A Voice For the Voiceless

MISSION

The Advocacy Project (AP) recruits students to help marginalized communities tell their story and claim their rights.

My RSS Feed

Twitter: #apfellows

Posts tagged Kibera

Sweet Soweto

Kristen Maryn | Posted August 20th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had the pleasure of meeting Soweto Forum in Kibera during one of its typical Friday meetings.  John Mwihia Karanja, the Chairperson, had come by Hakijamii the day before so he could prep the group on what I was interested in learning about.  The goal was easy: Tell me what you do.  They meet in a small cement room in Soweto East, in the middle of the Government’s first phase of the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program (KENSUP).

Soweto Forum: Meetings
Soweto Forum: Meetings

KENSUP was started in 2004 as the Government’s major plan for improving the settlements, one by one.  The Government targets a settlement, divides it into zones, then zone by zone, hands out eviction notices and demolishes the buildings left behind.  The former occupants are moved into what are called decanting sites; these are essentially large apartment complexes.  The former settlements are now available for other development, like high-demand luxury apartments.

The decanting sites are where a lot of the trouble sets in.  Until the Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines are passed, the Government has no obligations to the victims at all.  The Constitution guarantees basic rights, like a right to adequate housing, but until there are guidelines, the Government can decide the limits arbitrarily.

In theory, the decanting sites do not seem all too terrible.  They are nice facilities, at least; adequate housing by any standard.  But they are set many kilometers from the original location.  The resettled people are not given opportunity to reorganize businesses and schools.  There is no measurement of compensation at all.  In actuality, the rent and cost of utilities in the decanting sites are higher than most people can afford, so many get evicted for defaulting on rent payments.

Zone A of Soweto East was relocated to decanting sites in August 2009.  The leftover land lays abandoned, structures intact, as the structure owners have taken the issue to court (HCCC No. 498 of 2009 Joseph Mwaura vs. Hon. Attorney General, the Minister for Lands and the Commissioner for Lands).  They want compensation.  The community just wants to move home.

Much like the railroad expansion, this is a development-based forced eviction.  And it is having real effects on the community members.  One man at the meeting only said, “If I talk about slum upgrading, I will only have bitter words, because I am a victim.  I lost everything.”

KENSUP is in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, which is mandated to be the UN’s resettlement agency, ensuring adequate shelter for all.  Additionally, there is the Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project (KISIP), which is funded by the World Bank.  KISIP is also geared toward slum upgrading, but the intersect between KISIP and KENSUP is complicated and beyond my cursory knowledge.  But I do know that both UN-HABITAT and the World Bank require equitable resettlement, so Shelter Forum has a good chance of making their contentions heard.

Soweto Forum
Soweto Forum

Besides fighting to right the slum upgrading, Soweto Forum is actively involved in the community.  They provide adult education courses, advocate for better access to care for HIV/AIDS patients, and created Youth Building Bridges for Peace in Kibera to build entrepreneurship in the children of Kibera.

Soweto women have also created Gender Defenders, which works to improve women’s empowerment and security in the settlements.  In particular, they work with young girls to end gender-based violence.  They do fun empowerment exercises, like cat walking and are working to create a security station.  They are also teaching the women to improve their socio-economic status by teaching them skills to become financially stable.  They raise chickens and sell various beaded goods, like necklaces and purses.  They also work on urban gardening, one of many projects Christy highlighted last year.

Soweto Forum + Advocacy Project
Soweto Forum + Advocacy Project

Soweto Forum has a lot of activity in the works.  They are primarily focused on an eviction moratorium.  They also want to see the Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines adopted.  But despite their busy schedules, they took time to spend their entire meeting welcoming me and making sure I had all my questions answered.  I was not able to visit Soweto Forum again, mainly due to the increased violence in Kibera, due to the Ngazi elections, but I am hoping to work with Hakijamii Community Outreach Officer Marcy to find some resources and funding for this group.

The Railway Dwellers: Jared and St. Juliet Educational Center

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 28th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The children can be heard as soon as you step out of the car.  The pure joy of kids on a playground sounds the same in any country.  It’s the appearance of the playground that changes.  The kids at St. Juliet Educational Center play on an uneven plot of dirt, about 100 square feet, encircled by buildings.

Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center
Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center

The school was established in 2000, and it serves 875 children.  310 of these students are orphans, and a great many more have only a single parent.  The school offers baby class, which is like kindergarten, and first grade to eighth grade.  With only about a quarter of an acre for land, the children manage to find space, either hanging over the railings of the buildings or on the dirt in the middle.

Eric, my community guide, finds the head teacher, Jared, but he is wrapping up a meeting with some parents.  We wait in the back of the classroom, which looks more like a tiny church.  The classroom is rectangular, longer than it is wide, and there is a podium and short stage in the front.  The desks are rows of benches with narrow counters attached, and the children file into them, with a complicated method as to who sits where.  A man wearing a black blazer with a gold lapel breezes in, and shakes each of our hands before heading up to the front of the class.  He has one of the most sincere smiles I have seen, even though he is missing teeth, and the kids stop paying so much attention to me once he reaches the front.

Kibera: Jared
Kibera: Jared

At this moment, Jared has finished his meeting and welcomes us into his office.  It is tiny, about 6 feet by 6 feet, packed to the brim with things, and completely built of corrugated metal.  He obviously never gets a quiet moment, as the walls rattle like thunder, and every word from the classroom and the playground can be heard.  He has stacks and stacks of bundled papers on his desk, but he, too, has a method to his (seeming) disorder.

He briefly introduces me to the issues of his school.  In short, he has no idea what will happen to it.  He has not been informed if the school will be relocated or if his students will be moved to formal schools.  His is a non-formal school, which means that the government does not support it, financially, at least.  The students pay about 200 shillings a year in school fees, and most live in the immediate area.

The issues of institutions, the schools, churches, clinics, seems the most distressing.  The Relocation Action Plan calls to have the students “infill” the other schools existing outside of the reserve.  The RAP has decided that these schools have empty classrooms, which can accommodate the students.  If there aren’t empty classrooms, then the schools have land in which to build additional classrooms.

Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center
Kibera: St. Juliet Educational Center

The first issue: There are disputes about whether this is actually true.  Any passerby of the schools in Kibera can see the walls are teeming with students.  No space goes unused, and the administration strives to keep the student to teacher ratio at 50:1.  These suggested infill schools are formal schools, that is, they are supported by the government.  They are saying they are filled to capacity, and in addition, the creation of the non-formal schools can be traced directly back to a lack of space in the formal sector.  When the government announced that primary education would be free (or nearly free), students flocked to schools like Olympic Primary.  Only the schools did not have room for the students, and so they returned to their nearby neighborhoods, filling up the non-formal schools along the way.  So this situation begs the question: How does the government, in its ivory tower, find the space that the children, on the doorstep, couldn’t?

The second issue: The RAP states that right around 5,000 students can be accommodated by infill.  But over 7,000 project-affected students (in Kibera alone) have been counted.  There is no solution for the other 2,000.

The third issue: Timing, timing, timing.  To the best of my knowledge, construction hasn’t started yet.  But just like the questions about the interim period for residences and businesses, how long will these kids be displaced?  How long will they be without a classroom?  And how much moving around will they have to do?  Will it disrupt their studies?  Their behavior?  How far will they have to travel to get to school after this?

The fourth issue: Teachers.  St. Juliet employs 20 teachers.  Some of them are retired teachers who went back to work.  Some are not accredited or licensed.  Some are social workers.  Nothing has been said about their futures.  They don’t know if they will be jobless, if they will get to fill the teaching positions that will be needed at the other schools.

Jared has no idea if he has any job security anymore.  He cannot tell his teaching staff anything absolute, either.  Or the parents or the kids.  He would love to see his institution relocated, rather than destroyed.  But no one has been by to talk to him or consult with him.  In talking to the ED of Pamoja, this option of relocation hasn’t really been considered seriously yet, and definitely no additional land has been secured.  **Kibera is being treated very differently from Mukuru.

These issues that plague the schools also follow the churches and clinics in the area.  What will happen to them?  What if there is no room at other congregations or other clinics?  There is no room in the 10 meters of the reserve left for the community to build anything to accommodate 7,000 students (43 schools).  There is not enough room to accommodate the 260 institutions that will be demolished.  The population density of an area like Kibera is astounding already.  The process of squeezing 30 meters of tightly packed structures into 10 meters is not likely to succeed.  And the people are not willing to sign onto this project without the guarantee that they won’t be tossed aside.

