Private sector partner
Interview date & place: 20 April 2016, Nairobi
Interviewed by: Kate Lines
Original language: English
My name is architect Mukeku Joseph. I am a practicing architect doing both mainstream architectural work and community design programmes as well.
How did you first get involved with Muungano?
My interaction with Muungano started off in the year 2002, when I'd just finished school and done a bit of conventional architectural work out in the field. And my senior colleague, who had worked with Muungano then, introduced me to Muungano. By then, Muungano was beginning to think of putting up houses as part of their programme, so I went in purely to fill in that role of an architect. Initially, we started off just doing simple things on the ground, like collecting background information, and later we scaled up our works with Muungano and we were able to get involved in actual design of houses.
The Kambi Moto, Huruma, upgrading design: the process is as important as the outcome of the activities
The upgrading for Kambi Moto was driven by the community that was residing there, because from their initial agitation to get the land they realized that for them to them have a good living environment, the environment had to be improved. So the upgrading was actually something driven by the community themselves. So when we went on board, then the organization that was coordinating this was Pamoja Trust, and they were in charge of the social process works on the ground – that was about mobilization of communities and assisting communities to set priorities.
So when it came to the need for technical people to resolve the designs and the spaces that the communities wanted, that's when we went on board. So basically at that point, when we started off with Kambi Moto, I think a lot of issues were grey – in the sense that they weren't sure of what they wanted. And the process was what I would call a bottom-up process, in the sense that all the ideas emanated from the community itself. For us, it was it was just a task to put the community thinking into frame, in regards to technical requirements. So that was the starting point when we engaged with Kambi Moto at the outset.
The dreaming process had certain clear stages that we went through. The first one was just to mobilize the community and bring them together to set priorities, in terms of what they want to realize in the design of their spaces. During the mobilization, of course, there were a lot of issues because you would find that not everybody is on the same page and a number of people would find it difficult to agree on a common ground. But through the facilitation of what we called the social team, they were able to sit down and agree on the priority areas. And, for Kambi Moto specifically, I think they were clear from the beginning that housing was the biggest priority – inasmuch as there were other priorities, or rather other needs, that would follow.
So we started off engaging on basis of provision of housing, and, after the mobilization, we had sessions that we were involved in, where we discussed with the community on one-to-one, and they were able to say, look, this is what we want. And at that point, really, the parameters for engagement were very basic. We would even just engage on the sketches that the community were making – they would scribble some sketches. And for those who couldn't conceptualize sketches, we had an opportunity to even use rudimentary methods like pacing out. They would pace out on, say, three steps by four steps: 'that becomes my room'. And beyond that, of course, they also sketched on ground itself and this was to scale. They would sketch it out to scale and say, this is the expanse of my space.
So we collected that information and started synthesising it. Of course, as part of collecting that information, there was an occasion of collecting raw data from the ground, in terms of measuring out the settlement. And tied to that was also the enumeration of the residents in the community – just to know how many people they are, so that then when we are designing we could match the numbers to the space available. So that process went hand-in-hand, and at the end of it we went into another consultative session where we took back the information and said, 'look, you’ve this number of people, and this is the amount of space you have, and this is the dream you have’. So we were able now to look at all the realities at the table say, 'look, if you want this kind of a house and this number of people, then it's not possible – we need to modify the house to fit the people who are there’.
And at that point, I remember, the biggest challenge was actually to agree on the amount of space that we could provide. Some of the initial dreams from the community were really broad. Some envisioned having cars and they were providing for car parks. Others said, why don’t we have a swimming pool like the upscale urban population, and in their sketches, they put even swimming pools. But now, tying the reality of the space available and the people that needed to be accommodated … And also, in addition to that, as part of just mobilising the people there was a process of initiating the savings – part of the savings were to go into the house construction. So we had also to consider the cost of the house and how much people can afford to put up the house.
So we brought out all these realities out in a common forum, and the community was able now to get convinced that, we need to scale down with our dream. But again the process of scaling down the dream was undertaken by them – we just put the reality on the table, and they scaled down their dream.
