Slum Soccer- a tool for resilient Communities

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Slum Soccer uses football – the beautiful game which is unique yet a perfect vehicle that transcends race, religion, language and gender to bring about a change in the lives of slum/street dwellers. Slum Soccer exists to foster sustainable development within otherwise marginalized populations of Nairobi and other cities. For the love of the game, it turns out as a tool that aims to provide long term solutions to combat homelessness and improve living standards within underprivileged areas.

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Coach Johnte giving tactical instructions to the Huruma Kambi Moto team.

Coach Johnte giving tactical instructions to the Huruma Kambi Moto team.

Its approaches are centered on building self-sufficient communities. The game of Football is our means to that end- connecting individuals, teaching life skills and working towards improving overall quality of life.

Monday, this week 26 kids from Kambi Moto, Huruma got the opportunity to play in the tournament held in Mathare.

All said and done, the biggest factor that enables us to use football as a tool to connect and bring about social development is quite stunningly simple. Football is fun! We believe we are able to bring about increased learning and engagement through utilising this.

Fat Fingers and Back of a Napkin Calculations

By Jack Makau

Kiambu Governor, H.E William Kabogo enumerates a family in Kiandutu during an event to launch the community enumeration process. The Kenya federation has moved from paper based surveys to the use of hi-tech devices.

Kiambu Governor, H.E William Kabogo enumerates a family in Kiandutu during an event to launch the community enumeration process. The Kenya federation has moved from paper based surveys to the use of hi-tech devices.

Kenyan slum dwellers undertake paperless survey of 10,000 families.

Over the last 15 years, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, the Kenya federation of slum dwellers has surveyed and mapped over 340,000 slum families living in 364 settlements. In its latest survey, conducted in Kiandutu slum – 40 kilometers north west of Nairobi, Muungano made a switch to use technology for collecting and processing data.

On the ground, in Kiandutu (which means, place of jiggers) 170 community members were selected to map each of the settlement’s 10,000 shacks and collect details of each family and each person living there. Instead of a paper questionnaire, the enumerators used Android 6.3 inch touch-screen tablets. According to Muungano’s chair person, Rashid Mutua, “we had a choice of smart phones or tablets, both within the same price range. We choose tablets because some of us have fat fingers.”

The tablets are installed with an Enketo web form that has all 37 questions contained in Muungano’s previous paper questionnaires. The tablets do not require an Internet connection to work. The enumerators collect data offline all day, and in the evening the data is transferred into a GIS enabled database.

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Muungano Signs MOU with Kiambu County Government to launch partnership


By Shadrack Mbaka

Jack Makau of SDI and Hon. Esther Njuguna of Kiambu County Government Exchange  signed copies of the MOU.

Jack Makau of SDI and Hon. Esther Njuguna of Kiambu County Government Exchange signed copies of the MOU.

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.

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Kiandutu Settlement Profiling and Mapping begins

By Muungano documentation Team

Mtatu B, one of the clusters in Kiandutu Informal settlement.

Mtatu B, one of the clusters in Kiandutu Informal settlement.

In 2011, the Kenyan SDI Alliance began scaling up its strategy to support community-led upgrading in anticipation of engaging the Kiambu county government to deliver on a new national and city slump improvement initiative and housing programmes. Subsequently in 2015, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, with the support of Slum Dwellers International (SDI) has successfully negotiated a partnership strategy, that would see all informal settlements in Kiambu County identified, profiled, mapped and documented for future slum upgrading and resettlement plans.

Kenya for example follows many previous government programmes and slum upgrading models such as the; Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement programme and the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme that set out to address slum improvement and upgrading, but has particular importance in that, the support it offers city governments to achieve “slum-free” cities focuses far more than its predecessors on in situ upgrading and tenure security for those living in informal settlements.

Despite the priority given to participation and empowerment by development agencies, there have been few opportunities for the poor to develop their own alternatives. However, Muungano and other SDI affiliates are using community-led data collection, upgrading initiatives, and partnerships to advance change across informal settlements and even at the city-wide scale. The power of communities and their ability to gather data that can influence policy is immense: The urban poor have demonstrated that cities have to work with urban poor communities to collect data and maps of all informal settlements in the city, as the basis for inclusive partnerships between communities of the urban poor and local governments. This has proven to be a critical starting point for meaningful development interventions to address the issues facing our cities, particularly in the informal sector, including human settlements and economy, which constitutes the majority of our cities’ people.

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By Eva Mourine, Mathare


Photo credit: Sam Sturgis

Photo credit: Sam Sturgis

The high rate of unemployment and lack of basic services in low-income neighborhoods such as Mathare has continued to influence to a larger extent alternative modes of social and economic organization amongst youth living in Nairobi’s slums. Most informal settlements in Nairobi sets a context where nothing is actually formal, there are no official roads, no basic infrastructure, no official security means, the ever ‘‘hustling’’ youth have carved out alternative niche to navigate extreme environments.

