Muungano wa Wanavijiji Introspects 2013

As curtains close on the year 2013, the Kenyan Alliance, took time off to reflect on its achievements and progress. The year 2013, was indeed a defining year for the Kenyan Alliance, the federation has experienced exponential growth and spread, the federation leadership and governance structures have compacted the federations team work and spirit from the grassroots savings schemes, networks, counties and finally to the national level of representation. Basing the federation’s punch strategy on devolved governance as enshrined in the Kenyan Constitution, the federation has devolved its federation building pointers to the counties which is aimed at empowering county federations to pursue their communal aspirations without any interference from headquarters.

The Thika and Nakuru Town Municipalities acknowledgment of the federation’s agenda to drive the insitu-upgarding agenda has opened up doors for the federation to engage and dialogue with city and county leaders on the need to establish community led projects that have the threshold to influence policy and fast-track the federations’ intent of leveraging resources from national and county governments to set up a community upgrading kitty. After decades of engagements that have defied all odds, the push by the federation to government to acknowledge community led planning and projects have so far been successful. However, work is still cut out for the federation as a preamble to promote community participation.

Shikamoo housing Project -Nakuru
Shikamoo housing Project -Nakuru

This year has seen a phenomenal partnership orientation within the working framework of members of the Kenyan Alliance; Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Muungano Support Trust and AkibaMashinani Trust. This framework aims at strengthening the institutional capacities of all the alliance members based on a clear cut and defined roles and expected outputs. As an alliance we may not be at the place where we ought to be, but the federations’ resilience and steadfastness in achieving the intents of its strategic plans has been commendable. In its quest to aid the voice poor in creating pro-poor platforms, in 2014 the federation is looking forward to working with different stakeholders to make the voices of the poor heard and showcase well community designed projects. One of the fundamental objective of Muungano Support Trust is to lay ground work for the federation to create partnerships with national and county governments and community development stakeholders as an avenue of increasing the reach and impact of participatory development, this has been showcased through sharing of knowledge and experiences through organized community exchanges and partnership development with a number of stakeholders such as the UN=HABITAT, The World Bank under the Water and Sanitation Programme, Nakuru, Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu and Kilifi County governments and in the academia The University of Nairobi’s Department of Urban Development and the University of California Berkeley. The year that was; Policy transformation and influence 2012/2013, Muungano wa Wanavijiji in partnership with the University of Nairobi secured the adoption of the Mathare Zonal Plan by The Ministry of Land, housing and Urban development. The aim is to better utilize community data as a platform for community participatory upgrading.

The Development and Implementation of pro-poor platforms Under this clause of federation building and strengthening the Kenyan Alliance has had a success in establishing pro-poor platforms that have empowered urban poor communities in Kenya to have a “voice” in the race for urban development. Some of the platforms created in the course of this year are;

Participatory process of the federation in the Development of the Nairobi City County Master Plan Nairobi County will have a comprehensive long term master plan by 2014, the plan aims to steer Nairobi towards a modern economy. The development of the Nairobi Master Plan is in partnership with the Nairobi City County government and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). With the experience that the federation has had over time in data collection to influence practical change at the grassroots, Members of the Kenyan Alliance were accorded the opportunity to attend the human settlement stakeholder forums at the Nairobi City County. The fundamental presentations made by the federation were bordered on the premise of the Mathare Zonal Plan, which preambles the power of the urban poor to exhaustively plan their own settlements. To resolve the slum question in Nairobi and the larger parts of Kenya, the Nairobi County government and Ministry Land, Housing and urban planning must start by understanding that manifestation of poverty as seen in the slums is more than absence of title deeds and housing. Rather, the slum situation in Kenya is a product of exclusion, physical and economic insecurity, fear of the future, and a constant sense of vulnerability.

Unlike in the previous city plans, the planning processes necessitated participatory community processes, urban city stakeholders and the government. The current plan offers solutions for traffic jams, informal settlements, resource mobilization and use, possibilities of a 24-hour economy, infrastructure development, proper land use, solid waste management, water and sewage services, efficient transport and zoning. Pursuant of the establishment of City/County Community Fund for Shelter Muungano wa Wanavijiji have continued to pursue the various structures that have been provided for in the Kenyan Constitution, especially on devolved resources for urban and rural development that have so far been entrusted to the 47 county governments.


