of a meeting in November 2000 between the then President of Kenya and the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT at which the Executive Director offered to spearhead a slum upgrading programme for Kenya starting with Nairobi’s largest slum, Kibera. The programme was jointly funded by the UN-HABITAT, The World Bank, Cities Alliance and the Government of Kenya. The Grant agreement was signed in July 2002.
The objective of the programme is to improve the overall livelihoods of people living and working in slums through targeted interventions to address shelter, infrastructure services, land tenure and employment issues, as well as the impact of HIV/AIDS in slum settlements.
Slum upgrading has remained a challenging redevelopment agenda, since the urban poor living in poorly serviced settlements have been cut out of the conventional development finance sources hence forcing them to rely on donors and private sources. The high cost of financial credit and the high interest rates are locking many Kenyans from affording housing.
With lack of government subsidy, credit to the urban poor remains a pipe dream to many home seekers and widens the gap for civil society actors, such as Akiba Mashinani Trust, SELAVIP, and SDI (among other stakeholders) in reaching out to millions living in urban poor settlements.
NGOs such as Muungano Support Trust (MuST) and Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) have been involved in organising and mobilising people living in informal settlements and forming savings groups. This has been a key embodiment in ensuring that the urban poor get access to affordable credit to attain secure tenure and proper housing. Such initiatives have attracted international funding from agencies such as Shack / Slum Dwellers International (SDI), donor and development agencies and community focused trusts that offer low interest loans.
In developing economies like Kenya housing is an expensive project venture. Communities who never imagine getting affordable credit services have only one option - the slum. Major metropolises, from Nairobi, Nakuru and Mombasa to Kampala, Jinja, Mbale, Dodoma and Dar-esalam are bombarded with high costs of living. These cities need a special focus from central governments to address the levels of abject poverty. In Kenya, Muungano wa Wanavijiji has begun “resettling” their members in habitable dwellings through greenfield and housing improvement projects. Slum dwellers are able bodied citizens with the power of ensuring transformative settlements by rehabilitating the housing units in the same place.
The greenfield concept involves communities pooling their resources to purchase pieces of land to put up better housing units. This concept aims to address the complex problem of space inadequacy. In most dense urban poor settlements, packed houses occupy almost the entire plot, leaving little room for upgrade. Most slums in Nairobi and its environs are an outcome of a slow, incremental, internally driven bottom-up process that mixes residential, commercial and industrial units.
Cost Effective In-situ Slum Upgrading Approach
A people-centered action approach ensures continuation of their current diversity, retains the existing community networks as well as economic activities intact. A bottom-up process is demand driven and so, incremental. The involvement of slum dwellers in the development process ensures that they identify the outcome and this emotional attachment can lead to better maintenance of the new housing. Consequently, upgrading becomes cheaper and easier to implement. Independent development upgrading can be an uphill task, so groups of dwellers often get together to collectively upgrade their own houses.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Muungano Support Trust, through the SELAVIP, has implemented housing improvement projects in Nyamarutu, Kiandutu and Mibuyu Saba settlements in Nakuru, Thika and Kilifi municipalities. These projects are purely based on the in-situ concept. These projects are in partnership with the respective county governments and have served as precedent setting projects in these localities. Muungano’s key objective is to drive the in-situ approach in people’s settlements. This ensures the use of simple and affordable building technologies based on the community attested building plans, designs and codes. The federation, Muungano Support Trust and collaborators such as the municipal planning departments are researching new building technologies which seek to drive down the cost of building and benefit most community members. Ministry of Lands and Housing is currently opening its doors to new housing and building innovations to drive down the costs of housing.
Federation control of housing construction allows a variety of cost-reducing measures to be introduced, such as a smaller houses, cheaper materials, fixtures and finishes, and staged construction. However owner-building offers the greatest cost reduction potential. This potential may be reduced by the owner-builder’s materials and labour prices, any income foregone, and an extended building time. The cost implications of purchasing a speculative house, a project house and owner-building are calculated, showing that owner-building has real advantages by reducing the loan amount, the repayment level, and the total interest paid.
Demographics continue to soar higher every day and, as a result of rapid urbanisation, housing and infrastructure demands pose a major challenge. There is urgent need to propagate and popularize cost effective options in large scale housing initiatives and introduce appropriate interventions to close the gap between availability of these technology options and applications to the same.
However, the housing needs of low income groups continue to face difficulties with the rapid increase in construction costs due to rise in input costs for steel, cement, labour and other building materials.
The 9th East African Hub Meeting was held from 24th-28th June 2013 in Jinja, Uganda. Approximately seventy-eight people from Kenya, Tanzania, and the host country, Uganda, participated in the conference. Mr. Hassan Kiberu, National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) Chairman, opened the conference, and, along with a few supporters, remained Master of Ceremony for the duration of the meeting. The purpose of the quarterly Hub meetings are to bring the three countries in the East African community together to learn from and reflect on one another’s experiences and challenges, as well as to improve and grow the federation in a sustainable way throughout the region. The key issues discussed included the importance of partnerships symbolized by the conference’s theme: “Enhancing Partnerships for Effective Governance and Improved Service Delivery.” Partnerships came up frequently and often passionately as a topic of discussion, underscoring their necessity in the work of conference attendees. It was noted that this was the first Hub to integrate all development process stakeholders. This could be observed directly through a Municipal Development Forum (MDF) meeting held during the conference, in which ministry officials, town clerks, MDF members and slum dwellers all participated. This was a good learning opportunity for all countries to see how “bringing all the stakeholders into one room” can affect the development process. Other key issues included discussions of the federation’s growth and projects in the different countries and how to learn from their process and results, and continued urbanization throughout the region and its implications for development and the urban poor.
Click here to see the full report on Hub Meeting activities and action points.
**Cross-posted from NPR.org**
By Gregory Warner
If you were to do a search for the Nairobi city slum of Mathare on Google Maps, you'd find little more than gray spaces between unmarked roads.
Slums by nature are unplanned, primordial cities, the opposite of well-ordered city grids. Squatters rights rule, and woe to the visitor who ventures in without permission. But last year, a group of activist cartographers called the Spatial Collective started walking around Mathare typing landmarks into hand-held GPS devices.
In a slum with no addresses and no street names, they are creating a map of what it's like to live here.
Their map includes things like informal schools, storefront churches and day care centers, but also dark corners with no streetlights, illegal dumping grounds and broken manholes. They bring the most urgent problems to the attention of the authorities.
Slum mapper Isaac Mutisya, whom everyone calls Kaka, says they have actually been able to get a few streetlights built. And it's always the map that makes the difference.
"Because it's technology, it can shame some of the people," he says. "Like, 'Why didn't you put up a light there when we told you that this area is dangerous?' "
We think of GPS maps as guides. They are the sometimes annoying, always calm, recorded voice in our car that steers us through unfamiliar places. But maps are also public records that can help slum dwellers negotiate with city authorities.
A Global Movement
The slum-mapping movement started in India about a decade ago and more recently migrated to Africa. The idea is to make slums a reality for people who would never set foot in one.
A map can be entered as evidence in court to stop evictions. It can be reprinted by international advocacy groups to raise awareness. It can be presented to city planners, as a puzzle to be solved.
Emily Wangari is a member of Slum Dwellers International. She invites me into her one-room house. Pigeons dance on her roof — an entrepreneurial side project of her neighbor's son — and send tremors through Wangari's only light bulb.
To picture the astonishing map she unfolds on her lap, imagine a satellite photo of your hometown and trace lines around all the houses and buildings: What you'd get on the tracing paper would be squares and rectangles surrounded by space — the space being the lawns and parks and roads.
But Wangari's map looks more like a mad game of Tetris. Blocks of every shape are jammed in together with no space between, except narrow pathways following the trails of open sewers. And every year these narrow streets get narrower still, as people expand their houses farther into the walkway.
"People take that as an advantage of just widening their house," she says. If there's any extra public space, people take it for their own.
If Kaka's map, the Spatial Collective map, is a map of city neglect, Wangari's map describes life in a slum where the idea of public space has no enforceable authority. You'll find no parks, no playgrounds, no breathing room.
Helping Slum Dwellers Negotiate
This year Wangari did use her map to briefly claim some communal space. The story is this: After years of grass-roots activism, the city of Nairobi finally agreed to pipe in municipal water and sell it at public collection points for a half a penny on the gallon. But when the city workers went to lay the pipes, the place was so crowded they couldn't actually find enough space for their shovels.
So Wangari had to go around telling people to move parts of their houses. But then she pulled out her map, showed people where their houses were and assured them they could get their space back.
"We had to tell people, 'Move your structure a bit so the [water] line can pass. But you are assured, of building back. Yeah, when the line passes you'll build back,' " she says.
It's the kind of guarantee that never gets granted in this slum. Amazingly, people accepted. The water line was laid. It was as if in a place where no one has a legal right to anything and everything is claimed by force, the map provided some assurance — if not of actual ownership, then at least of a shared record of the past that allowed people to plan together for the future.
Knowing Your 'Spot'
In the storage room of an Internet cafe that the Spatial Collective uses for its office, I watch Kaka and the other slum mappers play idly with their GPS devices. In nine clicks, they zoom out the view broader and broader to encompass Nairobi city, then Kenya, then Africa, then the globe. Kaka laughs when I point out his habit.
"It's good to know where your spot — where your spot is in the world," he says, shrugging.
And the more time he spends looking at his home through the lens of the GPS, the more he can't shake the sense that the outside world is finally looking back.
"With the GPS if you mark a point, you know that there's someone out there who will get the information that there's a something happening here — or that there's me here," he says, with a sheepish chuckle.
While basic inadequacies and deep uncertainty still define the life here, he says, the days when some unscrupulous developer could send arsonists in at night and erase all traces of a community seem to be fading into the past. Among residents, there's a growing sense that in seeing their slum from the satellite level, from 10,000 miles up, they are starting to take their city out of the shadows.
Read the full report from this exchange here.
In early June teams from Kenya and Ghana traveled to Burkina Faso to support enumerations there. The exercise took place in the informal settlements of Tabtenga and Niko II in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The purpose of this exercise was to assist the mentioned settlements towards collecting data for their settlement as part of the Know Your City project partnership between SDI and United Cities & Local Governance Africa (UCLGA) (with funding from Cities Alliance), government and the five municipalities in five regions for a period of five years.
The team from Kenya consisted of Edwin Simiyu, Emily Mwangi, Doris Museti (all from Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan Federation) and Jack Makau of SDI.
Planning was done on the first morning. All the activities that needed to be carried out between the six days were identified and allocated the time frames. Some of the activities included drawing of the settlement boundaries, trainings on numbering and enumeration, saving schemes formation and follow-up, actual data collection, meeting the mayor and other local leaders, profiling of the settlements and process review.
Later in the day the Kenyan team met with the team from Citizen's Laboratory, the support NGO SDI has been working with in Burkina. Jack Makau expanded on the purpose of the exchange visit and the objectives of the team's visit to Ouagadougou. This consisted of a general introduction to some of SDI's methodologies and a discussion on the objectives of the visit with respect to the Know Your City project. Some of these include: community enumerations training, strengthening of savings schemes, establishment of committee of community leaders, mayor sensitization workshop, drafting of profile questionnaire, Google maps of informal settlements.
Some of the issues that arose included the need for a translator and the challenge of political interference. The Kenyan team explained that the SDI processes are often political and that there is a need to take an approach that will minimize these politics. It was agreed that the team would first meet the Chief's of the respective communities, as chiefs in Burkina Faso yiled immense powers and their consent alone can determine the success of the process. It was also agreed that the team would meet with the mayor and other local leaders to enlighten them on the process and the impact it will have on the communities of Nioko II and Tabtenga.
To date, Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have been signed between SDI and local government in five of the cities where the Know Your City programme operates. Some of the opportunities that have arisen from these partnerships include: inclusion of communities in development plans, increased understanding of slum condition on the part of local politicians and government officials and opportunities for the community to collect information, share it with authorities and improve advocacy skills.
The first step in the enumerations exercise in Burkina Faso was to craft a questionnaire. Simiyu from Kenya worked with the team from Burkina to develop a simple questionnaire which was later translated into French. Next the team proceeded to Nioko II settlement to meet the local chief and local enumerators and share the data collection programme with them. The team explained both the settlement profiling and household survey data collection processes and emphasized the importance of developing savings schemes as a means of consolidating the community and addressing their collective and individual livelihood issues. To that end, a community member from Nioko II who had previously visited Ghana on an SDI exchange spoke of the importance of savings and how her community is using savings as a tool to mobilize for a water connection. The next day the team made their second site visit, this time to Tabtenga community where they followed the same procedure as in Nioko II and were given the go-ahead by the chief of Tabtenga.
Following the meeting with the chief in Tabtenga the team proceeded to the enumerations training. The enumerators drew a map of their settlement and divided the settlement into six zones. Data collection began in zone 1, which was divided into four clusters. Each zone and cluster was then given a unique code for shack numbering, for example, the first household on the first plot in Tabtenga Zone 1, Cluster 1 would be numbered TAB/Z1/C1/001/A. A few days later a similar training was held in Nioko II. The unique numbers distinguish between residential structures, toilets, washrooms, kitchens, stores, businesses and other institutions or public amenities.
Following the training in Tabtenga, the team returned to Nioko II to meet with the rest of the community and to provide a similar training on the enumeration and data collection process. A discussion of land tenure issues materialized, and the team from SDI encouraged community members to position themselves to advocate for the land rather than sit by and wait for government to formalize land tenure for them. The community was resistant to the idea of developing the land before tenure was formalized, but the Kenyan team shared their experience of influencing development in informal settlements and the formalization process itself through their community-led initiatives. This assisted in opening the minds of the local community towards the idea of organizing themselves.
Also critical to the visit was a meeting with the local mayor. The Kenyan, Ghanaian and local delegations met with the Mayor of Ougadougou, explaining the objectives of their visit and of the data collection processes they were undertaking. They were well received and representatives of the ward and mayor's office requested to participate on the ground to get a better idea of what the processes entailed.
The data collection process commenced on Monday at Tabtenga settlement Zone 1 cluster 1 and on Tuesday in Nioko II Zone Salga Cluster 1 it commenced on Tuesday. The team divided themselves into two, with Emily (from Kenya) and Fusein (from Ghana) managed the data collection in Tabtenga whereas Simiyu (from Kenya) and Naa (from Ghana). Simiyu assisted in monitoring and quality control of the process for the two areas as well as assisting the supervising team (Kenyans and Ghanaians) in handling any issues emerging during the process. Farouk continued with upward engagements with the city authorities and government representatives as well as working on the logistical issues with the Citizens Laboratory team. He had meetings with the Director of Housing, UN Habitat, Cities Alliance and Amnesty International.
A team has been identified in both communities to assist in quality checking of the process. This will include checking the enumeration questionnaire once the enumerators have returned them and counter-signing them. This team was identified from the group of enumerators who had gone through all the stages of data collection and had a good grasp of the same. Four people were identified in Tabtenga (one per cluster) and three people were also identified in Nioko II (one per cluster).
The Ghanaian team was able to support the data collection process and assist the Citizens Laboratory to work out on issues of data entry, monitoring and evaluation of the process for the Zone 1 in Tabtenga and Zone Salga in Nioko II. Issues of GIS mapping also needs to discussed further so that once the social economic data collection for the two zones has been completed the team is equipped to translate the information onto GIS maps. This includes acquisition of satellite images / aerial photographs of the settlements, digitization of the aerial photographs, preparation of mapping sheets, mapping training, data collection and editing, anlaysis and report preparation of the spatial data.
As a result of the visit, the SDI team from Kenya and Ghana achieved a number of objectives in supporting the local process in Burkina Faso. The community enumerators training for both Tabtenga and Nioko II took place and a pool of 34 enumerators has been created (18 in Tabtenga and 16 in Nioko II). This team was taken through a process of drawing their settlement boundaries, developing the numbering code for their settlements, collecting structure details through the numbering sheet and collecting the household details through the enumeration questionnaire. The team also followed up on the saving scheme that had been established in Nioko II and assisted in forming a savings scheme in Tabtenga.
The mayor sensitization workshop was also a success and the mayor’s representative participated in the data collection exercise that was going on in Nioko II.
Despite these successes, the team was not able to profile the two settlements due to a number of challenges. First was the fact that the questionnaire that the team had come with needed to be customized to capture the local context of the settlements in Burkina Faso. This did not take place because the questionnaire needed to be first translated to French. As only Florent was working with us and was responsible for the logistics and day to day translations, it became too overwhelming for him to create time for these extra translations to occur. Secondly the enumeration team we were working with was small and splitting the team to have some members to carry out the profiling process proved a challenge as first we needed to train them again on the profiling questionnaire. Getting other new members from the community to train on the profiling process required more time to orient them on the ongoing process. This needed a little bit more time and since the team had only five days in Burkina Faso, three of which had been lost through meetings and trainings, the two days remaining were insufficient to work on the questionnaire for the profiles as well as the actual data collection of the same. This can however be carried out by allowing the Ghanaians to coordinate with the Burkinabes to agree on the settlement profiling questionnaire and identify a team from the enumerators who can be trained on how to carry out these profiles. In fact, this can be done for all the settlements in Ouagadougou. Option two is to plan for the settlement profiles as the discussions for GIS mapping happens so that at least two days can be set apart from the mapping process for the settlement profile questionnaire harmonization, profile team identification and training for the same so that as the GIS mapping process begins there will be a team going on with the settlement profiles as well.
The visit was notwithstanding the challenges a success and as the Kenyan team we are grateful to SDI for giving us an opportunity to assist the people of Burkina Faso to embrace the SDI rituals. During the course of working, three key slogans were developed and accepted to be used for the Francophone nations. These can further be customized into their local dialects.
- UNITY: OUR STRENGTH // UNITE: NOTRE FORCE
- INFORMATION: POWER // INFORMATION: POUVOUR
- BUSY: FOR SOMETHING // OCCUPE: PAR QUELQUE CHOSE
Rippon sanitation unit.
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
By Shadrack Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust, Kenya
Just as the word “Hub” denotes, it’s a center of activity or interest; a focal point of deliberating on common regional interests. It is for this fundamental reason that the 9th SDI East African Hub meeting hosted by the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU), brought together participants representing the East African countries under Slum Dwellers Federation namely; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The hub meeting is held quarterly and rotated between member countries. This quarter the meeting was held in Uganda and hosted by the Ugandan SDI Alliance. The meeting’s theme, “STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIP” brought in representatives from the countries' support NGOs, Town Clerks and Officials from various Ugandan Municipal Councils.
Ms. Sarah Nandudu, the Vice Chairperson of the National Slum Dwellers of Uganda welcomed the participants and introduced them to the program for the next three days.
Mr. Hassan Kiberu the Uganda Federation National chairman kicked off the meeting with a keynote speech expressing his joy to host the meeting and urge the participants to make the good use of this forum in addressing the needs of the majority federation members whom which we represent.
In his speech to KUT members, Hassan reiterated that the SDI East African family as slum dwellers; We are the People! We are the Problems! and We are the Solutions!
These solutions cannot be met without integration and embracement of partnership with all stakeholders and actors in a bottom up driven change process. Hassan wound up his speech by calling a one minute silence in remembrance of fallen leaders who have passed on. The one minute silence was mounted in honor of the late Muungano Wa Wanavijiji Chairman Benson Erick Osumba, Tanzania Councilor who has been a friend of the federation and many other federation members who have lived their lives in a quest of making slums inclusive in the settlement developmental agenda. He urged the meeting to remember in prayers Catherine and Uganda Driver Mr. David, Sky Dobson who were involved in a fatal accident and are recovering.
The participants were grouped into three groups for site visits as follows:
Group One: Rippon, RIMAS saving groups and Danida Savings groups
Group Two: Masese Sanitation Unit, Street Lighting & Walukuba Learning Centre
Group Three: Rubanga Sanitation & Drainage System & Bugembe Water Project
The three-day forum was officially opened by His Worship the Mayor of Jinja Municipal Council alongside with His Town Clerk, Presidents of the Municipal Development Forums and Town clerks from various Municipalities.
The Jinja Mayor, Muhammad Baswari Kezaala (pictured above) invited the participants attending the 9th East African Hub and welcomed them to Jinja. He acknowledged that the poor have a right to the city, and therefore the need to bridge the gap between the poor and the rich. This partnership is as a result of a leadership that appreciates the course of the poor. We shall continue to partner with the NSDFU and will continue to do what is asked of the Council,” said Mayor Muhammad.
He appreciated donors for the funding and giving them a free hand to design and tailor projects that suits Jinja. The involvement of the poor in development projects is important in long-term sustainability of community participatory projects.
The East African Hub has demonstrated regional integration of three East African Countries unlike the level observed by the heads of states. The programmes under the flagship of AcTogether have planted the seeds of real programmes and projects to empower the poor.
The 9th East African Hub Meeting was also graced by the Lands, Housing and Urban Development Hon. Daudi Migereko. Initially the government faced numerous challenges involving slum upgrading in respective Municipalities; this has seen the development of the National Slum Upgrading strategy. This gave an opportunity for the federation to lay down priorities of upgrading. Communities through community led enumerations have established key infrastructural upgrading scenarios.
In her speech, Sarah Nandadu noted that this partnership has created unique kind of partnerships with settlements in different cities with their governments. This has been witnessed in the provision of technical support to the urban poor for free, giving them an opportunity to be part of sustainable development initiatives.
Minister Migereko pledged his support for the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda and invited KUT to Uganda. He thanked the efforts made by the Federation and Actogether in the job they are doing for its inline with straight forward thinking that ought to be reflected in our national leadership. Slum dwellers of Uganda should make a breakthrough in transforming themselves; this can happen only by transforming our cultures.
Slum dwelling should only be transitory and not a way of life for the poor. The outcomes of such forums should be shared with Government, and make proposals on issues that would enable us transform lives by addressing issues of slums.
Planning and urban development ought to be taken seriously and implemented. Planning in Uganda is a participatory process for all and my government is willing to work with slum dwellers, for in this modern day slum dwellers need not to live in such a poorly planned environment, we are engaging all stakeholders, said Minister Migereko.
He also cited the Indian federation; where women have taken it upon themselves to effect slum upgrading. Women are doing savings, participating in conceptualizing community project scope and implementing the project and at the end of it all transformative settlements spring up from the foundations. Let women take the initiatives of abandoning negative cultures and be relevant with the current times.
He also asked development partners to capacitate communities to take part in the development projects; this enables an enabling environment for transformation for communities to work towards improving their lives. The government of Uganda is coming up with a training policy to enable communities gain knowledge and skills in aiding self reliance and job creation for the youth, to produce quality work in the settlements.
He also noted that; he had seen many projects scrambled, because they are not implemented in a consultative way while the federations with their little resources have achieved a lot. His worship the mayor expressed his confidence that the Rio de Jaineiro declaration during the 5th World Urban Forum has been successfully planted in Jinja and he is ready to support it.
Building Bridges, Rather than Burning them Up
The underlying lessons of the 9th KUT meeting revolved around upgrading informal settlements, not only from a communal perspective but also the creation of a linkage that can mobilize technical and financial exercise presented by the formal stakeholders such as governments, Multispectral organisations, professionals, and academics. Upgrading settlements requires the inclusion of whole affected communities in the processes that go into such improvements. Whether we refer to the political, financial or planning aspects of upgrading, it is the initiative and leadership of organized communities that is the essential ingredient in making any objective project successful.
The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda has enabled communities to build bridges with municipal councils and their respective senior officials. This has resulted in the provision of new sanitation blocks as part of a spatial layout plan developed by the community. Through enumerations and mapping, communities have been able to write proposals identifying the needs of a settlement. For example, Rippon Settlement in Jinja Municipality was able to lobby the Ministry to allocate them land to put up a sanitation block. The issue of sanitation was indeed prioritized as a by-product of enumerations.
Through the relationship that the federation has with the Ministry of Lands, land was allocated and, by virtue of writing a proposal to the Jinja Municipal Council Development Forum and project viability assessed and securing funding from the Transforming Settlements of the Urban Poor in Uganda (TSUPU programme) to implement the project.
Like any other urban centre in East Africa, Uganda's urban centres are composed of migrants from different parts of the world for the purpose of economic gains. The central concentration of resources has led to huge influx of people which these urban centres cannot accommodate in terms of housing and basic services, leading to the growth of slums. The Uganda Federation was established and exists to engage with the urban community in identifying sustainable solutions to these problems. The federation works through an array of programmes that are community led in bringing together these communities and engaging each other into various action areas.
The federation has so far used its powerful tool of mobilization through daily savings and enumeration, aimed at collecting information that can be used in informing the government and stakeholders in their development quests. Through these the federation has been recognized as an model people’s organization with grassroot ties to development processes. So far the federation is a key player in the TSUPU Programmes implementation among with other projects. The federation so far has established sustainable partnership with various municipalities in Uganda and combined ties with other slum dwellers in Kenya and Tanzania. However the federation still faces challenges ranging from Rapid inflation, Political interferences and regular transfer of officers from their work stations.
So often in the operalisation of community led federated urban poor movements, leadership structures have been challenged throughout community projects and processes. However, in pursuant of the success of any community agenda, there needs to be the existence of strong leaders who have the ability and mandate of their movements to mobilize residents through planned processes, has had powerful outcomes for the success of any community project.
Participants noted an apparent dependency on technical support from the NGO, insufficient contributions from savings, difficulties with uninterested or unaccountable leadership structures, and a general lack of “sensitization” of the community. It was emphasized that community mobilization is the key to the sustainability and partnerships formulated of any upgrading project. As long as the NGO drives the process, the project fosters a growing sense of entitlement in the community and prevents residents from taking ownership.
Reactions to the Mayor's Speech & Reports from Site Visits
The President of the Moroto Municipality Development Forum applauded the mayor’s speech and envied the residents of Jinja for being lucky by having committed leaders from the municipality. He promised to mobilize his other colleagues to work with the federation and communities in his municipalities.
The representative of the president of MDF Entebbe expressed her excitement on the meeting and promised to entrench community procurement in their project circles in her municipality. Her promise was based on her experience from the site visit on two projects one funded and implemented by the Municipality which has stalled and the one implemented by the federation which is functioning however how simple it is. She promised to mobilize and advice her seniors to one conduct and exchange program between Jinja and Entebbe and Two to redesign their SUP implementation circle.
The MDF President, Masaka Municipality appreciated how the federation is undertaking its activities and projects in such a consultative way. He appreciated how the residents of Jinja are managing public land. He added that in his town most of the lands for developments have been grabbed and that has paralyzed the development of my municipality and many others that haven’t spoken. He promised to continue working with the federation in organizing the communities within Masaka Municipality to join into the big voice of slum dwellers.
The secretary of the Gulu Municipal Development Forum shared about the problems affecting the Gulu people especially the high number of Internally Displaced Persons due to ever ending wars in Northern Uganda. IDP’s have turned their camps into slums without services. He requested for support from SDI and other partners in alleviating the plights of the Gulu people. He also reiterated that partnership is the only way out to sustainable development.
Richard, from Tanzania Federation expressed his joy on how the Ugandan federation is working with the community and the partnership with the Jinja Municipality and the Government. He however urged the Uganda federation to assist in the replication of the same to other countries within the East African Hub. He noted that the Uganda government is committed to support the federation and request if the Uganda government can assist Kenya and Tanzania federation in mobilizing their government to support the two federations in their respective countries.
A representative of Gulu Municipal Council raised some key issues by sharing the outcome of his research on “At what extent can slums generate income to improve the well being of the urban poor”. He noted that whenever you begin improving the welfare of a certain community alone then you are attracting influx to that area. These issues takes us to the point of sustainability of these improvements, which must be integrated with employment, but the questions is that what do you do with the un-employed (those without skills that can attract employment)?
Stella Stephens from Tanzania CCI urged for the focus on proper book keeping since lack of these records do plunder groups and organization to fallout
Municipal Development Forums
The Jinja Municipal-Wide Development Forum is a multispectral forum that promotes sustainable urban development in Jinja, where the community plans its projects side by side with their respective with their Municipal Councils.
MDF has an executive Committee elected by the Communities from the community, Private, Public and media sectors. The Committee is chaired by an elected president. The Committee currently works on a voluntary basis, for it’s a partime assignment. Members sitting at the Jinja Municipal Forum come from various savings groups in Jinja, technical teams of the Council, government officials and the private sector.
The Municipal Development Forums, particularly in Jinja was widely lobbied by the National Slum Dwellers federation of Uganda.
The forum is a platform to share development ideas and strategies of making Jinja a better Municipality. This would include policy issues, infrastructure development and creation of linkages.
Financial allocations are allocated to development projects based on communal priorities, whose proposals and work plans are filed with the MDF for scrutiny, and upon verification and approval of the proposals funds are allocated to the project through the TSUPU (Transforming Settlements of the Urban poor in Uganda) programme. The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda has widely up scaled their sanitation projects through the TSUPU programme and allocation of land from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
The TSUPU programme is a partnership initiative undertaken by the Government of Uganda and its support partners to align urban development efforts at the national government, local government, and community level. It aims to:
a) Develop a national urban policy that will guide sustainable urban development in Uganda, ensure the empowerment of local governments, and reinforce the importance of active community participation.
b) Build the capacity of local governments to strategically manage urbanization.
c) Empower organizations of the urban poor to actively engage in local development.
d) Focus on secondary cities (Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Mbale, and Mbarara)
As the curtains to the 9th East African hub meeting were drawn down, it was indeed evident from the various country reports, challenges and Points of actions that KUT (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) will support one another in the establishment of best practices through the establishment and strengthening of partnerships for the better of communities represented at the regional, continental and global networks.
