From: Mukuru, Nairobi
Interview date & place: 24 March 2016, Nairobi
Interviewed by: Kate Lines
Original language: English
How did you first get involved in Muungano? What were things like then?
My name is Dorice Bosibori Moseti. I live in Mukuru. I am a business lady: I have a salon. I was born in Kapsabet, brought up in Kisumu, later shifted to Kakamega, and then marriage brought me to Mukuru. I have lived in Mukuru now for 14 years and I joined Muungano Wa Wanavijiji around August 2011.
When I joined Muungano, there was a problem within Mukuru on eviction. There was a notice given to Maendeleo – I live near Maendeleo primary school – so we started mobilising ourselves within the community and having many meetings with the community members about the ... it was an auction note which was put on a newspaper. So when we mobilized ourselves, Muungano Wa Wanavijiji team was with us – that is when I felt I should join Muungano Wa Wanavijiji on advocacy issues.
We went to Shankardass [House], who were going to auction the land. We didn’t just go: we demonstrated to their office. When we got to their office we made all the activities stop; they then closed their office, went to Cooperative [Bank], because the Cooperative was the ones who gave them the job to auction the land. So we went to Cooperative, and also everything stopped on the Cooperative House (it’s in the city centre). We stayed there for almost three hours trying to [make] everything work, because we wanted them stop the auction of the land and we were using the tactics – we were delaying them so that we can be able to file a case in court. We managed to file a case in court that day, the same day, on that specific land; later we came back to Mukuru.
We continue with the advocacy now, not only for Maendeleo land but the entire Mukuru, because there were lot of eviction notices. So we mobilized each every zone, we mobilized pastors, we mobilized youth, in both kwa Njenga and kwa Reuben, and Lunga Lunga. Then, by that time the lawyers were doing their job. We had to take 15 people owning Mukuru, plus former president and former land commissioners, to court on issue of land – Mukuru land. We gave some of the land grabbers the court order; we used a way that they cannot say that they were not served the court orders, so we went as a group [to] different companies, we left a few of our members to go in, serve them with the court order; but when they have served the court order, we will go make a lot of noise in the company, so as at least they can remember or they can know that we are the owners of the land – they just own the papers. From there we went to court and we had, how many lawyers? We had two, three? Three, and then with the Katiba institute.
From there, we realized we cannot fight the battle of land grabbing just by going to the court and the issue of land. Then we started a campaign on sanitation, and this campaign on sanitation it is because we don’t own this land: the land has been planned for industries, not people settlement, but here we are living here. So we started the campaign on women and sanitation [in] 2012, and the main thing was to get the government – because by then we didn’t have the county government working – we wanted the government to re-plan: to revoke all the titles and re-plan Mukuru to be a people settlement area. We don’t own the land, so the government cannot provide us sanitation services, because it is a private land, so the sanitation campaign was asking the national government to do an inquiry in Mukuru if sanitation is good. And we know the sanitation is not good… The hygiene standards are low, so the government ought to come up with a plan for Mukuru. They ought to structure the sewer systems – all the sewer system should be put in place properly, the whole place will be well planned than the way we are living. So if the government plans for us, that means they will have revoked the titles, so there will be no eviction – those forced evictions. That was our idea [for the] women and sanitation campaign.
So the sanitation campaign went on. We mobilized ourselves and then we had one demonstration to Cabinet Secretary of Land – and then we went to Cabinet Secretary of Health. So we managed to speak with the former Cabinet Secretary of Land, who was Mrs Ngilu – Charity Ngilu – and she promised to come on the ground, but unfortunately she was faced out of the office. And then we managed to get to Ministry of Health, but we didn’t talk with the Cabinet Secretary of Health, we spoke with the Minister of Health and other ministers in the Ministry of Health.
Later, we started doing the follow ups on sanitation with the Ministry, but it didn’t yield much, because from one place to another we were being told to move from the national office to the county, from the county to national. We kept on, county office to national office, but later we lost hope, because now the national government said they are not implementers, they just make policies, so we should concentrate more with the [Nairobi] county government, who are the implementers. You know, when you have done advocacy almost for one year: bringing women together, you have done demonstration, because going to Kenyan government office, just knocking to get cabinet secretary to talk to you, it’s very difficult. So we use that demonstration to get their attention, and they gave us that attention to do a follow up in their offices. Now, doing follow up, and just feeling that you have won, and people tossing you up and down – ‘you go downstairs, upstairs, go to the county government’, county government from one office from to another – and then you don’t get want you really want, it’s very bad.