Sad Day in Kibera

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 28th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have been busy trying to write a comprehensive and critical analysis of the opportunities within the Relocation Action Plan and within the community response to it.  I had almost forgotten about the Ngazi ya Chini election that was held yesterday in Kibera.  Until my director came in and asked if I had heard about it yet.  Rival groups started arguing, things escalated, police were called in.  One man was killed by police fire, and others were treated for various injuries.  Hakijamii’s Program Director suffered minor injuries.

I’m glad I didn’t ask to go.

A survey of the main news sources in Nairobi didn’t report much.  Scratch that…they didn’t report anything.  I found this one article on it, but the article is vague as to the issues leading up to this election.  What about why they had called an election?  What about the seven years of anxiety leading up to this November’s evictions?  What about the serious strain and life-changing decisions Kenya Railways and the Government are forcing on 10,000 people?

More attention needs to be given to this.  More thought should be given to the obvious social and psychological strains this is causing.  With reporting like this, no wonder the Government isn’t be held accountable to the Constitution.

Partners: AP and Hakijamii

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 26th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hakijamii now has a presence on The Advocacy Project’s website!  A comprehensive partner page has been created for both Hakijamii and Ngazi ya Chini.  Be sure to go check it out to get a full picture of what these organizations are doing in Kenya!

The Railway Dwellers: Mary

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 25th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Thursday, July 21st, I went to Kisumu Ndogo for a second time to meet with Ngazi ya Chini.  Kisumu Ndogo is an area in Kibera that functions on its proximity to the railroad.

Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo
Kibera: Kisumu Ndogo

People work off the line; they live off the line. It is a mainstay of their livelihoods.  Yet, this thriving community is set to be fractured.  Everyone on 100 feet of either side of the railroad will be displaced.  Large metal poles mark the 100-foot (or 30 meter) point.  These poles are signs of certain doom for people living on one side, and they are handy fixtures for drying clothing for people lucky enough to be living on the other side.

Kibera: Boundary
Kibera: Boundary

I was taken around to speak to some of the affected people.  I asked them each for permission to film the interview, but many were skeptical of me and insisted I didn’t.  I tried a different tactic of asking my questions first, and then requesting again that I could at least take a photo.  They all obliged to the photo after the fact.

Many times I have tried to imagine what this would mean to me.  If the US government came by one evening, with a piece of paper, which dictated that, my home/business/school/church was in the way of a new highway system.  The thought of moving makes my head hurt already.

Then I try adding in factors.  I have lived in the same home for 20 years.  I have built it with my bare hands, and it is the source of my income.  I am a widow with two children, and I also support my sister’s three children.  My income feeds us, clothes us, pays the rent, and pays the school fees.  I live in a community built on habits and conveniences.  I have no reliable means of travel, and a matter of kilometers is a barrier to movement and business.  One customer is the difference between eating that night and not.  I can’t afford to live anywhere else in the city, which has left me behind.  A city that has a cost of living greater than that of my entire neighborhood’s monthly income.  I am receiving promises from a government that is not concerned with living up to them.

But even then I can’t imagine the feelings of insecurity or apprehension that these people know.

Their stories are very similar, but each left a lasting impression; each put a human face on this abstract group of railway dwellers.  Each is being told that they cannot sustain the lives they have built up.  And each unknowingly emphasized the lack of consistent information shared between those planning this expansion and those who will be affected by it.

 

Hard at work, Mary quietly stepped out from behind the glass of her butcher shop to speak to me.  She had been chopping up cubes of steak for a convenient sell, and they were displayed prominently behind her window, enticing the passer-bys with the promise of dinner.  Her hands were stained with blood, and she shyly smiled when she realized she was still clutching the large knife in her hand while she softly spoke.

Kibera: Mary
Kibera: Mary

Kibera: Butcher Shop
Kibera: Butcher Shop

The butcher shop is about 10 meters from the tracks, and her family has run the business since 1991.  600 shillings ($6.64) a day is enough to provide some basics for herself and her 21-month-old child, as well as other family members.  The family depends on this business, and without it, they will suffer.  Mary spoke of her fear of resettlement; the fear that even though she will be taken away from her neighborhood, her home, the customers will stay behind.  She doesn’t just fear it; she knows it will happen.