A young man walks past a pile of garbage in Viwandani ward, Naivasha.
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
By Augustine Karani with additional commentary from Dominic Mwangi, MuST Kenya
The delay in garbage collection was a major source of problem for the residents of Viwandani in Naivasha. When taking a walk in the Viwandani area, one was faced with more than two feet of water collected stagnantly in pot holes perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes, uncollected garbage scattered haphazardly and foul stench filled the air.
The community faced harshest of challenges when it came to water and sanitation as there are no proper water drainage and sewerage systems. In addition, the supply of piped water was inconsistent and unreliable leaving the community to rely on water supplied by water vendors which was costly and inconveniencing.
About 40 plots had no sock pits, and the sewer systems had burst scattering the flow of sewage in the villages, exposing the residents to high risk of infections.
Poor environmental sanitation, lack of access to clean water and open drainage, are one of the major risk factors supporting the spread of diseases like Cholera.
It is out of these hardships that the residents of Viwandani ward came together to discuss the poor sanitation and lack of water. Through local lobbying and advocacy teams formed through Tushirikishe Jamii project, they engage in community forums, dialogue and active lobbying seeking solutions to the problems facing them.
The residents held several meetings key among them with the public health officers, Naivasha water company services, municipal council of Naivasha, National Environmental Management Authority and the District Development Officer.
For four months from January, the community engaged in to and fro shuffle activities seeking to address this problem. At one point the residents had to write a memo to all stakeholders complaining of unfulfilled promises and slow reaction to their grievances by the health office.
Their incessant efforts finally bore fruits as the Public Health Office promised to give a comprehensive report on the matter.
On June, the water and sewerage company invited the lobby and advocacy committee to their office and after further consultations, they promised to repair the entire burst sewer within 48 hrs and to always ensure that the sewer systems in good conditions. The company later unblocked all the sewage line within the 48 hours as they had promised.
The local landlords were also issued with a notice to construct sock pit for each plot and those whose premises are located next to sewer lines are to follow the necessary procedures to ensure an effective sewerage and draining system.
The municipal council on its part pledged to ensure quick collection of garbage in all the villages. Thanks to Tushirikishe Jamii project for adding new approaches to communities to the achievement of our needs.
Tushirikishe Jamii, a project of Forum Syd, implemented through Muungano wa Wanavijiji (Federation of Slum Dwellers) and Youth Alive Kenya, is funded by the European Union through the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs NSA-net Program. The project seeks to enhance community participation in devolved funds and governance.
By Walter Fieuw, CORC
When the question of collaboratively testing new techniques in profiling informal settlements was raised, Cape Town was proposed as the gathering place for federations from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, India, Namibia, and South Africa. Community leaders and NGO representatives from these countries have in common the quest for improving data capture processes. The agenda has a global imperative: first, to analyse the 7,000 profiles federations have captured over two decades in more than 15 countries, and second, to look forward at improved processes for citywide settlement profiling.
SDI and SFI Partnership Background
Delegations gathered for an intense 10 day programme, which started on the 3rd of June 2013. Old friends reunited, and new contacts were made. This project is a collaboration between SDI and the Santa Fe Institute (SFI), which is supported by an 18-month, $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is anticipated that this project could yield a “science of slums” if SDI’s data and SFI’s methodology are successfully paired.
SFI’s special research focus on Cities, Scaling, and Sustainability, which is the key department working with SDI, has a “… particularly important focus [of this research area] is to develop theoretical insights about cities that can inform quantitative analyses of their long-term sustainability in terms of the interplay between innovation, resource appropriation, and consumption and the make up of their social and economic activity”. SFI Professor Luis Bettencourt, who is the SFI project leader, remarked on evolving partnership with SDI in an interview with Txchnologist. “We want to find ways to make the greatest use of the data SDI collects,” Bettencourt says. “In this way, the project will help create standards through which informal communities can collect and use data about themselves and develop economic models to sustain these efforts.“
The project has been a work in progress since January 2013, when key representatives from India, Uganda, South Africa and Kenya visited the SFI group in the USA to discuss the make-up of the project. Sheela Patel, Director of the Indian NGO SPARC and Chair of the SDI Board, reflected on the evolving partnership with SFI in a SDI blog article. “As part of its ongoing quest to bridge informal urban settlements into city planning, an important first step has been to get communities of the urban poor living in informal settlements to believe that aggregating information about their settlement and households is a valuable tool towards improving their lives."
After the 7,000 slum profiles were collected and analysed, Federations came together again in Kenya in April 2013. Read the article on the workshop here.
Cape Town Workshop
The workshop started with a meet and greet, and presentations and informal conversations on the vastly diverse experiences of profiling informal settlements followed. Luis Bettencourt from SFI presented on the work of the institute, bringing into focus the dynamics of city growth by drawing on recent research SFI has conducted through GIS modelling. This was also a touch point for how SDI data could help federations understand cities better. Federations shared different experiences of profiling informal settlements. At the grassroots level, the data helps communities understand their settlements better and build relationships with government. Even though this is a practice commonly shared, SDI affiliates have, over the years, developed different mechanisms and processes for collecting information. The challenge and advocacy agenda of SDI saw it crucially important to start a horizontal conversation on how to integrate all the different data sets.
Sheila, a community leader from the Zimbabwe Homeless People's Federation, said that the federation has been profiling informal settlements since the early 2000s. Initially they had challenges to store and analyse the data, and this also delayed the feedback to communities. The Federation decided that involving members from the local savings schemes was the most efficient way to move forward. In this way, they were much more involved, and they were also the first to pick up on errors. There were accounts of political interference, because the politicians were still denying the natural urbanisation. We have now come to a point where we can compare and integrate information to find workable solutions to upgrading.
The issue of data management seemed to be familiar in the Ugandan experience. The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda is presently comprised of 355 savings groups operating in six cities: Kampala, Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Mbale, and Mbarara. Katana Goretti elaborated that the question of local language difference was a further motivator to involve local people. For instance, people would lie about how many children they had because they thought there would be a kickback for their families. This is resolved in the verification process, "We had to update the database in response to increased evictions, since the data the government cites in justification of their actions are out of date. The large database helps us assist one another in times when other settlements are facing evictions."
The cultural and experiential exchanges were important to align the various experiences. But the main focus was on learning by doing, and the Informal Settlement Network (ISN), a South African social movement linked to the Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP), the South African SDI affiliate, suggested that UT Section was perfect location.
Learning by Doing in UT Section, Khayelitsha
UT Section is a dense informal settlement in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, located south of iKhusi Primary School. Founded in 1985 when people moved from other neighborhoods such as Crossroads to make a new home, UT section has seen incremental development throughout the years. At first service levels were very low, and the City government handed out buckets since toilets could not be installed. Years later, the settlement received grid electricity. Listen to Snax talk us through his settlement.
The delegations from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, India, Namibia, and South Africa and SFI team had several meetings in UT Section between 4 – 8 June. The new profiling questionnaire was discussed and tested with various technologies, such as an Android phone application coded with the questions, GPS coordinates, and pictures pinned to certain points of interests, such as waste removal skips. Community also experimented with identifying shack usage and mapping out shack numbers by means of large printed satellite photos.
UT Section community mapping team assisted by Shekar (far left) from the Indian SDI Alliance.
Structure use identification through community mapping.
On Saturday the 8th of June, the full settlement enumeration of UT Section was launched with a kick-off party. Government officials from the City of Cape Town’s informal settlement management department and principle field officers (PFO) were invited to the celebration. At the launch, PFO Natalie Samuels remarked:
“In 2009 a partnership was formed between CORC and ISN and the City of Cape Town… and communities were able to petition the City on important needs in informal settlements. The main purpose of this exchange is the profiling of informal settlements and the value that it adds to our communities.”
The on-the-ground learning environment has been a major success. Groups have developed new skills and technologies for profiling and spatially understanding their settlements. The open and transparent learning environment will go a long way in building local capacity to generate better quality spatial and socio-economic enumeration data.
**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.
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.
**Cross-posted from MuST Blog**
By Shaddy Mbaka, Muungano Support Trust (Kenya)
NAIROBI, 18 APRIL 2013 | SDI has officially joined the World Urban Campaign, a lobby and advocacy platform on sustainable urbanization for “Better City, Better Life,” coordinated by UN-HABITAT.
The World Urban Campaign brings together partners from across sectors. It is designed to facilitate international cooperation, and acts as platform to converge organizations in order to collaborate on solutions and build consensus towards a new urban agenda for the Habitat III conference that is expected to take place in 2016.
SDI, now a partner in the World Urban Campaign, will help engage cities around the world through the I’m a City Changer campaign, aimed at raising awareness on urban issues and to include the voice of the people to propose positive solutions to urban challenges.
SDI will also have an opportunity to represent the voices and interests of the poor, and thereby engage slum dwellers as city changers, while working closely with key World Urban Campaign partners around the world to ensure improved cities and to integrate poor communities in the management and development of their cities.
UN-HABITAT runs a series of strategic programmes designed to help make cities safer, to bring relief in countries suffering the aftermath of war or natural disasters, and to promote sustainable cities and good governance. Under the Urban Management Programme, an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and various bilateral donors, the agency fosters urban management in the fields of participatory urban governance, urban poverty alleviation, environmental management, and the dissemination of this information at the local, national and regional levels.
UN-HABITAT also develops indicators of good urban governance with two principle aims. The first aim is to help cities identify urban governance priorities and assess their progress towards the quality of city-life and the second aim is to develop a global Good Urban Governance Index. The agency has a Training and Capacity Building Branch which works at national and local levels in various countries to strengthen capacity building through high-level policy dialogues seminars, consultations and expert workshops.
The SDI team, led by Jockin Arputhum, Sheela Patel, Rose Malokoane and Joel Bolnick, expressed enthusiasm for continuing to collaborate with UN-HABITAT and use the campaign platform to work with other organizations in order to improve urban life for all.
In her speech to the press, Rose Molokoane one of the SDI Coordinators said;
“We feel really honored for the recognition by UN-HABITAT as a partner in World Urban Campaign. It is the basics of engaging the communities that has brought us this far, through savings and placing the women at the centre of collective community leadership, has created engagements with governments and local authorities. This has set precedent for government and other stakeholders that organized communities can bring about transformation.
Slum dwellers know how settlements can be planned. This can only happen by involving the poor in the planning process, deal with slums not slum dwellers. The urban poor are the only ones who can open up cities for development; therefore they should be seen as partners who are well able to change the cities, to achieve this, governments should give the urban poor security of tenure to witness urban development”.
SDI Chairperson Sheela Patel acknowledged that it was indeed a special moment for SDI. She said that change requires transformation, and through the Memorandum signed between UN-HABITAT and SDI, the urban poor global network can seek to demonstrate the potential for transformation especially from below. “ This kind of partnership has been waiting to happen for a long time, we have tried to engage in the past, some have been successful while some unsuccessful, either way we hope to change how stakeholders view the urban poor,” said Ms. Patel.
On his part as the SDI President, Jockin thanked the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, for agreeing to sign an MOU with Slum Dwellers International, for it has opened a new chapter. ”SDI is privileged to partner with UN-Habitat on the urban transformative agenda. Being part of the decision making process, this partnership will bring change through the involvement of the poor, and we take it as a challenge in helping to realize the Millennium Development Goals. The issue of lack of proper sanitation infrastructure is a major impediment to development. We are going to work together and show the world how we are going to change, we have the information and we know how to plan”, said Jockin.
Dr. Joan Clos, UN-HABITAT Executive Director expressed appreciation for the work that SDI has done and continues to do, and for SDI’s unique makeup and tireless efforts to create inclusive cities and to promote participatory processes beginning at community level to city wide transformation.
“SDI has become a force in favor of the poor by demanding the recognition of the poor as far as the urban agenda is concerned. Slums are a source of innovation (citing Mumbai), therefore there will be no bulldozing of livelihoods of the people living in these settlements, any transformation in urban poor settlements need be in participatory of slum dwellers because these communities are well organized, something governments are yet to do,” said Clos.
He also noted the importance of this collaboration in bringing the urban poor to the forefront of shaping the global urban agenda, and the important role SDI has continued to play in building inclusive cities.
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
“As women we are in a very, very risky place.” - Doris Museti, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Nairobi
I arrive in Nairobi on Friday and head straight to Muungano House. The building is home to the offices of the Kenyan SDI Alliance, made up of Muungano wa Wanavijiji (the Kenyan federation), Muungano Support Trust (MuST; support NGO to Muungano) and Akiba Mashinani Trust (the finance facility for Muungano). Muungano House is nestled in a cluster of green just off the busy main road, which bustles with the constant rumbles and hoots of Nairobi’s traffic.
I am here to meet with a group of women living in Mukuru kwa Reuben, one of the many villages in the Mukuru belt of slums that stretches across the eastern section of Nairobi. These women have come together to address challenges they face in gaining access to safe, adequate water and sanitation services in their village.
Before making my way to Mukuru Kwa Reuben, I meet with Jane Weru and Edith Kalela of Akiba Mashinani Trust, and Joseph Kimani of MuST. Both organizations have a key part to play in the women’s campaign for improved water and sanitation services. Jane and Edith have been working on a legal case that addresses land ownership issues for the whole of Mukuru. Since the Mukuru slums are located on privately owned land, the government is not able to make any interventions to improve infrastructure or basic services. In addition the threat of eviction is steadily increasing along with the value of land.
Jane Weru, Executive Director of AMT, begins by describing the unique circumstances of Mukuru. “It’s a contiguous belt of slums that the SDI team guesses is larger than Kibera[*],” she begins. “These slums have a special need because they are settled on privately owned land, unlike Kibera and Korogocho.”
Jane then takes me through something of a timeline of events in Mukuru. In 2008 the need to engage became clear, and by the end of 2011 – when slum dwellers from Mukuru came to Muungano House with threats of eviction in hand – it was clear that the time had come to take action in Mukuru.
When a fire erupted in Mukuru Sinai in September 2011, the door was opened once again for landowners to begin sending eviction threats to Mukuru residents. According to Jane, the fire was very bad press for slum dwellers, and landowners took the opportunity to attempt to take back their land.
She tells me that no one really knows who owns the land in Mukuru. AMT realized that they would need to understand the ownership patterns before they could move forward. They started investigating but were met with countless roadblocks. Eventually they were able to put together a good bit of information for cases against those landowners threatening eviction. By working with the community to mobilize and build awareness, AMT and Muungano got orders preventing any more dealings from taking place on the land while the case(s) are being sorted out, staving off evictions in Mukuru for the time being.
The connection was made between land issues and women and sanitation a few months ago when a woman from Mukuru mentioned in a community meeting at Muungano House that water and sanitation services are very poor in Mukuru because of the fact that the settlement sits on private land, outside the orbit of government’s jurisdiction for infrastructure improvements. Despite the fact that Kenya’s constitution (passed by Parliament in 2010) calls for the right to adequate sanitation, the state cannot take action on this unless the settlement is on state-owned land. Because of this, the women are asking that the state take back the land so that improvements to infrastructure and basic services can be made. The slum dwellers, alongside AMT, claim that the land is not being put to use by the landowners who gained ownership nearly 20 years ago, and that the state should take back ownership in order to put the land to use for the good of the city.
The women are busy collecting 10,000 signatures from other women across Nairobi to support their campaign, with between six and seven thousand collected to date. In addition, AMT has begun to broadcast the campaign to media outlets in Kenya and beyond. Already, local and international journalists have begun to pick up the story, a tack that AMT and the women of Mukuru hope will put added pressure on the government to do something about the conditions in the Mukuru slums.
In the afternoon, Edith Kalela and I drive across town to meet with the women of Mukuru Kwa Reuben. In Kwa Reuben and neighboring Kwa Njenga alone AMT estimates that there are about 800,000 households – all of which would be affected by evictions were they to take place. But today, free from evictions, these 800,000 households have other challenges to contend with: poor drainage, totally inadequate sanitation services, and little access to clean, potable water, to name a few.
We bump down a rough, dirt road, between factories shielded by tall cement walls from crowded streets lined with stalls selling everything from fruit to cell phones to sneakers. People mill about in the afternoon sun as we enter Kwa Reuben. The street narrows and becomes bumpier. I could probably reach out my window for a fresh mango. Soon we pull up across the road from a small patch of grass where Doris Museti stands waiting for us. Doris is one of twenty women from Kwa Reuben who has been mobilizing the community to advocate for improved sanitation and collecting the 10,000 signatures to present to government.
Doris leads us into the heart of Kwa Reuben. We come upon a large field. Children are playing football and chasing after tires in the dusty heat. As we walk, Doris and Phyllis Mulewa, another community leader from Kwa Reuben, inform me that this is the only play area in the whole of Mukuru.
Continuing further into Kwa Reuben the road narrows again and the ground becomes muddy with run-off and storm water that has nowhere to go. Doris turns off the main road and into a narrow walkway, barely wide enough for two people to pass each other. Here I get a better understanding of what it means to have inadequate sanitation facilities. Doris and Phyllis point out that the run-off between the shacks, flowing into the walkway where we stand. Women and children use these narrow, exposed spaces behind their shacks (about 60 cm wide) as a space for bathing and relieving themselves at night, when walking the distance to the bush means running the risk of violent attack and rape.
“Getting to the toilet at night is very difficult,” says Doris, “They are closed, so you have to get an alternative. So we come to the bush, and it is very risky. You have to get two or three women to escort you. If you do not come with two or three people, it is a rape case and it will never be reported. Some women fear to escort you… As women we are in a very, very risky place.”
It’s not much better during the day. Paying for multiple trips to the public toilet facilities is out of the question for most families, leaving no choice but for children to relieve themselves in these alleyways. Later on Doris refers back to “those houses where you can see drainage coming out like a bathroom,” explaining that, “…they are not bathrooms, they are corridors. So most people are bathing in the corridors because they don’t have bathrooms. You can tell people, ‘Don’t come out! I’m taking a bath!’”
Doris continues describing the conditions that force women and children into these corridors, “You don’t have a bathroom, you have to take a bath, the house is 10 ft. by 10 ft., you are four or three people [in the house], other people have other business in the house, so you take a bath outside… the house just smells of dampness if you take a bath in there. The water goes on the carpet, and the house is always damp. Mosquitoes are full throughout.”
So there is no option, really, but to use these alleyways. Because of the run-off, the walkways are flooded and filthy. When it rains, it is much worse. Sewerage mixes with rainwater and floods people’s homes. Disease runs rampant during these times. “Having cholera, typhoid, is very easy,” Doris says, “We had an outbreak of cholera – it was very bad. You would hear someone is sick today, and dies tomorrow.”
Even the few toilet facilities that exist are problematic. Doris and Helen Nyaboke, another resident of Kwa Reuben, describe the process of emptying the pit latrines in the settlement, “There are two or three men who come and empty your pit latrine. After emptying, they go around pushing the cart. It will spill everywhere. When they [find] a drain, they pour [it] there and then go back and drain again. What impact does that bring? They have emptied this toilet, they have spilled everything on the road, and then they have poured it in that drainage.” The drainage they are referring to is a shallow gulley that runs alongside the walkways. When they flood or clog, they spill over into the roads and walkways. I can understand their frustration with the system.
Doris relates this back to the diseases she spoke of earlier, “It has an effect on us and on our kids.” Referring to sewerage water and human waste contaminating walkways, Doris says, “Children don’t differentiate [between] that and cleanliness.” Another woman pipes up, saying, “And STI (sexually transmitted infection) is very, very high because we are sharing one toilet between more than 150 people.”
Sharing one toilet between more than 150 people. I ask the women about this, about sharing facilities with so many people, about bathing in their small homes with children and husbands running around. Phyllis Mulewa describes it to me, “About the privacy, you never know if someone is looking in the door or in the iron sheets [walls], because most of them have holes… For us as women, we feel this is not for us. Maybe it is for animals, but not for us. But what can we do?”
Evelyn Apondi, a young woman in her mid-twenties, tells me that she lives in a 10 ft. x 10 ft. “cube” with eleven other family members. “It is very difficult for us,” she says, “especially when there are fathers, brothers, sisters and mothers in the same cube and you can’t bathe, because bathing is a basic need. And apart from that, there are no toilets. It has been very hard.”
Doris and Evelyn describe what it’s like for women who are menstruating. They have to hide their sanitary towels, throwing them on top of their shacks or in the road so that they are out of the way. There is nowhere to dispose of them inside the house. Family members complain about the smell. Women are made to feel ashamed of this natural, monthly occurrence, and are forced to dispose of sanitary towels in a manner that leaves the settlement dirty, and its inhabitants at greater risk of disease.
It is the same story when a woman gives birth. There is nowhere to dispose of the afterbirth, so it is kept in a tin can in the house; “The container will remain in the house until very late in the evening,” Doris says, “What is she to do with it? She will have to wait until very late to dispose of it, maybe mix it with dirty water and then throw it out…. Nowadays, blood carries everything.”
Evelyn tells me she wants to get a job so that she can rent her own cube, have some privacy and maybe even start a family of her own, but like so many of these women, she has not been able to find steady work. “We have just been surviving,” she says.
Most of the women I speak to rely on casual work for their incomes. “You wake up in the morning and try to find a job,” says Doris. “You can sometimes find something for the day, for the week, but it is very insecure. Some women do washing. There are [lots of] small-scale traders… But it is very hard.”
I am interested to know what these women see as a potential solution to the sanitation issues they face in Mukuru. I ask them what would make the most difference in their lives with regard to sanitation. Both Doris and Phyllis suggest the same thing: “The government coming in and planning with us. Then we will have sewers and everything… Then the structure owners will be forced to do something. If the government plans for us – if they plan for residential rather than factories, and if people build their houses in order, then we can have proper drainage and proper roads.” =
I recognize this proposal from my discussions with Jane Weru earlier in the day. They want the government to claim back the land from the current landowners and re-plan the whole of Mukuru as a mixed-use area, serviced by bulk infrastructure connected to the rest of the city. This would mean widespread access to basic services and increased security of tenure for Mukuru’s residents. Doris comments on the threats of eviction that she and other Mukuru residents have faced in recent years as land values in Nairobi continue to rise:
“We are here, and then that person - after 40 or 30 or 50 years - they are claiming back the land. Where do we go? We are not trees. Imagine you have a place, your home – how can a person come to build in your home? You have grandchildren here, they have children, and then you want to chase them out. Where do we go?”
These women have lived in Mukuru for at least fifteen years. Most of them were born here. This is their home and they want to improve it – to work with the government to make Mukuru a safe, secure place for them and their families to live. But because of the landownership issues, Muungano, AMT and MuST cannot move forward with sanitiation improvements in Mukuru. So instead they have proposed a precedent-setting pilot project in Mathare, another settlement north of Mukuru that is settled on government land. The hope is that this project will set an example for the kind of upgrading that could take place in Mukuru once the land ownership issues are sorted out.
According to Irene Karanja, director of Muungano Support Trust (MuST), the first phase of the project will assist 800 households residing in three clusters of Mathare settlement. The total population of these three clusters is equal to roughly 2620 households. At present, the residents of Mathare have two sanitation options: they can either pay a large fee to private businessmen to connect to the informal sewer system, or they can pay to use the few community toilets, many of which are unsafe and unsanitary.
Because local businessmen own the informal sewer system, the costs for connecting to the main pipe are unaffordable for most Mathare residents. It costs USD $46 for households within 30 meters of the river to connect to the informal sewer line, and up to USD $170 for the families furthest from the river. Because of this, families elect not to pay the high connection fees and instead dump sewerage into the river.
To combat this, MuST has proposed a solution that seeks a low-cost, sustainable and scalable model for sanitation in informal settlements. Specifically, the project seeks to find:
a) An environmentally sustainable model which seeks to demonstrate to the State how to manage human waste without contaminating natural resources
b) A model that is able to leverage resources from the State while at the same time utilizing community contributions for the development of a permanent sewer solution. The main innovation here is finding low-cost financing for sanitation upgrades.
c) A model that demonstrates that state investments for any trunk infrastructure targeted at the poor increases the integration of poor communities into the formal systems of the city.
More information about the proposed project is forthcoming. Please watch this space for more information.
[*] Kibera is generally regarded as Nairobi’s largest slum.
This great short film explores the mindset change underway amongst Africa's youth that mirrors SDI's longstanding advocacy of self consciousness, self reliance and co-production. It includes an interview with Benson Osumba, President of the Kenya Federation who passed away on 17th April 2013.
**Cross posted from the Muungano Support Trust blog**
“Benson Erick Osumba dedicated his life to work for the community as an enumerator, leader, mentor, mediator and advisor. He had the gift of singling out the potential in people, and gave them the space to do their thing for Muungano wa Wanavijiji and on international assignments on behalf of Slum Dwellers International (SDI). He believed in and encouraged the people who kept the spirit and faith to serve settlements under siege, until they had no choice but to believe in themselves.”
In handling his duties as the Chairperson of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, and the Kenyan SDI Alliance as a whole, Benson would diligently attend community and institutional meetings, the weekly Monday meeting. In appearance just a tedious reporting of the week’s progress of the federation and other official engagements with SDI, in reality it is an impeccable tool for accountability, transparency, and inclusive decision-making process. Such forums with Benson built exclusive platforms for debate, disagreement, acknowledgement of failures, and celebration of Muungano‘s breakthroughs in addressing the urban agenda.
In executing his work as the leader of the Kenyan SDI Alliance, Benson was a hands-off kind of a guy, though his value for work ethic was really admirable. He was gentle, calm and collected but with equal demeanor he was firm and upright. Muungano’s objective was clear: advocacy for the poor. The strategy was simple — engage eviction proponents head-on, based on the principle of law and justice, conduct enumerations, mapping and engage his people and stakeholders on the next course of action.
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.
His calm nature was coupled by a jovial tone, many thought it was a weakness but indeed it was a gift that enabled him to negotiate with the Kenyan government on the needs of the poor to be enjoined in the participatory planning process, it was above all an opportunity to make connections and sign MOUs with various stakeholders, thus sustaining a resilient urban poor people. It is this people-building that was the real and lasting investment.
The need to consult and bring all on board was indeed strength for the federation and the support NGOs, Muungano Support Trust and Akiba Mashinani to function as a unit. His master of the principles of communication and mobilisation kept the federation on the loop, from the expansive coastal towns of Mombasa, to the waters of Kisumu, to the ranges of the Rift valley, to the cool waters of Nairobi and the echelons of the globe, Benson’s leadership was felt.
The 2004-2011 eviction spree by the lords of impunity in Kenya's government and private interests alike, was addressed by the civil society, with Muungano wa Wanavijiji spearheading grassroots initiatives to force government to stop forced evictions and address the issue using a bottom up approach.
And now the National Eviction guidelines that help caution the poor from arbitrary eviction has been realized. Secure tenure for the urban poor is also being realized. The federation is devoted to conducting city profiles and mapping to support shack dwellers to advocate for land title in areas such as Kilifi (Mibuyu Saba) and Thika (Kiandutu), just to name but a few.
Despite dejection in the face of the movement, Benson always remained optimistic.
In reflecting on Benson’s life and work, Jockin Arputhum shared the following:
“I remember Benson sometime back when I came to Kenya, and he told me of how he has constituted a federation leadership structure. I was surprised to find that majority of the men had taken up leadership. That is when I beseeched him to incorporate more women in leadership, for this will help strengthen the Kenyan federation. This he did, and a number of women are now sitting on the National Executive Council.
I called Benson a number of times, to spend time with me in India; we planned on a number of issues regarding the federation and key community projects. We thank God for giving us Benson, though for a short time, he was able to do a lot for the Kenyan Federation and the SDI global network.
Benson has left behind a young family and I call upon the Kenyan Alliance to come together and set up a trust fund for his children that would help support his family. SDI will help support this initiative. I pray that we continue with the spirit and hope that Benson built over time.
We at SDI will honor Benson’s immense contribution and dedication by replicating his ideas and work throughout the slums in our global network."
It is with deep sorrow that we wish to inform you the passing away of Benson Osumba, the National chairman of Muungano wa Wanavijiji. Benson left us this morning after a short illness bravely borne. As we celebrate his life today, we would like to acknowledge the role he has played in placing the urban poor agenda at the center of development in Kenya. He courageously responded to settlements faced with forced evictions with a resolve to end this kind of injustice in Kenya and other countries.
The struggle continues and his vision for a safe city for all, especially the poor, lives on!!
Irene Karanja-Muungano Support Trust, Kenya
I am so saddened by your news, but thank you for sharing it. May Benson rest in peace and his life’s dedication to the urban poor be an inspiration to us all.
Benson was a uniting figure to all. He leaves at a time when Muungano and civil society need more to forge the agenda for inclusive development.
God rest him in peace
Peter Ngau, University of Nairobi
I join the rest to condole with Benson’s family and friends. Indeed he has left a lot of unfinished endeavours to be completed by the rest of us.
May He rest in peace!
Stephen Gichohi- Forum Syd
I have lost a friend a brother and a great mentor, apart from teaching me how to work with the community he tought me life skills. He gave me opportunity and exposed me to the world. He fought selflessly for all, he spent all of his valuable time sacrificing to the poor in kind and cash. He was a mediator in all crises and an icon of unity in every conflict. He was a keen listener and non-judgmental even though circumstances warranted the same. This afternoon I am laying you at the mortuary in the cold cupboard believing that you might wake up and even greet us again. Truly am not in terms with your death. No Ben you are still alive.
