By Shadrack Mbaka
Thika, Kiambu –Wednesday, August 12, 2015: With a focus on improving the standard of living of the urban poor , the County government of Kiambu, Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Slum Dwellers International is set to embark on an extensive settlement profiling, enumerations and mapping exercise in Kiandutu settlement, Thika Sub-county.
SDI and the Kiambu government have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a press conference held at the county’s office in Thika earlier yesterday afternoon.
The MOU will see the identification and community organisation of residents living in the county. The communities living in these informal settlements will be sensitized on the significance of Settlement profiles, enumerations and mapping, stating the deep correlations between community data and local government planning priorities, especially for communities living in informal settlements.
Kiandutu slums are located just next to Thika Town. The slum started out as a stretch of land where people started settling as early as 1969.
Slums are often imagined to be crime hotbeds, which is adversely linked to poverty, low income levels, lack of access to education and high unemployment rates. However, not everything in Kiandutu is bad news as other normal activities also take place. For instance there are several self-help groups, under the Kiandutu Muungano network and other development initiatives. The elders informs that at least 3 acres was set aside for the setting up of a market(Biashara), a social hall, a hospital which is nearly complete and an AP (Administration Police) post to beef up security in the area.
H.E. Governor William Kabogo who graced the launch of the partnership deal said, “I do not think that my government we could have chosen a better entity to partner with for this programme. We have had previous discussions with SDI on how best we can begin working with communities to improve the standards of living of the poor.”
The Governor directed his government that the sewer infrastructure in Kiandutu be planned for and completed to allow households to connect to the sewer system, this will hence allow for better human waste management in the settlement. He also assured residents that he will engage all stakeholders in the water sector in the county to bring down the cost of water down, for the people of Kiandutu to enjoy safe and clean water.
Residents have appealed to Kiambu Governor William Kabogo to intervene and help build more toilets. Heaps of garbage which have not been collected for months leaving a stench all over the slum. There have been cases of cholera, typhoid and diarrhea. Kiandutu does not have a drainage system which is made worse during rainy seasons.
Rashid Mutua, Chairman of Muungano wa Wanavijiji also added that, “For any county to grow and become competitive, it is equally important for local governments to work closely with the people, especially the poor to develop.
Jack Makau, representing Slum Dwellers International said, “We are very excited about this partnership and we look forward to creating and enabling environment for communities to work closely with the poor, a remarkable result that this partnership will deliver.”
Hon. Esther Njuguna, C.E.C Water, Environment and Natural Resources reiterated that the partnership between the County government of Kiambu and SDI is to support communities to address their own problems be offering short term and long term solutions, this will be a win-win for everyone. She also reiterated that her department will work with SDI and Muungano to reach out to other informal settlements in the county.
Profiling in Kiandutu case is crucial for obtaining more comprehensive settlement information and to thereby enable effective decision-making on which developmental responses are appropriated for different settlement clusters.
The purpose of this exercise was to assist informal settlements in Kiambu towards collecting data for their settlement as part of the Know Your City project partnership between Muungano wa Wanavijiji, SDI and Kiambu county government.
The strategy around this information collection in Kiandutu is focused on linking surveys to citywide impacts. Across Muungano wa Wanavijiji networks, enumeration and profiling has been used to combat evictions; plan relocations and resettlements, or plan the reorganization of space and in situ upgrading in dense informal settlements. In 2015, as part of its overarching approach to improving information collection, data management and analysis systems, Muungano with the support of SDI look to improve profile and enumeration methods to increase efficiency and accuracy while maintaining the objective of using the ritual as a community organizing and mobilization tool.
As with profiling and enumerations, mapping is conducted by slum dwellers in Kiandutu, Muungano has added GIS techniques to further improve the accuracy of maps and make them compatible with local authority planning codes and systems.
The training of slum dwellers in the use of GPS devices and inputting of data into GIS and enumeration software packages has proven that the use of these tools are not limited to academically trained professionals but to able communities too. If anything, the advent of more mobile computing technologies has created more opportunities for slum dwellers to take control of mapping and enumerating their settlements which in the past would have been hampered by more traditional mapping methodologies.
The overall information collection strategy involves developing a system which can visually, through maps, provide a bird’s settlement eye view of Kiandutu in Kiambu whereas enumeration and settlement profiles, allows for detailed drilling down to household level information for specific settlements allowing residents to have supreme control of their data with quick access to information which they find most important for their development agendas.
The challenge posed by informal settlements is one that calls for synergy and back-stopping of the diverse strategies in seeking solutions. Given the scale of informal settlements, their complexity and the limited human and financial resources available, profiling seeks to facilitate practical and achievable pathways to sustainable upgrading. Thus, it is of utmost importance that this approach is widely shared and appreciated by all those interested in settlement upgrading as an area of intervention.