Jane Weru

Jane Weru

Support professional & lawyer

From: Akiba Mashinani Trust

Interview date & place: 27 April 2016, Nairobi

Interviewed by: Eva Muchiri & Nicera Kimani

Original language: English

I'm Jane Mumbi Weru. I'm an advocate by training and that's how actually I came to join Muungano.

How did you first get involved with Muungano?

I used to head Kituo Cha Sheria in the 1990s. From around 1995 until around the year 2000 I headed Kituo Cha Sheria. And when I was heading Kituo Cha Sheria we had very many communities coming for legal aid. And many of them were faced with the threat of eviction. They came to us seeking for legal advice to prevent them from being evicted. So that is how I got involved in the challenges of evictions, within the city of Nairobi mainly. 

Before I joined Muungano I was just like any other lawyer. You know lawyers are trained to serve everybody else but slum dwellers in society. We are trained to serve the big companies and the people with money. So even when I went to school, I never thought that I would work for slum dwellers, because that's not what I was trained for. So for me I think it has been an interesting and exciting journey, just trying to figure out how do I use my law to serve society in a more meaningful manner. So that's is probably one of the differences before I joined Muungano and when I joined Muungano. 

What were things like back then, when Muungano emerged?

In the 1990s, I think Kenya was undergoing quite a number of political challenges. I think the story of Muungano is probably the story of Kenyans’ struggle for independence – true independence. Because we had just moved from being a single party state, Kenya in the early 1990s, I think it was the year 1991, but still the country was run like a one party state. KANU was still the supreme party and it had structures right down to the ground. On the ground, we had a very oppressive government, especially on the ground in informal settlements – we had chiefs, wazees wavijiji [village elders], and the KANU youth wingers. Communities on the ground could not do anything without the chief's interference: if you wanted to repair your house, you had to go and see the chief and you'd have to bribe the chief to repair your house. So if you were very poor and you were not able to pay the chief so that you can repair your house, your house would eventually fall because you are not able to repair it – and then when it fell, you'd have to abandon your house and that land would be taken again by the chief and the KANU youth wingers and they would sell it to other people. And then again there were other oppressions on the community level: I remember in Korogocho, the youth wingers were the people who used to listen to problems between families, disputes. If a husband and a wife had a dispute, they would go before the KANU youth winger, and the KANU youth winger would hear the dispute and if they thought the wife had run away and shouldn't have run away they would even tell her to come back, and they would even whip her for having left her family. People were oppressed in so many ways. If you were selling things on the road you had to pay; every evening the KANU youth wingers would come and you had to pay a small bribe. So life on the ground was very difficult, very oppressive. 

And on top of that, there was even the challenge of evictions. What happened around the 1990s was that [then-President] Moi, in order to be able to control his politics, started giving land to politicians. If you were a politician and he wanted to buy you he would tell you, ‘why don't you come and I'll give you some land’. So obviously the politician would say ‘I want land in Nairobi’ – because Nairobi is where land is nice and prime – so they would come, and they would be told to go to the lands office; so they would go, the maps would be removed and then they would look for the empty land; they would see empty land in Mathare, Kibera, all this empty land; and then they would be given titles over that land. But when they went on the ground they would find that the land is occupied by people. So, because at that time the government was very oppressive, they would just go get policemen and the policemen would come and carry out evictions. So that was what was happening in the early 1990s–1995. We had a very oppressive government on the grassroots and then we also had evictions happening. 

So what we were doing then is actually going to court to prevent these evictions from happening. I think from the very beginning we realised that going to court wasn't going to be of much help, because the law was against the people – the people who had these titles were very strong, so they had a lot of influence, and the law itself said that if you have a title your title cannot be challenged unless it can be proven that the person had committed fraud, so that was very difficult to prove. So we knew that even if we went to court, we wouldn't get very far with these cases, so what we realised we had to do from the beginning was to mobilize the people on the ground so that they can be able to start fighting this battle. Because we realised it was more a political than a legal battle. So that is how we started working to bring the people who were affected by these evictions together. 