Erickson Sunday, Federation Leader, Kenya
It’s really hard to take it. My condolence to the family, Muungano, MuST, AMT, SDI and friends. We will see you again Ben. It has been a struggle for the voiceless and poor to access the basic needs for all those years. It’s the reason why our generation is enjoying some of the fruits. Rest in peace.
Iscah Jemutai, MuST Field Officer, Kenya
My thoughts and prayers of strength to the whole SDI family, Muungano Federation and Benson’s family in particular. May his soul rest in peace as his loving memory and spirit continue to guide our activism.
Paula Assubiji, Cape Town
When I led a project to donate foodstuffs and clothes in Mukuru slums, he helped me organize the process and even sat to my right on the day of the event as Gitau sat to my left. Rest in Peace Osumba, you helped me put together a noble cause. Rest In Peace brother.
Boni Manyala, Communication Consultant, Kenya
I will remember Benson for his charisma and forethought.
Chilungamo Hunga, Malawi
I am so heartbroken to hear of Benson’s passing. He was such a nice guy who had a smile for everyone he met. We will miss the Professor every day.
Louise Cobbett, former SDI Secretariat staff, USA
Rest in perfect peace Chairman. May the good Lord grant you a perfect rest in his bosom. My deepest condolences to the family and the Kenyan Federation at large.
Mensah Owusu, People’s Dialogue, Ghana
May his soul rest in peace.we loved chairman but God loved you more.praying for peace and strength for all Muungano Federation members during this times of mourning.
Edwin Simiyu, MuST, Kenya
What sad news…it is with heavy heart that we in Ghana received the news that Benson Eric Osumba is gone to his maker. We pray that Benson will have peaceful rest. Ben will be remembered throughout the SDI afiliates especially Ghana. Chairman, rest in peace. Our heartfelt condolence to SDI, MuST, Akiba Mashinani, Kenya federation west/east Africa hub and SDI board. Chairman, you will forever be remembered….
Kojo Anane, Ghana
My Sincere condolencs to the family of our Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, Kenyan Alliance, Shack / Slum Dwellers International Kenyan chapter-National Chairman.Osumba Benson Erick..He was a strong leader with a desire to change the lives of Slum dwellers…this info greats me with shock…RIP Chair
Benard Nyadida, Muungano Youth Federation, Kenya
On behalf of the Zambian alliance , we would want to offer our sincere condolences to Benson 's family, Muungano and the entire SDI family. We pray for God's comfort and guidance during the mourning period.
May God be with us.
Nelson Ncube, Zambian SDI Alliance
Very sad indeed, and losing such a young, bright and indeed amazing young man is shocking but we will celebrate the life we shared with him and the inspiration and hope he gave to us as a Network.
May Your soul rest in peace Bens and may the Lord comfort your family during this sad and trying time.
Siku Nkhoma, Malawi SDI Alliance
From Boston, I echo the sentiments of the rest of this broad family. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the rest of Muungano and the wider SDI family, some of which are gathered in Nairobi right now.
I experienced his presence in a number of meetings, and shared many conversations and an occasional after-hours game of pool with him. Benson was a man of strategy and a street philosopher. His warm personality, tactical sensibility, intellect, leadership and conviction are embedded in the strengths of Muungano, and the rest of the SDI network of federations and support professionals. For these reasons and more, may we honor his memory.
Benjamin Bradlow, SDI Secretariat
Please accept my deepest condolences. Benson will be with us in spirit.
Arvinn Gadgil, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway
On behalf of SDFN/NHAG and fellow Namibians we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his family, fellow fed members, SDI family. May the almighty be with us all during this difficult moment and be consoled. We are together in prayers and may all of us be strengthened.
Heinrich, Namibian SDI Alliance
It is saddening to learn of the passing on of our dear brother Benson. Please convey my condolence to the family of the deceased. We thank God for the gift of his life and pray that may his soul rest in eternal peace.
Samuel Mabala, Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development, Uganda
On behalf of the South African Alliance please convey our deepest sympathy to our Kenyan colleagues and the family of Benson.
Hamba Kahle to a dear friend and brother of the movement!
Bunita Kohler, South African SDI Alliance
This is shocking, Benson has been a source of motivation for SL Alliance. Our condolence to his family and Muungano.
May his soul rest in peace and let perpetual light shine upon him.
Francis Reffell, Sierra Leone SDI Alliance
The Zimbabwean Federation and Dialogue on Shelter wishes to convey its condolences to Benson's family, Muungano and the whole of the SDI family on the passing of Benson. He will be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of working with him.
Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Zimbabwe SDI Alliance
Benson Eric Osumba fare thee well.....'Damirifa due.' The Ghana Federation wil forever miss you.
Ghana SDI Alliance
Dear Irene and Muungano family,
I am really saddened to hear about this. Please accept my condolences to Benson’s family, friends and the entire Muungano family. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you during this difficult time. I know Benson’s vision and passion will continue to fuel the urban poor and their supporters in creating better lives for all – we will miss him terribly and remember his passion and dedication to push ourselves forward.
Suman Sureshbabu, Rockefeller Foundation
By Walter Fieuw, CORC, South Africa (on behalf of SDI Secretariat)
Community-driven settlement profiling, enumerations, and spatial mapping are practices that federations associated with SDI have developed over two decades. These become valuable tools in negotiating more equitable resource flows from the public and private sector to urban poor communities. Profiling is a “top-level scan” of the most important features of the settlement, an estimation of the number of shacks, socio-economic and demographic information and access to services. It is also often times the first point of contact of the federation to a non-affiliated settlement/slum and opens a dialogue on the networking of community structures at the city level to influence city governments. Over the past two decades federations have used this tool to categorise and map out slums in cities. Countries use different questionnaires, data capturing systems, and mapping tools to reach this goal. In order to upscale this data to give a global narration based on credible and community-driven quantitative data, SDI has engaged the Santa Fe Institute, who are supporting a process of standardisation. The goal of this process is apparent upfront: To enhance the federations’ ability to generate settlement information in a standardised format for city, regional, national and global analysis, while maintaining all the social mobilisation characteristics that have made profiling a powerful tool in the first place.
In a two-day workshop between 13 – 14 April 2013 held in Nairobi, federations from Africa and Asia came together to discuss the purposes, community structures and impact of profiling, and to chart the way forward. Jockin Arputham, president of SDI and coordinator of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, opened the workshop by reflecting on the progress to date:
This meeting has been called to alert and request everybody to create an action programme for the profile. We all have different questionnaires, although we say we are one family. Settlement profiles need to be captured, and we need to stay consistent in the questions we require. If the country needs more information, you need to add another page. We need one SDI questionnaire, so we can use the information globally. We want to understand what the magnitude of our power is. We want to make different cases to different audiences. We want to collaborate with all the actors speaking about land, housing, infrastructure; all the people speaking about the urban.
This practice first started in India where slum dwellers were exposed to slum eradication in the 1960s and '70s. Shekar Mulyan recalled the experiences at a young age.
I was born in a Bombay slum, and composition of the settlement was that of migrant workers. My father and Jockin were the first generation leaders. I was six years old when an eviction started that changed the way we would think about organised communities.
Baba Atomic Centre owned the land where we lived. The government recognised the strategic importance of the land, and started planning a large resettlement/eviction process. Jockin was organising protests, but we were failing on all fronts. We did not have any information about of settlement, even though were engaging trade unions, government agencies, and so on. We lost the court case, and the government commanded us to move once again.
We realised that no other community had to go through what we went through. We started thinking about ways to assist communities in similar situations, and how we can best support them. We started counting all the slums in Bombay. This happened over weekends, and there were no resources to support the process. When we compared the numbers the state put forward, and that what we collected, we saw a large discrepancy: the state was always undercounting and minimising the urban crisis.
By creating a “slum dweller perspective” on city planning processes through the practice of profiling informal settlements, groups networking at the city level have better information on their position in the city. City governments often view informal settlements as being “black holes” of demands on state resources; that poor people don’t contribute to the resource base and demand more services and social allowances and grants. This false belief often diverges development capital from poor neighbourhoods towards middle and upper classes, believing that the cost of such infrastructure investments will be recovered through a larger tax base. In this way, cities become more divided, more unequal and the chance of poverty alleviation is seen as a trickle down effect from the market, which has been proven to be untrue.
Alternative views on the organisation and vibrancy challenge these (neoliberal) assumptions of city building. Poor people operate in an economic and social structure that is beyond the control of the state. Here jobs are created, livelihood networks are established, crisis committees respond to disasters, and people build cities from the bottom up. Federations associated to SDI are generating critical information that builds these counter-hegemonic views of the urban poor, rendering a rich and diverse picture of the productive life of slums and slum dweller communities.
Enkanini, Stellenbosch, South Africa Settlement Profile based on Enumeration Map
The experience of the Homeless People's Federation of Malawi speaks directly to these points as Mphatso Njunga, a federation leader, reflected at the workshop:
We are also using our profiling process to understand the budgeting processes in cities, and we are pushing the government to open up participatory spaces to influence the allocation of budgets. In Blantyre, we were never aware of special budgets to development infrastructure in informal settlements, and now we are more involved. We are also working with universities around planning for upgrading. The profiling helps us to categorise the most pressing needs, and create an action plan.
Moving beyond the influence on state resources towards building critical mass of community capacity and social capital, the experience of the Homeless People's Federation of Tanzania inspired a lot of discussion between the federations.
I am from a slum in Dar es Salaam and I have been involved in enumerations since the federations started. We started in 2005, which focused on mobilising savings schemes. The SDI team assisted us to build the template questionnaire, and they mobilised two groups. In 2006, we did another enumeration, which was spurred by eviction threats. The government played up the tenants and the occupants against one another, and wanted to evict last mentioned group. The Kenyan team helped us with numbering, measuring plots, and capturing data. (Husua, federation coordinator)
Once communities have generated sufficient “critical mass” and information about slums, alternative democratic spaces can emerge in which the federation has an influence on the flow of resource which determines whether cities become more pro-poor. Brenda from the Zambian federation recalled their working partnerships with government’s structure.
We network with the government’s ward development committee (WDC) and get introduced to the community. The WDC plays an important role in making bridges between the formal and the informal.
We have collected 139 settlement profiles on the total number of 255 slums. This spreads over three cities. Working with the NGO we collect and analyse the data, clean it and process it, and then share it from the bottom up: the community, WDC, city and national minister.
The federations closed the two day meeting on reflecting on the way going forward. Countries agree to a 2 month and 6 months action plan to prioritise profiling in cities. SDI will continue to track the progress and application of this new and emerging system for collecting slum profiles.
**Cross-posted from Living the City blog**
By Baraka Mwau and Dennis Mwaniki
January 2013, another painful month for the residents of Likoni, South Coast Mombasa. Forget the infamous financial pinch that most Kenyans have to sail through in the month of January; think of the “untimely death” of the sole bread winner, a family member, parent, or even a friend! Most of us imagine dying someday, but just like in my case, the thought most likely lasts only for a few seconds, and is mostly triggered by the death of someone close. Well, in as much as this is not the point for this posting, it was saddening to read about the Likoni ferry accident of January 26, 2013 in which at least 10 people died and many others were injured when a truck crushed people boarding the ferry (Likoni mourns 10 people). What a cruel way to die! Fact, this is not the first time an accident has been reported in the Likoni channel (and the Mtongwe ferry tragedy in which 272 people died is still fresh in some of our minds).
As we join the families in mourning their loved ones, we cannot ignore the underlying problem – the fragility of the ferry issue in our coast! Every single day, the 500 meter crossing is an uncertain trip for the over 200,000 people and 5,000 motorists using it. The risks here are not just from a ferry stalled in the middle of the channel, but also from being stumbled on, losing personal belongings from pick pockets, and as of recent, being run over by a truck! And the options for these people? Either travel by road for a distance of over 30kms and pay more or brave a few minutes of a free ride in the ferry. Yes, I would also choose the latter. A ‘cloud of hope’ however seems to hanging in the horizon – but to go by the Kenya government’s prophecy. The ‘standard antidote’- a by-pass highway – has been prescribed as a way of dealing with the ferry shortcomings. In as much as we would love to jump into the options, choices and implications of this antidote to the ferry problem, it would be an injustice to interrogate what seems to be the planners’ palatable prescription without taking pride in the history of what is perhaps the cradle of urbanization in Eastern Africa.
Mombasa is perhaps the most famous Kenyan (if not East African) coastal city, and also one of the oldest cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, owing to its being in existence for over thirty centuries, as per ancient Phoenician, Egyptian and Chinese knowledge repositories. Just like many other coastal cities across the world, the history of Mombasa displays the role of intercultural interaction and regional trade in development of both ancient and modern culture, architecture, governance structures, religion and way of life. Previously named Mvita (meaning a ‘place of war’), Mombasa has had its share of governance conflicts throughout history – ranging from inter-city rivalry to rotating governance systems resembling kingship. The city, just like many other East African Coastal cities (Malindi, Lamu, Watamu, Mombasa, Pemba, and Zanzibar) has experienced its fair share of Omani (Arab), Portuguese and British rulers – all with varied impacts in the language, city design/scape, structure and governance systems. The resultant urban form, land ownership structures, governance systems, culture and religion remain attractions to the coastal city to date; and some aspects of architecture (such as Fort Jesus, Gedi ruins etc) complement the lovely beaches and marine parks which flock with local and foreign tourists. Today, it is hard to dissociate the rich Swahili culture, religion and food from the city’s distinctive urban design and architecture.
Fort Jesus: Canons strategically positioned to launch attack to likely threat from the sea. The fort is one of the major attractions to Mombasa © Baraka, 2012
Over time however, the mix of governance and growth trends, coupled with the cosmopolitan nature of the city have resulted in a complex urbanization process, mostly benefitting a few and leaving the majority of the indigenous communities in poverty. Although the city’s population is still relatively low (estimated at slightly above 1 million), the numbers are on the increase and the regional economic significance of the city is obviously unrivalled. With the current national and global focus on urban centres as the locus of growth, Mombasa, supposedly Kenya’s second largest city, has been steadily growing (both spatially and density-wise), a trend that is expected to continue in the next few to many decades. The question is to which side this growth is biased.
Previously (and perhaps into the long future – God forbid!), the lack of proper urban development strategies for the city of Mombasa and “urbanization capitalism”, coupled with inequitable land governance systems have resulted in a city and region-wide squatter society. In this city, and its larger peri-urban area, most people are squatters, some even in their own ancestral land. If only to go by the latest land dispute, most of the Likoni area, where the majority of low and middle income residents live is private land, implying that everyone living therein is a squatter!
Although rarely talked about, urban informality in Mombasa greatly defines the crux of the city’s vibrancy. Well …… the truth is that contrary to modernist planning presuppositions, referring to Mombasa’s urban functioning as informal provokes a whole new debate on the definition of urban informality – yet it is indeed true! The difficulty in defining what is formal and what is informal is rooted in the fact that the urban character of Mombasa has been historically assembled by a rich Swahili culture, which dictated, and continues to dictate the city’s urban form and functioning. Street markets are a good example of the Swahili emblem of appropriation of space for commercial practice that doubles as a public space (in most other cases these are informal activities). In the new settlement areas (such as Likoni and many other parts of the city, almost only excluding the old town), modern informal settlements are hugely evident.
Likoni is an informal settlement that lies adjacent to the shoreline, and is famously the “gateway” to the South Coast. It is the largest informal settlement in Mombasa and has over the years exhibited characteristics of an ‘arrival city’, where migrants attempt to make a start to life in the city. Just like many other informal settlements in the country, the preference of Likoni can be explained by its closeness to work areas in the Island, low costs of housing and the usual advantages associated with economies of agglomeration. Ferry services link Likoni/South Coast and the Island, and even though the cost of “matatu” transport is relatively lower in Mombasa (compared to Nairobi), many people still walk from the ferry crossing to the Mombasa core city. It is fundamental to accentuate that the Likoni ferry is perhaps the pivot that bridges income opportunities and households of the informal settlement of Likoni. As the city of Mombasa grows and expands to the South Coast, the traffic volumes at this channel are consistently overwhelming. Not surprisingly, Mombasa has now been engulfed in a Nairobi-like dilemma: traffic congestion, disorderliness, mass street vending, collapsing of solid waste management and even the once disciplined public transport operators (matatus) have become notorious for half-way trips.
Traffic Congestion has increasingly become a part of Mombasa © Dennis M, 2012
But there is some ‘relief’. The national government has earmarked two major transport infrastructure projects at the coastal region: the great Lamu port and the Dongo Kundu by-pass highway.
Lamu port is the single largest infrastructure project in Africa at the moment and the Dongo Kundu highway rivals the recently concluded Thika Super Highway in tax payer spending. In fact, it is more expensive than the Thika highway despite its only being 17.5km against Thika highway’s 45km. Reason? Engineering technicalities! This engineering complicated highway is estimated to cost the tax payer a whooping Kshs. 29 billion; money which is loaned to them by the Japanese government. The Thika highway cost the Kenyan tax payers Kshs. 28 billion and its accrued benefits to the masses (the urban poor) are still debatable. The bicycle lanes are completely underutilized, while efforts to educate the public on its usage seem to have been neglected (this is certainly a topic for another day!). For now, we rest the comparison at that and focus on the Likoni Channel; its challenges and the proposed cure: the Dongo Kundu bypass.
The safety risks at the Likoni crossing are written all over the faces of commuters every single time they use the largely ‘fateful’ ferries. I would comfortably say that visitors to the coast, one of whose main attractions was to cross between the Island and the mainland using the ferry no longer fancy this trip. Being part of this growing constituency of skeptics, I recently watched from a distance as the commuters boarded MV Nyayo. Apparently, I refused to obey my adventurous spirit on this free round trip – not after all the frequent accidents and technical mishaps that have become an almost daily occurrence here, even after the acquiry of new vessels by the Kenya Ferry Services (and yes, I am a lousy swimmer as well!). According to the government of Kenya, the long-term solution is the construction of the Dongo Kundu bypass, which would in theory decongest the Likoni channel, and create a safer link between the Island and the Mainland to the South. The by-pass is in line with the expansion of the Mombasa Port and undoubtedly, the relocation of freight handling and container depots at Miritini is long overdue.
With all due respect for the government commitment, we have to ask: how will the masses in Likoni and its adjacent mainland benefit from the Dongo Kundu bypass; will the bypass cater for the walking masses; and will the limit on the traffic flow render pedestrians safe as they board the ferries? Currently, only 5,000 vehicles use this channel daily yet there is no planning strategy to respond effectively to the modal split, integrate current transportation modes at the terminus and most importantly, exploit the informal economic nodes the two docking points have created. The matatu terminus on both sides of the crossing, and the Mama Ngina Drive on the Island side are both economic nucleus that have created hundreds of jobs for Likoni residents. How will they be affected by the bypass?
Developing a by-pass will most likely not cure the boarding accidents at the channel, since there will still be vehicles using the ferries. What is the by-pass is likely to do, other than limiting vehicular traffic volume in the ferries? In addition, other than tourists and a small number of further south coast residents who own cars, the majority of commuters are the Likoni area residents who will continually need to use the ferry service. Technical options are available, but even after the 1994 Mtongwe disaster and the recurrent mishaps in Likoni, the government is yet to consider alternative engineering options to the ferry. The concern is that the real problem is being avoided in the name of a by-pass, which will keep tourists less worried, yet the thousands of South Coast residents will continue to face danger every moment they make the half kilometre crossing.
To date, thousands of households in Likoni live in squalor conditions and there are no indications of any concrete programme to upgrade the settlement. Is the government and the Municipal Council of Mombasa getting its priorities right? We are not in the least doubtful that the realities of Dongo Kundu by-pass will relieve Mombasa Island of its escalating traffic suffocation and relief motorists the erratic ferry failures at Likoni. The question we ask is how much change it will bring to the rapidly suburbanizing city, if no proper accompanying growth frameworks are put in place. Are we likely to see similar land price explosion and linear growth as has been the case with Thika Road, and what are the likely implications to the already dire land problem in the coastal city? For now, while the Dongo Kundu by-pass has received its share of objection from the locals-mostly attributed to interference with the kayas, there seems to be little objection based on its prioritization as an infrastructure project in Mombasa. This is certainly a good thing, to which related socio-spatial and economic aspects can be added.
Similar to the Thika highway, this by-pass is linked to the realization of Vision 2030. In this case, the fantasy is to promote Mombasa as the African Dubai, with the South Coast becoming a leading tourist destination. For us, it is tempting to opinionate that the urban planning and infrastructure developments in Mombasa are responding to international interests, rather than local needs and aspirations. Isn’t this a way of promoting the classical “trickle down” approach to development, which has traditionally crippled the growth of Mombasa in the first place? For how long will the urban poor in Mombasa take to benefitting from the trickle down effects of these projects? and is this what our second largest city really needs? You be the judge.
We do not by any means undermine or detest infrastructure investments in the country. We are merely of the opinion that if the government channels similar efforts and resources (even if just commitment in policy formulation & implementation, promoting private sector partnerships & giving incentives etc) to informal settlements upgrading and the promotion of Small and Micro Enterprises (SMEs), the majority of Kenyans, and particularly the urbanites, will live more decently as opposed to having hundreds of kilometres of tar which are designed for the few upper-class populace and tourists. And there is definitely a need to understand underlying issues in all projects, objectively rather than politically.
**Cross posted from the Muungano Support Trust Bulletin**
Matopeni is a settlement in Muungano wa Wanavijiji’s Mombasa North Network. Currently the community is undertaking daily savings with the aim of securing land tenure and acquiring the piece of land that they are currently occupying. The settlement has been divided into two clusters (Matopeni A and B) for the purpose of collecting accurate and detailed profile and enumeration data. The settlement sits on government land managed by the Municipal Council of Mombasa. However, according to the data collected, Cluster A has been transferred to a number of individuals (tycoons) who are planning to build a City Mall depsite residents application to have the land allocated to them. Unfortunately the community has not been allowed to respond or have input in this decision despite the council having a service charter that demands that any written correspondence should be acted upon within seven days.
Astonishingly cluster B has also been transferred to an individual in the name of protecting the land from grabbers. If this is the case, why was the land transfered to a private individual and not the council or a registered government entity? Many questions are still left unanswered even amongst the council’s staff; why is it that the green card of this parcel of land is missing ? Or perhaps is the card kept in an important drawer somewhere in the building?
To get things moving in situations like this requires community support. The community needs to speak with one voice - a factor that is still missing in the settlement. Instead community members are betraying and informing on one another. Key leaders have been compromised and sell community strategies to land grabbers who in turn link their controversially allocated portions of land to the main road further undermining and marginalising neighbouring families. These families risk either forceful eviction without compensation or peaceful eviction and peanuts for compensation. Unfortunately, because of fear, bitter community members felt they could not challenge the sale. Some claim they do not have a say over an individual selling their property while others claim they fear black magic.
To further exacerbate the situation someone within the community is passing on information from meetings and discussions about land to land grabbers. As an attempt to access information, the grabber is currently attempting to join the saving scheme that is advocating for the legalization of the said piece of land with the aim of being allocated the parcel.
For residents to enjoy secure land tenure, good settlement leadership is mandatory. Resident's need a leadership to steer the process and community solidarity to back up those who are involved. They also need some level of political goodwill which is currently not the case. Political leaders are working towards evicting some people in order to get a portion of land while others collude with "grabbers" to ensure they can access land.
MUUNGANO WA WANAVIJIJI has built a community resource and learning centre in the area that supports 105 learners. If the leaders who are expected to work towards securing the future of these learners (through negotiating land and tenure) are the same people who are selling the land on which the centre is located it is clear that they are doing a grave disservice to not only their current community but to future generations.
By Joseph Kimani (Muungano Support Trust, Kenya) and Joseph Muturi (Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, Kenya)
Imagine a world without slums. Fine, let's keep it close: imagine the city of Nairobi, Cape Town, Mumbai or your favorite city without a single informal settlement, slum or shacks. That is exactly the thing…your mind is probably saying, "Well it is possible." Perhaps you are also wondering how this could be possible and, in reality, how that could happen. Most likely you are also pondering whether we have the same definition of slums or shacks. Are the favellas in Brazil the same as the ghettos in Kenya, or are the slums in India the same as those in South Africa? Can slums in Nairobi, Mumbai, Brazil, South Africa or anywhere be defined the same way? Are access to sanitation, water, infrastructure and services and secure tenure the only indicators that we should use to measure the extinction of slums? These were some of the main issues addressed at Habitat III, a UN Habitat sponsored international conference that took place in November 2012 in Rabat, Morocco.
The three-day conference was organized by the Government of Morocco under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and under the authority of UN-HABITAT as an effort to share best practices on policies and the implementation of slum upgrading, eradication and prevention programmes by local and national governments around the world. The organizers invited 20 top countries that have been rated as having performed best in making slums history. The specific objectives of the conference were:
- Develop specific recommendations and guidelines for slum improvement policies and the development of well-adapted housing alternatives to prevent new slum formation (the Rabat Declaration).
- Devise the strategy required to revise Target 7-D of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and adjust it more closely to the diversity of national conditions and circumstances.
- Share successful experiences, methodologies and evaluation methods with regard to slum reduction.
- Broaden the scope of experience-sharing within the conference to bring in Least performing Countries (and African countries in particular), to help them implement effective slum reduction policies.
- Strengthen partnerships between Morocco and other African countries.
The Rabat Conference brought together over 150 participants representing 24 government delegations. The countries identified as the 20 best performers in slum upgrading invited were: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam.
Summary report of the plenary discussions, workshops and expert group meeting:
Some of those who spoke at the conference included the Minister of Housing, City Planning and Urban Policy of Morocco, the UN-Habitat Director, Cities Alliance, World Bank and SDI. In our main presentation, we were able to present SDI's background, mandate and experience by highlighting the role of the community in slum upgrading. We then shared our perspectives on slums post-2015 MDGs or perspectives that we thought stakeholders in slum upgrading need to consider as UN HABITAT proposes to develop Sustainable Development Goals. We presented three key points that we argued were important in helping a slum upgrading process to take shape, and some of our perspectives regarding the development of Sustainable Development Goals. Here our main argument was with respect to the issue of community organization and the role of the rituals of the federations in promoting community ownership and community led initiatives. We provided examples of Huruma Slum Upgrading in Huruma, Kenya and our experience of the Kenya Railway Relocation Programme. Our second point stressed that land delivery was a prerequisite for any slum upgrading to happen.
Using our Kenyan example again we shared the challenges of attempting to make slums history when in a situation like Nairobi in which 50% of the slums are on private land and another 40% are on land considered to be unlivable (i.e. riparian and railway reserve and high-risk zones such as those living under the high voltage electrical powerline). This allowed us to highlight the need of government and all actors address the issue of land. Our third point was the need to scale up successful cases by not only choosing to deal with the settlements that are appealing, but to also invest in finding solutions to deal with informal settlements that appear to be difficult. Our major issue on this matter was to encourage all players to consider looking at slum upgrading as both functional and spatial and as a broader strategy of poverty alleviation.
Joseph Muturi of Muungano wa Wanavijiji addresses the audience.
Below is a sample of comments and suggestions captured during sessions by SDI representatives.
“We would have wished to see more representation of the slum dwellers, especially from the case studies, shared in this conference. One would have hoped that the hosts would have had in this conference representative of upgraded areas as well as those that have not succeeded or waiting to benefit”. - Joseph Muturi, during the thematic workshop session on Planning, Land Management and Urban.
“In the spirit of sharing could we have in the future conferences representation by countries considered to be under performing in slum upgrading processes or those that have the potential and yet challenged in whatever form. It is amazing to hear stories of change and success and one hopes some of countries would have benefitted a lot from the experiences shared here and could have re-kindled hope to those that have despaired and lost hope of assisting the poor.” - Suggestion by Joseph Kimani, Program Manager at MuST during the South-South Cooperation Session.
“I want to acknowledge and appreciate that this conference has provided most of us with valuable knowledge and experience. In fact I kind of agree with most of the presenters who holds that we can make slums history in our world. However I strongly propose that we ensure that the message we are taking home to all our governments and slum upgrading stakeholders is that the role of the community in this processes should not be underrated at all. In fact is it possible for all of us professionals and Government as well to allow the slum upgrading process to be led by the slum dwellers while we journey with them in this process, so that the issue is not just mere participation and inclusion for the sake of it but to carry with us the spirit and commitment that requires the people to be at the center of their own developments.” - Statement by Joseph Kimani during the Expert Group Meeting.
Our main question: Is it possible to make slums history? How did the Morocco attain this goal?
The Moroccan speakers took all the participants through their journey of making slums history in their nationwide “Cities without slums” programme which focuses on improved shelter conditions for over 1,742,000 people living in informal, substandard housing, contributing to better urban inclusiveness and social cohesion. We learnt that since 2004 the Morocco programme has achieved over 70 per cent of its overall objective. The speakers too acknowledged there were challenges that they are facing as a government while implementing the programme but emphasised that the 70% success so far has been as a result of the strong push of their strong leadership, political will, well defined objectives, an appropriate modus operandi and adequate budgeting.