She seems tired, but not completely without hope.  Since 2005, they have been threatened with eviction, and six years of anxiety is a lot for a 26-year-old breadwinner to handle.  She has seen movement and growth in Kisumu Ndogo since May 2010, the second time the railroad people came by to assign them a number.  But besides that brief contact, no one has been by to speak to her.  No one has made an effort to help her understand.

Mary didn’t speak much English, but as I thanked her and began to walk away, she quietly said, “Please help us.”  That message I understood perfectly.

Speeding Up…

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 22nd, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meetings are picking up around Nairobi for me, and posts are in the works to explain all of them.  Yesterday, I met with Ngazi ya Chini and was able to speak to some people who will be affected by the relocation (unfortunately they were a bit camera-shy, but I snapped some photos after the interviews - with permission of course!).  Today, I met with a group called Soweto Forum, dedicated to righting the injustices of the government’s slum upgrading program.  After that, I met with the Executive Director of Pamoja Trust and gained a bit of perspective on the entire project, including the Relocation Action Plan and how the railroad expansion is actually going to unfold.

Additionally, my director, Iain Guest, will be on his way to Kenya in ten short days, and I have been getting to know this beautiful country better - including a short safari in the Maasai Mara last week and a day trip into the Rift Valley tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to sharing all of the above.  But in a little bit of time.

Also of note, Pamoja Trust released a progress report on the relocation, which included a timeline for the remainder of the project.  The construction phase (that would be demolition) is set to begin in November OF THIS YEAR.  That’s pretty soon for my scale, but considering the first eviction notices were handed out in 2004, it must feel like the end of the longest waiting game ever to all the railway dwellers.

I leave you with these interesting and related stories.  My flatmate this summer has listened to my railroad jabber all along, and she kindly sent me these two about life along the tracks:

People in Indonesia using the railroad for its healing powers.

This market in Thailand:

And a project I have been obsessed with before Kenya was even a possibility in my mind.  Little did I know this area, Kisumu Ndogo, would become my most familiar area in Kibera, and the remnants of the photo project are still around.  See more here.

Mukuru

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 20th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The railroad expansion will affect an area much broader than just Kibera.  Kibera gets a lot of attention for various reasons, but it is important to remember the other populations, which will also be displaced.  This includes communities in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and Mukuru, a settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi.

On July 14th, the secretary of Ngazi ya Chini picked Sally, the Hakijamii intern, and me up from the office, and we started the drive to Mukuru.  Mukuru is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) outside of Nairobi.  The population estimates for the entire area range, but normally fall around the half million mark.  From what I can gather, Mukuru is Kiswahili for “dumping site,” and that is exactly what Mukuru started as – and to a large extent, still remains.  The area started as a quarry; as Nairobi developed faster than its means, due to the mining, the site was deemed as unfit for development, so instead it became a garbage dump.

The trip back to the car
The trip back to the car

As abandoned resources grew, people scavenged the dump more and more and began building their homes in the area.  The Mukuru settlement was born.  The area is still heavily industrial, and the buildings now center on the railroad, the old quarry, and manufacturing sites.  Large lorries carrying dirt and rocks, apparently for a purpose, frequent the roads, though that purpose remains unseen for the casual visitor.

Land of Industry
Land of Industry

The settlement faces the same issues as the others; tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS are common, life expectancy hovers around 40 years, the population density is something like 50,000 per square mile, and the average income is around $1 a day.

The Walk
The Walk

Mukuru
Mukuru

We were dropped off at a roundabout near the settlement in an industrial area, and there we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Waited long enough for this mzungu to sunburn under a winter sun (granted, that is not new to me).  We eventually realized we had been plopped down on the opposite end of the settlement from the community meeting, so we began to walk.

I followed the lead of the community, using the railroad as a path.  The other options were to walk through standing wastewater or on dirt frequently used as a makeshift toilet, so the threat of moving for a rumbling train was worth it (only two come through a day – a figure the government wants to increase).  The further into Mukuru we walked, the closer the structures crept toward the railroad.  Especially once we made it to one of the market sections of the settlement, the railroad and the market became inextricable.

Market Central
Market Central

More Vendors
More Vendors

I was not as comfortable in Mukuru as I have been in other areas (can you really be comfortable in the settlements, as an outsider?).  Maybe it was because my community liaison is not a member of the community (he is from Kibera), or maybe it was because the slum was so far out of Nairobi, it didn’t seem to be frequented by visitors.  I normally use children as a benchmark, and the children of Mukuru tended to either hide from my gaze or glare at me suspiciously.  It also didn’t help that adults yelled things at me more than I had encountered anywhere else in Kenya, and one woman conveniently tossed her trash into the sewage at my feet.  The community, though, was thriving and lively, and it was easy to see how entrenched the railroad has become as an everyday part of life.