One of the challenging issues with Kambi Moto was that everybody wanted a claim on the ground, in the sense that we could not stack them one on top of the other like in apartments. So everybody wanted space on the ground – because from the initial agitation for ownership of the land, people had really struggled to have a claim of a portion of the land that they were occupying. So, again, the design had to be modified, again with the input of the community, to ensure that everybody has a claim on the ground.
So we had this series of meetings, that we used now to process all this information and get the design working.
But, again, the design process had its own stages. The initial stage was that one of just basic negotiations, of course preceded by the gathering of information. So when we [had] negotiated and we felt like the design was working, we had an opportunity now to present it – not just to the community itself but to other people from without the community. And that presentation was a ceremony in itself – so we had to put up what we were calling then a cloth model, which is a model of the house at scale one-to-one, on a timber frame, but enclosed with cloth. And the purpose of this exercise was to ensure that both the residents and the neighbours – and partly also the city administration – was able to understand at scale one-to-one what we were thinking of in terms of the envisioned housing for Kambi Moto. So, again, the cloth model exercise was part of our mobilization, now at a different scale – because we had undertaken the mobilization of the people at the settlement level; we were moving out and we had to now bring in on board the neighbours around the settlement and also the city administration. So, during the event, the then mayor of the city was invited to come and grace the occasion. And partly it was also to ensure that we had some space in terms of negotiating for the adoption of the plans and approval of the plans for construction.
After that cloth model exercise, we prepared technical drawings that we submitted to the urban authorities. And we submitted these on the strength of a certain provision in that had been put in the council minutes – or in the urban authority minutes – that allowed for a special planning area. And with the special planning area, there was going to be a waiver on the requirements that are standard for approval of plans. So we got a waiver, in the sense that, ultimately, when we had finished the design process, our house was slightly smaller than what can pass for standard approvals. And again, even in terms of layout of the settlement, we were going to go for higher densities than what the planning authorities approved in that area.
So on the strength of the special planning minutes that was within the council – or the urban authorities – we presented our dreams. And again that exercise was also another sort of mobilization exercise – in the sense that initially we had dealt with the political component of the urban administration, and now we were dealing with the technical component of the urban administration. So we had to take them through the process of understanding how this programme would work. And that took a long time. But because of lack of clarity on a number of areas, they initially gave us provincial approval to proceed with the programme. And they would then look at what we've done on the ground and use that as a basis to grant full approval. So we worked a lot on Kambi Moto on provisional approval.
So after presenting the drawings, we were allowed to start construction on that provisional approval. And when we started construction, we also noticed that the construction itself was going to be another design process, because a lot of issues were not clear in the previous stage. So I remember when we started construction, we had to do a demonstration of how furniture would move into the house, because we had provided for this door that the community felt was small. So we put the doorframe and we said, ‘look, can you bring the biggest size of furniture you've got and arrange it inside?’ Long before even the roof was in place. So they found that quite interesting, and they would just come around to experience the house as it was coming up.
Now, when we started the construction, there was another opportunity to train the community on construction methods. We partnered with another organization that had competence on training for construction, and they came on the ground and trained the communities for construction – now, I think they go by the name Practical Action (at that time it was the Intermediate Technology Development Group). So they came on the ground, passed on that knowledge on construction skills. And in addition to that, because of the wider partnership between the community and other communities out there, they got a visitation of some groups from India, who came, and also had peer exchanges on construction skills. So they trained them specifically for the building elements for the slum – that technology was brought in from India – and we benefited because one of the senior architects involved in this programme had worked in India and was able to coordinate that transfer of skills from India, of course to the benefit of other players involved in the programme.
After starting the construction, we had to make it fully participatory. In the sense that, when we started the construction process, we constituted teams from the community that were charged with overseeing certain tasks in the construction. We had a team that was calling itself the 'construction committee/team’ that would then meet occasionally to review the progress of the construction. And this is the team that I personally worked with, and we scheduled for meetings on a weekly basis, where we would sit down and in a participatory manner go through records, see what materials were delivered, and then also get an update of the progress of the project construction. In the beginning it was quite demanding, in terms of just the time out there and dealing with the community – but, again, very interesting, because the community was very receptive and willing to learn. So we worked with them on a daily basis, inasmuch as the meetings would come after a week.