One of the first evictions that we were faced with was the eviction of Kingstone village – it was about the first eviction, Kingstone village in Mukuru – and the people of Kingstone really really struggled. They refused completely to move, despite the fact that the police came with guns many times. They even removed them with guns: they would be removed, then they would come back; they would be removed, they would come back; eventually they just got tired and let the people of Kingstone stay.

So from Kingstone we started having more and more people, and Muungano now started forming. We started linking these people together and then slowly a movement began to happen. And one of the things that this movement really began to push for was the right to remain on the lands that they were in – the lands that the informal settlements were in. Basically, they said that they will refuse to be refugees in their own country – because if you're a squatter, you're like a refugee, you're not allowed to stay anywhere in your own country, you're always being told to go. So Muungano actually came and said ‘We don't want to be refugees in our own country; we want to be citizens of this country’, and they also said that they were not going to agree to give up an inch of their land – so they will resist. And that is what they did, and that is how the Muungano movement came to be.

The challenge was that obviously we had a very oppressive state, so sometimes they could be very brutal. Even when those evictions came, they would come with policemen, with guns, and they would really push people out. So it needed the people who were in those settlements to be very brave, very courageous, and to be determined to remain. So those were major challenges. I think more challenges for the people – Muungano people who were in those settlements – because they were required to be very brave and to refuse to give up in the face of a lot of oppression.

Some of the biggest actors I think when we first started, was ANCAN – the organizers – because I think they were the ones who came up with the idea that, beyond the legal strategy, we need to begin to organize. At that time ANCAN seconded someone to us, to the legal team, [Laurence] Apiyo. to begin organize the communities; so as Kituo did the legal work, Apiyo, who had been seconded to us by ANCAN, was doing the community mobilization and helping to build the movement. So those were some of the early actors. I think slowly we began to bring in others: we had, for instance, the human rights organizations – we had the Kenya Human Rights Commission, at that time Lumumba was very active so he participated a lot in that. The Catholic Church was very active through Father Alex. And we had the Land Caucus – a caucus that was created by Father Alex where civil society organization people would come together to discuss the issues that were affecting slum settlements in the city.

How did things first begin to change?

I think one of the things that Muungano did in the early days was to fight generally. In any place where there was an eviction or a threat of eviction, the Muungano people would wake up and go. And one of the things they would do was to refuse to give quiet enjoyment to the person who had grabbed the land. So they would go, and if there was a wall they would push down the wall. And it didn't matter at that time, in those early days, whether the land was in a slum settlement or not. If they heard there was land that had been grabbed anywhere in the city, they would go and they would push down walls. And this was captured a lot in the media. If you read the media around those years, almost every day you would find people went and pushed down a wall here, they did this here, they resisted here. And so the government began to realise slowly that the legitimacy of the titles they were giving were being questioned by society. Because if you give somebody a title and that person cannot enjoy or cannot develop that land, that title is worth nothing. And that's what the Muungano people would say: ‘if a title has been given wrongly that title is just a piece of paper, we don't recognize it; it's just a paper’. 

So that now began to challenge the state, and the state began to realise that unless it begins to do something about addressing these land issues, things would go out of control. So slowly they started working on the National Land Commission, after multipartyism and the new government came into power. Because those were some of the fundamental issues that were affecting society – not only the urban poor but also other groupings like the pastoralists, this illegal allocations of land. So the National Land Commission was eventually formed to look at all these illegal allocations after the passing of the new constitution. So we had the new Land Policy and then eventually we had the National Land Commission being formed to investigate all these illegally obtained titles. 

