By Akiba Mashinani Trust
In its, transformative quest in addressing poverty on the premise of urban development by virtue of including the urban voice poor in the city’s planning and development frontiers, Muungano wa Wanavijiji have identified the urgent need to improve urban settlements; however the status of informality and irregularity of land tenure is an important element to be solved to improve the lives of our brothers and sisters residing in informal settlements in our urban cities.
Nairobi City, currently under the administrative jurisdiction of the Nairobi County Government is home of the most vulnerable people; in this city different organizations are involved through social empowerment strategies to empower communities living in abject informality and guide the development of self-management strategies to solve social problems, however these strategies have not been sufficient to impact because the complexities involved in securing land tenure are enormous. In most circumstances, lack of security of tenure directly shatters “sustainable livelihoods “, this is because the risks, involved touches on the basic economic survival of those who lack secure tenure. It is out this logic, that Muungano wa Wanavijiji will continue to engage the Kenyan government to ensure security of tenure trough the investment of social basic services in slums which will reasonably give the urban poor to build and rebuild their livelihoods.
3rd February 2014, marked yet another opportunity for 385 members of the Katani Greenfield Housing project to exercise their urban inclusive right by breaking ground of their land and housing project. The ground breaking will begin with 12 starter units which is expected to be delivered to the project members in April 2014.
The project objective is to define methodologies that allows the urban poor get access to affordable and descent housing. However, the project understands the savings capacity of its members; hence the technical teams have made the provisions for house incremental option.The Katani Greenfield and Housing project was conceptualized in 2010, where communities from Mathare, Korogocho, Huruma and Kahawa Soweto joined hands to define a land (secure tenure) and housing concept to build on their sustainable livelihoods.
The community begun mobilizing their personal savings within their savings groups as a means to an end to enable them enjoy a secured tenure, this is after the Mukuru Greenfield project had a spillover of members. One of the project coordinator explains the detailed social process; Michael Njuguna is currently the one of the federation project coordinators.
Social Mobilisation Mechanism
“Social community insight especially on matters slum upgrading and redefining access of secure tenure, is no easy task. As a federation, we give sufficient information through training of savings schemes to our members living in informal settlements to enable them make decisions on their livelihoods. In the year 2010, the community’s aspiration in acquiring secure tenure was at an all time high. This was then the time that communities from Mathare, Korogocho, Huruma, Kibera and Kahawa Soweto conceptualized the proposed Katani Greenfield and housing project. Mobilisation was not easy owing to the distances setting these informal settlements a part; however, members resolved to meet on a weekly basis to ensure the spirit of savings towards the project does not diminish,” narrates Mr. Njuguna.
Community participation has been pivotal in hitting the ground running. This is so, because the project implementers are the community members. The project members were involved in searching for the five acres of land in consultation with the federation project teams and the project members. Faith Moraa, an in-house architect with Akiba Mashinani Trust explains, “It was indeed interesting to see how the community was well organized and well versed in matters development and the principles as stipulated in law. Initially through the creation of a house model the members were engaged in the conceptualization of the house designs, from conceptual to detailed designs, which also had the components of civil and structural design orientations. The mandate of the members did not only stop at the design stage, but went further into engaging the County Government of Machakos on the need to approve the project designs, as it was a project driven by the urban poor. The community through an open tender system were also involved in the selection of an experienced contractor to develop the housing units for the project owners”, said Faith.
The project site is indeed strategic for the project members. According to the project planning report the project area is situated in area with a good transportation system, Katani has easy access to the Syokimau railway system that offers regular shuttle to and from the Nairobi Central business District as well as the Eastern by pass road network.
Owing to the scarce water resource in the area the project has invested in water borehole that has the capacity of pumping and supplying 10,000 liters of water an hour. This means that the member’s access to this resource is guaranteed.At this point in time the project has the option of the Ecological Sanitation waterless toilet system or connects to the nearby Mavoko trunk sewage system. The land also lies near a water dam that offers and opportunity for irrigation.
Partnership and Engagement to lower cost of development
In the recent past project development was an entirely federation affair, and with the shift in urban development, with skyrocketing cost of property development the federation has been forced into developing strategies and engagement models that somewhat drives the cost of development on a downward sprawl. In this particular case Akiba Mashinani Trust has entered into a working relation with LIXIL ( A Japanese organization that plays key role in urban development) to support the technical capacity of the federation developing the Katani project, this engagement has cushioned the project members from bearing the direct cost of hiring technical project consultants.
This partnership brings with it a deep sense of the community participating in research for sustainable living, the green village. This green village approach is based on the development of the ecological sanitation, which allows human waste to recycled. This invention does not use zero water for the transportation of human waste which will not pollute ground water and other water resources. Instead of disposing of human waste, which ideally contains phosphorus and nitrogen as nutrients for plant growth, the system ferments and decomposes it to recycle fertilizer.
This is an invention that will be incorporated in the Katani housing project which on the other hand gives the project members to engage in commercial farming as a way of fending for their livelihoods.
The Kenyan SDI affiliate acknowledges that the scale and magnitude of informal settlements and that they are here to stay and being out rightly honest with informal settlement dwellers about this reality is a crucial step to building trust. With the new county dispensation, the federation through the county forums continues to engage the county government to admit that they do not have the solutions to informal settlements; instead a partnership approach can dramatically allow civil society to respond with initiatives on the ground.