One of the things we considered in this programme was to work incrementally. Incrementally, because of lack of resources – or rather not lack of resources, but limitations in terms of how much resources we had. So we had to start off doing just a simple room on the ground, that had capacity to take some extra two rooms on top. And the idea was that you start off small so you reach out to many people, but also allow individuals to contribute the little they have, to be able to engage with the programme.
In terms of incremental construction, we didn't want anybody displaced from the community. So there was an arrangement that those who could start with the giving up their space for construction would be absorbed by their neighbours in the settlement. So we avoided clearing the whole settlement. So we had to phase it out and do it incrementally, even in terms of rolling out the units on the ground. So that was a key consideration when we started off with the construction.
And then, because of using pre-cast concrete approach for the floor elements, we had to put up a yard or a workshop where they would then put up these elements. And that went hand in hand with the in-situ construction, so that limited also the amount of time that we were to take to put up a single unit.
So the first cluster we started off was 34 units. And 34 units, I think, took about a year plus or thereabouts. But then when we finished with the 34, there was a lot of experience that had been gained, so when we went next, we started 27 units, and 27 units we did them in a record 6 months. And to us that was good, because it was a learning process and we had perfected on a few things. But as we went on we kept modifying and twitching the design a bit, to be able to meet the needs of the community. Because, at some point, we noticed that there were issues that we had overlooked – like we had not factored in for the physically disabled in the initial design, because in the initial design we had put the rooms upstairs (the bedrooms). So we had to modify that and create an opportunity for a bedroom downstairs, just to be able to accommodate those who were physically disabled and also, in addition to that, those who are aged and could not walk up the staircase. So, in fact, in the first cluster we came up with two units that would take care of the physically disabled and also those who are aged and could not use the staircase. The other thing we modified along the way was just the organization of the space inside. I think we changed a few thing even in terms in material usage. We started off using a certain type of stone that was going to be too expensive for them, but then on the advice of the engineer we changed and used a different stone that was pretty affordable to the community at that time.
So after rolling on the second cluster, we went to the third cluster. And by the time we were going to the third cluster, the community was pretty much empowered and were beginning even to request that they be released to do the construction by themselves, without necessarily having to rely on the entire support.
There was also the question of how we would then accommodate the people who are not necessarily tenants – the structure owners. Because the structure owners didn’t need a facility to put up their houses. For most of the community members, they were contributing some money towards the construction of their house. I think at the start was about 10 per cent. So they would put in 10 per cent, and then they're given [loaned] 90 per cent from the common fund that was set up to support the house construction.
So that’s it basically in terms of how we went about the design process. Again, let me point out that the design process for Kambi Moto was never separate from the construction process. And again, like we noticed later, it was also tied to occupation of the house. So the design process was continuous: it didn’t break at one point. We kept designing: from the start; when we were constructing; and even when they were putting up, when they were living in the houses, we noticed they were modifying things. And we learnt a lot from that. So I would say the design process for Kambi Moto has been a continuous engagement. I think even up to date they are still designing their place.
Who were the various players in the Kambi Moto process?
In my understanding, the key player was the community. The community was identified by the facilitating organization, then Pamoja Trust, which was doing mobilization of community and all that. Pamoja Trust was an NGO then, working as an NGO. Then, in addition to Pamoja Trust, there was the technical team that constituted of architects; at that time there were also engineers on board. And, in addition to the qualified technical team, there was also participation of students from the university who came on board to do background research on how the upgrading would be done – in fact they made a proposal which heavily informed the solutions that came up also. They went, sat down and came up with a proposal of how the upgrading would be done. And then, in addition to that, we had also the urban authorities, that were also key in terms of coming up with certain decisions – like the special planning area provision, which was purely the urban authorities. There were other NGOs that were also on board that came in to do specific roles. And we had also organizations from outside [Kenya] – I think to some point UN Habitat came on board but just for a certain task that they wanted to carry out there – I think theirs’ was more to do with the documentation of the process at that point. So there were many actors in the process, and the main actors that remained consistent all through was the NGO, the urban authorities, the community, and the technical team.
