By Nyasani Mbaka
Muungano Support Trust in conjunction with Muungano wa Wanavijiji through the Slum/ Shack Dwellers international affiliates whose number currently stands at 34 countries across the globe, have been partnering with City Municipalities in various countries that SDI has set up best practices in empowering slum dwellers in different cities across continents to “lift” themselves out of poverty, through savings which is a recipe to knitting unity among the urban poor.
MuST and Muungano wa Wanavijiji makes use of local and international exchanges as a tool to enable communities learn from one another to steer development projects in settlements. It is through such exchanges that MuST has Partnered with the Stellenbosch Municipality in South Africa and has so far linked up the Municipality with Kenya’s Thika Municipal council one of Africa’s fastest growing towns.
This is a merit based program whose aim is to build capacity for technical know-how and effective service delivery for communities under the jurisdictions of the respective Municipalities.
Cllr. Valerie Fernandes of the Stellenbosch Municipality and Cllr. Yasin Omar, Derputy Mayor of Thika Municipality
January, 25 2012 marked the formal commencement of partnership between Thika (Kenya) and Stellenbosch (South Africa) municipalities, when a special delegation from South Africa led by Stellenbosch veteran politician Valerie Fernandez. Ms. Fernandez serving as a councilor in the Stellenbosch Municipality and David Carrolisen, who is the Deputy Director: Integrated Human Settlement in the Stellenbosch Municipality paid a courtesy on the Thika Municipal Council. The delegation was received by Deputy Mayor, Yasin Omar.
The two leaders exchanged their experiences in working with communities especially the urban poor and well poised strategies that are meant to address issues of settlement housing unit improvement, infrastructure upgrading and service delivery to communities.
MuST staff, Muungano wa Kiandutu, University of Nairobi, Stellenbosch Municipality Representatives and officials from the Thika Municipal council pose for a group Photo
During the meeting challenges emerged that the two countries are facing in their respective countries. The challenges ranged from land encroachment by squatters, lack of better capacity to provide better housing facilities, poor infrastructure, understanding the implications of the challenges that may occur in the management of community based projects, drafting of council policy that is accepted by all stakeholders and the lack of efficient procedure in addressing the existing gap between planners, politicians and the People.
In addressing these challenges the two Municipalities agreed that the initial way forward is to organize exchange visits comprising of Planners, Politicians and Community members to access the level of best practices in both countries. The first exchange visit is expected to take place in due course. The two Municipalities are looking forward to a cordial working relationship this New Year.