A story about land titles and petrol bombs

During the Moi era, the government used to give titles to all its buddies – anybody who was anybody would be given a title so that they can support the government. And this is what happened in Mombasa, in a settlement called Majahoni. Majohoni was situated right next to the sea, a beautiful location, so it was very prime. What the government did at that time was that it allocated titles to anybody who was anybody in the country. All the big names, all the big shots had titles, many of the big shots had titles in Majaohoni. So when we were working with Majahoni – because over the years Kituo had built quite a strong movement in Mombasa – we began to realise that the pressure on this settlement was very strong. And we could not get information on who owned the land, we only had rumours. It's very difficult to fight an eviction if you don't know who owns the land, what you're really fighting, so we agreed with the people that when we go back to Nairobi we would try and see whether we can get the titles for this land. So we came back, and we managed to link up with somebody in the Ministry of Lands, and they gave us all the titles for this particular settlement, and the information we had in our hands was really shocking – it was really hot. 

So what happened after that is that we started being threatened with bombings in our office. The first time, somebody just came and threw a petrol bomb in the reception. And we began to wonder what is this all about? We thought it would go away, so we forgot about it, and then after another week another petrol bomb – someone just came in and threw another petrol bomb. And then another came, and the third one just burnt our whole office, the office just was burnt down. Eventually the fire was put out, but after the fire was put out we didn't have an office, and so we started looking for an office to let and nobody would let us an office. We would move from one place to another asking, could you please let? For a whole year we stayed without an office – we used to operate from the National Council of NGOs; they gave us one room. Major challenge because you know all our staff were highly traumatized, everybody who went through that experience was very traumatized. So we took quite a while for us to pick up again. And people then were afraid to do this work, 'Why are we doing this work?' You know lawyers are very conservative, 'Why do we do this work that just brings us problems, and in any event we go to court we don't even win these cases so why bother?'

So actually, what we did – because we also realised that if we stayed with that information it was putting us at risk – so we worked with the National Council for NGOs and we put out an advert which said ‘this is the reason why were are being targeted’. And we put out some names; and again, now, we started getting calls at night. I remember receiving two or three calls: someone just telling me ‘Girl, be careful’. At that time I was a young girl, they could call me girl...

How have things changed over time?

I think when Muungano started, it started in a very oppressive environment, very oppressive government, and obviously the people who would organize resistance would also be targeted. So in those early years, Muungano kind of would not organize through formal organizations. People would organize, do something, and then disperse; so they wouldn't remain in a formal organization. They would come together to do an act of resistance, or resist something, and then they would disperse, because if they stayed together then they would be more easily targeted. So those were the early years. But then slowly we began to realise that we needed an organization: we needed to have a leadership, some form in order to be able to move on. At that time also, we didn't have any resources: actually when we started we didn't have any donor resource, it was just people moving on their own and doing whatever they could. But then we realised we needed resources in order to organize more effectively, and that's when then we began to mobilize resources and now began to form an organization – little organizations – and the first organizations we formed were through the saving schemes. So we mobilized resources, and started forming saving schemes using the SDI methodology. That was from the year 2000 onwards.

What have been Muungano’s biggest achievements over the years?

I think one of greatest achievements of Muungano is that Muungano managed to retain a lot of the lands that informal settlements occupied, despite the challenge. A lot of those settlements were retained. Some have gotten lost, but others have also been created. And I think one of the biggest achievements of Muungano was just creating an acceptance by the state that informal settlements are here, they are part of our reality, they are a housing solution for the poor, that housing solution is not sufficient, and that the state must begin to intervene. So eviction is not the way to go. So just that acceptance by the state. And now the state beginning to create policies and beginning to mobilize money, actual resources, in order to address the slum issue. I think that is the greatest achievement of Muungano.

What are your hopes for Muungano’s next 20 years?

I think Muungano's challenge is the challenge of continuous mobilization. Muungano has to ensure that it has greater buy-in. It has to build itself into a more influential organization. It has influence on the ground, especially when evictions happen, but I think it needs to build that constituency. It needs to build more. It has to put more work on building it's constituency.