Reconciling community design and Kenyan building standards
It say it was pretty interesting. My background was purely from mainstream practice, so there was that big jump from applying mainstream standards, to an environment where we are going to tinker a lot with some of those standards. We had been given an open window, through the special planning area provision, that we could try a number of things. But, again, this challenged me to not just rely purely on the building standards or requirements, but also to look at how requirements evolve from user needs. So, in a sense, I had to reflect a lot on basic user needs, which was also coming through from the community itself. While the standards [allow] for certain special provisions, this special provision was not derived from user needs in their pure form.
So, for me, it was a learning experience. And I could also see the community was also enjoying it, because at some point we just had to arrange furniture in a space and see how that furniture fits in. That’s more direct than just saying 'a room should be 4 metres by 5 metres', which has no correlation with how that space will be used. So because of that special planning area provision, it was really easy to go about that.
Of course, the challenge was that there was a risk of under-provision in certain areas, and we had to balance between certain basic standards and also what was possible with the space that was there. I would refer to one element that many people would come in and write it off, and this is the staircase. In fact, when we did that staircase, many people came and said, ‘this is a ladder, it’s not a staircase’ – it doesn’t fit into their logic of how a staircase would work. But then the question was, who defines the staircase? It’s the user – if the user can go through it comfortably and they don’t fall, it’s a good staircase. And we had to turn the staircase the way we did because the space was not there. We would have wished to [have] a grand staircase, but with the reality of the space that was there, and also the cost, we had to design a staircase from the basics. So if you look at that staircase, it’s got a height per step of 200 mm and the tread itself is 250mm – which is okay, you will find that can work, but of course going by standards, that would have been knocked out. So really, that mediation, between the reality of spatial requirement and design on the ground and the standards, was easy to navigate through. Of course, when we started off, there wasn’t confidence – but the confidence grew when the product came out and people used it. Even when we were doing construction, people would go up the staircase and they'd find, ah! it’s a walkable staircase when they were carrying materials. So we would imagine that, in event when they are occupying the house and they are not carrying much, that will be a functional staircase.
Then, at the level of the settlement layout, again I would say the densities that we put down are way beyond what is approved or what is allowed for that area in terms of how many people per that area. But then our argument was: long before we planned it, those people were living there and probably in a worse setting, so really what we did was just to improve it, make it better but also create an opportunity for people to live in the same environment they were before. Because the question that kept coming up is, if you work with low densities, then where do we take the rest of the people? Where do we take the overflow? So we had to just ensure that everybody fits in there. And the understanding is that, while the planning standards are good and should be pushed for realisation in certain places, it’s also good to understand that, in the slums where people live – and they have lived there for many days – the densities are way high. But if you can improve it and allow them to live there even in these huge numbers, then that’s fine. Of course there a question of services and all, but we expect that they can access services, even in such high densities.
What have been the Kambi Moto project’s biggest achievements?
I think I will start off by acknowledging the community itself – because later on when we were reflecting on this process, there was this expression that one of the biggest achievements in Huruma was ‘to build a community that can then build houses’. So in my view the community has been built. The task of building houses is a long term one and that can go on for many days. So the crucial thing, in my view, that was achieved, is that building of the community. So at least we've got a community that can then carry on with the agenda that was reached at that point.
But of course, beyond that, the fact that we went on the ground and put out a number of houses, prototypes that the community can duplicate, in my view that’s an achievement. And the fact that these houses can be duplicated not just in Kambi Moto but in other settlements, that’s an achievement – because it means this is a model that has its own life and can move out there and change communities. I am saying this because I've heard of other communities borrowing from Kambi Moto – and using not just the product but also the process. Because the setting out of the process in Huruma was a big achievement – the process itself. Of course the product is good, but we want to say the process of arriving at that house is good. And partly because of entrenching a concept – or a model – for participation in urban slum upgrading. Because initially we didn’t have any model for participation. So this model of participation that was perfected in Kambi Moto and in the entire Huruma is good.