Children of Mukuru
Children of Mukuru

The meeting took place in a community of Mukuru called Sinai, an area where the buildings relax their grip on the railroad.  Within the first ten minutes of the meeting, a bare engine rumbled by, shaking the corrugated metal siding and drowning out the voices of the facilitators.  Just part of the reality of life here.  The participants in the meeting were impassioned and emphatic, and it was obvious this would be one of the livelier meetings I had attended; few people were able to speak uninterrupted.  I received brief translations, and it became apparent that Mukuru had not mobilized behind a single leader, and there was discontent about the current status of organization.

Pamoja Trust plays a murky role in the relocation, as it was a key contributor to the writing of the Relocation Action Plan (read as: they were hired by Kenya Railways), but they also play a key role as rights protectors in the settlements.  Things get even more complicated because certain members of Pamoja have shifted around and created a new organization, charging themselves with responsibilities too cannily similar to be pure coincidence.  Opiata, the ED of Hakijamii, told me afterwards that it would take months to catch up on the intricacies of these organizations’ interplays and roles.  Needless to say, the community seems divided, and my experience at the meeting was cut short as the two groups came to a head and fighting broke out.  Sally was quick to react when the tension started rising and ushered me out of the building.

My overall impression was simply that the community does not seem ready to move at the pace that is necessary to respond to the RAP.  Implementation is imminent, yet they cannot rally behind a figurehead, or even yet, an organization.  Kibera faces similar issues, but not nearly so polarized.  From what I have read on successful inspections on World Bank programs, unity is necessary, and a lot of the settlements’ strength rests in their sheer numbers.  Thousands of people are hard to ignore, especially when they speak with one voice.

 

**Also of note, due to government cutbacks, Hakijamii is losing a long-time and committed international donor.  They have to restructure and reevaluate programs for the next three years, which could have a terrible ripple effect in the settlements.  If anyone knows any organizations active in securing economic, social, and cultural rights in developing nations, send them our way!

Kibera Paper Continued

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 15th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a quick addendum to the blog I wrote a few days ago, I was able to compile the videos I took of the card-making process.  So here are the women of Kibera Paper showing me how it’s done.

All I know is my sister and I never made anything out of recycled paper quite as nice as they do (no offense, Ash.).

Photos of my trip to Mukuru and an introduction to Beatrice to come soon!

Entrepreneurship and Craft in Kibera

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 13th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This blog is more than just a travelogue, as my goal is to attempt to delve into the complexities of housing rights…the fight to fix them, the Kenyan Government, IGOs, development plans, indigenous populations, and diminishing resources…but still to present Kenya through my eyes.

This is a great opportunity to explore a beautiful and diverse country (and people), whose image has been marred by unfortunate events and nicknames like “Nairobbery.”  Kenya is more than safaris (though what an amazing experience, right??) and Obama, just as the settlements are more than human suffering and bleak conditions.  I had told myself before getting to Kenya that I want to show what life is like here.  So in addition to showing the inequality and despair of the settlements, I was going to make a concerted effort to show more of the culture and hope that comes out of them, too.  Because, let’s face it, you don’t find a lack of culture and personality anywhere in Kenya – in Mombasa, Turkana, the Mara, or the settlements.

So then there is Kibera.  Kibera takes on many faces, depending on who you talk to.  To government officials, it is an eyesore and a problem (but also votes).  To people from other areas, it is a place filled with trouble-makers and whiners (“Just look at how they rip up the railroad at the slightest instigation!  They are babied by the government,” they say).  To the people of Kibera, it is home.  One look at the Kibera News Network site gives a glimpse of all the community-building, encouraging, and cultural things to come out of Nairobi’s biggest settlement.  Fashion shows, picnics, and artisans all abound in the area.