A message for the younger generations of Muungano

In informal settlements, between 40 to 60 per cent of the children are stunted. They don't have enough food, so in terms of min, in terms of body, their potential is just – there. And I looked at it as a mother and I thought, that is really heart-breaking. And I also looked at it as a country, and as a city. With 40 percent of our children in informal settlements, so that's around 25 per cent of the city, with that problem, you ask yourself, where are we going? And even as a mother, if I were a mother I'd ask myself, so what am I giving my child? And so I feel strongly that young people should really fight for your children. You know, when you fight this struggle you're not fighting it – you're fighting it for your children. So your child has a place to live well so that they're not always having diarrhoea. Even if you feed them and you keep your little house clean, you're not able to stay without having diarrhoea because of the environment. And if they are always having diarrhoea, of course they will not grow well. Even if you are able to feed them. And there are people, even people have work. And I'm sure we can do it within this city. So for me, I feel your struggle must continue. You must fight for your children, for the young people. So you can be a fantastic mother who's working hard, putting proper food on your child's table, but still the environment is fighting against you. So your battle is probably different. In the years to come probably evictions will not be such a big issue for you, but then how do you want to bring up your children? What is the minimum you're going to accept?


Jane Weru

Support professional & lawyer • Akiba Mashinani Trust

Interview:  28 April 2016, Nairobi

Interviewer: Kate Lines

Original language: English

A story about government learning exchanges

Jane Weru – A story about government learning exchanges

Why we held those government exchanges: I'll give the example of the railway relocation.

Immediately after the NAC government came into power, they wanted to clear a lot of the public spaces, especially the road reserves, the railway reserves, so they could expand infrastructure. And one of the areas that they really targeted was Kibera – and actually almost all the slums, because even they were looking at all the power lines, so almost all the slums were affected.

The first thing then that the civil society organisations did was to try and count – enumerate – to try and find out how many people were affected. And they counted, and the number was huge, huge. So then the question the arose, so what do we do? And obviously one of the solutions that was proposed: let's go to court. At that time Kituo Cha Sheria, headed by Mr Opiata, then organised for the pleadings and they went to court. I think they got interim orders to prevent the eviction, but that was only just a holding solution because I think if you followed the law these people are on the reserves – so eventually they would have to go.

So we started thinking, so what else can we do? We knew at that time that the Indian federation had been able to negotiate for the relocation of 20,000 households from their railway reserve, and they had worked with their railways, so we thought probably it would be good if we could be able to persuade our Kenyan railways to go and see what the Indians had done. So we went to the Kenyan Railways – we went there several times, we went, we went, until they got tired of seeing us. Eventually we asked them, so why don't you just go to Bombay and see what the Indian railway has done? And of course India has one of the largest railway systems in the world and it's very close to the Kenyan system. So they said yes. And we then spoke to the Indians and the Indians agreed to organise for meetings with the Indian Railways.

And we managed to get four professionals from the Kenya Railways to go to India, and they met their counterparts in India, and they discussed, and they aired their worries about, if we give our reserve, what happens if we need an expansion? Do we really need 30 meters? You have given up so much of your reserve, what will you do in the future? All of these questions they raised and these questions were answered by professionals – the Indian professionals. At the end of the day they were persuaded that they needed to find a human solution to this problem, so when we came back they invited us into their negotiations with the bank – at that time it was IFC, International Finance Corporation, one of the sister organisations of the World Bank. So they actually invited us to join them as part of the negotiating team, with the IFC, and we then managed to help the government negotiate for the relocation of slum dwellers in Kibera.

