The idea behind community led sanitation units is in most cases dual – the units would provide much needed sanitation services and access to infrastructure and services. Approval of the project development plans by the Kiambu county government for construction was a partial acceptance or acknowledgement of the tenure rights of the residents.
Settlement enumeration and mapping exercise undertaken in 2011 showed that the settlement had 8,449 households with approximately 17,000 residents. Albeit the community census was done to support community claims on secure tenure, it identified sanitation as a priority issue. Over 56 per cent of the population was estimated to have resulted to open defecation. As anticipated the sanitation blocks required and acquired planning and building approvals from the Kiambu County government – which was a major milestone in the land tenure advocacy strategy.
Based on a formalized partnership arrangement, an exchange visit was organised for the Kiambu County Minister for Environment and Social services, the City Director of Environment to India to observe the processes of settlement upgrading linked to community processes. There have been impacts of this exchange visit- an agreement that slum upgrading was the route to pursue – where housing development would be the vehicle to deliver tenure rights to the residents.
Rashid Mutua, national chairperson Muungano wa Wanavijiji said, “It has been a great opportunity for the county of Kiambu to work with urban poor communities, more so with the CEC, Environment and Social Services, Hon. Esther W. Njuguna who has supported the federation initiatives in the county.” He reiterated the project is a product of learning and knowledge building to address urban development in a participatory process”.
Kiambu County Executive Committee member for Environment and Social services who was the Chief Guest at the ceremony said, “In the 2015/16 financial year, the county government has planned to construct one sanitation unit in Kiandutu, and the community will support in the identification of a public space for its implementation. This project that we launch today, will improve the dignity of the people of Kiandutu. Community savings component, is a great learning curve and seeks to improve the livelihood of the poor-one shilling mirrors another shilling, communities should therefore take up savings as a daily activity.”
The sanitation blocks are aimed at providing toilet access to the community, which currently has only one public sanitation unit with 12 toilet seats and limited bathroom space. County Director of Environment, Dr. Kimani indicated, that the implementation of the project has set the standard, and any future sanitation project will use Molo ablution block as a baseline.
On behalf of slum dwellers international, Mara Forbes, Learning Monitoring and Evaluation (LME) Programmes officer, said, “SDI is indeed happy to see and bear witness to the launch of the Kiandutu-Molo ablution block, and it’s a great pleasure to see how the community is directly working with government and hopefully we can continue further and further ahead”.
Significantly, the sanitation project was preceded by two other projects within the community. The community undertook and completed the construction of a community hall in 2013. The community undertook to improve 30 housing units. The sanitation units are also seen as a way to deepen the capacities of the community to manage more complex construction.
The project is aimed at building community organization and skills; and providing an upgrading footprint, all towards the achievement of secure land tenure for the community. Molo ablution block serves to demonstrate a federation business model for the delivery of sanitation services.
Learning exchanges to existing models and an international exchange to India, with government officials from Kiambu County government offered a steady learning curve for the federation and county government officials to learn more and put into practice engagement processes with government, leveraging of resources from government to support community projects.
The role of women, in the construction of the project has been phenomenon. Women offered unskilled labour in the construction process, especially in the preparation of the blocks that were used in the construction of the bio tower dome in Biashara village. This has revolutionised the role of women in aiding development projects in their settlements. To a larger extent this has rippled the women movement in Kiandutu that has led to the establishment of the Women empowerment and cottage industry in the settlement and improved security improvement.
The project launch was also graced by Slum dweller federations from Tanzania and Uganda who attended the 13th East African Hub meeting, which the Kenyan affiliate played host.