In a nutshell as documented in the National Report (2012) the ‘Cities without Shanties” programme has made it possible to:
- Reduce the demographic weight of household dwellings in shanties across Moroccan cities and towns from 8.2% to 3.9% between 2004 and 2010;
- Improve the living conditions of roughly 1 million inhabitants;
- Declare 45 cities without shanties out of a total of 85.
In achieving the above, Morocco and many other countries in the world have managed to beat MDG Target 7-D by a multiple of 2.2, namely to “significantly improve living conditions for at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020." UN HABITAT estimates that, between 2000 and 2010, a total 227 million people in developing countries have experienced significant improvements in living conditions.
General lessons drawn from the conference:
The presentations by best performing countries like Brazil, China, Morocco, Turkey highlighted the extent countries and their governments can go to to improve the standards of those living in informal settlements through scaled-up housing developments. However, it should be noted that caution should be taken to ensure that the large scale housing developments do not create shells of void, silence and emptiness by ignoring the value of human development. This is summarized in the quote below:
“What we aim at... is not simply to have shanty-free cities, still less to set up soulless concrete slabs which thwart all forms of sociable living. We rather intend to evolve cities that are not solely conducive to smart, friendly, and dignified living, but also investment-friendly and productive spaces - urban areas, that is, which are attached to their specific character and to the originality of their style.” - Extract from the Speech delivered by His Majesty King Mohammed VI on the occasion of the National Convention of Local Collectivities Agadir, 12/12/2006.
The fact that some of the presenters and participants appreciated and acknowledged the role of SDI in facilitating and enabling urban poor communities i to be the drivers of slum upgrading and human development was very encouraging and inspiring. It is with this same spirit that we hope those of us within SDI will continue to work hard in ensuring that slum upgrading does not only become a rhetoric of the state authorities and institutions but remains real and focused towards addressing the economic, social and physical needs of the people. It is our desire to see countries like Kenya respond by speeding up efforts to scale up slum improvements. The ability is there, the resources are with the public and private institutions, and all that we hope for now is the government's goodwill and commitment.
This article originally appeared in Perspectives: Political Analysis and Commentary from Africa #3.12.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI Secretariat
An old South African song of the anti-Apartheid struggle is called “Meadowlands”. It commemorates a forced removal of many black and coloured people from the bustling, multi-cultural neighbourhood of Sophiatown in Johannesburg to the suburban township of Soweto in the late 1950s. The creolised tsotsitaal lyrics echo through the African continent’s historic urban transformation, which is well underway today: Ons daak nie, ons pola hie. “We are not leaving, we are staying right here.”
Inclusion. A place to call home. Such are the essential challenges that urbanisation has evoked for ordinary people and communities throughout the continent. The lessons emerging from both the successes and challenges of city growth in Africa suggest that developmentally sound approaches hinge on the extent to which ordinary people are incorporated into the financial flows, planning institutions and political processes by which it takes place.
Yet these lessons are not part of the dominant understanding of processes of urbanisation and development in Africa. This is true whether we look at the worlds of academia and theory, or the worlds of policy and politics. The urban population in Africa has almost tripled in fifty years, and this has been accompanied by a proliferation of informal settlements that lack access to basic services such as water and toilets, land tenure, housing and formal employment. These inequities are the overwhelming experience of the continent’s young, urban population. Over one-fifth of Africa’s population is between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four, and in eastern and southern Africa, this proportion rises to one-third.
Building a Strategy
Economic inequalities track closely with political exclusion. In truth, approaches such as “participation”, while common to the sustainability agenda, carry little weight in the big decision-making flows that actually impact on African urbanisation. Instead, they have been watered down to mean either a) consultation with ordinary people and communities on projects and programs that have already been conceived by large actors in government and the private sector, or b) the ability of communities to hold such actors accountable for promises after they make them.
“Political sustainability”—a broad notion of social and economic inclusion—coupled with environmental sustainability, is quite simply not the dominant paradigm of development and urbanisation in Africa. If we can generalise at all about African cities—a questionable task in and of itself—then the image of fancy skyscrapers rising next to sprawling informal settlements perhaps best represents this process. Economic and political inequality, environmental degradation and social insecurity are all too common as part of the urbanisation process in Africa.
So the task is twofold: first, to understand what we mean by “sustainability” in the first place; second, to strategise for embedding “sustainability” in the influential agendas that drive African urbanisation in the present and for the future. Such an approach has to link housing, land and employment in order to build inclusion into the urbanisation process. It also has to identify where the kinds of citizen groupings and organisations are emerging that allow for more responsive approaches to this triangle of needs.
Finance, Planning, Politics
The exclusion of the urban poor from planning for growth implicates three major trends.
First, the financial arrangements that determine urban development are exacerbating divides of inequality in terms of access to services, land and employment opportunities. Little finance is allocated in either national or international aid budgets for the upgrading of informal settlements. Local governments struggle to collect property and land taxes, and have little financial discretion to direct resources to the upgrading of informal settlements. Urban development is still an unpopular policy orientation, and the money that is directed at poverty alleviation continues to exhibit “rural bias”. Meanwhile, the finance available to industrial and real estate development in urban areas has a sharp [G1] tendency to not benefit the people and interests that fall outside of the formal sector.
Take two examples of spatial disparities in East Africa, which demonstrate the stark inequalities of financial flows to African cities. In Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, over 70 percent of households are on land whose ownership rights the law does not recognise. In other words, the vast majority of the city is “informal”. Even starker is the situation in Nairobi, where recreational space occupies more total land than do slums. Sixty percent of the city’s population lives in slums. While the formal world is accessing finance and the power it accompanies, the populations that are growing most quickly in African cities experience deeper exclusion.
Second, the institutional arrangements and planning processes that impact on urbanisation build and reinforce inequalities. Planning standards condemn informality in contexts where governments need to embrace and integrate informal populations. Participation is all too often a byword for using the poor as a means of an ex post facto rubber stamp of consent after key decisions around project conception and even implementation have been made by governments, private investors, and external aid agencies.
The challenge is not only a question of whether there is a moral need to include the poor, but even more, a question of how responsive existing institutions are to changes on the ground. The financial flows of urbanisation in Africa currently override the shaping capacity of institutions, especially in both local and national governments. The imperatives of private developers and corporations override the potential for the state to intervene effectively to mitigate the negative effects of the market.
In a sense, this is another version of how economist Joseph Stiglitz described what has happened to Western financial institutions in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, in which processes of economic growth have been “privatizing gains but socializing losses”. Charles Sabel and Sanjay Reddy have identified the key institutional problem as an inability to “learn”. Hence they propose steps for “learning to learn”, a method for examining the constraints of both supply and demand that policy-makers and institution-shapers must address. This means identifying new problems for policy, and opening up decision-making to be more accountable and, in fact, empirical.
Yet this can come off as pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Cities in Africa are a crucible for both the new global order of nations and new institutions that make the decisions that impact on economic growth patterns. In such areas, as Mark Swilling, director of the Sustainability Institute in South Africa, recently noted, institutions and ordinary people alike require “the ability to learn and unlearn very quickly in the blink of an eye as context shifts”. How can Sabel and Reddy’s “learning to learn” framework possibly address this reality?
The third and related cause of exclusion, and the necessary impact of inclusion on the sustainability agenda[G2] , concerns the political processes of urbanisation in Africa. In essence, the current exclusion of the poor from decision-making, project conceptions and fundamental re-imaginings of city development fundamentally impedes a more responsive set of institutions along the lines of “learning to learn”. When the urban poor are considered objects of developmental decisions of others—when ordinary people are a nuisance to be ignored or evicted—informality continues to hinder economic growth and the development of social fabric in cities.
Most poverty alleviation approaches are focused on supporting individuals and households to achieve basic human needs. But from the sustainability perspective—understood broadly—this actually undercuts the need for political inclusion. Given the constraints on political agency and economic opportunity that exist among many communities of the poorest of the poor, representative organisations of the poor are of particular significance.
It is therefore time to pay more attention to the kinds of popular institutions of the poor that can be effective at influencing formal institutional structures. These exist in many parts of the world currently undergoing rapid urbanisation. Even those cities that are not in Africa offer significant learning opportunities for alternative political approaches. A few different types include a) city-wide community networks of informal settlement dwellers in Thailand that work with a government program for slum upgrading called Baan Mankong; b) street committees in places like Karachi, Pakistan, that work with local government through the Orangi Pilot Project; and c) national and city-wide slum dweller “federations” in many countries in Africa and Asia, that are part of a global network called Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI). In all of these cases, the most important lesson concerns the ability of government, especially at the local level, to reform existing institutions or create new ones that allow communities and officials to speak with each other as equals and to make decisions jointly.
Investing in Community Organisations and Networks
With this triangular framework for understanding the challenge of the sustainability agenda as it pertains to urbanisation in Africa—finance, planning, and politics—we need to begin understanding the strategy for actualising such an approach. We need to get deep into the real-world practices that, over time, cohere to create this kind of impact-driven approach to sustainable urbanisation. The notion of “learning”, as Sabel and Reddy, amongst others, have put it, is useful for describing how small changes in institutional practice can be geared towards exactly this kind of high impact.
In particular, we need to consider the lessons of communities that are actually involved in a learning process with elements of local bureaucracies. These relationships help to develop alternative mechanisms for delivery and to construct deeper bonds of citizenship through the links of community associations with state bureaucracies.
An instructive case is a set of interactions between community associations and low-level bureaucrats in the Informal Settlements Unit of the Department of Housing in the municipality of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
The informal settlement of Langrug is home to about eighteen hundred households, according to a community-led household survey in 2011. The settlement had gone with approximately forty toilets for all eighteen hundred families for many years. In 2010, a rich landowner nearby threatened to sue the municipality for the polluted runoff coming from the settlement on to his property.
The rich were making the claim in this case. But it is the poor who have gained attention from the claim. The municipality had long tried to provide services to Langrug through ad hoc, top-down methods. These previous attempts had been met by vandalism and destruction, as the community felt that there was no consultation about the needs or priorities of the settlement.
Over 2011 and 2012, both the community and low-level bureaucrats have changed. The bureaucrats visit the community much more often and sit in joint meetings with community leaders to plan improvements for the settlement. The city has also begun employing community members, who work on upgrading projects through short-term public works programs. In just a year, the community has achieved more toilets and water points, reorganised shacks near small flood plains in the settlement, and cleaned drains. The community and city government have begun working together to formalise the settlement and provide land tenure to residents. The community has also begun to alter and deepen its governing structures in the wake of its new experience in working with local government. Leaders have created smaller block committees, as well as issue-based committees (e.g., to plan for a new community hall that will serve a number of businesses and social organisations, and a health committee).
These lessons echo throughout the country and throughout the world. Langrug is linked to the Informal Settlement Network, a social movement that is part of the global SDI network. SDI has therefore used its international reach to bring communities and city officials from elsewhere in South Africa, and from other countries in Africa and Asia, to learn from the approach that the Langrug community and the Stellenbosch authorities have been exploring.
Merging the “Top” and the “Bottom”
From the perspective of actors working at the “bottom” of urban politics—community organisations, professional NGOs, legal advocates—“sustainability” too often turns into small projects that appear sustainable, but that do not make any impact at the large scales of financial flows, planning institutions and political processes. Without an articulation of precisely this sort of impact—a broad theory of change to achieve sustainable urbanisation in Africa—we cannot expect to see sustainable cities emerge from the urbanisation process well underway. Often this means that the “bottom” needs to be prepared to find new modes of working with large “formal” actors, especially the state.
From the “top”, the sustainability agenda demands the inverse of such a critical perspective. National and local governments in Africa have struggled to build in the adaptive responsiveness required to deal with rapid change in populations, built environment and economies. Those that have are learning to develop and invest in partnerships with community-based groups and organisations, especially those that constitute themselves at the city-wide level. This is not the simple decentralised model of private-public partnerships, but an approach to partnership that leverages the strategic strength of the grassroots to strengthen public institutions in their ability to perceive and adapt to the rapid changes of urbanisation.
“Path-dependent” views of development have long suggested that historical and especially colonial legacies condemn people in Africa to overwhelming poverty and suffering. Consequently, intervention by aid agencies, multilateral institutions, private actors and national governments has too often manifested in a context that either ignores these legacies and “path dependence” altogether, or assumes that their outcomes make the urbanisation of poverty a historical fait accompli. This mix of hubris and fatalism has led to flows of funds, institutional designs and political power that not only ignore, but actively exclude the poor. Ordinary people continue to persist as objects of interventions by those who are much more powerful, and therefore have little voice.
So we return to the old South African song, “Meadowlands”. Such a collective plea for belonging needs to underpin the sustainability agenda if it will be able to impact on an alternative view of urbanisation in African cities. This means investing in the capacities of communities, just as much as it means investing in the projects and programs that are geared towards achieving the physical “outputs” of inclusionary development: basic services, land, housing, employment.
This also means investing in community organisations, and the networking of these organisations—especially at the city-wide scale—in order to build the political processes at the city and national level that can achieve such physical outcomes. An integrated approach to sustainability will embed the human need for belonging to place, to land, and to community, within the broader processes of urbanisation. This may be our only path to upending a phenomenon that, in Africa, has thus far exhibited all-too-prevalent tendencies of exclusion.
 “Meadowlands,” performed by Nancy Jacobs and Sisters. Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (ATO Records, 2003).
 John Vidal, “Africa warned of 'slum' cities danger as its population passes 1bn”. The Guardian Global Development Blog. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/24/africa-billion-population-un-report
 United Nations Population Fund, “Africa: Why Investing in Africa's Youthful Population Can No Longer Wait”. http://allafrica.com/stories/201210020326.html
 UN-Habitat, State of the African Cities 2010, 3.
 “Upgrading of Low Income Settlements: Country Assessment Report—Tanzania.” World Bank Institute, Africa Technical Unit. http://web.mit.edu/urbanupgrading/upgrading/case-examples/overview-africa/country-assessments/reports/Tanzania-report.html
 Florence Dafe, “No Business like Slum Business? The Political Economy of the Continued Existence of Slums: A Case Study of Nairobi”. Development Studies Institute, London School of Economics Working Paper, 12.
Joseph Stiglitz, “The Current Economic Crisis and Lessons for Economic Theory.” Eastern Economic Journal, forthcoming (President’s address at the 2009 Eastern Economic Association Conference, New York, February 2009).
 Charles Sabel and Sanjay Reddy, “Learning to Learn: Undoing the Gordian Knot of Development Today”. Challenge, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 50(5), October 2007, 73–4.
 Mark Swilling, “The Power of Quiet Encroachment”. Lecture delivered at TedXStellenbosch, 29 July 2011. http://youtube/GBnN62-Lp7U
**Cross-posted from Muungano Support Trust Blog**
By Nyasani Mbaka
The Biblical formulation of the jubilee principle denotes: “and thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee nine and forty years. Then shalt thou cause the horn (Vuvuzela) of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the horn sound throughout your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all its inhabitants; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family” [Leviticus 25, 810]“.
If a person was obliged to sell his land to pay off a debt, and could not manage to regain possession of it – in the jubilee year his land would be restituted free of charge (A call by Muungano wa Wanavijiji to the land owners and Kenyan Government, on lands occupied by slum dwellers). The same goes for a house, (except for a dwelling house in a walled city). Likewise, “if thy brother… be impoverished, and be sold to thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve thee as a slave: but as a hired servant and as a resident laborer he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: and then he shall depart from thee, he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.”
This is the Point!
Nevertheless, Muungano wa Wanavijiji in conjunction with other actors such as Akiba Mashinani Trust, and a coalition of churches have dared to thrust and capitalize on the reformist thinking, with the aim of securing the future of the current and subsequent generations, where secure of land tenure and basic infrastructure that would help slum dwellers in Kenya gain access to better and cheap housing. In fact, the Kenya slum Jubilee Campaign March 2012(Held on 8.12.12) ,graced by over 10,000 slum dwellers from more than 12 towns in the country was indeed an attempt to institutionalize periodic social upheavals.
The most conspicuous difference between the biblical revolution and socialist revolutions is that the latter are supposed to occur once and for all, while the jubilee revolution should occur at regular intervals. According to plans based on the socialist ideal, a just distribution of land especially to communities living in slums (and measures of social justice in general). According to the Biblical plan, economic life will preserve after the jubilee full liberty from abject poverty for further changes.
However, one area of concern that would be left to the charisma of mother nature, to this kind of social change pioneered by Muungano wa Wanavijiji, to affect change in the slums; is that people will continue to make projects, to scheme, to struggle and compete; some will become rich, some will become poor; life will keep the character of an arena in which it is possible to lose or win, show initiative and fail or succeed.
The true hope of the Kenya Jubilee Slum campaign is that the Jubilee axe sweeps once in a while like a storm over the forest of humanity, and cuts down those treetops which have grown above the average; debts are cancelled, the impoverished regains his property, the slave goes free. Balance is restored, and the economic game starts over again, until the next upheaval when gains of this initiative shall me accounted for.
Last week (8th December 2012) slum dwellers from over 14 towns in the country attended the Kenya Jubilee Slum Campaign march at the historic Jevanjee Gardens in Nairobi. Next year Kenya will mark 50 years since gaining Independence in 1963, the aim of the slum march was basically to consider the biblical principles of Jubilee and enumerate what could possibly be done to give Nairobi’s urban poor dwellers something to really celebrate and smile about in the Jubilee year.
It is out of this sheer reason that over 10,000 slum dwellers from 14 towns in Kenya took to the street to peacefully march in the streets of Nairobi to express their dissatisfaction of policies related to secure tenure and housing. The communities simultaneously entered the city through the five gates of the city, which were; Waiyaki Way, Mombasa Road, Juja Road, Ngong Road and Jogoo Road. Slum dwellers were jubilant and excited by the Jubilee march which was organized to blow the Jubilee trumpets in readiness for restitution, donning colorful attires reflecting the colors of the National flag.
The intention of the whole Kenya Jubilee Slum Campaign is to literally prevent families living in our slum environments from viciously getting trapped in a perpetual cycle of poverty and to ensure that large tracts of land owned by a few while the majority became landless tenants and even slaves. In the course of 50 years perhaps a family would fall on hard times, perhaps they would be forced to sell their land or even themselves as slaves to the rich. But now with the revolution that the Kenya Slum Jubilee Is pitching would like to see a scenario where each family has hope that in the Jubilee year they would be released from slavery and could return to their land, the main means of income guaranteed by a government that is keen to the needs of the poor.
In Mukuru belt slums, every single day we see families getting trapped in cycles of poverty, household heads end up raising their kids and grand-kids in the slum, and poverty is passed on from generation to generation. Nairobi is considered to be one of the world’s most unequal cities, where successive governments since independence have periodically ignored the plight of the poor by addressing policies that would empower the poor to come out of poverty. Picture this scenario; A family residing in the leafy suburbs of Muthaiga (apparently Muthaiga boarders Mathare Valley and are held apart from each other by the million dollar road project, Thika Super Highway) and Karen, where an average family 5 persons live on a 5 acre piece of land while in Kibera/Mukuru/Korogocho/ a family of 8 to 10 live in one 10×10 foot room.
The problem of homelessness and establishment of slums in Kenya and many other cities around the world defies generalization, essentially because the growth of every city and the way the authorities attempt to manage its growth are rooted in its history, culture, as well as its local politics. It is for this reason that through the Jubilee Mission that Slum Dwellers are appealing to its political class to address the issue of inadequate housing. As the limitations of public housing policies in Kenya become evident, the government has continued to exercise laxity in investing in upgrading of slums and squatter settlements, leaving its role to multinational agencies such as the World Bank. In most developing nations governments often contribute to slum growth by failing to provide for the needs of the poor and incorporate them into urban planning. Some governments simply cannot respond to rapid urbanisation quickly enough or lack the tools to deal with the situation. Others take a hostile approach to urbanisation, believing that providing services to the poor will attract more people and cause slums to grow.
The problem of homelessness and establishment of slums in Kenya and many other cities around the world defies generalization, essentially because the growth of every city and the way the authorities attempt to manage its growth are rooted in its history, culture, as well as its local politics. It is for this reason that through the Jubilee Mission that Slum Dwellers are appealing to its political class to address the issue of inadequate housing. As the limitations of public housing policies in Kenya become
Many people do not realize just how big an issue sanitation — or lack thereof — is especially in urban slum areas. Muungano wa Wanavijiji seeks to advocate for an optimum sanitation solution that is sustainable to the urban poor. Whenever Dorcas Moseti and her family must use the bathroom it is always an anxious moment. For the middle-aged lady, options in Mukuru Kwa Njenga settlement are limited. During the day, there are long queues for latrines that cost Ksh5 to use which to a common slum dwellers is not sustainable. At night, her family must relieve themselves in a plastic bag to be disposed of as a “flying toilet,” early the next morning.
There are about 200 different slums and informal settlements in Nairobi with each community living in these settlements having its own unique history of how they ended up in the slums. The driving force of communities behind the Kenya Jubilee Slum Campaign have considered how the principles behind the biblical Jubilee can be well applied in Kenya today to achieve land rights for the urban poor, perhaps not land-ownership but at least security of tenure that families would not need to fear bull-dozers coming in the dead of the night to destroy their homes and communities that they have struggled so hard to build. The other aspect of the campaign is to find sustainable ways of how families can find a secure means of income, since many people living in informal settlements are casual laborers. In Nairobi, the capital city, 60 per cent of the population lives in slums and levels of inequality are dangerously high, with negative implications for both human security and economic development.
Feelings of insecurity in many of the city’s informal settlements have heightened considerably since the violence following the contested election results of December 2007. Poverty in the city is worst amongst those with low levels of education, another cause for concern given that considerably fewer children attend the later stages of school in Nairobi than in Kenya’s rural areas, and many slum areas have few or no public schools. Meanwhile gender inequalities remain severe, with female slum-dwellers being 5 times more likely to be unemployed than males.
This Journey that slum dwellers in Nairobi and other towns have unanimously decided to embark is not easy let alone some of the complex issues that require the undivided attention of various actors to work together to achieve real change, but it is clear that both the local churches supporting this quest and NGOs supporting the basic human rights of the poor need to engage with these issues and seek ways to ensure the voice of the urban poor is not ignored but amplified in creative and constructive ways. Major activities are also lined up for 2013 as Kenya marks its 50th symbolic year, the year of Jubilee. Slum dwellers in Kenya have also been encouraged to register as voters in order for them to speak with one voice to elect leaders who are keen on the plight of the urban poor especially in the capital.
L-R: Joan Clos (ED UN Habitat), Heikki Holmas (Min. Int'l Dev't, Gov't of Norway), and Robert (Muungano leader) tour the Mukuru Green Fields project.
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
NAIROBI, Kenya, November 13 | The Norwegian Minister for International Development, Heikki Holmas and UN-HABITAT Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, visited Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums to share experiences with the slum dwellers as well as tour some of the ongoing projects such as the Mukuru Greenfields housing project.
The two visited the settlement to offer encouragement to the Kenyan people living in slums and encouraged the communities to instill confidence and scope to some of the projects they are engaged in, under the stewardship of Muungano wa Wanavijiji. The visit was organized by UN-HABITAT, SDI, the Norwegian Embassy, and the Kenyan SDI Alliance: Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Akiba Mashinani Trust and Muungano Support Trust.
Min. Holmas is received by founder of Mukuru Kwa Njenga settlement, Mr. Mzee Njenga.
During the visit, Minister Heikki Holmas made the following statement: “The objective of the visit by representation of the Norwegian Government and UN-HABITAT to Mukuru slums is to give support and encouragement to the Kenyan people and the country’s institutions as it continues to bring about reforms in Kenyan land and housing. The right to own a home gives one and his family the opportunity to grow as a human being. There have been strong movements in Norway that campaign for home ownership. There is also the need for public policy on land and housing to affect the housing agenda in Kenya, this will then give organized communities the opportunity to develop areas where they live in conjunction with their government.”
Mr. Heikki Holmas also took notice of the tool of savings, which helps community mobilize under a common vision, which in future will be a model to future generations within and without the country for years to come.
ED of UN Habitat, Joan Clos, addresses the gathering.
UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos, shared the following: “I appreciate the real change that we have been able to spot on the ground which is essential in every communal setup. The world today is growing fast, specifically if I take issue with Nairobi which is one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, with the new constitutional changes and devolved county governments the country’s growth will continue to be felt. I must say the grass root organizations around savings is important especially to some of the projects you are involved in, this is fantastic. UN-HABITAT will continue to support such movements be it technically or socially that they took root.”
Dr. Clos also took note of the need for technical officials working with communities that we provide advice on technical aspects underlying fundamental things and not delegate knowledge to communities to initiate projects at the beginning which can easily compromise the well being of the project at its initial projects.
Mukuru community members gather for the visit.
The Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 11 commits the international community to improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020. However, rural-urban migration, natural increase and expansion of urban centres all contribute to rapid urbanisation resulting in the constant increase in the number of slum dwellers.
Secure land tenure and property rights are fundamental to shelter and livelihoods, and a cornerstone for the realisation of human rights and for poverty reduction. Secure land rights are particularly important in helping reverse gender discrimination, social exclusion of vulnerable groups, and wider social and economic inequalities linked to inequitable and insecure access to land.
It is now well recognised that secure land and property rights for all are essential to reducing poverty, because they underpin economic development and social inclusion. Secure land tenure and property rights enable people in rural and urban areas to invest in improved homes and livelihoods. They also help to promote good environmental management, improve food security, and assist directly in the realization of human rights, including the elimination of discrimination against women, the vulnerable, indigenous groups and other minorities.
It’s now being witnessed that changes in land policies, which reflect these principles, are being implemented in a variety of countries across the world. Today, however, land resources face pressures and demands as never before, and developing countries still lack the tools, systematic strategies and support necessary to deliver secure land rights for all.
Sound land policies should protect people from forced removals and evictions, or where displacement is determined by legitimate processes as necessary for the greater public good and is carried out in conformity with national and international norms, policies should ensure that citizens have access to adequate compensation. Another critical dimension is ensuring gender equality, because women face such widespread discrimination around land and property. When women enjoy secure and equal rights, everybody benefits. Also, secure land rights for all citizens contributes to conflict reduction and improvement in environmental management as well as household living conditions.
During the visit, the following projects were presented to the Norwegian Government and UN HABITAT by Muungano wa Wanavijiji and the Kenyan Alliance:
1. Finance Modeling Through Community Tools- MUKURU GREEN FIELDS HOUSING PROJECT
Faith Moraa, an architect with AMT, explains the designs for the Mukuru Green Fields housing project.
Urban development and sustainable development are not contradictory. There have been recent efforts by Slum Dwellers International to show that urban growth and development can be managed to make cities more livable and to curb the issue of inadequate housing, especially when it comes to the poor living amongst us. However, the tendency to think that urbanization is primarily responsible for unsustainable development is still predominant.
Under this subheading, we look at the Mukuru Greenfield Project. As the clamor for better housing by the urban poor continues, the need for secure land tenure is indeed becoming a major problem for the poor. It is out of such circumstances that 2,000 community members using the SDI tool of savings came together to address their plight- housing and secure tenure. The community identified a 23 acre piece of land in Mukuru Kwa Njenga’s sisal area.
Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) then took the mantle to help the community to negotiate the price of the land with the owner of the land on the behalf of the community. The negotiations began and a substantial price value were arrived at. The quest for acquiring the land began, AMT negotiated with ECO Bank for a loan to the 2,000 community members to offset payment for the 23 acre land. The loan was granted with Slum Dwellers International as the guarantor in the land acquisition deal.
Having been able to continuously save their personal resources, the community has been able to repay their loan to Eco Bank and have embarked on putting forward deposits for the next phase which is house designs and construction. The designs are awaiting approval from the Nairobi City Council and it is expected that ground breaking process will be in January 2013.
Opportunities that arose from the Process
- Community Mobilsation and Savings
- Access for basic services and infrastructure
- Security of tenure to over 2,000 Kenyan citizens
- House dreaming processes for the urban poor to ensure participation and project ownership
- Embracing current market cross subsidies strategies, hence affordability of housing infrastructure by the poor
- Competitive Community tendering process
- Incremental house improvement strategies.
2. Changing the Planning Discourse- MATHARE ZONAL PLAN
Edwin Simiyu of MuST and Emily Wangari of Muungano explain the Mathare Zonal Plan.
Mathare is an informal settlement that is home to nearly 188,000 people confronting a range of challenges. Mathare is one of the largest slums in Nairobi, a city where over half of the approximately 3.5 million residents live in over 180 different slums. Like many informal settlements, Mathare is characterized by unsafe and overcrowded housing, elevated exposure to environmental hazards, high prevalence of communicable diseases, and a lack of access to essential services, such as sanitation, water and electricity. Residents in Nairobi’s slums frequently suffer from tenure insecurity, while widespread poverty and violence further increase their vulnerabilities.
The Zonal plan offers planning strategies for thirteen villages in Mathare Valley. The analyses and recommendations in the plan emerged from an ongoing collaborative project involving residents, the non-governmental organization Muungano Support Trust (MuST), the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Department of City and Regional Planning, the University of Nairobi (UoN) Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
Guiding Principles and Goals of Mathare Zonal Development Plan
The Mathare Zonal Plan aims to integrate the dimensions of our Relational Model for Participatory Upgrading. Using this approach, we developed Community Planning Teams comprised of residents from each village in Mathare that focused on valley-wide issues. Through this process, the project worked with residents to build new awareness of the opportunities and challenges for infrastructure planning at the zonal scale.