I think once professionals meet their peers it's more comforting, because they're not being spoken to by civil society activists who only see one side of the coin. Because when we speak to them they start from the assumption that we're biased – and I'm sure we are biased – but when they meet the professionals, the professions are able to answer technical questions that we cannot answer. Technical questions that have to do with engineering – what if you have a runaway train, how much space do you need to hoist the train back onto the rails? So they meet their contemporaries and they discuss these issues, and then of course they also see – because they are also professionals – they see the possibilities of what they could do with their own railway system. So it's broad learning for them and then also specific learning in regard to that question or that challenge that they face. And then it is done in an environment that is not tense: when we go we have lots of fun. Railway people are the most amazing people because they've travelled through the country and they have the most fantastic stories – so they share their stories and it's a lot of fun. So by the time you come back you've built trust, you've built friendships, and then people are also more comfortable to speak to you about their fears, so you're able to work better.


Joseph Kimani & Jane Weru

Support professional • SDI Kenya

Interview:  28 April 2016, Nairobi

Interviewer: Kate Lines

Original language: English

Muungano's experiences during Kenya's 2007-8 post election violence 

Kim: The post-election violence in 2007, December, and January [2008]: it was such a short time but a lot happened in this country. Everything stopped. And tension. And just feeling challenged – are we going to come back to where we were? And not being certain of what or how the next day would look like. That was the environment. We felt challenged, some of us, to find space to do something within that conflict. We picked Mathare North.

Jane: We didn't even pick – we were told Mungiki was going to send tenants to be flushed out because they had refused to pay rent. 

Kim: And there was actually an incident: a landlord who wanted get some tenants out of his property. And that attempt was counterproductive in a way because the group that was sent – alleged to be Mungiki – the community members, the groups, the youths in that community fought back. And there were a few people who died in that incident. So when we heard there was more of that that was to come, we thought then this would be too much of actually just observing – and we thought of intervening.

Jane: We met with the landlords. They were raising money in order to hire Mungikis, where they can go and kill, and flush. So we – you remember Rosie? – Rosie was a young lady who worked in the office and her father was a landlord in Mathare, so we asked her to get her father to convene the other landlords.

Kim: We were working in Huruma but not Mathare North, and therefore going to Mathare north was symbolic, because it was also next to Ghetto.

Jane: The major challenge of Mathare North is that most of the landlords [were] Kikuyus and most of the tenants were Luos. And the Kikuyu landlords were saying that the Luos had refused to pay their rent, so they had organised themselves into a strong association, and their intention was to raise money to hire youths to go and flush out the tenants so they can get back their properties. So obviously it was going to be a major blood bath. So now we found ways of getting to that landlords association, and we started talking to them and somehow we persuaded them that they needed to go through an arbitration process. So we said, you landlords, organise yourselves, have your representatives; and you tenants – because we were also working with the tenants – you tenants, organise yourselves. And then we'll have a mediation. You talk; just go.

So we managed to get a Kikuyu mediator who was a bishop – Jenga, a retired Anglican bishop – and then we also got Opiata, who was a lawyer, head of Hakijami, who at least the tenants would have confidence in because (sorry for this) he's Luo. And so we started having these mediation meetings.

Kim: In the beginning it was not going to be easy to get people to come, and that's why we were using everyone we knew – who was close to us, who knew someone, who knew a landlord somewhere, and someone in the line of tenants who knew the most troublesome tenants, or the ringleaders of sort – to come to the table. Because then it wasn't just bringing everyone: there were those that really mattered in that conciliation.

And one attempt was for us, physically, to go to Mathare North to try and talk to the young people about the importance of negotiations, or [get them] trying to talk to each other. And we started this meeting – myself, Jane, and Opiata – and they start moving in, getting in, and slowly they're like, 'who are you?' So it starts unfortunately by our names betraying us: ‘Joseph Kimani’, ‘uh-huh, what do you do?’ Very intimidating kind of a situation; trying to be very polite, smiling. It was actually very shocking to know that people really relate politics with very small details to that extent. But then we were able to get out of it, slowly talk to them, and of course our confidence helped us because it expressed that we really had good intentions to reach out to them and to bring peace – and even them, some of them, wanted that peace.

