Climate Change Renaissance- The bottom up city approach


Similarly to local governments, federations of the urban poor globally are equally concerned about the strong impacts of climate change they continue to experience. Urban poor communities living in global cities believe that COP21 in Paris is an opportunity to state loud and clear that the local communities are major players in finding lasting solutions in the struggle against climate change.

Anastasia Wairimu Maina is one of the founders of Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Kenyan Alliance and its National Chairlady since it was formed in 1996. Wairimu was one of the delegates representing Slum Dwellers International (SDI) at the COP21 summit in Paris, views the Climate Summit as “an opportunity to voice up that we, the slum dwellers within the SDI network and beyond are major players in the struggle against climate change.”

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Restoring our own slum dwellers’ dignity


Youth Programm 2

The National Youth Service Informal settlement Slum Upgrade Initiative has greatly supported the transformation of slums in and outside the city not only for the benefits of communities but also inspired the youths integrated in the programme.

This initiative was started by the National Youth Service, in coordination with local youth volunteers from the informal settlements, which ensured that growth is possible in run down informal settlements. The initiative would include cleanup of neighbourhoods, sewers, construction of toilets and washrooms and trenches. The face of Mathare’s 9 gradually changing to a better place from insecurity related issues, poor sanitation to youth and women employment. This programme was greatly attributed to absorption of many youths and women into the National Youth Service (NYS) programme of cleaning the slum.

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Pope Francis Speaks out on social injustice -A message of courage and hope for slum dwellers

The Pope heading to the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Kangemi of Friday . Picture Courtesy of Ben Curtis/AP

The Pope heading to the St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Kangemi of Friday . Picture Courtesy of Ben Curtis/AP

Pope Francis began his last of his three day visit to Kenya by first visiting to Kangemi informal settlement located at the heart of Nairobi. The Pope made time to speak with the inhabitants of the settlements and primarily asked them to stay in faith and the Lord will never forget them.

From the onset of his visit it was clear that the Pope would dwell on the truth and speak for the voiceless, the earth trodden. This was evident where in a hard-hitting appeal, Pope Francis asked for social inclusion, education, social protection for families – a response to what he called the consequences of “new colonialism”.

The Pope’s visit to Kangemi was the first official event on this last day of his visit to Kenya. His message resonated well with slum dwellers and the federation of the Kenya’s slum dwellers-Muungano Wa Wanavijiji– the most important and poignant as he has made walking with the poor a top priority of his pontificate right from the very beginning.

Kangemi is one of the 6 informal settlements in close proximity to the capital, Nairobi. The settlement has approximately 60,000 residents living without basic sanitation. Most of the capital’s slums comprise a maze of single-room mud structures with iron-sheet roofing or cramped, high-rise buildings.

His Holiness Pope Francis also referred to the problem of urban informal settlements in his speech to the African U.N. headquarters on Thursday, saying everyone has a basic right to “dignified living conditions,” and that the views of local residents must be taken into account when urban planners are designing new construction.

His message to the citizens of the Republic of Kenya contained strong socio-political overtones as he talked of the dreadful injustice of urban exclusion and of the “wounds inflicted by minorities who cling to power and wealth, who selfishly squander while a growing majority is forced to flee to abandoned, filthy and run-down peripheries”.

It goes without saying that the Kenyan government will continue to listen to the people and heed Pope Francis’ urgent call to give all families dignified housing, access to drinking water, a toilet, reliable streets, squares, schools, hospitals, areas for sport, recreation and art.

The basic services each person deserves on the basis of his or her infinite human dignity. Below is the full Pope’s speech.

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Challenging Perceived Insignificance of Slums-The Mukuru Festival


By Shadrack Mbaka and Peris Saleh



Kenya, just like any other sub-Saharan African country takes time out to celebrate a number of national, city and regional festivals annually, most of which are either connected to; religion, historical events or African arts, Music, food and dance. Such celebrations often revolve around family, community and to foster unity.

On a recent visit to Reuben Youth foundation (RYF), a community-based organization founded by the youth of Mukuru informal settlement. The group is composed of youths from the wider Mukuru slums who came together to empower one another to be able to reduce the rate of crime, drug abuse, early girl child pregnancy and to promote peaceful coexistence amongst community members.

In the course of the visit, my co-writer Peris Saleh, she hails from Mukuru Slums and is also a member of RYF suddenly pops up the most significant but rarely answered question…Can anything good come out of the slum, for instance Mukuru?

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Giving pupils in slums a digital oriented future

Kids from Church on the rock, Mukuru enjoying their group computer classes.

Kids from Church on the rock, Mukuru enjoying their group computer classes.

By Shadrack Mbaka

Today’s world mirrors a global village, where communication and transactions are made through a touch of a button. This therefore brings all of us to the realization that remaining computer illiterate is no longer an option. Progressive globalization, especially in the African content has created lots of opportunities, which if properly nurtured would improve standards of living and provide access to quality education.

Tr. Evans Otibine of Akiba Mashinani Trust moderates the computer lesson.

Tr. Evans Otibine of Akiba Mashinani Trust moderates the computer lesson.

Computer and social skills impacted to the current generation of students, through interactive and practical training will enhance competitiveness and enhance a new educational possibility which has led to alternatives in traditional classroom learning, job markets and spur growth in different economic sectors.

Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s fastest-growing slums, Janet Moraa a 14-year-old standard seven pupil intently goes through the basic computer packages. Just one of some 200 students being taught basic computer skills, she has attended the free weekly computer literacy lessons without fail for two months now.

Janet Moraa a pupil at Church on the Rock receives instructions from Tr. Kate of Muungano wa Wanavijiji.

Janet Moraa a pupil at Church on the Rock receives instructions from Tr. Kate of Muungano wa Wanavijiji.

It’s an opportunity he considers a rear opportunity in her upper primary schooling. Her mother earns about $3, which translates to about Ksh.300 a day washing clothes for middle class households in Imara Daima and Donholm estates. “The tutors from Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Akiba Mashinani Trust are very friendly; so far they have enabled us to understand more about the fast world of computers,” she said. “This project stands to empower us gain computer skills.”

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Participants of the 15th Hub Meet.

Participants of the 15th Hub Meet.

By Shadrack Mbaka and Joseph Muturi

As the world convened in New York for the 70th session of the United Nations general Assembly held in September 2015 for the ratification of the 17 Sustainable Goals (SDGs), for the first time ratified an urban-specific Sustainable Development Goal, which precisely focuses on cities and human settlements, Goal 11. However, what remains to be the big question is what would be its impacts?

Recently, between the 1st and 3rd October 2015, the SDI East African hub (Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania) met  in Jinja, Uganda to reflect the realities of many developing cities around the region – these realities include the struggles faced by its members to pursue dignified lives, through building sustainable slum-dweller federations. Slum dwellers within the East African hub; continue to be pervaded by characteristics of extreme poverty, forced evictions, and rapid population growth, and inadequate local and central government systems.

The 15th East African hub meeting was officially opened by Musisi Kibuguddu, chairman Local council 3 Walukuba-Masese division Jinja municipality. The chair urged the federations to develop an inter sectoral working approach between the federations to enable create learning and through self sustainable community   programmes.

Musisi Kibuguddu LC 3 Chairman

Musisi Kibuguddu LC 3 Chairman

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Citizen research: community-led mechanisms in addressing food safety in urban poor settlements


By Shadrack Mbaka

Food insecurity and safety challenges continue to be a silent but common problem in many urban and rural parts of Kenya; but the country’s rapidly growing urban population is increasingly trying to address these food related issues.

At present, the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on a campaign that seeks to promote peri-urban agriculture to create a broader access to food supplies among the urban poor.
images (4)“Most cities and towns in Kenya are growing rapidly and so are their populations. However, it is important to note that only a small number of these people may have a consistent source of income, which makes the majority of them border on the edges of extreme poverty. And this is primarily because they cannot afford food,” said Grace Watetu, a food security analyst with Muungano wa Wanavijiji.

According to a recent study done by the International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED), in partnership with University College London and Muungano wa Wanavijiji-Kenya Federation of the Urban Poor, urban poor, especially those living in informal settlements, are exposed to multiple vulnerabilities and risks connected to both the environment in which they live and the livelihoods which they pursue.

Most residents in slums such as Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru, Korogocho and Viwandani lack secure tenure and proper access to basic services such as water, sewer and drainage connections, and proper sanitation. Most importantly, they lack better and dignified housing. This condition makes the urban poor vulnerable to health hazards and prone to evictions and to destruction, or loss, of property.

The overcrowding and non-durable nature of most slum housing coupled with inadequate sanitation and water services results in a high probability of disease transmission. Limited health service provision is also affecting the health status of the population living in informal settlements.

Many urban poor rely on manual, casual, insecure and low paying jobs, some of which are also subject to seasonality.

As a result, many informal settlements’ residents resort to a variety of coping mechanisms: skipping and/or spreading consumption, eating fewer and smaller meals, and eating cheaper foods.

The IIED, UCL and Muungano wa Wanavijiji study focused on the informal settlements of Mathare and Viwandani (Nairobi) and it is estimated that slum dwellers spend between 50 and 60 percent of their monthly income on food.

Rukia Nyambura, a 27-year-old mother of one, lives in Korogocho, an informal settlement in Nairobi. Her average daily income is about Ksh. 300(about US$3.00).”Sometimes am split budgeting my income between food to feed my family, taking care of my baby’s health needs and of course rent. But it is often food needs that take the bigger chunk of my income,” says Rukia.
“These groups of people, as represented by Rukia, are greatly affected by food insecurity because they survive on little income or none at all,” said Alice Sverdlik, a researcher at University of California Berkeley.

Some of the major topics raised by the communities in the study revolved widely around key important areas such as: risks for the urban poor living in informal settlements—in particular in relation to food sources, environmental hazards and lack of infrastructure. The specific causes creating food safety issues in slum areas. And the possible solutions that can be taken into consideration.

Most urban areas and towns across the country, and in particular the communities living in informal settlements, heavily rely on food supplies from rural areas.

The project a dynamic approach seeks to explore available modern day technology to survey and recommend ways of improving food security and safety in the city by way of embracing, visualize communal problems and challenges in the city on digitized settlement maps to highlight these issues.

As a way of building capacity for citizen scientists, this would go a long way in supporting urban poor communities to have a clearer understanding of the effects and impacts of food safety on the health. This would trigger a process that could offer community-generated solutions that, as a result, could propose key policy guidelines to strengthen food security in the city.


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