By Grace Watetu (MUST)May 2014
This past month a membership of the Kiandutu informal settlement situated in Thika Sub-county of the larger Kiambu County had the opportunity to attend a day’s joint urban planning studio workshop held at the School of the Built Environment (ADD), University of Nairobi. The university is one of the collaborative partners in the academia and the urban development sector.The forum offered a free willed- ambiance of community-student cordial working spirit.
There were 14 community members in attendance, the 6 students and other studio coordinators from MuST and CURI (Centre for Urban Research and Innovation). The dean of Students School of the Built Environment and chairman of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning University of Nairobi were among the invited guests. The dean of students was amused by the ongoing studio and requested to be engaged whenever possible. He also wished to see the output of the studio; he promised to attend the final presentation. The chairman of the department highlighted that; seeing such activities/partnerships taking place is his joy. This is because it’s one of the major objectives of the curriculum, as drawn to influence the objectivity of the current crop of urban planners churned out by institutions of learning. The existing constitution advocates for participation; community involvement in planning for their own settlement was therefore very encouraging.
The student team presented the data they had collected from the questionnaires, focused group discussions and mapping. The community was therefore able to verify whether the information was correct and also gave socio-technical input of important issues that were left out regarding sanitation. The issues arising from the presentation included: inadequate sanitation facilities in all the villages studies, lacking drainage infrastructure, lacking solid waste disposal points and also lack of water for washing hands at the sanitation blocks which are the main issues covered in the studio. Other issues were lack of management of the sanitation blocks especially the communal ones provided by the Municipal Council of Thika. They also reported that it was difficult to access sanitation facilities at night due to lack of lighting in the sanitation facilities as well as along the streets. The congestion of the structures limit the extent to which the flood lights can illuminate; thus incidences of very dark narrow streets.
In an epitome, the studio coordinator Mr. Charles Dadu Karisa (CURI) highlighted possible proposals from the community contributions. The forum indicated that various models of possible ways of improvement would be presented to the community and the best alternative would be selected. This could include case studies from countries such as India. It efforts to expose more communities to various sanitation and waste management models, Muungano wa Wanavijiji with support from Muungano Support Trust have organized an Exchange programme to India depicting the following areas as key learning points; Environmental management framework, Sanitation improvement through environmental design and Sustainability approaches. This year’s studio is based on cluster classified aspect. The pilot two clusters were selected - Biashara and Molo-, where SDI/MuST are piloting one sanitation project in each and are close to the proposed trunk sewer hence a possibility of future large scale sewerage connections.
Also in the spirit of partnership building and continuous linkage, the federation has reached out to the County Government of Kiambu who have played a significant role in the site planning and regularization of the community led sanitation project currently taking shape in Biashara and Molo Villages of Kiandutu.The theme of the Thika urban planning studio is titled ‘An integrated sanitation studio for Kiandutu Settlement, Thika. In 2011/2012, Muungano wa Wanvijiji, Muungano Support Trust and The University of Nairobi did a collaborative enumeration & Mapping and Survey, respectively, and what really came out strongly in post data sets were issues of sanitation. In this process the types of data collected included: demographic characteristics, social-economic characteristics, infrastructural infrastructure, water and sanitation. Emphatically the community agreed on their commitment to prioritize the mirror effect of the challenges posed by lack of adequate sanitation in Kiandutu 11 villages.
Apart from the advocacy advantage the enumeration process highlighted the various problems experienced by the community which include poor sanitation, poor accessibility and congested and substandard housing. It is therefore as a result of this that Muungano wa wanavijiji and Muungano support trust identified the need for provision of sanitation facilities. The sanitation facilities however would not just be for sanitation purposes but also to boost the livelihoods of the residents through other activities being incorporated. The studio is to come up with a platform for guiding sanitation provision which incorporates accessibility, community life, water provision and the local economy. Sanitation includes solid waste, drainage and sanitation facilities (bathrooms and toilets). Sanitation influences the cleanliness and even livelihoods of settlements; is the backbone of clean environments affecting both public health and the economy. The studio focus has been to identify the challenges the community is facing regarding solid waste, drainage and sanitation facilities.
The proposed Integrated Kiandutu Sanitation Model currently under the studio’s planning microscope aims at creating understanding and community ownership of the integrated sanitation model, which has been arrived at after extensive discussions between the community, stakeholders and the federation. To this end the role of CURI and MUST is to support the Kiandutu communities actualize the recommendations of these discussions.
In part through the concept of community social organizing and mobilization the federation key point areas are basically how the sanitation project intends to build on Integrated community spaces: what are the other tenure uses, concrete designs, possible community benefits to be accrued, ownership and Space integration, well designed and built sanitation facilities, community facilities, solid waste management, expansion of roads to accommodate drainage and more so re blocking.