The other achievement was to bring down the top to the grassroots. In my view, Kambi Moto has achieved in that. In the sense that, if you go to the urban authorities and mention Kambi Moto, the urban authorities recognize Kambi Moto as a legitimate settlement, one way or the other. And this bringing out is not just symbolic, it’s also practical. These people in administration in the urban authorities have been to Kambi Moto, practically, and they've gone in and seen how the place has changed. So in my understanding, the top has come down.
I would also say the bottom has also gone up, because today, if you talk to the community in Kambi Moto, they feel they are empowered. In fact, I won’t be surprised if some of them will be vying for big offices with time, because of that empowerment. And if you go down to a settlement in Mahira, I think now they've got a representative for the ward who is a resident of Mahira – and it’s purely because of this empowerment. And the empowerment didn’t focus on housing alone. I may be just discussing housing, but in my view it was empowerment socially, economically, and politically. So that really achieved a lot. But of course, most of the time we celebrate the houses, because they are the easily identifiable products of this process. But I believe the process has achieved a lot.
Has the Kambi Moto project had a wider influence?
I think it's broadly influenced academic thinking – and I won’t limit that to academic institutions, because academic thinking is a broad thing. Sometimes it’s beyond schools. But looking at what amount of documentation that has come out of Kambi Moto, and Huruma generally, it’s easy to appreciate just that it has influenced that thinking. I have come across many publications from institutions that discuss the Huruma process as a successful model for participatory slum upgrading. There are students who've come from Australia, from America, from continental Europe, and even from the UK, and they write about this process, and it’s also discussed in many forums. So, in my understanding, this has opened up academic discourse in a different approach. And the most interesting thing about Huruma is partly the process, and how [by] using simple tools and simple approaches you can engage a community from the grassroots to realize something, while developing another network with other establishments around. That, to me, is great. Now, if you look at Kambi Moto locally, its discussed in schools of planning, in schools of architecture, and there are many visitations done to Kambi Moto to go and identify how the process worked. So to me that’s a big achievement. Many days to come, people will still reflect on Kambi Moto and draw lessons from it. I have come across also some comparative studies that look at Kambi Moto's model against the mainstream approaches to slum upgrading, and you can find very clear conclusions that people make to the effect that Kambi Moto is a strong model – it's superior, its way above in terms of its approach.
And in addition to that, you also find that if you look at the players in Kambi Moto. Some of us, along the way, we were pushed to push this discussion from just the practical application to a more academic engagement. I know a few of us, who were there at the beginning, have gone ahead and taken this approach as a viable study subject. And I mean there’s lot of writing in that direction.
What were the key ingredients in Kambi Moto's success?
The key ingredients in the success of Kambi Moto is, one, the conceptualization of the approach. I think long before we got on board, there were big brains that went ahead and looked at how a slum upgrading approach can be participatory. I think that was the first successful footstep in putting Kambi Moto down. So the conceptualization of the process was really good – and this is based on agitation for rights of people, right to life in the city for the urban poor, and then how that can be translated into tangibles that people can enjoy, even as they discuss rights. Because rights can be arbitrary. So that conceptualization is a key ingredient: the background thinking of how that can be done.
Then the other ingredient that worked, or played out, in Kambi Moto, was just starting off with easy wins. In the sense that, if you look at the way that Kambi Moto was done, it never focused on grand achievements – it just focused on very winnable things. The first thing you see us do is a single house. No slum upgrading has ever started with a single house – they want to roll out many houses. But in Kambi Moto, when we broke ground it was a single house that expanded to 34. In fact, I remember when we dug the foundation, we just dug the foundation for one house, moved to two, and then rolled out to 34. Because our understanding was that, if you can demonstrate that it’s doable, people will come on board, but if you roll out a grand idea that can never fit into people’s mind, it’s difficult to realize it. So, first, demonstrate the achievements, and then from the achievements expand to cover a wider area. So that’s a key ingredient, just focusing on what is easy to win.