It is not like we have really stopped. No, we are continuing getting more women on sanitation issues, because sanitation is really bad. We think knocking their offices and being turned down today, tomorrow, with time we'll get someone who will hear us out, and we will have a proof of saying that we once came here, went this place. We will get something to talk about, because we'll say one day we were at Ministry of Land, this time we were at Ministry of Heath, this time we were at the county government; we were in this office, different office, talking on this issue – so somebody will feel the situation that we are going through is bad, [and] will see how to take us to another level. But with this new county government, it seems that it’s still very difficult, because they were complaining of not having enough money to do sanitation in the community, [that] they cannot do sanitation in Mukuru because this is a private land, they will be sued. There were so many complaints.
How have things changed over time?
When I joined Muungano, it was about professionals doing everything. They will just tell Muungano ‘go and do this’. They were allocating the Muungano members to do things, but not Muungano saying ‘this is what we want to do’.
So, it [has] changed to federation themselves taking the lead. At times change is good, and at times change is bad. [This] change, I will say it is good. But, in everything that you have been given to do and you don’t have that experience: there are other things we are not very much experienced, that is why we need professionals; [but] at that time that we have been given these duties, there is no line that has been drawn [to say] ‘this your boundary’. Because there must be a line drawn: ‘this is the boundary of the movement, and the support NGO’. I feel if there is a line, for me I don't see it, if it has been drawn.
I believe the member of support [NGO] has more of technical issues, that we are not very much involved in because we are not employed. Because the way I understand it, federation members should lead the process. So leading means you are left to do it and then somebody who is the technical now will say ‘here you need to do this’, ‘here you are not supposed to do this’ – like that, [rather] than the professional now taking everything – just giving all teams the power of doing things in their own way, as long as [they are] following the federation rituals, rules, and regulations. Just following the federation rituals.
In 2007, I knew federation was there. I was not in it, but we worked somehow together because I live in slums. When I got to know the federation – the organ itself, the people steering the federation, and the support NGO – I said federation has changed for the better. Because, if you are sent as a federation member somewhere to do an activity, you have to go; and if you don’t go, the federation members themselves will ask ‘why did you not do what you were supposed to do?’ Maybe, for example, I have been sent to Lunga Lunga to have a meeting with a group there: there will be someone who will say ‘Dorice didn’t come for that meeting’, so I cannot lie that I went for that meeting and give false report – it won’t work.
Now it has changed. When the federation was given that mandate: ‘you should do this; you should take the lead' – federation has taken the lead. Everything is done; everything is more actual than before. Because before, it was like: the support NGO says, now we are going to field work, we are going to meet a group, we are going to do this, we are going to do mobilization – so now that person, the community member, the federation member, will not feel the mobilization thing, so they will not do it. And if they do it, they will not do it well. Like now, you plan it – ‘we are going to do mobilization on this and this’ – so you own the process. That is the change which is there.
What have been some of the challenges over the years?
The movement of people – people moving from one place to another. So you have a group: tomorrow three people have relocated somewhere else; you need more members in that group; you recruit new members.
And there is challenge of trust with money: because, with the federation groups that we do savings, there is that problem with the issue of money. People don't trust one individual for long with their money. And there is those issues of people stealing money.
Also challenges with NGOs coming in and giving people a lot of money – handouts. With a meeting they get money; with a meeting they get money; so if you call a meeting now and you are not going to give money for maybe lunch or what, then you will have ten or few people in that meeting. So I will say, at grassroots level we have that problem of people wanting handouts. I think, and political influence.
What have been the strategies that really worked?
Again, mobilization works, because when you lose two, again you try to get more. For example, when there is a lot of rumours that there is eviction which is going to happen, there are many people who intend to move to a different slum, which may be there will be no eviction there. So this person, when they get out of your [savings] group at that grassroots level, to form another group maybe it will take time, because they need to make friends again where they go. So mobilization is like everyday thing.
For example, my group: I had 20 people. Two are late now – two died. And one died in fact when I was at home Christmas. And then we had one relocate to Athi River, because when your husband gets a job far away then you are forced to move with him. And then many of them, with one or two issues, they had to get out of the group. So, out of 20 we remained twelve – out of 20. So eight out – two dead out of eight. The strategy is, when you lose eight people, you need to get more – around 16 members, because you don’t know about these remaining 12, how many will leave the group.