Of key interest to the federation has been the need to engage the respective county leaders to commit on the establishment of city/county community funds for shelter and sanitation. In the course of this quarter (September-December 2013), the federation has recorded considerable successful engagements. In Nakuru County, a community fund engagement with Nakuru East Member of Parliament, Hon. David Gikaria and Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Nakuru Chapter and Muungano Support Trust has seen the establishment of the community city fund in Nakuru East where by the constituency development fund has set aside 17,857 USD to this kitty.

The federation is currently consolidating plans in mobilising its savings to influence sanitation and housing projects in Nakuru.In Thika, the federation has begun negotiations with the Kiambu County government and County ward leaders on the establishment of the community city fund of which Muungano wa Wanavijiji and the county government will contribute towards the kitty. The Kitty is expected to support sanitation and shelter projects in Kiandutu and other informal settlements within Kiambu County, negotiations are ongoing. Multispectral and private sector platforms Muungano has been keen in establishing cordial relations and partnerships with multi-state donor agencies and members of the local and international private sector.

These partnerships are key in the development of community led projects by virtue of knowledge sharing, learning through exchanges and pursuant of partnerships with utility companies. World Bank-Water and Sanitation Programme To learn how to improve urban sanitation at scale and create sustainable change, World Bank under the Water and Sanitation Programme, Muungano Support Trust has been invited by World Bank (WSP) to offer possible solutions in urban and peri-urban sanitation context. Above all these negotiations aim to capture and share learning to enable evidence-based decision making by policy-makers and increase support for large-scale sanitation implementation in Thika town.This engagement with the world bank and Muungano wa Wanavijiji, its learning and implementation strategy focuses on: combining Community-Led Sanitation and social marketing strategies, sustainable behavior change and strengthen the supply of products and services; strengthening an enabling environment to work at scale; improve performance monitoring to support evidence-based decision making by policy-makers; and to leverage knowledge to influence policy and action.


IBM is targeting the African market with its cloud computing servers, consultancy services on smarter ways of managing traffic and how to use data effectively in tackling health and other poverty-related issues. Kenya has been building a strong reputation in ICT innovation. The country’s mobile banking system M-Pesa is an acclaimed success story. IBM set a research laboratory in Kenya, the first in Africa, in a joint venture with the government. The facility is expected to drive Kenya’s transition to a modern service economy through research into age-old problems like traffic congestion, low agricultural productivity, Poverty alleviation and planning, and slow public service delivery. The discussions between MuST and IBM is basically to establish how data collected by Muungano wa Wanavijiji, overtime can be customized on an electronic platform to address urban development, poverty and influence planning, These discussions are ongoing. Governance Programme It is at the community level, where ordinary people take and implement everyday decisions, that governance has its greatest relevance and need. But communities have being governing themselves anyway, and since time immemorial. The federation through the support of the Alliance, the federation on the platform of the JuaJimbo project has mobilized new communities that were not initially under the dominance of the federation in Machakos and Nakuru counties.

The formation and training of these new groups is being under taken by the respective county mobilization teams. Through the implementation of the Governance project the federation has held crucial discussions with the County government leadership on the plans for improvement of informal settlements, provision of services such as water and sanitation infrastructure and the possible creation of a community city fund in Machakos and Nakuru. These areas were strategically selected for city wide profiling to enable federations in these counties engage further with their governments on the priorities mentioned above. The two county governments have indicated goodwill in utilizing data collected by the federation to drive their policy and planning agenda.


Previous Mathare informal settlement documentation from the Mathare Zonal Plan to the Kosovo sanitation project study, has indicated that the informal settlement is grappling with issues of poor sanitation infrastructure, which has had detrimental effects on the health of women and children residing in Mathare. The Ministry of Health has supported the implementation of the Kosovo Sanitation project, which will majorly contain the breakout of diseases such as cholera and diarrhea. In this regard Muungano wa Wanavijiji and the Ministry of Health have entered a joint management partnership of the Mathare 4B health center.