And then the other beauty with the approach in Kambi Moto, was just having the right team at the right time. I'm saying this because most of us went into this program without any prejudice. We had not gone through any other project/programme, but we wanted to make this the best that we would get. And that learning process in itself was good, because it had a lot of room for corrections: we didn’t have fixed minds, so we were very malleable, we could change a lot of things along the way.
Then, of course, we want to say a big hands up to the community. I think the community really took this. Because a lot of the pressures that came up through the process, it was the community that was absorbing them. So the community really took it in pretty well, and they were receptive of the program. So I would say it was the ingredient of having the right community to do this with.
How have things changed over the years for Muungano?
In my view, the movement has grown. Number wise it's also gone out and grown in numbers, so the movement is pretty huge. And I would also say that, alongside that, there is a lot of empowerment of the people who are in the movement. And looking at the structure, it's probably a lot more clear than it was at that time.
And of course – I will say this because it’s the reality of things – the challenge of movements is that, unless measures are put in place, movements have a shelf life. Because they cannot be forever as movements. Because the challenge with movements is that they always pick an agenda along the way. But for Muungano, I think that's a big plus, because that agenda has never been picked along the way. We've seen movements that translate to political forces, movements that become economic powerhouses in themselves, movements that also become serious social establishments – and once they get to that level then they change.
And, of course, the question is, the moment you put regulations, you begin to put structure in movements, then you are losing them – they are not movements anymore. Because the beauty about movements is the spontaneity and just the capacity to go out there and do things without looking for instant recognition. But the moment movements have accruals and they want to share their accruals and the spoils, then they tend to fragment and disappear. And a number of times, because of power play, people want to establish positions of power within the movements, and that in itself can be to the disadvantage of the movement.
But for Muungano, I think that has not come, and we hope that it doesn’t come any time soon. Because I don’t think we have reached a point where the movement can go under and then transform into something else. That’s my thinking about this. But again you find also, besides the social capital that the movement has built, I think it's got now some economic capital because of the saving schemes and all that. You find that a lot of accumulation has also occurred along the way. You find also the movement has gotten political capital – now the movement can go and agitate for certain things to be done and it will be listened to, because it’s a force in itself and can influence the way decisions are done. So it really gained this capital overtime, and that’s a plus in itself.
What has been Muungano’s influence in Kenya
If you look at the way the movement have been able to engage with authorities and influenced decision making, and also structure forums for interactive engagement in terms of participation, I think it's influenced the thinking of authorities. If you look at a classical example of the city of Nairobi, today, Muungano as a movement has space – it’s got some sort of virtual office space within the urban administration and they can occupy that at their will. They will go in, and make decisions, and they will be implemented. Again, if you look at other places, like the rolling out of programs like KISIP [Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project] and the rest, they acknowledge Muungano as a major force in that. So, in my view, the movement has influenced how things are done at a broader scale as well. And I can only imagine that things will get better for Muungano.
There are links between Muungano actions and actual changes. Like, we have just discussed before the whole issue of housing agenda – they've had an agitation for housing, and there are deliverables on the ground that they have already gotten in terms of real housing. Now, if you look at the agitation of Muungano for empowerment and recognition in decision-making forums, that they have achieved – they've opened up that space and they can now claim it in decision-making forums. Now, if again you look at just agitation for security of tenure, that itself have been achieved in many quarters. So it’s possible to see these links between actions and what has been realized on the ground.
What are your hopes for Muungano’s next 20 years?
In my view, the next frontier for Muungano, in the next 20 years will be, one, to scale up the achievements – in the sense that Muungano has achieved a lot but that scale has not grown as much. I think we need to be challenged to grow that scope of achievements. If I may just focus directly on my area of competence, which is planning and design of houses, we want to see more Kambi Motos rolled out and at a broader scale, and probably as a national agenda for Muungano at that level. So that scaling up is long overdue and I would expect that that would happen in the next 20 years.