While the Community Planning Teams generate ideas for improving the settlements’ physical conditions, we recognize that local action alone is insufficient and broader policy change will also be necessary to improve living conditions and the lives of slum-dwellers. Thus, our approach rejects single-issue slum improvement approaches and instead focuses on the inter relationships between poverty alleviation, securing infrastructure and services, improving housing, economic opportunities, food security, human health and safety, among other issues.
Key project principles and goals include:
1. Build upon existing community assets and strengths.
2. Use infrastructure planning as an entry-point to address other related issues.
3. Ensure meaningful participation & community ownership.
1. Generate Valley-wide analyses of existing conditions and concrete ideas for improving lives and living conditions.
2. Provide evidence & ideas that can strengthen community organizing, leadership and coalition building.
3. Provide a framework for addressing emerging policies and plans at the county, municipal, and national level aimed at slum dwellers.
4. Inspire service providers to invest in valley-wide infrastructure provision.
3. Linking the National and International Development Agenda to Community Needs and Processes: Railway Relocation Action Plan (RAP)
David Mathenge (MuST) and Jack Makau (SDI) present the concept behind the RAP.
In 2004 the government of Kenya through various state agencies issued eviction notices to persons living on public lands that were considered riparian. It’s to this effect that the Federation of Slum Dwellers (Muungano wa Wanavijiji) initiated advocacy and lobbying campaigns to address the looming danger of forced evictions which would have rendered millions of people homeless. Out of these efforts the evictions were suspended and dialogue given a chance.
The federation, with the help of SDI, approached Kenya Railways to foster discussions on suitable mechanisms of preventing mass evictions. It is estimated that 10,000 people live along the railway riparian. Through an exchange programme organized by SDI, government officials from the Ministry of Transport and Kenya Railways toured India to learn how the country had dealt with a similar situation.
This then led to the formalization of an engagement between the World Bank and the Kenyan Government on the need of coming up with a Relocation Action Plan (RAP). The Kenyan SDI affiliate, through recognized tools of enumerations and mapping was able to develop concrete recommendations and plans that would see 10,000 people resettled. It is estimated that the project cost was USD 40 million.
4. Kenya Jubilee Campaign
On 12 December 2013 Kenya will celebrate 50 years as an independent republic, marking the nations Golden Jubilee celebrations. The Fiftieth Anniversary marks a significant milestone in a nation’s heritage, a very symbolic moment. In the Bible it formed the year of Jubilee, a year that literally signified “True Liberty – Ukombozi wa Kweli”. The Jubilee is an announcement of freedom, restitution of land and property, ending inequalities created by the extremes of wealth and poverty. In Nairobi, slum land is claimed by three distinct categories of owners, namely:
- The Registered Title Deed Holder
- Slumlord Cartels
- Slum Tenants
The Kenya Jubilee campaign was started to build awareness to the plight of issues affecting urban poor Kenyans and to give hope to Kenyans. Those who occupy slums live under the shadow of constant threat of demolitions, violent evictions, fires, floods and insecurity. Their neighborhoods often lack the most basic amenities and infrastructure and this situation is often preserved by powerful forces within Government and the private sector. The Jubilee campaign is meant to set a legal precedent to deal with land occupied by the slum dwellers and the development of legislation with a bias on guidelines on evictions and community land ownership bill.
5. Sanitation Campaign.
The Women and Sanitation campaign is a comprehensive campaign to improve sanitation conditions for Nairobi’s slum dwellers, beginning in the expansive slum of Mukuru. Women are the most severely affected by a lack of toilets and bathing facilities in informal settlements, as they become vulnerable to sexual assault, unique health problems, and a lack of dignity.
It is rather obvious that lack of sanitation facilities in poorly planned areas has got a tremendous impact on the health and economic development of communities, unfortunately women and girls are the hardest hit by absence of toilets and bathrooms within the areas they reside.
In crowded urban settlements women go through the entire day without relieving themselves and also risk harassment or even rape when accessing toilet facilities in the cover of darkness. In urban areas, shame, embarrassment and the great desire for privacy force women to defecate in secluded areas where they risk assault or underneath their beds put plastic containers that act as emergency toilets. Needless to say, menstruation, pregnancy and postnatal bleeding add further complications and discomforts.
For more photos from this exchange, please visit the Muungano Federation's Facebook page.
By Skye Dobson, SDI Uganda & Secretariat
There were a number of comments from professors at the AAPS Conference in Nairobi (October 16-18) about the name that should be given to Urban Studios. Should they be called practical planning studios? Reality studios? How can they be distinguished from the studios to which planners are accustomed? For SDI, as one programme officer pointed out, “they could be called pineapples for all we care, as long as they do the work and have productive outcomes.”
This reality check was, in many ways, the reason SDI was invited to this gathering of planning professors from across Africa. A partnership between AAPS and SDI is working to make planning more responsive to the realities of life in developing cities by bringing planning students into partnership with slum dweller federations in SDI’s network.
Sheela Patel, one of the founders of SDI and chair of the organization's board, gave the keynote address, which undoubtedly ruffled the feathers of a few professors who questioned the focus on slums, informality, and even the urban sector.
Sheela didn’t sugar coat her relationship to planners either. “I used to love to hate planners”, she said. As the years passed, however, she came to realize it is necessary to examine the reasons why planners were not serving the needs of the urban poor and work to change it. She said her blood would boil as a young professional when she would be forced to sit across from a planner who ordered eviction after eviction, but she focused on finding the cracks and the loopholes, that would enable a critical mass of urban residents to generate solutions. For the critical mass, finding solutions was easy. The city could not plan for what it did not know.
She urged participants to work toward disconnecting planning from 19th century principles and recognize that planning is deeply political. Despite endless platitudes to the urban poor, she argued, the judiciary continues to uphold deeply exclusionary urban planning systems. This, she warned, could have terrible consequences for the cities of the developing world where she doubts young, impatient, and aspirational populations will not be prepared to wait for years for their cities to recognize them. She said the time has come for African planners to move away from Eurocentric models and generate their own.
AAPS is deeply cognizant of this need and the conference highlighted the urban pineapples conducted by SDI affiliates and AAPS member schools. The studios highlighted were conducted in Uganda and Malawi and the Kenya federation shared its experience working with students. The presentations highlighted the benefit to students and communities through such partnerships. The sense that the university is an ivory tower with little to no relevance to the urban poor was turned on its head. Each studio aimed to infuse Africa’s future planners with the knowledge that planning developing cities simply cannot ignore the reality of life in the informal settlements where the bulk of the urban population resides. As student Sam Nuwagira, a studio participant from Uganda, remarked, “As planners we are taught that we are gods. The studio helped me to see that the gods are the community as they have the knowledge about their areas.”
This point was reinforced by federation member and “community professor” Katana Goretti, “In communities we know the number of settlements, services and origins of the people. We know how they spend their money and how they would like to develop their areas. You cannot plan from the office but if you go to the ground and speak to people and learn from them it can help you plan better.” As part of the urban studio in Uganda, Katana delivered lectures at Makerere University, took students on transect walks through Uganda’s slums, and helped student planners understand the necessity of planning with communities.
Critically, the studio work will need to impact upon the planning curriculum. There was much discussion about how this might be possible and also much concern about the bureaucratic barriers within universities. This discussion will continue within the AAPS community. Many professors present expressed interest in conducting similar studio to the ones conducted with SDI and countries such as Nigeria, Mozambique, and Rwanda expressed interest in starting SDI affiliate federations.
For SDI the vision is to see organized communities become the drivers of pragmatic and inclusive urban planning. Building partnerships with actors typically charged with urban planning – such as municipal and city councils, urban ministries, and academic institutions – is seen as the most viable strategy for incrementally generating systemic changes to the practice of urban planning. Critically, partnerships – like pineapples – can look good from the outside, but be brown, mushy, and useless at the center. True partnerships involve negotiation and engagement between equals. Community professors still face challenges being perceived as such, but SDI believes it’s headed in the right direction.
SDI is happy to annouce our 2011/12 Annual Report, a reflection of where SDI has grown to over the past 25 years. This includes a discussion of SDI's practices for change, a report on the SDI Secretariat, the building of internal reporting and documentation systems, and SDI's international advocacy and increasing presence on the global stage. The report concludes with a discussion of SDI's approach to key urban issues affecting the lives of the urban poor across the developing south, including water and sanitation, climate change, natural disasters, incremental habitat, enumerations and mapping of slum settlements, and financing slum upgrading.
For the complete document, click here.
**Cross-posted from the Muungano Support Trust Blog**
By Nysanani Mbaka, MuST Kenya
Mukuru – we will not budge
On Wednesday 12 September hundreds of city dwellers from the Mukuru belt, including Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Maendeleo settlements, converged at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park I. The agenda was a simple but powerful one: mobilising those affected by rampant land grabbing, poor service delivery, insecure tenure, and inhumane evictions, which contravenes Kenya’s new constitution.
The Kenyan slum dwellers federation, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, coordinated this march of solidarity, bringing together a constituency of organised communities, pastors, legal experts, small scale traders and supporters of this quest. After more than three months of intensive mobilisation, mass general meetings, and administrative and logistical preparation, residents arrived en mass at the Uhuru Park where they would later march to the Milimani Law Courts to lay a claim on some of the lands within the Mukuru belt that are currently in the hands of corrupt business people and well-connected political figures.
The march was catalysed by the recent forced evictions of informal dwellers living in the industrial zone of Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Mukuru Kwa Njenga. The Mukuru settlement community lodged an immediate interdict against Kenya’s Former President Daniel Arap Moi, Subsequent Commissioners of Land during Moi’s tenure, an aspiring Presidential Candidate in the upcoming 2013 General elections, just to name but a few. The slum dwellers were represented in court by a team of lawyers associated by The Katiba Institute. This case, which is serves as an example of all past evils committed against slum dwellers by the wealthy and mighty, informs a more direct agenda for holding government to account.
Communities in Nairobi City have been taking the initiatives to dialogue with local and central governments for more than a decade now. Government has not been entirely responsive to any of these initiatives.
Kenya’s Minister of Lands, James Orengo said he was not aware of the land grabbing cartel in his Ministry, but will take time to act on some of the petitions and synthesized reports highlighting some of the culprits involved in “auctioning of the slum dwellers”, but that it will take time to investigate and report his findings to the Mukuru dwellers. He also reiterated that the community is exercising its right within the constitution to seek justice over the land issue.
Leading the memorable peaceful demonstrations were Joseph Muturi, Ben Osumba and Evans “Papa” Omondi of Mukuru settlement, all members of Muungano wa Wanavijiji. Papa said of the demonstrations, “We are here to support and protect our people from forced evictions engineered by selfish personalities who practice forced evictions without caring about the future of the urban poor.”
“We don’t want people to be homeless, in fact we demand security of tenure which we also hope the government is ready to negotiate for. Thereafter we demand housing for all, said Joseph Muturi.
The peaceful march was indeed a success and Muungano wa Wanavijiji proved their point. The matter is currently before court and the federation will respect the outcome of the court process.
**Cross-posted from the MuST Kenya blog**
By Irene Karanja, MuST Kenya
The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.
In the space of a few short years, the Forum has turned into the world’s premier conference on cities. Since the first meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002, the Forum has grown in size and stature as it travelled to Barcelona in 2004, Vancouver 2006, Nanjing in 2008 and Rio de Janeiro in 2010.
The Forum is one of the most open and inclusive gatherings of its kind on the international stage. It brings together government leaders, ministers, mayors, diplomats, members of national, regional and international associations of local governments, non-governmental and community organizations, professionals, academics, grassroots women’s organizations, youth and slum dwellers groups as partners working for better cities.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Muungano Support Trust in the World urban forum in Naples
Increasing population and rapid urbanization in Africa pose a serious threat of depletion, pollution and degradation of freshwater supplies, especially in the fragile environments of high density areas which are already slowing down development in water-scarce countries in this region. As a result of this scenario, a comprehensive insight into this was warranted and the topic of discussion was floated as:
I. Human Right to Safe Drinking Water & Sanitation, Germany: “Building Sanitation for Equitable Future Cities: Community-Driven Approaches from across the SDI Network”
The key note speakers included:
- Jockin Arputham (President of SDI),
- Celine de’Cruz (SDI Coordinator, India),
- Irene Karanja (Muungano Support Trust /SDI, Kenya),
- Pauline Manguru (Muungano wa Wanavijiji/ SDI, Kenya) and
- Virigina Roaf (UN Special Rapporteur).
During this event SDI’s message is that the existing deficit in sanitation reflects a serious deficit in governance at the city level, as water and sanitation are some of the most obvious amenities that link citizens to their government. In this event, Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) in collaboration with the UN Rapporteur for the Right to Sanitation will present community-driven approaches to address the serious deficiencies in sanitation in slums across Africa and Asia. In addition, the Rapporteur will share the challenges of stigma faced by various groups within the context of sanitation.
In Kenya, Muungano wa Wanavijiji through the support NGO, MuST has been undertaking community led planning which seeks to leverage city investments on infrastructure to the community managed sewer and water connections.
Following a successful networking event at the World Urban Forum, key points which arose included the following;
- Plan early, plan ahead, plan big and leave plenty of public spaces; this allows for future infrastructure as needed;
- Plan for future population growth – assume a doubling of the population;
- Plan constantly; planning should be going on even while urban improvement programmes are underway;
- Carry out sanitation, water and hygiene (WASH) planning in close collaboration with urban and land use planners – not in isolation. This is essential to ensure that WASH investments are appropriate to the future development plans of each city area and will therefore not be wasted;
- Coordinate WASH planning with energy sector plans as water services are heavily dependent on a reliable energy supplies;
- Integrate water and sanitation planning with flood protection planning to achieve more resilient, city wide systems;
- Have a clear vision of full service coverage and commit to achieving it;
- Segment cities into zones with different characteristics of income levels, topography, housing density, water supply, and access to sewerage. Build up service development plans and wider urban development plans to suit each area;
- Develop specific plans for low income areas, as these are likely to be distinct from those in higher income areas. Use innovative models (such as the micro-water systems in Lagos) and test their viability. Where appropriate, cross-subsidise low income users with revenues from higher income users; make specific plans for city wide faecal sludge management, including the full sanitation value chain;
- Use the planning process as a means of convening stakeholders and building collaboration between Ministries, departments and ensuring the participation of non-government stakeholders.
- Especially in cities with scare water resources, maximise supply by developing all sources of water possible, including where possible: rain water, groundwater, surface water, recycled water and desalination. On the demand side, make every effort to reduce non-revenue water as this is like to deliver a very high return on investment; implement campaigns to reduce consumption;
- Support local governments to perform their key role in urban sanitation, as they have many other responsibilities such as health, education and transport. Help the different departments of local government to plan in an integrated way to ensure a properly coordinated urban development;
- Demonstrate political leadership, as this is needed to ensure that effective and participatory planning is achieved – it will not happen without this;
- Make use of one of the planning tools available, such as IWA’s Sanitation 21 city wide sanitation planning framework.
II. UNDP Side event: Sustainable Urban Governance, Engagement with Informal Dwellers for Inclusive Urban Governance
The participation and civic engagement are key avenues to better governance. Governance addresses pertinent issues of social equity and political legitimacy, which in most cases is misconstrued to mean efficient management of infrastructure and services.
Unfortunately most cities grapple with issues of transparency and accountability to its people. Overtime this has grown into poverty traps thus putting millions of people in socio-economic bondage.
Speakers at this forum included;
- Pauline Manguru (Muungano Federation leader/ Kenya),
- Joyce Lungu (Federation Leader, Zambia),
- Hon. Daniel Chisenga (Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia) and
- Paul Manyala (Ministry of Lands, Kenya)
In hopes of establishing a harmonized governance process in which informal dwellers are included as participants in urban development and governance rather than ignored due to their often characterized “illegal” status, this side-event focuses on building a relationship between these slum dwellers and urban managers of urban centres. The event will convene representatives of government at all levels; technical city managers; representatives of informal urban dwellers; civil society; and academics to discuss alternative forms and processes for urban managers and other actors to engage informal dwellers in responding to slum development as a governance issue.
Closure of the World Urban Forum 2012
The President of the UN-Habitat Governing Council Mr. Albert Inzengiumba appealed to political leaders to pay more than lip service if the urban future was to be a reality. The president, who is also Rwanda’s Minister for Housing was optimistic that achieving the urban future.
In his address, UNEP Executive Director Dr. Achim Steiner said his organization was committed to working with UN-Habitat to achieve sustainable urbanization. “Issues of ustainable urbanization, lessening poverty and such related issues can only be tackled jointly and not in isolation,” he said.
Dr. Kirabo appealed to the delegates to go back to their respective countries and reinvigorate the National Forums saying they were the best avenues for addressing urbanization issues.
By Benjamin Bradlow
Cities are complex systems, comprised of elements both natural and human. Little wonder that they hold great interest to those who study biological processes of development, in addition to those who study social and political processes.
Cities are also places where ordinary people make decisions with extraordinary consequences. Sometimes it would be hard to believe this is true given the gospel of “world class cities” that serves as a model for planning decisions in cities as diverse as New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Bangkok, and Rio de Janeiro. In all of these cities — and many more — the gospel of control and order covers up an altogether different kind of reality for residents. This is especially so for the poor residents of growing cities in the developing world.
One city that has received a great deal of praise over the last few years is Lagos in Nigeria, which has generally been known for anything but order and control. But Lagos state governors such as Babatunde Fashola and his predecessor Bola Tinubu have won plaudits for trying to control the growth of the city. As Fashola’s popular Yoruba slogan goes, “Eko o ni baje” (Lagos will not be spoiled). According to a slew of international newspaper reports on Fashola’s Lagos, the city has become a foreign investment attraction by clearing out informal traders, and exerting tough fines on illegal postering, littering, and loitering.
In a recent report in the Financial Times, Fashola cited a people-centred approach to city management: “It’s a big asset,” he said, referring to the population of Lagos. “[It’s] bigger than the challenge the people represent by their sheer number. People are the biggest and most dependable resource.”
That’s the rhetoric. Consider the reality. Within the past week, up to a quarter of a million Lagos residents find themselves under threat of homelessness in the wake of the Lagos state government’s eviction of the waterfront Makoko slum. About 30,000 people have already been forced to leave their homes due to an eviction order that the state government gave with only 72 hours notice. Local police are reportedly to blame for at least one violent death.
It’s a story that repeats itself in various iterations across the cities of the South. In the name of progress, the poor are nothing but roadblocks to be shunted aside and overcome. Though city managers and planners are increasingly sympathetic to the language of “people-centred” approaches, “participation,” and “inclusiveness,” the inhuman march of development proceeds. Outrage and condemnation are reactions popular amongst professional activists and humanitarian observers to the Makoko evictions like many similar cases before.
But, for poor people in cities like Lagos, a more complex set of questions emerges. Where to go? Where to sleep for the night? Where to find work? How to maintain a façade of stability for children? Where to rebuild the social connections that sustain in times of extreme need? How to ensure that this doesn’t happen again?
Indeed, evictions like that ongoing in Makoko deserve our outrage and condemnation. The violence and insecurity that the urban poor experience in cities like Lagos is a direct result of developmental decision-making that sees the poor as expendable. How to reconcile claims that “people are the biggest and most dependable resource” with the reality of eviction and displacement?
Over the last three decades, we have begun to see organizational strategies of the poor that can fundamentally alter the calculations that go into the decisions that result in this kind of massive displacement. In Mumbai, pavement dwelling women have organized since the 1980s to come together, negotiate with police and city authorities, and remain in their pavement hutments. At the same time they use their bonds of solidarity to collect information about themselves through self-surveys known as enumerations, save daily, and develop plans for housing development. This allows them to negotiate with authorities to not only mitigate the threat of eviction, but also to begin changing the calculations that local authorities make about a place for the poor in a spatial development framework that is otherwise weighted greatly towards the moneyed influence of domestic and foreign investment.
In Nairobi, Kenya, residents of the railway line slums of Kibera and Mukuru have organized over the past decade to stop evictions linked to the development of the railway line. They have done so using similar strategies, many of which they learned from their counterparts in the railway line slums of Mumbai. In both cities, residents counted themselves, mapped their settlements, and used these tools to negotiate with authorities.
Through exchanges within and between cities and countries, informal settlement dwellers around the world, who almost all face common threats of eviction and dislocation at the hands of both the state and the market, are sharing these kinds of strategies. They are strategies that move beyond a reactive approach once the decision to evict has already been made.
The complexity of cities can provide cover for a logic predicated on order and control. This decision-making framework rests on the assumption that economic growth cannot be achieved without a strong hand of the state.
But the experience of poor communities to not only fight eviction but also to develop alternatives upends this kind of naturalization of violence of the state and the market. Indeed, a substantive “people-centred” approach locates urban poor communities as generators of ideas and strategies for more effective governance, instead of positioning poor individuals and families as passive recipients of decisions made in the halls of power.
City growth may exhibit similarities to biological development. Still, the decisions that craft this development are anything but natural. Conscious organizing has developed not only louder voices for the poor, but also real impact on the way city managers and politicians make developmental decisions. As we decry the cruel, inhuman logic of growth in Lagos and many other cities, it is also time to see where to support the learning, solidarity, and profound strategic innovation that is located within the very same poor communities that find themselves under such constant threat.
By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
Many development narratives provide theoretical analysis and debate based on community orientated social movements. While such analysis is interesting as an academic and theoretical exercise it often overlooks the practicalities of day-to-day processes and the resultant infrastructure developments in favour of a more abstracted reading.
How exactly do communities manage infrastructure projects? How do they secure land and finance, procure affordable building materials, organize construction, secure assistance from the state, plan for long-term sustainability and negotiate the daily challenges of project management. Make no mistake; communities are more than capable of building their own infrastructure, especially if this process is “nested” within a mobilized and organised social movement.
Over the coming weeks I will provide examples of SDI federation members describing the trials and achievements of managing their own infrastructure projects. These snippets are intended to provide insight into the practicalities of the process illustrating examples and experiences that resonate across the SDI network. We begin with the case of Kambi-Moto in Kenya, described by federation member Joseph Muturi.
I will just share some experiences from Kenya. We have several projects but the biggest project which we have is Kambi-Moto (Camp of Fire) community of about 270 families. After many years of negotiating we got a piece of a land from the city council and an MoU showing that the land is a special planning area. They gave us free land and we came up with unique designs and they have not been done anywhere in Kenya before. We got some money from our savings and from some donors (UPFI). We do not get any money from the government. We do not enjoy the kind of support from the government you get in Uganda – so we have to negotiate everything ourselves. Our NGO subsidized and gave us the technical people - then everyone had to dream and draw the kind of house they wanted (women, men, children). The architects and professionals take these drawings and take into account affordability, if possible…
We came up with the design - ground +1. We go up to save space and we share walls. As a federation our responsibility was to figure out how we are going to manage the site. We have a community Procurement Manual - how do we go about the business of procuring materials so what we did was to look at what we need for the next few weeks. They sit down and work it out - we send community people and we get quotations from different suppliers of materials, then we sit down and look at who is offering the best deal and will deliver on time. The procurement team and the construction team ensure the quality of the materials (quantity and standards). Sometimes people were bringing their friends and delivering less material…. We try to make things transparent and easy to manage.
For us we do not withdraw all the money. The executive draws money and gives it to the construction team and they pass this on to the procurement team. We need to sit down with the professionals who tell us for the next few weeks what we need and what we have to do. They can guide us and give us good advice.
The project management committee is at the regional level [in Uganda] - in Kenya it is at the local level. It comprises the beneficiaries of the houses - the only external people are the engineers, architects and other external people. They sit down and discuss things and the way forward every few weeks - the project team is at the site and its people who are locally available. The other advantage of having a local team on site is that we do not have outsiders to blame for our mess - we only have each other to blame. The construction team does weekly revue meetings - how far has the project progressed and how long it will take. The construction teams have a list of all the beneficiaries - they have to work themselves or pay someone to work for them. This process is taking a long time so now we are getting some subsidy contractors from within the community.
The more you expand and grow the more the challenges will grow-we will learn as we go along. This is just a basic framework of how we procure. Executive-finances, Construction-building and the Procurement team that is completely separate and buys the materials. We have community procurement manual - basic steps to go through and how we should go through the business of procuring.
by Michael Njuguna, Huruma–Kambi Moto, Nairobi
Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenyan slum dweller federation, expresses its grave concern on the ongoing evictions and threatened forced evictions taking place in Nairobi’s informal settlements. The latest settlement to be demolished is Mukuru Kwa Njenga’s Wape Wape village where three people lost their lives as they scampered to safety.
The federation is aware that there are plans to demolish houses located near power lines in a number of our communities, particularly along the Mukuru belt and other areas. This comes at a time when Kiang’ombe and Mitumba settlements were demolished by the Kenya Airports Authority due to their location under JKIA flight path. It is my view that there are more humane ways of addressing slum issues, but forced evictions have never made that cut.
A good example are the negotiations that have taken place between the communities living along the Mukuru-Kibera railway line and the Kenya Railways, who sat at a round table to discuss on the modalities of a Railway Relocation Action Plan. This lead to thousands of people reaching consensus that, "indeed we are living on the railway line and other than living on a public land we shall agree to relocate.”
These threatened demolitions have caused widespread panic, fear and confusion in our urban poor communities. Of immediate concern to us is the likelihood that tens of thousands of people will be rendered homeless and left no alternative areas to call home. In addition, we are concerned that the evictions will provoke physical conflict and violence.
Slum dwellers across settlements and villages have made it an agenda to always scuffle over who occupies the limited space that is available after demolitions. There are instances where structure owners resist evictions, which inevitably would result into violence.
Moreover, we are very concerned that the government is undertaking these forced evictions without regard for the law or established human rights norms. In most scenarios there has been no official notices served to the potentially affected parties that their structures will be demolished. General statements made in newspapers do not constitute adequate and reasonable notice as required by law.
In addition, we have found that government and private investors have in most instances failed to consult with or inform communities about the parameters of the evictions. This is the reason why Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, is pushing for the enactment of the eviction guidelines, which will ensure that the urban poor are treated with respect. As it stands, people do not know when and if they are going to be evicted.
And most notably, the government has not provided the people living in the slums any compensation for resettlement or alternative housing, which Is a basic minimum requirements of the government when it undertakes forced evictions. This applies even when the evictions are justified or somehow necessary.
It is a fundamental human rights principle that any process to evict people must follow a peaceful and lawful process that protects the rights and dignity of the poeple. Development of any kind cannot take precedence over the human rights of the poor.
This article originally appeared in the Muungano News January-March 2012 e-newsletter.
For more news from the Kenyan SDI Alliance ,visit the Muungano Support Trust blog.
By Ariana K. MacPherson, SDI Secretariat
We talk a lot about exclusion and inclusion. The urban poor are excluded from the city. Therefore, we are trying to build inclusive cities - cities where the urban poor are at the center of their own development process, and that of the city as a whole. In South Africa, the Informal Settlement Network is spearheading a "Right to the City" campaign, bringing a new approach to improving the ties betweeen socio-spatial justice and citizenship on the one hand, and improved living conditions on the other. They are doing this by advancing the people-centred, community-driven approach known so well across the SDI network, and by taking that to scale through concrete, continued engagements with city government.
We talk about these things a lot. We write a lot about them. I have read and written about urban poverty, informality and exculsion for years. But that is not what made me decide to study urban planning or to relocate from my home in New York City back to Cape Town. And that is not what keeps me coming back to my desk every day, to read and write more about these issues. In fact, I had never really thought about these issues until I saw them. Perhaps this is why learning exchanges, where a group of slum dwellers and city officials leaves their hometown to meet their counterparts on the other side of the province, country or planet, are some of the most significant of SDI's social technologies. It is not until we humans see and speak to each other that we begin to make real these abstract theories and ideas. It is only then that we begin to feel the gravity of the situation, and of working towards a solution.
We talk a lot about slums, about urban poverty and exclusion, about living in a one-room shack with your entire extended family without clean water or electricity or a toilet. We talk about these things. But do we ever see them?
Childhood, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Collecting water, and paying a price, Free Town, Sierra Leone
Finding a place to call home, Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana
"If they demolish my house, I have no where to go." | Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana
Walking home with water, Nairobi, Kenya
The pavement dwellers of Byculla, with modern high-rises in the background, Mumbai, India
Playground, Dharavi, Mumbai, India
Afternoon in Burundi, Cape Town, South Africa
A room to call home, Old Fadama, Accra, Ghana
Along the canal, Dharavi, Mumbai, India
By Jack Makau, SDI Secretariat
A forum of African city governments with the support of SDI will organize the third SDI dialogue on citywide slum upgrading later in 2012. This key agreement was arrived at the second dialogue held at the end of March in Harare, Zimbabwe. The agreement represents a deepening of relationships, not only between national SDI federations and the their local authorities, but also the linkages between cities around shared approaches to slum upgrading. The need for connectivity and continuation between the Dialogues was accentuated in the event’s concluding remarks by dialogue moderator, Beth Chitekwe-Biti.
While the first dialogue, held in September 2011 in Uganda, invited the participation of local authorities, the Zimbabwe Dialogue was hosted by the city of Harare and presided over by the Mayor, His Worship Muchadeyi Masunda. In his opening address, Masunda emphasized the importance of synergies between cities, slum dwellers federations with the support of donor agencies. He cited the USD 5 million support to Harare by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that has enabled the city to have productive engagement with the Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation. This, he said, has provided a basis for interaction and learning between the city council of Harare and other city councils both in Zimbabwe and around Africa.