Jane: The vernacular media, especially the radio stations, were the ones that were fanning the conflict. So they kept preaching hate, they kept on. And so we realised that this conflict, the whole conflict, was not going to end until the vernacular media stations were persuaded to talk another language. So what we did – what Biden did – is that he managed to organize all the vernacular media stations in the country and we would hold workshops with them. They were spoken to by a lawyer about the risk of them going to The Hague, actually, and they were told, ‘you know you guys, this is not a joke, you are playing with fire’. And they went through that.

And then we held other workshops – we had about 6 workshops – about community people coming to share their stories, about the effects of the conflict. One of the stories that was shared: he was called Owino, from Mathare North, and he told us how he was married to a Kikuyu woman. And at one point, some Kikuyu youths had come into their building and were knocking from door to door looking for Luo tenants, flushing them out, beating them, just basically causing chaos. So them they listened – Owino listened with his wife who was a Kikuyu – and he said, they are speaking in Kikuyu, so when they come, wife you open the door. So Owino hid in the house and when they knocked on the door his wife opened. So they checked, so she spoke to them in Kikuyu. They left. After a while, I think after a few days, another gang came – the retaliation from Luo youths. Again they came, they flushed. So they listened, they listened, said, ah these are Luo youths. So the wife said, now Owino you open the door, I will hide. So the wife hid and then Owino opened the door, and he spoke to them in Luo and they left. So those are the stories that the people from the slums were telling the media: ‘You know, I'm married to a Kikuyu woman, so there's no conflict. You are the ones who are causing this conflict'.

And over time they were persuaded, in fact they all agreed that they would air peace messages right throughout the country, and the tone of the media changed.

Kim: There was one other remarkable outcome from the peace meetings, which played out in Mathare. Because this was the time when [Muungano] were entering Mathare and trying to help the federation spread and consolidate. So in one incident, after these meetings now in the office trying to bring residents together, in Kosovo when an operation was happening at night – it was an operation of youth – they were going from settlement to settlement, the had started in Kiamu, they were going to Village 2, now they were in Kosovo. In Kosovo, they reached out to this old man, got his things out, and they were almost burning them when Muungano in the settlement intervened. And they said, this is not the way to go, we will stop this, we will not allow anyone to be evicted here by force or to be harassed, we must live as one community. And that touched that person a lot. He became the chairman of Muungano in that settlement, Mr Otieno, and it has been his story of how, really, the peace meetings assisted in rescuing him and his family from almost being killed.

So they continued: in [Mathare] Bondeni it involved healing – even just Muungano members saying, 'we accept what happened, we know who did’. Someone just observing her 13 animals – goats – being slaughtered, and later saying, 'I have no grudges, I forgive those who did this. I know them, but we'll move on'.

In my view, one group that I really came to like in terms of systems – savings – was Toi Market. The membership had almost reached 3000; the story of Toi in our spread, for encouraging and giving hope to other settlements, was really helping a lot. When you'd go and say, there is a group that saves money daily and they have a system where you can borrow money daily – 24 hours, you borrow in the morning, do your business during the day, and in the evening you return that money – organised in clusters in such a systematic [way]. And the way they also attracted banks to come, just relocate – Equity coming close to Kibera because of Toi market and the system that was also happening there. But when the clashes happened, oh it split. It split. People who were very close, almost to be one family, split completely. Torn apart.

Jack Makau & Jane Weru

Support professionals • SDI Kenya & Akiba Mashinani Trust

Interview:  28 April 2016, Nairobi

Interviewer: Kate Lines

Original language: English

How Muungano first began collecting settlement data


Data was always important for the federations. In the 1990s there were two studies – a study by Peter Ngau at the University of Nairobi and another study by a group called Matrix – and these studies said that there were lots of slum dwellers. They estimated that half the city were slum dwellers. And at the time there was no constituency called slum dwellers – slums were not recognised as a legitimate part of the city – and these studies helped catalyse the movement – they gave the movement some form, it made sense. 