Mobilization has worked in Muungano because we mobilize people in different areas. Women, we do mobilization on sanitation. Youths, they started doing mobilization on documentation and how they can involve themselves with the bigger federation. And then we have the other group, which are men, who we just joined them in with the different groups that they are in, because there are other groups that there are men and women, like that. So we are good in mobilization. We are excellent on that.
What have you learnt from international exchange visits?
I managed to join the profiling team to Burkina Faso: that time I travelled with a professional called Simiyu, and Emily from Mathare. We went Burkina Faso – Ouagadougou city – to help the slum dwellers there to do profiling and enumeration. It was my first exchange and it was good knowing that other countries also have slums, knowing that communities – slum dwellers – come together to solve their problems. So the exchange helped me know how to do – that was my first profiling and enumeration. So I was excited, numbering the houses.
And then, with the sanitation, I have managed to go to Tanzania twice on sanitation issues. There was a project which was being done by Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, so we just joined in when they were finishing, just to see what they are doing, share our experience, and they were sharing their own experience. So from there I learnt a lot, because we come from different countries, different communities, so what works in Kenya does not work in another country. Like here in Kenya, we are very strong in advocacy: we can go demonstrate on the streets, make the government feel we are there. But when you go to Tanzania, they are a bit cool: they call the government, they talk things slowly, but I don’t think that they have that ... the government is working with them, but the government does not feel the federation that much, because it’s a 'you come; let’s talk' – that is over. In Kenya it is: if things don’t work, we go to the street, demonstrate, and they feel these people need this. Although they don’t really come in, but they know there is a movement called Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, and this is what Muungano Wa Wanavijiji is doing. And with that, when they'll be coming to join us, they'll have that feeling of working with us from the start to the end – [rather] than bringing them to the table, taking tea, having lunch, talking and everything is they forget, after marching out of the door.
Zimbabwe, I heard they had problems of having to put up a toilet without water. You first put water and then you put a toilet; it goes together. So I learnt so many things with different countries, with their different projects that they are doing. With implementation is the same with us, but the way they go about it, it is different.
Again I went back to Tanzania, also on sanitation, and that is simplified sewer: it is a new thing and I felt it can work. It can work. But it cannot work in Mukuru, because the place is congested; our slums are very congested – there is no place you can put those small sewers to connect to the mains – but with Tanzania Viguguti, they have big houses, more space. In fact, where pathways are big, sewer can be put. So it is working with them – they have put toilets, flush toilets, connected to the sewer – and that is something good that maybe [for] a slum that is coming up, the government can take such an initiative to put sewerage system, those small, small sewers, so that people can have good sanitation.
How does the SDI East Africa Hub work?
The East African Hub: I have gone to Uganda – that was 2013, I believe so, or 2014, around there – and this is where the three countries share what they have done. What they had, what they have done, and what they have achieved. And people learn: Kenya learn from Uganda and Tanzania; Tanzania learn from Uganda and Kenya; Uganda learn from Kenya, Tanzania.
When I went to Uganda, that is when they started the LME – learning, monitoring, and evaluation – and I saw it working [better] than before. If it is about groups, you give the actual groups that are there; if you give any figure, you give the exact figure that is there; If the activity happened, yes, you fill; if it didn’t happen, you leave it like that. It’s to make things more practical, because you learn through exchange, you learn through doing, and then you monitor what you have been doing – if it was right – and you evaluate if everything went well, or where it went wrong, or what can we do.
Before, it was 'we need to do a report', yes, [but] it didn’t have a systematic way for everyone to report – everyone used to report their own ways. Now, if you go to Ugandan report, Kenyan report, you'll get them reporting in a uniform way. So, if we are in a Hub meeting, when somebody is reporting, you understand what they are doing, [better] than people reporting in their own way.
What are your hopes for Muungano’s next 20 years?
It is my prayer that Muungano [can stand on its own, meaning] Muungano can get to government offices and say, this is what we do and we want to partner with the government on this and this. Like now, the SDI say Muungano should have assets: if now Muungano has the power itself, it can go the office and say, we are Muungano movement and we want a contract of doing Mukuru road. We are Muungano, without the support NGO. So, I pray that, 20 years to come, Muungano should get to that level.
Muungano can have housing: I say a housing that will be constructed like this private property owners – they construct houses and then they start renting. Muungano should have one property like that: a model that is for the poor, but generates money, to show the government you can do this housing. It is one way to lobby to the government that they can do a simple housing for the poor, but also its an income for the federation.