The Harare Dialogue drew in city authorities from the southern African cities of Harare, Windhoek, Lilongwe, and Lusaka as well as the Zimbabwean towns of Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, and Kariba. Speaking at the Dialogue, the Town Clerk of Lusaka in Zambia, Mr. Andrew Mwanakulange further underscored the need for a regional city fora, around which the next dialogue would be organized. “It is effective if we reach out to our counterparts in Luanda, Nairobi and so on, to be part of this effort”, he said.
Accompanying the city officials to the dialogues were representatives of the slum dweller federations and planning school professors from each of the cities. The participation of universities marked a second stream of partnerships that the Dialogue sought to animate. Prof Peter Ngau, from the University of Nairobi, said, “one of our key purposes of being here is because we have been discussing change of the teaching curriculum to reflect the realities that our cities are trying to address”. In 2009 SDI signed a memorandum of understanding with the Association of African Planning Schools that aims to lend advocacy and technical support capacities to the citywide slum upgrading approaches being applied by the slum dweller federations.
Each of the city-federation-university delegations made presentations on progress on their joint work. A key concern was the lack of a monitoring framework that could be used to assess progress achieved between Dialogue sessions and indeed the impact that the partnerships have in their respective cities. A call was made to SDI to facilitate the development of the monitoring framework.
The Harare Dialogue, and the Kampala Dialogue before it are part of SDI’s Seven Cities project series. These projects aim at building new strategies for community driven citywide slum upgrading. The projects aim at inclusive, pro-poor interventions in large informal settlements that will serve as centers for learning. The cities identified for SDI’s seven-city strategy are: Kampala, Blantyre, Accra, Harare, Windhoek and Nairobi in Africa and Mandaue in Philippines
Water Kiosk, Kosovo Village, Mathare, Nairobi Kenya
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
Cities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, so often exclude the poor from the political decision-making and financial flows that affect their lives. A meeting of slum dweller federations, local government officials, and academics in Nairobi, Kenya, explored the role of the poor in the growing cities of Africa, and the need to break down the false assumptions of government bureaucracies and professional expertise.
Pakistani architect, activist, and writer Arif Hasan had a simple reflection after a visit last week to the bustling informal neighborhoods of the Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya: “Laws are as good as the rules, regulations and procedures that accompany them. They are as good as the institutions that implement them.”
Slum dwellers in cities throughout the South currently achieve very little through the laws that supposedly govern their lives. Access to water, toilets, electricity, and security of tenure is but a dream for the vast majority of the billion informal residents of cities. The current rules of this life and death “game” of urban development are not only not working, but often actively exclude the poor. So what will it take to build the constituencies with the influence and desire to change these rules?
Such was the underlying charge of a meeting of officials from local government and utility companies, academics, and city/nation-wide slum dweller community organizations, known as “federations,” from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The encounter, hosted by Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), was ostensibly about identifying “emerging trends in urban cities in Africa.” But the need for a new governing order that includes the poor emerged consistently through interactions in Nairobi’s slum neighborhoods, as well as in the air-conditioned hotel conference room appointed to bring these actors together.
Kosovo, one of 13 “villages” in Mathare, is the site of a new approach to inclusion of the urban poor in water delivery to informal areas. For years, the Kenya Water Company had complained that they were not receiving revenue from the 6,000 Kosovo residents who were using informal water connections. The SDI-affiliated federation in Kenya, known as Muungano wa wanavijiji (Muungano for short), included many of the residents. They began to organize the community to negotiate with the Water Company to achieve greater access to water, and formalize the connections, so that the Company would receive revenue. As Kosovo resident and Muungano secretary Jason Waweru described it to last year, “We said that both us have rights. So who is to say who has a more important right? So we opened a dialogue.”
Collaboration and contestation have gone hand-in-hand, as both Muungano and the Water Company negotiate the tricky terrain of partnership between “informal” and “formal” actors. At one point, community members began digging individual trenches for water pipes without approval from the Company, in order to speed along the process. Eventually, everyone agreed to something called a “delegated management model,” whereby the Company provides bulk infrastructure, while the community members build and manage street-level piping, as well as collection of fees.
Rules for the Kosovo Water Kiosk
It is a model that went beyond the rules and regulations of a utility company that had not previously been willing to cede control of its authority to distribute water in such a way. And now it is a model that is taking hold in informal settlements not only throughout the Mathare valley and elsewhere in Nairobi, but also in the city of Kisumu.
So how do we actually change the rules of the game? Hasan argues that, in part, the professions associated with development tend to be a major impediment rather than enabler of change: “I worked as an architect and I can say that we are perhaps the most retrogressive of professions because we are so wedded to standards,” he said last week. “We need to break this passion for small ideal solutions and move to large-scale, non-ideal solutions.”
The interactions between communities, professionals, and government officials are beginning to produce the kinds of breakthroughs that can go to scale. This is precisely because they move beyond the regulations and rules that Hasan describes as rooted in “the ruins of collapsed [colonial] empires … even though those empires no longer exist.” In fact, many planning and architecture standards throughout cities in Africa are unchanged from the original codes established by colonial authorities.
One strategy popular amongst SDI federations to build relationships that break down such walls is community-led information collection, sometimes known as “enumeration.” In Stellenbosch, a small municipality outside of Cape Town, South Africa, an informal community called Langrug is home to approximately 1,800 households. After residents conducted their own enumeration, both the municipality and community found space to engage whereas previously the relationship had been full of protest, unmet expectations, and little change on the ground.
David Carolissen, municipal head of the Informal Settlements Unit, says that space made all the difference. “The data has on the one hand connected us to the slums. But it has also allowed the community to reflect themselves to us.” Now, the municipality and community are talking and planning together as they install more toilets, water points, clean up drains, build a new multi-purpose community hall, and prioritize 300 new employment opportunities for women-headed households.
Sometimes achieving this kind of change, which is often small at first, means creating “a spirit of trust among all the actors in this drama,” Hasan argues. “Trust will lead to better laws, less laws, and less bureaucracy.”
This means that both communities and professional actors need to prepare to act in new ways to move from the relationships of exclusion and conflict that characterize the urbanization of poverty in our cities. Tools for community organization such as enumeration and women-led daily savings, are working for groups like SDI federations to build political voice that can strike advantageous deals with formal actors to upgrade informal settlements. Settlements from every country represented at the Nairobi meeting could attest to real physical and social improvements that had come about through these initial steps of self-organization.
But for professionals in the “formal” sector — government officials, NGO professionals, and academics — there are few, if any, guiding principles for how they can act to achieve real change. Changing the rules of the game is anything but a technocractic exercise. A set of professional ethics for those working in development makes a lot of sense to create a sense of professional judgment that can approach challenges of urban growth. These are challenges for which no clear formula for technical action exists.
Hasan proposes one set of ethics that could, in fact, be useful for all actors, both “formal” and “informal”:
1. Planning and projects should respect the ecology of the region in which the city/town is located.
2. Land use should be determined on the basis of social and environmental considerations and not on the basis of land value alone.
3. Development should cater to the needs of the majority population, which is usually low and lower-middle income.
4. Planning and projects should respect and promote the tangible and intangible heritage of the communities that live in urban settlements.
Of course, as he notes, given the current paradigm of development, few, if any, projects would be enacted if they had to fill all four of these criteria. But a shift in professional mindset, as well as a shift in the formal strictures of bureaucracy and governance, is a prerequisite for new pathways to more equitable cities.
**Cross posted from Muungano Support Trust blog**
The Republic of Kenya, precisely the county of Nairobi, has for the past 48years had a crisis of inequality (unequal distribution of resources). Over time this has led to gross poverty levels in country. Overcrowding has become a norm in most urban settlements with 65 per cent of the total Nairobi populace living on less than 1 per cent of the land mass.
These conditions have resulted in constant threat of demolitions, violent evictions, fires, floods and insecurity of the slum settlements by powerful forces within Government and the private sector.
In breaking this generational cycle, Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-13) is designed and choreographed to lift from the hearts, the terrible burden of lifelong poverty, bondage, doom and hopelessness whose ultimatum is death.
The British colonialists’ involvement in Kenya began in the 19th Century; this facilitated discriminatory self – allocation of large tracts of land to white settlers immediately after the 2ndWorld War.
This necessitated increased resistance by the Mau Mau to Colonial rule, Oppression and Exclusion in the 1950s led to eventual independence on 12th December 1963. Many Kenyans of Asian origin left for Britain in the wake of the Africanization Policy, however, the Colonial Land Distribution Systems remained in force, and thus the influx of Kenyans moving to Nairobi in search of jobs increased the number of squatters moving into Nairobi’s informal settlements.
Kenyan citizens were left with the “left- over”, they were forced to occupy fragile land zones, steep slopes, river valleys, railway reserves and the available riparian.
Fast forward to the year between 1964-2011, overwhelming evidence suggests that land allocation procedures are routinely by-passed to benefit a small group of powerful individuals, who were and are cabinet ministers in government, senior civil servants, politicians and well-connected businessmen.
Slums in Nairobi can be categorised into two; squatter settlements and those that arise out of illegal sub-divisions of either government or private land. In the country, 60-80 percent of the urban population lives in slums that are characterized by lack of access to water and sanitation, insecure tenure, lack of adequate housing, poor environmental conditions, and high crime rates (UN Habitat, 2008)”.
Rapid growth of informal slum settlements in the city of Nairobi has been mainly due to increasing income inequalities and urban poverty, increasing rates of rural urban migration, inefficient land delivery systems, high costs of urban living and poor investment in low income housing, among other factors.
We have witnessed heavy investments in Nairobi’s vibrant housing market by banks, Real estate developers and other multinational companies, not only excludes the urban poor in acquiring housing units, with less than 2 per cent of funds in financing their housing needs. It also seeks to snatch from them the spaces they occupy, with most stakeholders eyeing the Mukuru Belt, which sits on 2,000 acres of Prime Private Land and has a populace of over 500,000. Evictions are daily orchestrated threats, as developers seek to put up housing structures on this prime land.
The major slums in Nairobi are Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru which comprise of many villages within them, with other over 160 smaller slums which are spread in different areas of the City.
In addition to this divisive politics along tribal lines and bribing slum dwellers just in time for the elections, all in aim of getting votes(vote banking),this then tends answer the old age question , why the poor remain poor and vulnerable and the rich become richer. The gap becomes wide every single day.
‘Jubilee’ literally signifies “True Liberty – Uhuru wa Kweli”. According to Leviticus 25:8-13, it is to take place in the 50th year after 7 cycles of 7 years each. The golden Jubilee is an announcement of Freedom, Restitution of Land and Property, preclusion of inequalities created by the extremes of riches and poverty in Kenya.
This campaign hopes to turn millions of squatters into secure, confident and dignified home owners. It gives Kenya a Holy Window of Opportunity, a kairos moment, “a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven with force, if success is to be achieved.”
As Kenya prepares to mark her 49th anniversary as an Independent State, The Kenyan Jubilee goal is to ensure that by this timeline, security of tenure and comprehensive slum upgrading commitments are guaranteed for all slum dwellers across the country.
Quotes of the Jubilee Ambassadors
Mzee Mwangi Mbaru, 92 years, a squatter for the last 5 decades
“I last owned a piece of land in Runda in 1952, it was during the same year that the Colonialists declared a state of Emergency and within a blink of an eye, I had lost my piece of land and my home. Ever since, I have remained a squatter in my own country. Am 92 years, I still do not have a place to call home for I am staying with My eldest son, Peter Waweru on less than an eighth acre piece of land . I understand that the Government should provide low cost housing for its people, but since independence this has not materialized ….this is a really painful ordeal that the homeless people like I have to deal with.
I hope in the spirit of the Kenyan Jubilee, (as Kenya waits to celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2013 as an independent state), let forgiveness, cancellation of bad debt owed to the rich by the poor and most importantly the release of land to the poor in society be a priority on the Governments’ agenda.”
Peter Waweru, 68 years Mzee Mbaru’s eldest Son, also a squatter in Kahawa West
“My father brought up my siblings and I in the slums. Slum life is all that I have ever known. It is unfortunate scenarios that after independence freedom fighters like my dad were neglected. Am really sorry for myself that I too had to bring up my children in such circumstances, but am still hopeful that things will become better as the Jubilee campaign gears itself to address issues of past injustices that the poor and weak in society have had to undergo for the last 50 years. Let’s ask ourselves this important question,
Where did we go wrong as a nation?”
Gitema Mwangi, 47 years, Mzee Mwangi’s Last born son, also a squatter
“The Government is the custodian of the Constitution and is supposed to protect its citizens from any form of abuse of their rights. Parliament should also play its fundamental role of keeping the Government in check, I really take offense when the same Government would just bulldoze into the slums and demolish homes belonging to the poor, in the slums without caring where they would move to. Evictions are not a long-term solution to eradicate slums. Recently residents of Kiang’ombe and Massai villages were forcefully evicted by Kenya Airports Authority living thousands of families out in the cold…what did some families do? They picked up their pieces walked across Mombasa road into Mukuru and are now putting up new structures! Hasn’t the government made this situation even more complicated? Let the authorities’ dialogue with the urban poor and offer them alternative areas for them to relocate if the lands in question are public/private. “
Terresia Njeri, 23 years, Peter Waweru’s daughter and Mzee Mwangi’s grand daughter
“Kenya will go down the annals of history as one of the countries in with no proper policy framework that would guide in the provision of low cost housing for its citizens. It is heart wrenching to accept the fact that my grandfather has been a squatter all his life having brought my dad, uncles and aunties in the slums. The next unfortunate episode of my life is being brought up in the slums too. It’s time the Government take action to provide land and housing to its people, this is indeed a time bomb if necessary action is not taken to remedy the situation.”
Francis Chege, 22 years , Mzee Mwangi’s grandson
“We are living in a digitized world where technology has taken centre stage. It is unfortunate that the Kenyan youth have no access to this kind of basic infrastructure. The Government needs to empower its youthful constituency so that they are able to emerge from the cycles and shackles of poverty. Past injustices especially when it comes to issues of land. I support the Kenyan Jubilee campaign for it is the voice of the voiceless.”
**Cross-posted from MuST Kenya blog**
Kyang’ombe slum which is situated around the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has been demolished. According to JKIA officials, the slum sits in the direct flight path, which poses a great risk to the safety of planes as well as endangering the lives of the slum dwellers.
Muungano Wa Wanavijiji and local residents believe that there is more that meets the eye. The residents were being evicted because private developers with powerful political connections have acquired the land illegally.
Close to 200,000 people have been left homeless after six bulldozers flattened their houses at Kyang’ombe village off Mombasa Road in Nairobi under the watchful eye and supervision of fully armed Administration Police officers.
The responsible Institution, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is said to have given the residents notice to vacate the area, so as to clear it and create space for aircrafts flying over before landing or taking-off from the JKIA International Airport.
On seeking information and justification from KAA corporate affairs manager Dominic Ngigi, who declined to comment claiming that the matter was now out of his jurisdiction and are now in the hands of the local Provincial Commissioner and the Provincial Police Officer respectively.
The evictions began at around 11pm on Friday night catching the resident’s off guard. What raises eyebrows is why did they have to conduct the forceful evictions at Midnight? Where did they expect the women and children to seek refuge? Several schools were also demolished, the schools which also served as examination are now facing dilemma over the candidature of their already registered candidates. More than ten schools, a number of churches, garages, bars, shops and other businesses were destroyed.
Some of the residents managed to secure their household items from the bulldozers’ path but a number of them had no time to remove their items, which were destroyed as the houses were being flattened.
By Saturday morning, about 1300 houses were already destroyed in the melee as the bulldozers advanced towards more than 4000 household units as desperate residents continued to remove their household goods away from the path of the bulldozers. More other houses beyond the scene of the current evictions have also been earmarked for further demolitions.
Most of those persons evicted work as casual labourers in the nearby factories in Nairobi’s Industrial Area and had moved there for easy access.
Permanent houses with shops, mini-supermarkets, concrete apartments and other semi-permanent house build from corrugated iron sheets were not spared either. Some of the residents that we managed to talk claimed they never saw any eviction notice but just heard rumours of the impending evictions since the residents had secured a court order against KAA not to go ahead with the secretly planned demolition in Kyang’ombe.
“I do not know where to go. I have lived here for the past four and a half years,” Kepher Otieno said adding that he and his family have never received any notice to vacate.
“They came with armed police who stood by. There is nothing we could have done. They did not tell us where to go next or where we can get our next meal,”
“There was no written notice,” he said.
He was guarding his household goods together with his wife and a two-year old son and a three months old daughter.
The prevention of evictions and the enablement of secure tenure remain central objectives of the Federations and emerging Federations linked together through SDI.
One of Muungano Support Trust’s important goals is to demonstrate to communities, professionals, city officials and politicians that alternatives to evictions can emerge from the development of negotiated consensus. In order to achieve this consensus the key development actors – organized communities and local governments need to shift perspective and think beyond an “either/or” scenario. From the perspective of communities this normally manifests as “either we win the right to stay where we are, or we do not cooperate”. From the perspective of the city it is a case of “either we relocate you, or you don’t get any development.”
This takes a lot of negotiation. In most cases communities under threat of eviction and state institutions who support these evictions, are in no mental state to negotiate anything.
Over the years the Kenyan slum dwellers federation Muungano Wa Wanavijiji with the assistance of Slum Dwellers International have developed, refined, adapted and transferred a set of tools that are used to pre-empt evictions and move cities from demolition to development. They include.
Community Enumeration. When poor people count themselves it is a great mobilization starter. And as the communities gather more information and learn how to process and use it they get to be equipped with the information and the understanding required for resettlement and upgrading. This is a crucial step in moving poor communities from being victims to becoming direct actors in change.
Settlement Mapping. An important part of this data-gathering is the drawing of settlement maps that include houses, shops, pathways, water-points, electric poles and so on. This helps people to get a visual fix on their physical situation and enables them to plan settlement improvements and to assess the development interventions that outsiders propose. Detailed, accurate, and first-hand these maps are powerful planning and mobilizing tools and also effective bargaining chips when it comes to negotiations for secure tenure.
Surveying Vacant Land. It is not uncommon for city authorities to dismiss arguments in favour of low cost housing by saying that there is no available land in suitable locations. Whilst public land is often limited and whilst market forces make private land unaffordable for the poor, Federations in many southern cities have demonstrated that these realities do not translate into a situation in which there is no suitable land for poor people in the inner city or in areas with easy access to public amenities. Federations in countries such as South Africa, Cambodia, Kenya and India have embarked on elaborate land identification exercises that have ranged from picnics on open land in Mumbai to land audits in Durban and settlement profiling in Nairobi.
Settlement Planning. It is necessary for poor communities to re-locate their participation in the housing delivery process at the level of the practical. This means a move away from the abstraction of a struggle for housing rights, backed with lobbying, demonstration and litigation to the concrete activities of planning, design and actual delivery. In order to do this, communities need to start by dreaming and visualizing the kind of settlements and houses in which they would like to live. From this point onwards it is relatively easy for community members to break the myth that planning and design are the exclusive domain of highly trained professionals, and that regulation and monitoring are the sole prerogative of officials and bureaucrats. Over the years the SDI affiliates have developed effective community based training programmes in which households in affected settlements come together to plan their settlements and design their houses. These programmes vary from country to country but share several key elements. They are dreaming or visualizing neighbourhoods and houses, moving from the abstract to the concrete by means of cloth house models and the creation of basic layout designs. This is followed by the evolution of a common community vision in terms of house type and settlement layout, which is reflected back to the communities through mass meetings and through sustained dialogue within already established savings collectives.
House Model Exhibitions. Many SDI affiliates scale up their cloth models until they become full scale models, normally constructed with timber frames, cloth walls and galvanized roofing. When politicians, officials and other communities are invited to see these physical manifestations of the people’s plans, a lot of interesting things normally transpire. Possibilities are democratised, excitement and self consciousness is generated, city authorities begin to see communities through different eyes, people begin to take ownership of their problems and their solutions, and citizenship is deepened.
Building Networks via Community Exchanges. A programme of constant exchange visits between settlements in the same city, in different cities and different countries has resulted in the transfer of these and other rituals and skills to thousands of slum settlements all over the world. The absorption of these capacities into new settlements provides them with tools that they will need in their own struggles for land, secure tenure and affordable housing. Together with the transfer of knowledge comes the growth of unity and solidarity, resulting in a stronger voice of the poor, at city, country and international level. This in itself becomes a vital tool for tenure security that SDI forges for its urban poor affiliates.
The people of Kyang’ombe have nowhere to run to. This is an unfortunate event that has cast dark clouds on their lives and those of their children. According to the Constitution and the Millennium development goals, the Government is entitled to provide its citizens with proper shelter for its people. We cannot understand why the evictions were conducted without proper planning for those who were to be affected by the demolitions.
Back in August, Professor Mark Swilling, Academic Director of the Sustainability Insitute at University of Stellenbosch, spoke at TEDxStellenbosch about urbanization in Africa, where nearly 60% of urban dwellers live in slums. He describes this phenomenon of "slum cities," a phenomenon created by rapid urbanization without correlating industrialization. Swilling raises the possibility of the urban poor as co-producers of their own urban environments and of the city as a whole.
In discussing this logic of urbanization, he highlights SDI projects in Kenya and Malawi, where women in urban poor communities mobilize against hopelessness, raising the possibility that tomorrow can be a better day. Swilling showcases an in situ upgrading project in Huruma, Kenya as an example of the SDI affiliate's ingenuity and innovation that allowed them to improve their living structures while remaining on their land, as well as a greenfields development project in Malawi that uses low-cost technologies, which allowed for the construction of 800 secure homes for Malawi's urban poor.
Slum areas located along the Mukuru pipeline.
For the last week we have been reporting on the events following last Monday's explosion at Mukuru Sinai, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, where the Kenyan Federation has a strong presence. The stories coming from mainstream media have blamed everyone from the State to the slum dwellers to the Kenyan support NGO, arguing that had the slum dwellers been relocated from the area surrounding the pipeline, such a tragedy could have been avoided. This past week, the the Kenyan Pipeline Company Ltd. (KPC) went so far as to say that the Kenyan support NGO is to blame for stopping the aforementioned relocations. Affiliates in Kenya, however, have described a different reality: that the pipeline's overflow channel drains directly into a river, a river which joins the river home to last Monday's explosion on Sinai slum. In addition, maps presented by the Kenyan SDI alliance locate the explosion quite far from the pipeline itself, calling into question the extent to which relocations would have prevented such a tragedy at all. Getting to the truth with regard to such a tragedy is key, particularly in determining what happens from here. And while SDI and the Kenyan Alliance surely advocate for safe and secure homes for the urban poor, we are at the same time dedicated to monitoring the situation in order to ensure that evictions do not take place in the guise of helping the urban poor.
A statement issued by The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing in Nairobi voices the position clearly:
The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing has been working with the Government of Kenya in facilitating discussions around relocation of informal settlements from possible danger zones. A major result of such efforts is the Railway Relocation Action Plan (RAP) that now covers Mukuru and Kibera.
We believe in the urban poor’s right to adequate housing safe environment as provided for in section 43 of the constitution.
We also believe in the responsibility of the state in ensuring realization and protection of these rights as provided for in section 21 of the constitution.
In view of the above, we would like to affirm the position that residents of Sinai, just like all other Kenyans, are entitled to enjoyment of these rights.
It is the onus of the state to put in place measures that essentially ensure that the right to housing for all Kenyans is safeguarded. The fire tragedy in Mukuru Sinai puts in question the state’s commitment to these principles, especially in relation to service delivery to residents of informal settlements.
Subsequent action and utterances by state agencies now leads us to believe that there are plans to evict these residents, as well as residents from other settlements perceived to be in danger zones from their homes.
We would like to categorically state that any eviction exercise should be preceded by a comprehensive resettlement strategy that should not leave the residents in a worse off state than they were before the tragedy.
It is also our position that residents of Mukuru Sinai should be compensated. This stems from the fact that the state failed in its mandate to protect its citizens’ right to housing in a safe environment when it allowed Kenya Pipeline to discharge hazardous materials through channels that cross through densely populated areas.
It is our view that the basis of such discussions is the fact that there was indeed a petroleum spill at the Kenya Pipeline facilities. Initial statements by Kenya Pipeline’s Managing Director are an admission of this fact.
We further submit that this fuel made its way to Mukuru via a series of wastewater drains that cross through much of Industrial Area. In fact, the epicentre of the tragedy was at a point where the drain terminates into an open channel that drains into the Ngong River. It was not envisaged at any time, that any real danger to residents of Mukuru would originate from these drainage channels.
We appreciate previous attempts at relocating residents of Mukuru that were made between 2004 and 2010. But it should also be noted that this only affected residents who settled on a small section of the pipeline. These residents received a resettlement facilitation allowance ranging between 6,000 ksh and 10,000 ksh and Kenya Pipeline has since reclaimed the area in question.
A visit to the scene confirms the fact that, the main pipeline is actually some 400 meters from the disaster area and none of the burnt structures actually sits on the Kenya Pipeline reserve.
While building on top of a fuel pipeline is indeed dangerous and should be discouraged, discharging fuel through storm water drains pose equal or even far greater danger.
In light of the above, we are proposing the following measures in response to the situation.
- We are calling for Kenya Pipeline Company to take responsibility and immediately open discussions around possible compensation.
- We would like for the government to put in place mechanisms that allow for reconstruction efforts. Such mechanisms should ensure uninhibited access to basic rights such as safe water and sanitation services.
Mid term measures:
- In the medium term, we are calling for discussions around development of upgrading options for the area.
- If there is need for evictions, these should be in line with the eviction guidelines as contained in Sessional paper no. 9 of 2010.
- In the long term, we are calling for development of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and response system. This should take into account the intricate nature of informal settlements, particularly those in perceived danger zones.
- Along the same lines, we are also calling for greater involvement of slum dwellers in initiatives that seek to improve quality of life within their settlements.
In conclusion, The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing, would once again like to express its heartfelt condolences to all those who were affected by this tragedy. We would like to strongly urge the Kenya Pipeline Corporation to take responsibility and to look into compensation for those affected. We would like the Government of Kenya to put in place mechanisms that allow for reconstruction efforts as a matter of priority.
Map of slums along the Mukuru pipeline.
**Cross-posted from Muungano Support Trust blog**
By Irene Karanja, Executive Director, Muungano Support Trust, Kenya
The more I listen to the voices of the poor and to the remorseful government’s reaction to the fire in Mukuru Sinai on Monday, I see a wide gulf between these voices.
The situation of all cities and urban towns in Kenya have a similar archipelago of slums with large densities of poor citizens who live in perpetual fear of evictions or, in such cases as Sinai, fatal accidents.
Its sounds both right and sensible to look at a short-term solution to pay a year’s rent for the victims and then the prevention of another tragedy can be done later. However, the experiences of many countries is that displacement is not a solution. The solution is to improve existing settlements with upgrading programs that address very fundamental issues of the city, such as land tenure and access to basic services for the poor.
It would be strategic for the government to sit back and reflect on aggregating the costs of slum upgrading instead of making small pieces of solutions that do not necessarily lead to a bigger solution. Maybe to make this picture clearer I will quote my post-graduate lecturer who said “It's more expensive to buy cigarettes one-by-one than to buy the whole package. The cost is not one-twentieth of the cigarette box, it's much more than that," -Prof. M. Smolka.
In order for government upgrading programs to successfully run in Kenya, many things have to change in major affiliated agencies in government. This task will not be a comfortable or easy. For example, in the Mukuru belt of slums, land ownership patterns are a maze of confusion. Land is owned by layers of owners who may or may not be known to residents. In major slums in Kenya, thousands of families have lived on the same parcels of land for more than 40 years. New generations, up to the third generation, have been born on these parcels of land. For upgrading programs to take place, security of tenure for these Kenyans must be resolved sooner rather than later. The poor must be freed from the insecurity of the tenure situation.
In 2004, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Federation of Slum Dwellers of Kenya, challenged the authorities traditional ways of thinking, which asks: "What should we do to remove these vijijis?” Through the support of Slum/Shack Dwellers International, local authorities attended an exchange to India to learn from the Indian government how to resettle the poor within the confines of their access to the livelihoods and services.
Upon returning to Kenya, a journey to resettle 10,000 households residing on the railway reserve in Mukuru and Kibera began. Communities in these two large slums voluntarily got involved in the enumerations of all affected households as well as the mapping of all the structures.
A group of slum upgrading experts comprising of the community members, sociologists, lawyers, engineers, surveyors, architects and community organisers, sat with the local authorities and the Kenya Railways Corporation to design a solution for resettlement. The resettlement project has been approved by government and the financeer (The World Bank), an implementation starts this year.
The unfortunate outcome of this disaster is the general call for slums to be removed immediately from dangerous places - which is largely where slums are situated, thanks to scarcity of available land - without any serious thought given to where slum dwellers might be relocated to, and how this would effect these communities in the long term. Finding alternatives to eviction and relocation is possible, so long as the people on the ground are brought into the process, and the political will is there. Let's make sure, then, that evictions do not take place now in the guise of helping the urban poor.
The Rockefeller Foundation announced yesterday that Jane Weru, SDI board member, founder of the Kenyan support NGO and executive director of Akiba Mashinani Trust, will be honored with an award for innovative work which exemplifies the mission and vision of the Rockefeller Foundation to promote the well-being of humanity around the world. Watch the video of Jane's acceptance speech here, and an NTV interview with her here.