But the movement used data that way – for advocacy, it was broad data. And then when Muungano got affiliated to SDI, round about 1999, SDI affiliates from South Africa and India came to Kenya and said there is a tool called enumerations. And Muungano took it up immediately. The reason was, it looked – as the millennium was changing – that there would be opportunities for communities to get land. They were speaking to the city. And for the professionals working with Muungano, and for Muungano, there was a bit of anxiety who in these settlements would get the land? If these opportunities came to pass, there was a need to establish who in the settlements would get land. And therefore when the Indians and the South Africans came with the tool and said, ‘Let’s try it’, it made a lot of sense for Muungano.

And the first place they tried it was in Huruma. And we were working with the City [authorities] in Huruma – we were having a dialogue for possible upgrade. And therefore we went straight ahead; even as the Indians were still here telling us about enumerations, we started to do them. It was a very rudimentary type of enumeration. We photocopied the forms at night, we learned in the field – but we counted.

At the same time, there was an urgent need in Korogocho settlement, where the president had come to the community and said, ‘Well, the land should go to the people’ – and there was a need to establish which people. 


The Korogocho story has a lot to do with Father Alex. I think what happened, if I remember right, is that the structure owners in Korogocho had formed themselves into an association. And somehow they had managed to meet up with the president, and had persuaded the president – at that time Moi – to allocate the land of Korogocho to them. Now, on our side, and I think Father Alex especially, felt that if the structure owners were allocated land, many many people in Korogocho would be dispossessed. So we started talking, and it was felt that we needed to link up with the government, so that we can begin to influence the way the government handled slum upgrading. 

So at the time, Madoka was the minister in the president’s office in charge of, I think, home affairs. So we went to see Madoka with Father Alex, and Madoka then referred us to the provincial administrator (PC) for Nairobi. So we went to see the PC at the time – he was called Maina, PC Maina. So we spoke to him, and we agreed that it was important that we do an enumeration in Korogocho, so we can find out who actually lives there, before the allocations were made. 

So as a result of that, we reached out to the Indians, and it was agreed that we needed to go for an exchange visit to India, so that at least the government could begin to understand how exchanges and how enumerations were carried out. So an exchange visit was organized, and we went to India with the PC Maina and the director of planning at the time, who was called Kibinda, and myself. And after we had finished that visit, it was agreed that we would come back and we would begin to do enumerations with the assistance of the Indian federation. So that’s then how we started to do the enumerations in Korogocho.


And that first enumeration really tested us, because it brought out the power of information. One, the community were not decided on who would get land, the tenants or the structure owners. And it was resisted: the collecting of names of the tenants was resisted very powerfully. And then we saw that this tool was really powerful. We worked with central government at the time to do the enumeration in Korogocho. We got a lot of support from other affiliates of SDI – Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Indians. We got the provincial commissioner of Nairobi and all the chiefs and all the district commissioners coming to Korogocho just to make sure this happened – that we could create a set of data that would be acceptable to the state for the allocation of land. The enumeration was resisted by owners of structures. They did not feel that it was in their interest to have tenants counted. 

And after that, we came back – we collected a huge amount of data, 18,000 households, I think 40,000 people at the time. And then we started struggling with how do we present this: do we give the government a list, what is the best way to do this? And that set us off on a journey that continues today, about how do you present data? Can it be verified? How accurate is it? We had to define things like what is a household. What constitutes a household? We struggled with issues like: a 15 year old that lives in a shack by themselves, next to his mother’s shack, and describes himself as an individual household – do we believe that? How do we define these things? So, in doing that, then we started to unravel the complexity of informal settlements. From the outside they look like a mass of housing. When you do enumerations then you start to learn a lot more about the settlements, the dynamics, the relationships, the community, and so on. But that is where we started.