Alcoholism and drug abuse among the youth in Mathare continues to be a big disease that is causing pain and agony in many households in Mathare, this has greatly hampered development. In the heart of Mathare valley, one would be awakened by the stench of alcohol which often sends a message of despair to many.

The smoke; billowing from the chimneys smells of burnt grass of Jamaican hem. Every crack of dawn is welcomed by the bizarre of drunk walking zombies that fight themselves through the faint light as if avoiding the sun that could smoke them alive if it light bright, many homes have gained shame which in too much intensity has proven a great crack of weak point for the future leaders who swallowed by the fate of alcoholism and drug addiction.

Alcoholic drinks are gaining popularity in informal settlements; however, what is of major concern is the additives that these drinks are laced with. Many of the local popular drinks in Nairobi slums include; changaa and busaa. “Some of these drinks  could either make you go blind since they are laced with deadly chemicals such as chloroform and ethanol,” this was description given to by one of the community health workers”.

All I can be sure of is that; the ghetto never lacks the class of living easy and dying fast. The youths have been trapped in the cycle of the ‘urge’ which spikes the nerves like a racing inferno which it desires can never be calmed by coffee or tea.

This is the routine caused by the outcome of addictiveness and love for anxiety in this valley of shanties. So often while traversing Mathare, I would ask myself questions, Is it the outrageous lusty appetite to feel high or just an imaginary stairs to cloud nine?

Although adolescence provides a challenging developmental period for young people throughout Mathare and the world, the difficulties faced by young people in developing countries are often exacerbated by poverty, limited access to education, and unstable social contexts.

Drug addiction, not only has it stormed many by an expected surprise, rather has it left every household with a calm demon to nurse. Many youths, in my settlement, Mathare have been enslaved by alcohol and drug abuse, leaving the affected parents; if lucky, nursing hopes with prayers of breaking the capture of their sons and daughters. Alcohol abuse has become inevitable for much as cheap liquor is at disposal for all young, middle and the aged residents.

In recent turn events, President Uhuru Kenyatta in reaction to the silent slogan, “we are a drinking nation” issued a directive on the destruction of all second generation alcohol. This directive has so far seen the banishing of illegal drinking dens in Mathare. This directive may be considered a knee jack reaction; however, it has created the much needed debate on building a sober citizenry that is focused in building better communities.

Alcohol abuse has had a devastating effect in Mathare. Alcohol has been abused to the extent that the consumers, whom most are the youth as well as their families, have suffered a great deal from its adverse effects. Many youths under the influence engage in hazardous behaviors’, notably crime to sustain these habits, unsafe sex, fights which they would otherwise not engage in.

Milkah Njeri, a resident of Huruma in Mathare constituency, believes that the directive by the president to declare war on illegal brews is just but the beginning, “The war against killer brews is necessary to protect the youth to enable them be part nation building,” she said.

The Mathare community has sustained efforts to help support alcohol and drug addicts by encouraging them to go to the rehabilitation centers and “mend” their lives. The community has also enhanced “the ka sober” campaign (Stay sober) to sensitize and educate communities on effects of drug and alcohol addiction. Muungano network in Mathare in efforts to ensure the youth to beat alcoholism and drug abuse, the federation has continued to engage the youth in cleanups and organising them in savings schemes which has greatly assisted them to start their own businesses and ventures. For all said and done, the slums are still fading in the languishing state of the current emergence of alcoholism addiction and other vital drug abuse.

Silence is golden but either way… languishing is paramount…

Investing in slum dwellers to tailor own solutions

By Milkah Njeri, Huruma

Data Capturing process of settlement profiles.

Data Capturing process of settlement profiles.

Born in an informal settlement and brought up in yet another informal slum in Nairobi, in itself sounds catastrophic. Having been born in Korogocho did not castigate me to a life of poverty; I had a vision to lead a normal life. Raised in a family of four girls and four boys life was not that promising but I learned to live a simple life.

In a city where half of the population lives in urban areas, one would expect pockets of slums strewn across almost every neighbourhood with high population densities. The picture is not a far cry from reality, at least in the context of Korogocho. But even if the country has seen incredible growth over the years, there is hope things can turn around.



Being a single mother I joined Muungano in 2001 in Korogocho by then I used to save five shillings daily, in 2003 I moved from Korogocho to Huruma and later joined ex-grogon saving scheme and also as an assistant secretary for ex-grogon land and housing co-operative society with no papers, not even attending a computer class I was a among ten youths in eastern region to undergo a data capturing training in using Microsoft access and excel. I later on learnt on data verification , since then I have learnt more and used these skills to train my fellow slum dwellers, all this achievement needed passion and patience.