The award will be given as part of the Foundation's inaugural Innovation Forum, to be held on 27 July 2011 in New York City:
The 2011 Innovation Forum will place a particular focus on identifying major challenges facing the poor and vulnerable in the areas of food security, global water security and urban economic security in American cities. The program also aims to pinpoint potential new approaches to solving some of these most pressing issues.
Awards will also be presented to President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, Sania Nishtar, founder and president of the NGO think tank Heartfile, and Kiva in the Classroom. For more information on the Innovation Forum and awards, read the press release here, and a short article here.
For more on SDI's work in Kenya, read Jane's article in Environment & Urbanization describing the important work of the Kenyan urban poor federation and support NGO around upgrading, tenure, and developing community capacity to manage these, or visit the Kenya country page.
By Mitali Ayyangar
In January, 2011, the Indian Alliance of SPARC, NSDF and Mahila Milan hosted a four day workshop with SDI affiliate members from across Africa and South-East Asia to consolidate members’ enumeration processes and experiences. The workshop was intended to create a space for, firstly, collective reflection on the importance of this fundamental SDI activity and, secondly, to develop strategies to strengthen the SDI Secretariat’s ability to assist member federations expand and deepen their enumeration processes.
About Enumerations: Functionally, enumerations and surveys are tools by which the community collects information about its resources, land ownership, history, services that are provided and the community’s priorities. The various forms in which enumerations are exercised are detailed here. This information forms an important basis for addressing deprivations in slum areas, long-term strategic planning and for negotiating with authorities for land, tenure and infrastructure.
However, enumerating activities do much more than that. They are used not only as a tool to collect information about their communities, but also as a means of connecting and reaching out to people, and through this process, give individuals a collective sense of identity. They provide communities and their aggregated federations with a sense of who they are, what their collective needs are and information and data to produce insights about their situation. People learn to explore processes of contestation with the state about information the state has generated about the poor, which is often not comprehensive and can generally not be disaggregated to produce projects and investment possibilities or to benchmark what needs to be improved upon.
Workshop and its Objectives: In SDI’s collective experience, enumeration processes have been invaluable. Enumerations need to be expanded and carried forward at a large scale – and it was with this overarching objective in mind that the workshop was organised. Within this, a sub-objective was to focus on how support professionals and NGOs can improve their roles in assisting their federation-partners design and execute surveys, manage data and prepare reports.
The Workshop was therefore designed to create a space to:
- Discuss each participating country’s enumeration process, with the goal of clarifying and strengthening the various activities involved, identifying challenges and planning strategies to overcome these challenges
- Identify opportunities for the SDI Secretariat to support country-exchanges for federations to learn about various enumeration processes strategies
- Increase capability of federations and supporting NGOs in terms of data management and analysis
- Exchange thoughts and ideas about the potential for standardization of basic data used by cities and countries
- Discuss the possible future uses of GIS for mapping settlements and possible future production of biometric ID cards
Participants at the workshop included representatives from the SDI Secretariat and NGOs and federations from Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Philippines and India.
Structure of the Workshop: The Workshop was spread over 4 days. Introductions and outlining individual participants’ expectations of the Workshop dominated the first half of the first day, while the second was dedicated to “setting the stage” – i.e. identifying the current status of federation work, common challenges and an overview of SDI’s near-future objectives. The second day included presentations from each country representative about their enumeration “journey” – each followed by a Q&A session which probed deeper into the role and value of enumerations in addressing needs of federations in that country. On the third day, the Indian Alliance organised a field visit to Pune, where local Mahila Milan presented, on site, their journey from savings and credit activities to enumerations to negotiations with governments to improved housing and sanitation. On the final day, participants evaluated whether their expectations had been met at the Workshop, developed action plans to expand their enumeration activities and identified key peer-to-peer exchanges that would, with the support of the SDI Secretariat, facilitate their goals.
Main themes discussed: Several important issues emerged over the course of the workshop, particularly during the individual country presentations. A brief on each participating country – their enumeration history, processes, key achievements, challenges and top priorities – is included in the full report. Some of the prominent and common issues that emerged were:
- The ‘age’ of NGOs and federations, in terms of experience and capacity for enumerations, in creating processes that lead to effective engagement at the individual/community level and enable a strong federation to take root.
- The importance of building the legitimacy of enumeration processes and data gathered to, firstly, facilitate engagement with outside partners and stakeholders and, secondly, to transform relationships so that federations are valued as partners in national development processes
- Balancing the fundamental commitment of the process to be accountable to its constituents with the demands of governments (and others) to “make data look” a certain way – in an effort to produce information in ways that suit the needs of both, the communities and others
- Understanding the subtleties of the process – including survey design
- Understanding the data – in terms of its findings, its role in bringing communities together and in promoting ownership of the process (translating the data back to the community)
*** A full report with country briefs and other key insights can be downloaded here***
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
Beyond informal militias and formal bureaucracies — bringing water to Kosovo
The divide between the “informal” and “formal” is commonly understood as that between risk and a sure thing. The “informal” is seen as messy and dangerous. But the story of Kosovo informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, shows that neither side of the divide can bridge the gap working alone.
We have written on this blog before about the need to understand incrementalism as a value for building inclusive cities and developing informal settlements in situ. The story of Kosovo shows how — step-by-step — informal communities and formal utility companies can work together to come up with innovative solutions to the provision of water, sewerage, and electricity.
Kosovo is one of 13 settlements that make up the informal Mathare region of the city. There are approximately 6,000 households in Kosovo.
Here, the Kenya slum dwellers federation, known as Muungano wa wanavijiji, has pioneered a solution that marries the ingenuity of the informal with the advantages of formalization. Provision of water in Kosovo had long been controlled by militia groups. In fact, says Irene Karanja, director of the Muungano Support Trust (MuST), “the militias had formed their bases around the services.”
For years, the Kenya Water Company had complained that they were not receiving revenue from Kosovo residents who had set up informal water connections. As Kosovo resident and Muungano secretary Jason Waweru describes it, “We said that both us have rights. So who is to say who has a more important right. So we opened a dialogue.”
Eventually, Muunagno and Water Company decided on a system for reticulating the water to the community, facilitated by Muungano. “It wasn’t easy to come up with a consensus,” Waweru says. This “delegated management model” meant that the community in Kosovo would control all the issues surrounding distribution of the water, including communal collection of fees.
Yet doubts remained. “Everyone was scared,” Waweru says. “If we approved the delegated management model would it just allow more militias and gangs to step in?”
So Muungano and the Water Company agreed to first build a model kiosk in one lane of the community. This was a tough negotiation. The Water Company only wanted to install water points on the bulk pipes, and did not want to work with individual connections that hooked up to the bulk infrastructure. “We lobbied that every household should have its own connection,” says Waweru. “We were thinking of the old mamas that have to walk to get water.”
Without waiting for the Water Company, the community started to dig trenches to lay pipes for the individual connections. In doing so, they developed community structures dedicated to managing and maintaining the water supply. After the Water Company saw this work, it indicated its willingness to come on board.
In late May 2010, the community disconnected its informal water supply and installed the formal connections. 180 households now have individual connections, while the rest of Kosovo’s 6,000 households fetch water from kiosks, which serve community-determined clusters within the settlements.
For Waweru, this community-managed system was a big breakthrough for both the community and the water company in understanding how to deal with the gap between the way the two sides work. “When we were doing this project, it created its own community structure. You can see it working,” he says. “We broke the formal structure of administration, and the informal structure of the militia groups. Now we can see the community owning the process.”
A bridge yet to be built — formalizing electrical connections
When I spoke with Waweru in early March 2011, he pointed out that the achievements of the community of Kosovo to achieve sustainable access to services were only partial. “Currently the utility company has been arresting people for illegal electricity connections,” he says. “We are asking why people have illegal connections when there is a good electricity supply in the area.”
At present, the utility company has been uninterested in developing a system for formalizing the connections because the amount used per individual household is perceived to be too little to make the investment worthwhile. Yet, seen from the settlement level, the amount of electricity that the community uses is enough for the company to initiate raids by the police on a regular basis.
Muungano has worked with the community to do a survey of the way that electricity is used at the household level throughout the settlement. This has helped the community to begin negotiating with the electricity company to get enough supply into the settlement legally. The prices are not so high, only KSh 1700 per month (approximately USD 20).
So if the company would be willing to supply more amperes of electricity, community leaders believe larger informal businesses could grow in the settlement. Currently, there are only small business, says Waweru. When businesses want to expand they know that they have to go elsewhere in the city in order to grow.
The example of Muungano’s work regarding the water connections is serving as a powerful model for building trust between the community and utility companies, which is helping the ongoing negotiations. Before, “whenever the utility company would come to the settlement, people would run away, afraid of being arrested,” says Waweru. “Now people run up and ask how they can help.”
The challenge of going to scale
Muungano has been surveying the entire zone of Mathare at the rate of 10,000 households every 3 months. This is intended to contribute to a zonal plan, which is a joint exercise between the federation, MuST, and the planning department of the University of Nairobi. This will help figure out how to reticulate services through the whole Mathare valley, explains Karanja.
Although it is making significant breakthroughs in its work with the Kosovo community, the Water Company is realizing that it is not structured to respond to the scale of demand for formal services in informal settlements. Waweru explains that Muungano is employing GIS technology in its ongoing surveys in order to propose an alternative billing system that addresses the needs of both the communities and the Company.
The zonal plan will allow for a more holistic view of the challenges that exist in this populous region of the city. Step-by-step, the formal and informal worlds are letting go of their preconceived notions, and beginning to implement real, sustainable solutions. When informal settlement communities like that in Kosovo organize around concrete developmental objectives, they show the way forward for a formal world that is too often hoping for top-down silver bullets that never appear. Together they are changing what informal settlements can mean to the development of cities.
By Jack Makau, SDI secretariat
Traditionally land information held by most governments (certainly all developing world governments) is stored in cadastral formats. What this means is that governments store records of plot boundaries and who owns those plots.
Meanwhile urbanization has rendered this level of information irrelevant. Often a slum will consist of one or two or three plots, while there are 1000 families living, trading, worshiping, schooling in those plots. If the economic, judicial, and governance systems are based on cadastral information, it is no wonder we cannot solve urban poverty issues, regardless of how much money we throw at the problem.
This huge gap in the ability of Southern governments to understand and govern urban centers is in large part an information gap. The cadastral format cannot reflect the reality of how land is organized in urban areas. It cannot account for 1000 families in 3 or even 20 plots of land. The reality of urban land usage completely belies the fundamental concepts of the cadastral system: families living in ungovernable 10 foot by 10-foot spaces and having their primary toilet function 20 meters away in a 3 foot by 3 foot carton shade; and their kitchen on the sidewalk.
What does this all mean? The contract between citizen and state in Nairobi, Kampala, Cape Town and more in Mumbai cannot take place. The contract is based on the cadastre.
So what about GIS? If we were to change how land information is defined then the challenges of urban slums would not be so intractable. GIS allows you to capture, easily and cheaply, the actual use of space. So instead of government having a plot boundary and owner’s name, they could have, for far less than it costs to survey the plot conventionally, the boundary, the size and type of structures, the actual arrangement of structures, the trees and the owner’s name.
And fortunately this is not just about slums. For example, how does the Cape Town municipality manage water if they do not have a land information system that recognizes swimming pool? How is climate change reversed when plot owners are cutting down trees to put up gazebos? Because planting trees at the outskirts of the cities is not enough.
It’s not the cost of the technology that matters — all of a sudden the constraints of plot sizes are removed. The limitations associated with the management of land (by government) do not exist. They have a true picture of the city. And if someone comes along and builds something at night, government can find out and manage it the very next day. It’s cheap, it’s real time and it’s true.
And, when they are done GIS-bombing Bagdad and Afghanistan and putting navsat in every Bentley, Bimmer and Boxter, what are they going to do with all those satellites?
So, the UN Habitat’s Global Land Tools Network (GLTN) and Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) experiment in Uganda is the first stirrings of change in altering the way urban land is managed. STDM at the back-end is a land registry system (sort of a cross between Google Earth for governments and the Land Act). At the front end is GIS and Microsoft Excel that’s appropriate for capturing enumeration and mapping information at household level, one base lower than plot level cadastre-type information.
In January, GLTN and SDI started a discussion on testing the newly developed STDM platform in Uganda. This isn’t the first land tool interaction between the two agencies. At UN Habitat, the developers of STDM studied the federations’ enumeration experiences in Mumbai, Nairobi and Kisumu and coded them onto the open source Quantum GIS program.
However, the STDM discussion was a plugin to an activity already underway: The Government of Uganda, Cities Alliance and SDI urban transformation program that targets transformation of urban slums in five secondary cities (Jinja, Arua, Kabale, Mbale and Mbarara). Estimated to reach 200,000 slum families, the program seeks among other things to register all informal settlement in these cities.
So significant is the application of GIS technology to Uganda that the STDM plugin could attain program engine status. Uganda has one of the most complex, un-resolvable urban land tenure systems in the universe. In certain places, like Kisenyi slum right at the heart of Kampala city, the Kabaka — constitutional king of the Buganda kingdom — owns the land. Over time, landowners have recieved land grants, held at the king’s pleasure. In turn they have parceled the land and made out their own leases to structure owners who have built a sprawl of 35,000 shacks and rent them ever month to the city’s urban poor. Any attempt at slum upgrading is confronted with the question, “who among these layered interests is the beneficiary?”
SDI’s Ugandan affiliate, the 29,000-family-strong Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation, and the federation’s support NGO, Actogether, seek solutions that recognize all interests. Solutions that are underpinned by the corresponding usage and investment on the land. That integrate with the city’s aspirations of future sustainability and prosperity. So citywide enumerations and mapping exercises planned for early 2011 are important for determining the usage and investment patterns, are critical in anchoring possible solutions.
The success of this experiment, at least on the land information side, is hinged on the ability of UN Habitat and SDI to get the Ministry of Lands to buy into STDM. Then the federation enumerates, maps and puts the information into STDM and voila! A real urban land information system and 200,000 slum families in Uganda are in the government registry. And thereafter if anyone invests in infrastructure or housing it doesn’t matter because once the land information system changes so will the definition of land ownership. The title deed will be replaced by the use-deed. Effectively we circumvent a herculean slum land tenure mess. And then we take the show to the next land mess in Nairobi or any other rapidly growing city with byzantine understandings of land usage.
pictured above: A crowded market area in Mukuru, Nairobi.
Editor's note: The following text is the foreword to a community-led profile, or inventory, of all informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, published in 2009.
By Irene Karanja, Muungano Support Team (MUST) and Jack Makau, SDI secretariat
As we were writing this inventory, residents of Mukuru Sinai came to Pamoja Trust for help in fighting off an eviction threat. Sinai is part of a belt of slums collectively called Mukuru that run along the length of Nairobi’s industrial area. Sinai is built on both sides of the petroleum pipeline. A dangerous place to live. The state owned corporation, Kenya Pipeline Company had issued an eviction notice to the residents. The corporation had plans to expand the line. Sinai’s residents have no legal title to the land and so the company did not feel compelled provide compensation or alternative relocation options. The residents said they would go with a relocation plan.
This story is not unique for Kenyan slum dwellers. Theirs is a-wrong-way-round world. Conventionally, security of tenure is the quiet enjoyment of personal space bestowed on citizens by their Government. It is different for slum residents. Since no one will bestow any space to them, they have little choice but to squat on any parcel that is unutilized. And by virtue of numbers, because they outnumber those legally bestowed citizens, their claim carries truth – not all the truth but certainly some truth.
So the Mukuru story epitomizes a battle of truths for urban space. Losing the battle for the slums would mean the residents of Sinai, and a hundred other slums, become entirely destitute. It is not a battle they can afford to lose. Yet, to yield to their existence would be to accept a breakdown of social order and the rule of law. Then, only a negotiated position that appreciates the values, believes and needs of the state, and those of its dislocated poor, is a workable way forward.
In Kenya today, there is a process of negotiation between the slums and the state. Rather unfortunately this process is characterized by aggression. The state declares its commitment to solving the slum problem and sets up a program within a Ministry to coordinate slum upgrading. The state then finds that the slums are very inconveniently located. There are slums on riparian, road, power, railway and other utility reserves and on private poverty. It follows that whenever any organ of the state, except the slum upgrading program, is confronted with a slum, that organ seeks to evict the people. And on the slum dweller’s end, every eviction is resisted. If and when resistance fails the next step is inevitably the invasion of some other contestable land.
Our purpose in putting together this Inventory is to change the nature of the negotiation. To provide an appreciation of the scale and depth of the slum problem. To provide a starting point for positive action. To impress, hopefully that evicting slums is in the long run futile. To encourage the development of a plan to ‘sort out’ the slums. We realize that policies, as opposed to a plan, assume that slums are part of the human condition. They are not. They are quantifiable and the challenge surmountable.
In order to do this, we found it necessary to collect and present the story of each slum in the city. After many years of working with slums, we know that no slum is exactly the same as any other. The ratio of structure owners (the informal equivalent of landlords) to tenants may vary anywhere from 1 structure owner to 100 tenants or adversely 100 to 1 tenant. The physical locations and layouts; demographics; histories and economies, fit only the broadest of ranges.
This was important because we are persuaded that no upgrading model or plan, by the fact of its existence, will change the urban landscape. For there to be a change, there must be an intervention in each and every slum. An intervention that appreciates each slum’s unique set of circumstances and therefore negotiates and crafts a suit that fits. It was important to present information in this manner because, today in Kenya, the process of negotiation will be shaped by the amount of information that replaces perception as its basis.
Everything else we threw into the Inventory – maps, pictures and case studies are there to give form and life to what may otherwise be a faceless, colourless monologue of discontentment. In describing the slums we did not derive variables from professional, academic or technical strains. That pallet does not have all the colours you need to paint the informal reality. Yet even the Inventory is not the complete picture. The full motion picture is only available for those inspired to wander down twisted, slippery, narrow aisles, jump over open sewers, take in the smells of one-year old garbage, taste stewed chicken beaks or roasted fish gills, and share in the fear of being bulldozed in the middle of the night.
Pictured above: SDI President Jockin Arputham speaks while Ugandan Housing Minister Michael Werikhe, and Mats Odell, Swedish Minister for Finance, Local Government and Housing, look on.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
The Board of Governors for SDI’s Urban Poor Fund International (UPFI) held its second and last meeting of the year last week in Stockholm, Sweden. Such gatherings are a unique chance to mobilize political support for a people-centered agenda for urban development. High-ranking government officials from countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America, joined slum community leaders to discuss how to support initiatives of locally-rooted community organizations in cities throughout the Global South.
The UPFI provides seed funding to local urban poor funds of national federations affiliated to SDI. The idea is that the money provided by UPFI catalyzes local initiatives that can leverage further resources, have an impact on urban policy, demonstrate possibilities for reaching further scale, and increase sustainable financial practices of the poor through savings.
“I see it as a tool that supports the SDI affiliates in upscaling their development,” says Rose Molokoane, member of a savings scheme of the Federation of the Urban Poor in Oukasie, South Africa, and deputy president of SDI. “For us to have one basket of funds draws the funders to come closer together to create space for the poor and strengthens our self-reliance.”
The Zimbabwe Homeless People’s Federation (ZHPF) is an instructive example of the ways in which the poor control their developmental future through the UPFI. The ZHPF has used the funding to build “eco-san” toilets in cities such as Bulawayo and Chinhoyi. These toilets are pioneering a cheaper, environmentally-friendly alternative to basic sanitation provision in slums where the high cost of traditional basic services has impeded any kind of incremental development.
The Malawian Federation, also affiliated to SDI, served as a horizontal resource for the development of the ecosan model. In March of this year, a Malawian team comprised of three builders, one federation member and a Water and Sanitation Programme Manager, went to Zimbabwe to teach the ZHPF about the ecosan toilets and construct model toilets in those areas. The projects have enabled the ZHPF to change policy at the local level by involving city officials, and have also had an impact up to the national level. The ZHPF is the leading community voice of the poor for housing in negotiations for a new Zimbabwean constitution. The incremental upgrading strategies employed by the Federation, especially with regards to sanitation, are affecting local university planning curricula as well.
The Stockholm meeting of the UPFI board, hosted by the Swedish government, was coupled with a seminar on “reshaping financial markets to make them more relevant to the poorest of the poor.” This seminar featured a mix of slum dweller activists, academics, NGO professionals, and finance experts, presenting on policy and practice in urban settings in Asia, Africa, and South America. Over 75 people from the Swedish business world attended the seminar, and the hope is that private institutions can begin working to develop financial instruments for poor individuals and communities. Access to finance is one of the biggest challenges impeding many people's ability to get out of poverty, especially in urban environment.
Jockin Arputham is the founder of the National Slum Dwellers Federation in India and president of SDI: “To empower the poor you need to organize the people and make them taste the fruit of organizing. Your power is strengthened by your negotiating power. You don’t go empty-handed to negotiate with government. The UPFI helps people to win the kind of power you need to negotiate with government: statistics, finance, everything. Now no government cannot ignore SDI. There’s no way anyone can ignore this process. They have to engage communities,” he says.
The Swedish government has posted a video from a press conference at the UPFI board meeting, as well as documents used in presentations at the following day's seminar.
Pictured above: Residents of the Kambimoto incremental housing development in Huruma, a slum area in Nairobi, Kenya.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
Top-down strategies for "eradicating slums" are seemingly always in vogue. Planners, government officials, commentators, and most non-governmental civil society actors, all aim for State-conceived, State-driven solutions to the "problems" of slums. Occasionally, we might hear about the potential of the social energy and even the density of informal settlements. But the solutions, we hear, must always come from the State.
But we can consider for a moment where these "formal" actors are headed, and from where they get their ideas. It is not the State. Governments of the Global South are quite evidently incapable of conceiving and implementing solutions without the people such policies are intended to address. The slums of the South are growing. And in the absence of effective State interventions, the poor — the world of the "informal" — are providing the vast majority of shelter solutions.
So "formal" actors — the State, planners, etc. — are getting their ideas from those who populate the world of the "informal" — the urban poor themselves. Instead of centrally-planned, greenfields housing developments, governments from South Africa to Kenya are talking about "slum upgrading" or "informal settlement upgrading." In India, the term that most closely mirrors this is "redevelopment." To varying degrees, policies that deploy these terms in each country are rooted in "informal" practice. Improvements in the living spaces where people already live.
But "upgrading," while a step in the right direction towards more people-centered kinds of urban policies and planning, is often too vague. It can still mean big projects that results in the removals of many shack dwellers to new slums outside of the city to make way for improvements that often accrue only to a few of the original residents of the area. The goal of any kind of urban policy will always, at some point, mean fully-serviced and titled top-structure housing with secure tenure. Given the capacities of all the actors involved in the policies that would address that kind of goal, in addition to the magnitude of slums in most of the cities of the South, such achievements are still far off in the future.
The poor know this, and address it on a daily basis in the only way they can: incrementalism. To build incrementally is to live within one's means, adding on and improving one's dwelling and environment bit-by-bit. There are obstacles to this approach, namely lack of security of tenure. How can a person save to upgrade when he or she faces the constant threat of being evicted? But even without total security of tenure (i.e. full title), the poor are willing to build incrementally.
I wrote a couple months ago about the Federation incremental housing project in the Kambimoto neighborhood of Huruma in Nairobi, Kenya. There, each homeowner is building the floors of their houses day-by-day, making their own laddi bricks — an alternative egg-shell shape of bricks used for ceilings and floors for the first two floors of the houses — through exchanges with SDI-affiliated savers in India. The residents of this project do not have full title. What they do have is a memorandum of understanding with the city council approving the project. They also receive municipal services. This is just one example about how the poor are leading the way towards new understandings of tenure arrangements and how such attempts to provide security to the poor achieve great things on the ground.
The key is to enable the poor to enact the solutions they already have at their disposal, not to run over them with State-developed, new top-down plans. Even though "formal" actors are beginning to adopt the rhetoric of "upgrading," they usually stray from its original "informal" meaning. "Informal settlement upgrading" still means programmatic, State-driven responses to urban poverty. The "informal" does not fit so easily with the strictures of the "formal." Incrementalism gets brushed aside in favor of rhetorical slights of hand that only glance at the true intentions of "informal" solutions.
The issue of incrementalism got a high-profile mention this week in an article in the Financial Times’ latest installment of its special issues on cities. Heba Saleh reports on development plans in Cairo, where slum dwellers are getting pushed further and further out of the city, while more poor people push back into the city for jobs:
The result is that Cairo is ringed with extensive areas of densely inhabited slums, where the streets are often too narrow for cars to pass and no land has been allocated for services such as schools, hospitals, markets or parks. But affordability and proximity to jobs in the central parts of the city continue to attract people to these neighborhoods, where homeowners build cheap but sturdy housing, adding extra rooms or floors whenever they have the cash.
Laila Iskandar, a development expert who heads CID Consultants, argues that the dynamics in the slums have much to teach government planners when they lay down their schemes for the expansion of the city. “All they are thinking about is how to send people to live in the desert [around the city],” she says. “They still have a top-down European view of the city and they deny that migrants from the countryside need a style of housing that they are not planning for.”
“These people do not have lump sums to pay for flats, and mortgages are out of their reach. Rent is also too expensive for them. They need to be able to build their homes incrementally.”
In the coming months, we will explore this theme further, analyzing examples of incremental solutions, and the ways in which the "informal" world can lead the "formal" world to actionable solutions to the problems of urban poverty. Your comments are, as always, most welcome.
The main business thoroughfare in Mukuru lies on either side -- and on top of -- Kenya's national railway line. Seven times a day a train barrels down the tracks, whistles blowing and headlights blazing to warn the informal traders and their customers to get out of the way.
Makeshift stalls of wood, mud and plastic tarpaulins are packed along either side of the line, where merchants hawk everything from kangas and radios to shoes and fruits and vegetables.
But conflict between man and machine just might have finally hit its breaking point in the Nairobi slums of Mukuru and Kibera. The Kenya Railways Corporation is planning to upgrade the line to respond to increasing economic activity in the wake of oil discoveries throughout East Africa -- and is making the reclamation of publicly owned land a top priority to do it.
Communities along the tracks have responded to threatened evictions by negotiating a community-led information gathering process that will help relocate many of these informal dwellers.
The information will help determine who will be relocated and compensated, as well as how this will happen.
The first eviction notice from the Kenya Railways Corporation came in 2004. But after the affected communities performed a self-enumeration survey, led by local members of the national slum dwellers federation, Muungano wa wanavijiji, and supported by NGO Pamoja Trust, the relocation was stalled.
Negotiations with the Railways Corporation for suitable land and compensation were nudged by a visit of railway employees to an even larger relocation project in Mumbai in 2005.
There India Railways officials and affected community members highlighted how the success of that relocation was rooted in the community-led survey.
Funded by the World Bank, the Relocation Action Plan (RAP) has made a community self-enumeration survey a key plank in the process along the Nairobi railway lines.
Beginning in mid-March, members of the Mukuru community were walking up and down the tracks, satellite maps in hand, checking that structures on the ground matched the satellite images.
The arguments that ensued were inevitable.
Owners of one business stall tried to get their structures counted as two, with the hope that this would entitle them to larger compensation when such terms are eventually negotiated with the Railways Corporation.
Anxiety within the community increased in early March after the oil parastatal company evicted residents who were living on top of a newly installed pipeline -- an eerie sight of flattened ground and makeshift foundations that were once part of a line of corrugated iron shacks.
Traders without a fixed stall worried that they would get no compensation at all. For the past six years Muli Munguti (38) has been selling fake designer watches and other goods. "You count that one, but you don't count this one. It's not good," he said.
But community enumerators were able to negotiate these contentious issues.
Dominic Njuguna, a community enumerator and Muungano leader, says that because the community was counting itself, it was able to assuage such concerns.
Francis Gitau, a staffer at Pamoja Trust, argues that the community involvement in the process has created the opportunity for a relocation that addresses the concerns of affected dwellers along the railway line. "If we are to survive along the railway line, we need to organise structures among ourselves [through activities like enumeration]," Gitau said. "If it wasn't for our activism we would have been relocated a long time ago."
pictured above: Mukuru residents examine the new eviction order from Kenya Railways Corporation.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
As I have already discussed earlier this week, enumerations create enough anxiety due to near-unavoidable internal dynamics of communities. But in the case of the railway relocation program in Nairobi, we should be clear about the ultimate cause of such nervousness: the on-and-off eviction that the Kenya Railways Corporation has been pursuing for the better part of the past decade.
On Monday, residents of slums along the railway learned that the Kenya Railways Corporation had issued a new 30-day eviction notice to all people living within 100 meters of the railway line over the weekend. As we walked through Mukuru on Tuesday, Pamoja Trust staffers and community enumerators handed out the eviction notice to begin discussing what they could do about it. The enumeration was supposed to empower the community to negotiate with the Railways Corporation for a relocation that took their needs into account. A unilateral eviction threat totally defeats that end.
Pamoja sought to reassure residents in Mukuru, many of whom have already witnessed or experienced an eviction earlier this month due to the installation of an oil pipeline nearby the railway line. The all-too-familiar sights common to recently evicted areas of what were the former foundations and flattened ground of shack floors dot an empty space nearby the line in Mukuru. Residents were concerned about the time frame for eviction, but perhaps because there was already action on the ground in the form of mapping, numbering, and enumeration, led by community members themselves, they were not too perturbed.
