By Nyasani Mbaka
Athi River is a town located on the outskirts of Nairobi, in the expansive Machakos County. Athi River is otherwise known as Mavoko. The town hosts Mavoko Municipal council and the headquarters of Mavoko division which is part of Machakos Distict.
It has an urban population of 28,000 and a total population of 60,260. The area is relatively industrialized, including a major cement factory run by Athi River Mining. The town is also a growing residential area due to its proximity to the capital city.
Athi River town is adjacent to and three kilometers from Kitengela town, but is part of the Machakos District in Eastern Province, while Kitengela boarders Kajiado District in the Rift Valley Province.
Mavoko was carved off the Nairobi County Council in 1963, when the latter was disbanded. Mavoko municipality has six wards (Athi River West, Katani, Kinanie/Mathani, Makadara, Muthwani and Sophia). All these wards are in Kathiani constituency, which has a total of ten wards. The remaining four wards are within Masaku County Council.
Athi River is one of Muugano wa Wanavijiji region of operation. The area has a total of 25 savings schemes, which are split to form four Networks depending on the zones on which the saving groups are located. The four networks under the MWW membership are; Jam City, KMC, Kyelenzi and Makadara.
Green Field Housing Project
The main Project currently taking shape in Athi River is the green field Housing project. The land buying and house construction project identified 384 Muungano members who belong to various savings schemes and networks as their first batch of beneficiaries. Through their active participation in daily and weekly savings, the community has purchased a 40 acre piece of land on which they have envisioned to construct housing units, for its members.
Through personal savings, the region raised 20 per cent of the total value of the cost of the land. The local leadership then approached Akiba Mashinani Trust, the financial arm of MWW. AMT then extended a loan to its members, which amounted to 80 per cent of the total value of the land to enable them acquire the land in Kawawie.
The community has begun mobilizing resources towards the realization of their dream homes. A variety of housing models have already been submitted to the communities for approval. The architectural designs shared to them by experts, is part of the dreaming process, where their views on how they would like their houses to look like are factored so as to come up with a comprehensive design acceptable to all project beneficiaries. The ground breaking ceremony took place in May last year which will pave way for the construction of the housing units.
The beneficiaries of the project have committed themselves in repaying the loan, a process that is almost complete.
Bawazir saving scheme Water Kiosk
The Mww water Kiosk in Athi River is an initiative of the Bawazir saving scheme. The water Kiosk is a source of livelihood for the members. The scheme took up a loan with AMT, to put up the water facility, to provide water services to residents of Athi River whom for a long time have had little access to piped water.
Insert photo of bawazir water Kiosk
The group was connected to the water system by Mawasco. The group entered an understanding with the Mavoko water and sanitation company on a profit sharing margin where the company will only take ksh 1 for every 20l container.
The commercial water service by Bawazir savings schemes is charged at a cost of Ksh 3 for every 20l container.
The leadership hopes to drive the Greenfield housing project in a professional manner to ensure that its members who have invested in the project are allocated a stake of the land, which would pave way for the construction of their dream houses. This process will be completed by March this year.
Revival of dormant savings schemes is dear to Muungano wa Athi river. Members have planned to conduct group visits to sensitize schemes and networks on daily/weekly savings. A recruitment drive of new members is in progress.
The region has embarked on strengthening its Advocacy team at settlement level by February 2012 to foster negotiations on the impending eviction notices from government and private owned lands.
The leadership hopes to ensure the decentralization of the MDF fund from Region level to the grassroots level so as to ensure its members take advantage of the loans offered by AMT, whose affordable interest rates cannot be compared with other financial institutions so as to improve their livelihoods.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji umbrella has always insisted on the transparency and accountability of Membership funds. In line with this directive, the region is conducting Audits to capture the aspects of individual loan repayments towards community based projects.
According to the region’s, Muungano National Executive Council representative, Mr. Rashid Mutua, who doubles up as the National MWW vice chairperson who spoke to Muungano Media, said, “Athi River has renewed its commitment in strengthening Muungano in the county of Machakos and the entire country in this New year. The region through its advocacy team hopes to address issues of forced evictions through reasonable negotiations with authorities in the region”.
Mama Nge Musyoki, one of the senior savers in Muungano ya Athi river who spoke to Muungano Media, said “I hope to see the Greenfield housing project take off, and I cannot wait to recede to the comforts of my new home before year end”
Jacinta Wanzila the regions’ convener called upon Muungano wa Athi river to uphold the values and doctrines of Muungano so that through unity they can be able to address issues of poverty, better housing for its members and most importantly negotiate with the Mavoko Water and Sewerage Company for better services, which includes water, sewerage systems and sanitation.