The next thing would be to also look at how a lot of the issues that Muungano has gone through can also translate into policy matters, so that then we are not just talking about discussions at the movement level. These are discussions that can influence decisions at the national level, and even for governance. And I would imagine that now, with the devolved system of governance, Muungano also needs to retrofit its structure and align itself with that, and see how they can now adjust and relate with the devolved governance. Because if we are saying that Muungano also agitates for a share of the national cake, they need also to look at where is this cake falling out. And, in my view, that is falling out also in the counties. For instance, ‘what’s the county budget for infrastructure and how can we tap into it as Muungano?’ ‘What’s the county budget for housing and how can we tap in to it as Muungano?’ Because the beauty with the devolved function is it’s a model for participation, and one of the key strengths of Muungano is participation. So if they push for that participation at the county levels – even constitutionally – it’s got scope for it. At the national level, they may find a lot of friction to fit in a lot – well, it will still fit in, but I think the county government is a good structure for them to move down to.
And then, of course, it’s good to reflect on the dynamics of the movement and try to still retain it as a movement. In my view it has not matured sufficiently to transition from a space of a movement – it would be nice to have it as a movement. It’s a challenge, of course, to retain it as a movement forever. But the strength of Muungano is in its in movement form – so it will be a challenge also in these coming 20 years to see how that movement works.
And again, and this I pass – not probably as a straight challenge – to the leadership of Muungano: I would also want to imagine that its good for Muungano to then have clarity it terms of how it's managed. Even, if you look at the national structure and all that, how does it cascade to reach out to the people at the bottom? And again, to retain the original vision? I think, over time, it’s very easy to get a lot benefits along on the way and then forget about where we were focused on going.
But I think Muungano still has strength to cover the next 20 years in those areas I have outlined. In terms of scaling up, I've have only picked out scaling up for house construction – there are other matters that need to scale up. Mobilization is one. And I mentioned about the need to engage policy matters. Because, really, what will remain forever is the policy matters, if they are put down well and articulated in different levels of governance. And then I have also talked about how Muungano can sustain itself over time – because for Muungano to be relevant over 20 years, it got to remain as Muungano. So that will be a big challenge for it.
Where is ‘the slum’ in Kenya today?
Muungano is born out of the slums. I think we need to constantly, or Muungano should constantly, keep reviewing where the slum is moving towards. Because, in my view, the slum is not the space where people live, the slum is something bigger than that. They need to track where the slum is.
You find that many people parameterize the slums as places where there is insecure tenure and all that. But we've seen recently there is a lot of deviation from that definition – because you find that a lot of people now have security of tenure, but security of tenure in terms of paper.
We're saying that, beyond that formal document, is there another invisible security of tenure? Because, if today, somebody owns land, and they can’t get full enjoyment of the same land because probably they don’t fit into it from a financial perspective, a commercial perspective, then they are threatened in terms of their tenure on that land.
So, again, you find that you cannot miss out to define slums from the perspective of economic empowerment. So I think Muungano – and which it’s done very well before – to empower people economically, that should also continue happening. To the extent that Muungano would be able to have focus on people who don’t necessary live in a space that may be defined as a slum from a security of tenure, but are facing a threat to their existence on that land from a purely economic perspective. So that’s one dimension of looking at the slums.
But, again, we have also seen slums where people have been living in very formal set ups, but along the way they fall out. I mean they fall out of that environment, in the sense that they cannot fit into it because of certain social dynamics that are involved – but more often than not economic dynamics that come into play. Today, if you look at most of what used to be urban authority housing schemes, they have fallen out to be slums, and the people living in them can no longer afford leave them. And once they are upgraded – because there are plans to upgrade them – then they will be pushed out and they are likely to end up in the slums. So, again, that becomes something Muungano needs to tap on, because I think Muungano is bigger than the spatially-defined space in the slums.