Collaboration with Universities

Under the banners of Association of African Planning Schools (AAPS), a network planning schools in universities throughout the African continent. Since 2011, Muungano Support Trust and the Kenyan Alliance in general has continued its partnership ensemble with the University of Nairobi’s department of urban planning to develop internships and relationships, planning settlement studios, round table discussions with city authorities and policy makers. The Kenyan Alliance is Focused on building relationships; relationships between urban poor communities and government, between communities of the urban poor in different cities who face similar, yet unique, challenges and between the formal and informal worlds. Urban planners from the University of Nairobi and county government planners that the federation has continued to engage have joined communities and officials to learn about incremental informal settlement upgrading. On 23-24 September 2013 the UN-Habitat and University of Nairobi hosted a consultative workshop aimed at exploring ways of increasing mutual collaboration between UN- Habitat and AAPs members in Kenya, and promoting AAPS objectives which include: revitalization of planning education, collaborative and comparative research and promoting of effective planning of Africa's rapid urbanization.

In developing learning and material for accredited courses, the Kenya Alliance through the federation have made fundamental proposals on the restructuring of the urban planning curricula so as to enable upcoming planners learn and appreciate the informal settlement agenda. University of Nairobi have been engaged in an ambitious undertaking of reviewing, revising, and enriching the planning curriculum through a participatory process. This initiative has designed new cutting-edge specialization courses in urban and regional planning for post-graduate training, but also relevant intermediate technical courses for the support of professional planning practice. The courses so far reviewed are; • Web GIS and Mapping for participatory planning and Urban governance • UIP -tech program • Exchange programs fellowships/Post graduate studies Growing Program into other Cities MuST and Muungano has continued to deepen the federations’ component of federation building, training and Capacity building. Above all the federation is now shifting its focus from urban to peri-urban and even rural area.

This shift is aimed at devolving federation learning tools from experienced cities to less experienced cities with common challenges. The federation has been successful in mobilising new areas in Naivasha, Kuresoi, Molo, Subukia(Nakuru County), Siaya, Busia and Kakamega.

Some of the newly targeted areas for federation spread
Some of the newly targeted areas for federation spread

However, most of these counties and towns are rural based but Naivasha being a an urban area has shown adequate potential as a learning curve for the federation, this is as a result of past negotiations with the county leadership, which is in the process of allocating the federation a public space within Naivasha’sviwandani settlement to undertake a sanitation project.

To this effect MuST has supported organised communities from Naivasha to an exchange programme in Nakuru and Nairobi to learn and share more on the establishment of a community led sanitation programme in Naivasha. Whilst in Nakuru the federation intends to utilise data from the recently city wide profile for two settlements (Kimathi and Flamingo) in Nakuru town to influence the funding allocations for special sanitation projects within the county budgets. To this end the federation has successfully implemented a housing insitu-projects in Nakuru (Nyamarutu) andThika (Kiandutu) these two settlements through partnership building and linkages have achieved several milestones; the in-situ housing project, engagement with the county government on the establishment of a community city fund on shelter, participatory settlement planning, water and sanitation and most importantly the successes in addressing secure tenure.


The federation is currently in the process of developing a learning programme on insitu and community led planning that aims to inform the federation and other like- minded federations on how informal and formal urban development strategies converge.

Kenyan Alliance annual forum The Kenyan Alliance held its annual forum from the 17th-19th December 2013, where the federation from Nakuru, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Kisumu and the support organizations were represented. The federation deliberated, discussed and shared experiences on savings and loan recovery, Mobilization and advocacy, Muungano investments, savings, profiling, informal settlement upgrading, land ownership and partnerships. The forum is an event where the alliance reports on its past achievements and challenges while Muungano Support Trust and AkibaMashinani Trust representation is keen on understanding the challenges faced by all counties on the ground. Building the capacities of the urban poor in organized communities’has increased community to government linkages and partnerships. This has been highly demonstrated in Nairobi and Nakuru, where after the city wide profiling county governments have reached out to the federation to plan community led projects. For instance in Nairobi, the city wide profile is going to assist the City government of Nairobi plan for informal settlements under the auspices of the Nairobi Master Plan whose development is underway, while in Nakuru County, Naivasha Constituency the profile has enabled the federation to negotiate for a public space where a community led sanitation project will soon be unveiled by the federation with support from SDI. In 2014, the federation will primarily focus on developing partnerships, utilize the city wide profiles in linking communities to government and stakeholders in matters of slum upgrading and advocacy, the growth of savings and savings schemes, spread to new areas. We would hereby like to thank all our partners, especially Slum Dwellers International, UN-HABITAT, University of Nairobi, Rockefeller Foundation, and SELAVIP Foundation, Skoll Foundation, IIED, ILRI, The World bank, The Strathmore University, Katiba Institute and all our esteemed partners for supporting the Kenyan Alliance.