My first baby steps first came early than I expected when I started working on the Kambi Moto slum upgrading project, seven years ago in Huruma, Nairobi. The challenges surrounding the community momentum to advocate for the re-allocation of land from the Nairobi City Council back in the day to demonstrate a community led slum upgrading concept, may have differed from other informal settlements such as Kibera, or Mathare, but seldom do we as humans of informal settlements get the feeling of hopelessness in the slum communities.

The urban poor in our great country need to be empowered, and solutions have to be designed by them. Community organization, a difficult yet key element to successful Kambi Moto slum upgrading, was successfully carried out, with communities taking mostly the lead. In places where there is collective sense of purpose and willingness to be supported, the likelihood of successful community upgrading is greater.

In April 2015, I attended workshop and learnt another way of capturing data- ONA platform. This is an SDI managed online tool, which enables communities’ key in; process; analyse; verify and generate information about informal settlements. I have passion for profiling, what I love most about data is that it talks about people’s livelihoods in informal settlements, and the interesting part altogether is that and when people begin to speak back to the data, collective actions and needs is inevitable. This information helps we, slum dwellers in stopping evictions which happens regularly in most settlements, and while using this information communities are well able to advocate for provision of services in their slums. This has really improved my skills and made me who I am today.

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit Zimbabwe to attend a data profiling and ONA platform workshop in Bulawayo city in June. In this session I was able to take other federation members from different countries through keying in data using ONA, this is because of the capacity, skills and experience I have gained through Muungano Wa Wanavijiji.

As an affiliate of Slum Dwellers International, we visited Ngozi mines, this is an informal settlement located within a dumpsite area in Bulawayo central. Together as a team we supported the Zimbabwean federation in a settlement profiling and mapping exercise with other federation members from different countries, before leaving Ngozi mines, we supported the communities living there to organise the community and formed a saving schemes and saved five dollars and fifteen rands.

To date, the group has twenty five members.

One aspect that I took home after the learning exchange to Bulawayo, in particular is that; forging partnerships with our governments is key in addressing issues of informality and slum upgrading. Civil society and private sector groups are also becoming important players in the urban arena. Slum dweller movements, such as Muungano Wa Wanavijiji effectively reach out to communities and are best assigned the roles of community organizing, facilitating dialogue, community organising-through empowerment of community savings schemes, community prioritized need identification, project identification, project management and maintenance of community facilities, which often creates a sense of collective ownership that further drives sustainability of community projects.

KEPSA 3Additionally, I could not help but notice that the private sector, through the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) is increasingly interested in working with the county governments in developing low-cost housing in various counties. Muungano recently undertook, city wide settlement profiling in six counties. Sets of information generated from the process, has continued to empower communities to have knowledge of their informal settlements, which  through prudent discussions, slum dwellers have begun engaging their local governments on the provision of basic services and infrastructure developments. In a long time counties, have finally recognized the importance of engaging all the stakeholders in planning, execution and monitoring programs for the poor.

Governments have an important role to play in respect of addressing issues of slums, particularly by creating partnerships between national and local governments, civil society and even the communities themselves to work toward an expanded and sustained program for the urban poor.



By Peris Saleh.

Its better knowing something than ignoring it. This is now me; I never wanted to be engaged in community activities or even wanted to be associated with community affairs neither had the slightest idea how they run. I used to just sit at home watch television and that was my daily routine come rain or sunshine just day after day.

One day as I was sited on my door step I saw many people passing, headed in the same direction, then one big woman came over to me and introduced herself as Doris Moseti, a community leader in her own right. She asked me,” Why are you sited on the door way while other youths are going to the chiefs place for a meeting” but I answered  am not interested in any meeting or knowing what people are going to do there. She asked me again “are you in any youth group” and I said no.

Doris was very kind to me that she started explaining to me the benefits of being in a youth group.”It’s good for a youth like you to involve yourself in community work through the confines of a youth group and that gives you the prospect of knowing what’s going on in the society “.

Being in a youth group helps one a lot, first by keeping you busy due to the activities they are being done in the group and also you can learn a lot of things from your fellow youth, I saw that was powerful in deed and I needed to try it out, she decided to help me to scout for a group and introduced me to it.

DSC08724The biggest thing of all she also introduced me to an Organization called MUUNGANO, a movement of the urban poor and there I have learnt a lot of things like: SAVINGS, DATA ENTRIES and now DOCUMENTATION. I really thank Doris for the empowerment she gave me and my colleagues from other informal settlements not even forgetting the federation team for accepting me to work with them.

Truly an attitude can change once, come all youth and join me in this wonderful journey of success.

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