In Kibera, it has been another story. After disputes between structure owners and tenants delayed the start of the process last week, the eviction notice threw a new wrench into the works this week. Mapping and numbering should have begun yesterday, but concerned residents postponed the activities because of the eviction notice. They needed reassurance that Pamoja was not conspiring with the Kenya Railways Corporation against them. To this end, Pamoja showed them a formal letter submitted to the Railways Corporation opposing the eviction notice. The railway line operator is claiming that the eviction notice did not apply to those affected by the ongoing relocation program, of which this enumeration is a part. But the notice does not make any such distinction.
Instead of helping to jump start the process in Kibera as planned, the South African exchange team visited some of the other sites in Nairobi where Muungano wa wanavijiji (the Kenyan slum dwellers federation) have developed for themselves. The multi-storey, high density dwellings in the slum of Kambimoto in Huruma provided a useful counterpoint to the Mukuru / Kibera experience and, in particular, this week's eviction notice.
The upgrading project has 86 units that were financed by individual savings, group savings, and the Kenyan urban poor finance facility associated with Pamoja, Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT). Muungano member Susan Wanjiru moved into her home in 2004. She told me that the federation in Kambimoto is planning to build another 100 houses, but faces a particular challenge in the rise of material costs since the first houses were built. "Now we are planning to be incremental," she said.
The project is just one of many examples of one of the most important prerequisites for incremental building: security of tenure. The federation has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the city council for the land, but "no we are fighting to get the title deed," Wanjiru said.
In Mukuru, trash is everywhere, most structures are made of wood beams and mud, sometimes with corrugated iron. The residents have lived under constant threat of eviction for almost a decade. In the Kambimoto upgrading project, the pathways are clean, lined with plants and flowers put out by the new homeowners. They do not have full security of tenure, but the MoU has been enough to spur the residents to continue to invest in their homes.
pictured above: The clean, plant-lined pathways of Muungano's Kambimoto (Huruma) slum upgrading project.
pictured above: Muli Munguti sells his wares in an area dominated by business stalls along the railway lines in Mukuru informal settlement in Nairobi.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
The railway relocation project in Nairobi is proceeding with all the fits, starts, complications, and inevitable contestations that come with such a high stakes endeavor. I arrived with the exchange team from South Africa on Sunday night and for the past two days we have been learning about — and assisting with — the mapping and numbering of structures to be relocated in the slum of Mukuru. Along with Kibera, Mukuru is one of the slums that is affected by this program, which has been negotiated with the Kenya Railways Authority.
This morning, we were met by the whistle and bright lights of a train that goes through Mukuru on its way to Mombasa. Pamoja Trust, Mungano wa wanavijiji (the Kenyan slum dwellers federation), and other community members are using satellite images of structures to then number each one on the ground once they match it with the satellite picture. Sometimes, one structure as photographed from above is actually two separate stalls, as was the case for many of the self-owned businesses that lie within a couple meters of the railway track. So then a given structure could be numbered as follows: RMS / 465 A/B (Railway Mukuru Sinai -- the name of one of the three sections of Mukuru -- the structure number, and then A/B indicates that it is actually two separate businesses).
The numbering, and even the use of satellite mapping were key points of conflict today. Mobile traders, either those who walk along the railway line selling their wares, or those who have been in the same place — some for close to a decade — nearby, were afraid of not being counted. This fear arises from the perception that there will be compensation attached to being counted, when people are eventually relocated.
I spoke to Muli Munguti (pictured above), age 38, who has been selling his wares for the past six years by laying them across the railway line in the same spot. Whenever a train goes by he folds up his goods inside the track and lets the train roll over them. "You count that one, but you don't count this one. It's not good," he said.
It is the kind of conflict that arises in any large scale enumeration. Every community has different components, all of which want to be heard. Especially in a case like the railway relocation in Nairobi, where there is a clear issue of compensation or relocation tied to being counted — the process is part of a relocation in partnership with Kenya Railways and funded by the World Bank — the enumeration is of particular relevance to every party within the community.
Today, the community enumerators managed to mediate most of these concerns. In a meeting at the end of the day, they spent much of the time reflecting on how to improve the way they handle these issues as they move from mapping and numbering to house-to-house individual surveys. It was hard to avoid the fact that the community was managing the information collection process in order to deal with such contestations.
pictured above: A community enumerator in Mukuru (right) talks to an owner of a business stall along the railway line about whether his structure should be counted as one or two stalls.
By Louise Cobbett and Jack Makau, SDI secretariat
The first day of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, began with SDI making a grand – and visual – entrance. The 67 delegates broke the traditional monotony of the gray suit brigade. It was a fitting visual representation of SDI’s way of saying that it’s what happens in the communities, and not the meetings, which counts.
The forum's opening ceremony featured a very well choreographed dance production. But the message that the toned dancers were trying to get across, was somewhat lost on the 3, 500 strong crowd. Perhaps it is the best analogy of the fear that SDI has about the conference.
It gave deeper meaning to Jockin’s advice the previous day, which was to make full use of the opportunities to get governments to make firm commitments on land and services.
For example, on the first day the Tanzania, Ghanaian and Zimbabwean federations organized meetings with their respective governments.
Highlights of the first day were SDI’s networking event, called "Protocols for large informal settlement upgrading." It was probably the only session that started and ended with a song. The session featured 5 case studies and of struggles for secure tenure and fights against eviction. There was Mzwanele Zulu from Joe Slovo in Cape Town; Jack Makau from SDI spoke about Kibera in Nairobi; Philip Kumah spoke about the process of upgrading Old Fadama in Accra; Claudius Pereira of URBEL (Urbanisation Company of Bele Horizonte) and Marcos Landa, the coordinator of the Brazilian movement talked about Osasco, which is a settlement in Sao Paulo and finally Jockin, the president of SDI and the National Slum Dweller’s Federation of India gave his views on the experiences of Dharavi in India.
Jack Makau’s impression of the event was it was a session about things that people have done, rather than a session about hypothetical situations and new thinking. And there are very few sessions like that. The examples of concrete achievement largely consist of answers coming out of communities, which is exactly what SDI is here to showcase and build upon.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat
The Kenyan federation, Mungano wa wanavijiji, kicked off an enumeration of the railway line slum of Kibera in Nairobi this week. The survey process there is an example of how politically complicated collecting information can get, as well as just how valuable the data actually is.
My colleague Jack Makau has a great in-depth piece on the history of enumerations in Kibera. This is the second large-scale enumeration undertaken by the federation there in the past six years. It is all tied to planned evictions along the line that have never been carried out, as the Kenyan government’s move to privatize the railway line has proceeded in very slow fits and starts. The twists of this process, which was originally envisioned to have finished years ago, shine a light on the combustible combination of resources, government processes, the role of multinational institutions (in this case, the World Bank), and a community’s attempt to organize itself around its own resources and capacities.
Slums in Nairobi face acute tension between structure owners and tenants. An enumeration can highlight such divisions, especially when it is so closely tied to an eviction. Everyone wants to be counted so they can get their hands on the resources associated with the relocation. An exchange team from the South African Federation of the Urban Poor (FEDUP) was supposed to leave a week ago to support the enumeration process, but postponed the trip when conflict between structure owners and tenants delayed the start of the survey. I will be joining the team when it leaves for Nairobi on Sunday, and will be keeping this blog updated with how the process plays out over the next week or so.
The Kibera case complicates what is often seen as a simple binary between evicting and not evicting when some kind of business project threatens people’s homes. In this case, the relocation is allowing slum dwellers to assert themselves in their relationship with government and multinational organizations. It was a big accomplishment for the federation to get the government to agree to let the community count itself, and to have that information be the basis for their relocation.
When the World Bank — a major funding partner of the railway rehabilitation and relocation of the nearby slum dwellers — accepts a methodology like community-led enumeration to serve as the basis for its programs, it is an important first step towards putting organized communities of the urban poor at the center of their own development. At the end of the day, resources — money — are the name of the game. And it is an important development that resources for relocation are directly tied to the results of information that comes out of a community’s own organizational capacity and practice. Land and money will be allocated to those who are counted.
It can be hard to see the full impact of these kinds of activities in the short term. What looks like collusion today can appear to be a major contestation tomorrow. What looks like incremental change today could spark a revolution in five years time.
The process of engagement with government and other key actors like the World Bank is a messy one. But when slum dwellers can get hold of this process and use it to direct resources towards the organized poor, new, people-centered kinds of development can begin to take place. Getting these kinds of institutions to rely on one of the most valuable resources poor people have — information — is an important first step to changing the overall relationship that they have with the poor.
Perhaps even more importantly, it is a step towards changing the relationships that the poor have with each other. As Jack writes about the first enumeration of Kibera in 2004,
What previously were amorphous collections of shacks and stalls transformed into a community. The residents and traders were joined by what they perceived as a common threat. Community organizations formed months ago to fight off eviction found new purpose. Both traders and residents formulated and started to articulate issues that affected them generally. The enumeration would serve to capacitate and federate these groups.
This paper describes the typical Slum Dwellers International enumeration. SDI works specifically in slum and shack settlements, which are very dense, unplanned and where you have several layers of formal and informal land ownership claims. In most cases the slums are situated in hostile policy environments - in cities that do not have ways in which people in slums can acquire land rights. Indeed in instances where, if any other claim is made on lands occupied by slums, it invariably takes precedence over the claims of the slum dwellers. This leads to forceful evictions or lengthy contestations.
In the case of Nairobi, there are 183 slums, that accommodate approximately 40 percent of the city’s population. 63 percent of these settlements are located on lands that have been privatised while the slum was in existence. Another 24 percent of the slums are located on contested public lands. These include road, railway, and riparian reserves. The remaining 13 percent sit on uncontested public lands. These include Kibera, touted as possibly the largest slum in Africa.
Yet, the slum dwellers on uncontested lands still do not have tenure rights. And the main reason for this is that ownership patterns here slums are extremely complex - almost to a point where regularizing land tenure seems intractable. It is likely that a single shack will be occupied by a tenant who may have lived there for 10 or more years; it will have a structure owner who may not live in the slum, and who is part of an owners association that has an ethnic leaning; and for a fee draws authority from the local authority presiding over the area. The commercial and political interests surrounding the ownership patterns are daunting. So that the authorities mandated to resolve a land issue in these slums are faced with huge difficulties.
Within this context the enumeration is in the first place, an initiative of the slum community. It assumes that there is no government mechanism that can deliver secure tenure equitably. The enumeration therefore seeks two things: first to untangle and rationalise the complex ownership claims within the slum. Second, it seeks establish a relationship with government authorities where a mechanism that is specific to each case is developed. The SDI enumeration is hence a community led process, as opposed to a participatory process that implies that there is already a mechanism for regularization that a community gets invited to.
On February 1st 2004, the Kenya Railways Corporation issued 30 day notices to people living on its 60 meter railway reserve to vacate or be evicted. As if in concert, other ministries also issued notices for people sitting on their utility reserves to move away or be forcefully removed. These included the ministries charged with the provision of power, the development of roads and environmental protection of riparian reserves.
It quickly dawned on civil society, the church and the affected residents themselves that the notices would greatly affect the poor. Paralyzing fear of losing livelihoods and shelter gripped settlements across the city. In the month that followed civil society organisations put together a huge campaign to have the notices revoked. The actions included a rapid inventory of affected slums, mobilization of slum communities; media and street demonstrations, the lodging of a legal case against the state; and drawing international attention to the government’s plans.
On its part the state did not issue statements halting the planned evictions, instead it quietly retreated. At the end of the notice period, slum dwellers stayed home waiting for the bulldozers. None came. In subsequent discussions with technocrats it was gleaned that the withdrawal was not because government now recognised the rights of the slum dwellers on the lands they were occupying. Only that the timing of the evictions was inopportune.
In the case of the railways, the urgency to clear encroachment on its reserve was driven by a move to concession the public facility to a private operator. The concession was a window to evade total collapse of the foundering Kenya Railways Corporation. Two hot spots with high levels of encroachment were identified as the slums of Mukuru and Kibera in Nairobi. The slums stretched over 11 kilometers of track. It was estimated that 20,000 people lived and worked on the railway reserve.
Every day traders spread out their wares on or very near the line, creating a bustling market place for thousands of pedestrians who use the track as a thoroughfare to and from their work places. Thus creating a symbiotic relationship that enables the traders to earn a living and the pedestrians to conveniently procure goods and services. People manage by stepping away from the trains as they pass, sometimes only inches apart and immediately reoccupying the track. As a result of the crowding, trains within these hotspots, operate at crawling speeds.
In addition maintenance of the line is a major challenge – The thousands of feet that daily pound the track undermined its stability; there were pit latrines adjacent to the tracks that dramatically offloaded their waste to the line. This is coupled with littering and damping of garbage. The effects of this are that the maintenance crews constantly fall sick and are unmotivated. The railway noted that “while there had been no deaths or injuries in the last few years danger was imminent in every passage of a train”. If concessioning was a lifeline then encroachment was the Railway’s bane.
It was apparent to Kenyan SDI affiliate, Pamoja Trust, and the slum communities that averting the evictions was not the end of the story. There was need to re-engage with government in order to explore solutions that would not only realise its concessioning goal but also ensure that the slum dweller’s homes and livelihoods were considered. Engagement with the Railway and the Ministry of Transport, after the period of anti-government activism was not going to be easy. Visits to the Railways offices were merely tolerated. The rich tradition of railway men and women, the proud engineers now in management was injured. Meetings were hastily concluded with the retort, “we cannot have this discussion because we await a decision from the cabinet.”
With the assistance of the Indian affiliates of SDI, SPARC and the National Federation of Slum Dwellers, a visit was organised for a team of managers from the Railways. In the city of Mumbai, the Indian Railways had faced encroachment problems at a much larger scale, where every day several people, on average, were hit by trains. Where mothers tied the feet of their children to themselves at night to stop them from rolling on to the tracks in their sleep.
Working with the residents of slums lining the expansive railway network and the SDI affliates, the problem was resolved. To Mumbai, the Kenya Railways team was led by the General Manager – Administration, who was hosted by his Indian counterpart.
On the team’s return, Kenya Railways send a letter that, in part, read, “We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your organisation for facilitating the visit by several officers from the Kenya Railways to Mumbai, India. This visit has been an eye opener, demonstrating vividly that there are other alternatives to the “usual” solution employed where squatter settlements are involved. We at the Kenya Railways shall endeavour to follow your noble and worthy example, seeking a more social and people friendly solution to the problem of encroachments on railway land. The first steps to this end have been made with the enthusiastic response received from our management…”
These efforts coincided with an agreement between the Ministry of Transport and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to finance the concession of railway operations. Another agreement with the World Bank was signed to support the “involuntary relocation” of people sitting on the reserves. This meant that the Ministry of Transport would procure the services of a resettlement advisor to draw up a Relocation Action Plan (RAP).
The visit to Mumbai together with the agreements that government entered, made up the ingredients of a unique process that provided a solution for the slum dwellers sitting on 30 meters on either side of the rail line, for a distance of 11. 4 kilometers. In the slums of Mukuru and Kibera.
The critical learning for Kenya Railways in Mumbai was that official space was provided to the slum dwellers to contribute to resettlement solutions. And they made splendid of this opportunity. This was achieved through an enumeration process. It was also apparent how the enumeration determined the subsequent negotiation, consensus and crafting of a suitable solution.
Another major gain from Mumbai was the positioning attained for Pamoja Trust that organised the visit to the Indian Railways. In a sense the buy-in on enumeration was accompanied by an equal acceptance of the role of communities and NGO’s in government processes. In particular, Pamoja was placed at an advantage in the process of procuring a resettlement advisor to prepare the RAP. As noted before, the RAP in Kenya was vital because it provided a government framework in which an enumeration process would be given legitimacy.
It was however not a given, that a community enumeration, slum dwellers counting other slum dwellers, was an acceptable form of identifying what the World Bank’s resettlement procedures manual called “Project affected Persons” (PAPs). The RAP had to be prepared according to that manual. The negotiation to okay an enumeration was partly aided by global exposure of the World Bank staffers flown in from Washington, and partly because Kenya Railway’s badly needed to get something going – anything. The concession process had stalled and would remain so until the encroachments were sorted out.
Nine months had gone by since the eviction notices were issued. It was not forgotten to the people in Mukuru and Kibera. A series of meetings between the residents of these slums and officers of the railways were held. The meetings were part of the strategy to build confidence in the relocation process, and as expected community anxieties run high. The meetings were all moderated by Pamoja and the Kenya slum dwellers federation, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, who had at this time been selected as the resettlement adviser. On occasion officers from the Ministries of Transport, Housing, Lands and Finance attended community meetings. The resettlement would touch on them all.
Preparations for the enumeration included an awareness campaign, community exchange visits to resettlement projects around the world, negotiation on the process and selection and training of community enumeration teams. The activities had spectacular spin off effects in the slums. What previously were amorphous collections of shacks and stalls transformed into a community. The residents and traders were joined by what they perceived as a common threat. Community organisations formed months ago to fight off the eviction found new purpose. Both traders and residents formulated and started to articulate issues that affected them generally. The enumeration would serve to capacitate and federate these groups.
In rather contentious fashion a second pillar in the strengthening the community claim was achieved. The proposition by Pamoja that the more than 200 community enumerators would work on voluntary basis set ablaze a major fight. It was not comprehensible that the opportunity to play a key part of World Bank and government process would not attract any remuneration for the community teams. For two weeks arguments raged back and forth. At one point, lunches prepared by the local Catholic parish, for the enumerators was spilled and the dinning hall trashed. The enraged enumerators said they preferred cash payments to actual lunches.
Pamoja’s argument that the data coming out of the enumeration was the only asset the community brought to the negotiating table, found sympathy with only a tiny minority of the community. If the World Bank or the government paid for it, they would have total control of the resettlement negotiation. Those that understood were almost entirely members of Muungano who had the benefit of having participated in enumerations in other settlements. Full disclosure by Pamoja on the RAP contract at first seemed to worsen the situation when the community found that some professionals like the architects and engineers would be paid as much as 500 US dollars a day.
Then one morning, it all fell into place. In one of what had become a protracted series of daily negotiations one community team member observed that, “If government is paying a consultant 500 US dollars why would that consultant want to consider anything we have to say”. On a similar line another and then another member supported the thought. A compromise was arrived at where the community enumeration and negotiation teams would get 3 dollars as a daily lunch allowance. On the other hand the Pamoja agreed to ensure that all data collected would be entered into computers by a community team and would be released to the professionals through a community presentation. By lunch hour of the same day, a one room mud shack with streaks of sunlight coming through the tin roof, had been identified as the enumeration headquarters.
The responsibility bestowed on the community was enormous as it was prone to distortion by the numerous interests in the community. The enumeration would cover 100% of the people on the railway reserve and every name that found itself in the register would be entitled to resettlement. However accuracy was critical, not only for a slum wary Railways, but also to preserve the integrity of a process that would set a definite precedent in how the resettlement to land in the country is addressed.
To ensure accuracy a technical team, led by a railways engineer, went before the community enumeration team. This team painted a number on every structure then marked its exact location on a map. The location was the meeting point between distance from the railway line and distance from the start of the rail line 530 and thirty kilometres away. The typical structure number would read like this “537-72/26” Which would mean 537 kilometers and 72 meters from the start of the railway and 26 meters from the center line of the track.
The technical team was followed by the community enumeration team who administered questionnaires, took pictures of every affected person. The community team was beefed up with Pamoja field staff, university students, and officers of the various participating ministries.
Every enumerated structure was issued with a railways certificate. The certificate represented to the community, not the intended proof of being enumerated, but an acknowledgement of a right of occupation. Five years later the certificates bear the weight of a land title deed. It is typical to walk into a shack on the reserve and find the certificate in a glass front picture frame and hang on the wall.
The relocation action plan altered the reserve that the Railways was claiming from 60 meters to 10.4 meters. This meant that much fewer people would require resettlement. The plan also identified public lands adjacent to the settlements where the residential households would be resettled. The traders on the line would move to markets to be built within the reserve. The plan also detailed a footpath to separate the settlement from the reduced reserve. The plan submitted by Pamoja was accepted by the Railways and formed the basis of an 11 million dollar loan to the Kenyan government from the World Bank.
The resettlement plan also permitted the concessioning process to proceed and be concluded. The government then entered a lengthy process of engaging a contract to undertake the resettlement works. A year after, a suitable contractor had not yet been identified. 2007 being an election year, and Kibera being politically volatile the discussion changed. The Ministry of Transport applied to the World Bank to change the usage of funds. The proposed use was to relocate the railway line instead of the slums sitting on the reserve. By the time the general election came the application had been declined.
The presidential results of the 2007 general elections were disputed between the current president Mwai Kibaki and the Member of Parliament for Kibera, Raila Odinga, (who subsequently became the Prime Minister in a power sharing deal). The dispute led to wide scale ethnic violence around the country. Kibera bore the brunt of the violence with a huge death toil as well as displacement of residents. As part of the violence, the residents of Kibera uprooted 2 kilometers of the railway line. And right then Kibera had found a way to hurt government effectively. Every time the track was pulled out, the primary channel for fuel going to Uganda was cut off, leading to fuel shortages and straining diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Subsequently, significant stretches of the rail have been uprooted three times. Once because of an over-blown dispute between Kenya and Uganda on the ownership of a 1 acre island on Lake Victoria that sits between the two countries. Another time because the power utility had pulled out illegal connections in Kibera and the last time because the allowances of enumerators in the national census were delayed. As a result, in 2009 the Railways re-established links with Pamoja Trust to assist in the implement the resettlement plan as a matter of urgency. This time it was considered a matter of National Security.
Pamoja however observed the following:
— The 5.2 meter right of way on both sides of the line was heavily encroached. This is in contrast to the relatively lower encroachment levels recorded during the preparation of the RAP in 2005. We noted an increase in traders on the line. We also observed the occurrence of double storey structures within the 30 meter railway reserve; consolidation of structures characterized by improved flooring, and walling.
— We observed that the level of investment in businesses has risen. This was not only in the physical forms but also in the size of businesses, amounts of stock, as well as improved infrastructure such as electricity. Notably this is an investment by the power utility which is a State corporation and the residents.
— At the same time we noted major deterioration of the railway line. The line sits almost entirely on earth and shows no signs of maintenance over a period of time. The state of the line, we noted, poses an even greater challenge to operation of trains and safety, than was apparent in 2005.
— We also noted that all lands designated for the relocation have since been privatized and significant constructions undertaken on them.
It was then decided between the Government and the World Bank that a revision of the resettlement plan is required. And that Pamoja be requested undertake the revision. The contract to undertake the revision was signed in February 2010.
By Benjamin Bradlow, SDI secretariat; photos by Irene Karanja, Pamoja Trust
By early December, ordinary people living on the riparian reserve in Deep Sea informal settlement had organized themselves to move off the land. The move was in compliance with a Kenyan Ministry of Environment order. The people on the reserve assumed that they would end up living on the land within the settlement that had been designated for this relocation. Muungano wa wanavijiji, the Kenyan Homeless People’s Federation, assisted the people living close to the water to count themselves. The completion of this exercise meant that community members would know exactly who would be affected by the move to a far away corner within Deep Sea informal settlement, in the Westlands division of Nairobi. 160 households — 349 people — were now set to relocate.
So why was the land allocated to others? Why are Muungano wa wanavijiji members from this community in prison? Most significantly, why are the people once living on the riparian reserve now homeless?
Violence, displacement, and legal disempowerment perpetrated by entrenched political and market interests are systematic realities in the lives of slum dwellers the world over. In the past six months, we have noted threats and witnessed acts of evictions in the historic Old Fadama informal settlement in Accra, Ghana, as well as the death, destruction of houses, and illegitimate arrest of slum dweller activists in the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban, South Africa. In both of these cases, it was clear that moves towards people-driven development were threatening vested interests of capital and power. Local politicians and businessmen resorted — either by themselves or through associated vigilantes — to violent means to assert their claims to the spoils of development. This is the same development that should be going to those who are otherwise the legitimate owners of their own fate: informal settlement dwellers themselves.
In previous bulletins about these cases, we have noted the need for closer analysis of the vulnerabilities of slum dwellers to the structural violence, either direct or indirect, perpetrated through state, parastatal, and market forces. The new case from the Deep Sea informal settlement illuminates the ways in which these susceptibilities arise when communities organize themselves towards their own development. This exposes the cruel contradictions of the state and the market as custodians of housing and urban development.
According to Pamoja Trust, a support NGO for Muungano wa wanavijiji, construction began on the allocated parcel of land for the relocation shortly after the Muungano-led enumeration. These houses went to allies of the local chief, according to residents. Those living on the riparian reserve were cut out of the move.
Community leaders drew up a letter of complaint, which was taken up by the Westlands District Officer. In response, he ordered a partial demolition of the new structures on 18 December. Now those who occupied the new structures protested, demanding back the money they claimed to have paid for the right to live there. According to eyewitness accounts gathered by Pamoja Trust, the police, local chief, and district officer began searching for the community chairman to serve as a scapegoat.
While the demolition was taking place, local police handcuffed the chairman, Richard Monari, who had helped write the letter of complaint. He was held in a police car for two hours, during which time witnesses report seeing a stranger handing a sachet of bhang (marijuana) to a plainclothes police officer. Three police officers and the local chief then took Monari to his house. His wife protested to the police and district officer, according to her testimony given to Pamoja Trust:
“I have seen and heard you from the time you came. You arrested my husband for exposing the transactions that have happened over this parcel of land through your office. Now I have seen this policeman plant the bhang in my bed. I know you want to get rid of my husband because he is contesting the business that you have been doing in this community in the name of resolving the riparian reserve issue.”
As she held her baby, a policeman slapped her. Her husband was arrested and taken to Parklands police station on charges of drug possession.
The crowd saw what was taking place and turned on the government officials. Both the chief and district officer had to flee.
The Deep Sea case is just the latest to highlight the need for slum dwellers everywhere to organize around their own capabilities and resources to fundamentally alter the ways that state and market assets accrue to them as urban citizens. Deep-seated interests are vested in the urbanization of poverty. Laws, near-pyrrhic victories in courts, and unfocused public demonstrations will not restrain them. It will take the full force of ordinary slum dwellers organizing themselves community-by-community, coming together at the city level, at the national level, and at the international level. It will take alliances with professionals who reinforce and enable the priorities, methods, and capabilities of poor people themselves.
The state and the market clearly must be challenged when they perpetrate acts of violence and oppression against ordinary poor urban dwellers like in Deep Sea, Kennedy Road, Old Fadama, and elsewhere. But ultimately, these forces must be engaged to achieve the development priorities of ordinary poor people at a scale that will change the course of the urbanization of poverty in our world. People-centered development will come when the people are truly the focus the state’s political structures purport to serve.
Governments can provide the resources to facilitate development. Still, they must ultimately recognize the primacy of the priorities and capabilities of organized, ordinary poor people. Such organized communities, working in hand with the facilitating power of the state, will put an end to the all-too-present specter of the cruel hand of the market and government, and engage the poor as full citizens of the places where they live and work.
On the 4th of November 09, the Nairobi City Council served the Aoko Road Traders of Nairobi with a 48-hour notice of eviction, however by midnight of the 5th of November the bulldozers arrived. There were a total of 797 trading shacks demolished, with 297 being part of a Pamoja Trust enumeration. Aoko road is situated in an area known as South B in the city of Nairobi. The road sits behind the middle income housing of South B and the front of the Mukuru Fuata Nyayo and Kayaba slums. The reasons given for the eviction was that the traders were based on top of road reserves, and the Council wanted to construct the roads
However, the traders- along with the Pamoja Trust- had taken part in negotiations with the municipality and a local bank to develop trading stalls along Aoko that would allow for uninhibited passage of the road. . The negotiation had included an enumeration and the organization of the traders into a community saving scheme.
By the end of October an agreement had been reached that concluded that as long as the roadside traders allowed the municipality to construct the road, and after the construction, agree to standardized stalls – then there would be no problem from either side.
Upon receiving the eviction notices, the Aoko traders went to the Deputy Mayor in an effort to stop the planned action. They met with the Deputy Mayor at 7 pm on the 4th of November and left the offices with the assurance that the evictions were to be stopped. However, by midnight the stalls were being demolished.
Though the traders did not physically resist the demolition they stood, holding banners condemning the actions in hope that the local media would appear at the scene. The traders were subsequently arrested and charged with illegal assembly and committing acts that would inspire further acts of violence.
On the 6th of November six traders, including two women were arraigned in court. All the arrested were members of the community saving scheme. Working closely with a local political activist, Esther Waithera and Pamoja Trust, the traders negotiated with court officers to reduce the charge to illegal assembly and “non violent chanting”. The Narc Political Party, which Ms Waithera represents provided a lawyer
The traders pled not guilty and the hearing of the case was set for January 2010. Bail for each of the six was set at Ksh 5000 (US$ 70). The fifty or so traders attending court quickly raised Ksh 10,000 and were assisted by Ms Waithera with 20,000. Bail was posted successfully and the six walked out to a warm but quiet reception. The traders were fearful of being re- arrested for another “illegal assembly”.
On the 9th of November, Pamoja Trust spoke with the deputy mayor, who explained that the demolition appeared to be backed by higher political forces. A date has been set with the deputy mayor on the 11th of November to discuss what happens next. .
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