People just seem not to look for these aspects of life, or maybe they are overshadowed by the extreme poverty.  We have a tendency to be fascinated with human suffering – the train-wreck effect.  We can’t look away.  Life in these settlements is so hard for us to comprehend – “us” being the typical Westerner,  we focus on those aspects that make us feel pity, even make us feel compelled to act, to pressure for change, or just to give thanks for our own status in life.  Isn’t this the main compulsion behind the slum tours mentioned before (here and here)?  I am not saying that this is bad, necessarily; actually, it is amazing that despite thousands of miles, differences in culture and language, we can still feel connected to each other through the human aspect.  True, life in these settlements is hard.  It is dangerous.  It is inequitable, and there can be a sad complacency for their “lot in life,” but there is also that resiliency.  These are still people, and they are beautiful and diverse and active.  They don’t lose that because they live in a slum.

Waiting
Waiting

My first week in Kenya, while perusing an ex-pat haven of a market, I came across a group of women selling cards.  Their tent was bare, not filled with the marketing ploys and gimmicks of the other more savvy artisans.  They simply had two boxes of cards and a sign.  The cards were beautiful, hand-painted on recycled paper, each signed by the woman who put the time into its creation, each artist a woman of Kibera.  After doing some research on Kibera Paper, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it calls my own base of Kenyatta Market home.  And then I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that Hakijamii’s resident part-time office assistant, Beatrice, also used to work at Kibera Paper.

St. Luke's Kenyatta Parish
St. Luke's Kenyatta Parish

On two separate days, Beatrice clasped my hand in hers and marched me across the street to St. Luke’s Kenyatta Parish to introduce me to her other “family.”  The women of Kibera Paper are sweet, welcoming, and humble.  The operation, started in 2001, is tiny and shares space with the church and with a school, but it employs 24 women, single mothers and widows, and allows them the flexibility of a steady wage – to pay for rent, dinner, and school fees.  Most of these women have worked for Kibera Paper for 7+ years.

Office at Kibera Paper
Office at Kibera Paper

Spreading out the Paper
Spreading out the Paper

Recycled Paper
Recycled Paper

The idea is simple, but resourceful – take scraps of office paper off of business’ hands.  Turn it into a pulp, dye it, turn it back into paper, and personalize it as a Kenyan piece of art.  And for 100 shillings each (around $1.20), they are cheaper than any greeting card I’ve seen in Target.

Alfreda
Alfreda

Designs
Designs

Maasai
Maasai

Like Kazuri Beads, Kibera Paper saw an opportunity to help a marginalized and vulnerable group, single mothers, empowered them to learn a skill, and improved, at least slightly, the monthly income they bring home.  They are not receiving hand-outs.  No one I have met from Kibera has ever asked for a hand-out.  They are making an honest living and are happy for that.

A (Brief) History of the Railroad Expansion and Its Woes

Kristen Maryn | Posted July 4th, 2011 | Africa

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The history of the railroad expansion really starts with the history of Nairobi.  It was founded in 1899 in the middle of a swamp.  Breaking the distance between Mombasa (on the coast) and Kampala, Uganda, it was established because of the railroad, founded as a depot.  Six years after its founding, it became the capital of the British protectorate and then the capital of newly independent Kenya in 1963.

Independence increased the boom of urbanization, and the city centers began to swell.  Nairobi’s population more than doubled ten years after independence, and now its population sits at over three million.  The slum creation can be traced back to urbanization; the infrastructure of the city could not handle such a rapid influx of people; the people could not handle the high cost of living.  The general consensus is that there are 183 informal settlements or slums in Nairobi, which hold anywhere from 40 to 60% of the city’s population.  A Shack/Slum Dweller International (SDI) report estimates that 63% of the land dedicated to the settlements sits on public land that has been privatized since the particular slum came into existence.  The rest of the land is public land, either contested or uncontested.  The 60 meters of railway corridor in Kibera and Mukuru count as contested public land.

And that’s what the disputed land is, just a corridor of 60 meters – that’s 100 feet on either side of the railway – that stretch along 11km of track.  But the track has become an everyday part of life for these people; some traders literally sell their wares on the track, simply moving off when a train goes by.  It is a road, a community hub.  And while 60 meters doesn’t sound like a lot, the Relocation Action Plan (RAP) counts that there are over 4,600 homes, 4,300 businesses, 280 institutions (including churches, medical clinics, and schools), and 790 public facilities situated in those 60 meters.  And it seems to treat these figures as trivial.  The people of Ngazi Ya Chini, on the other hand, think those estimates are low.  It seems like not much has changed in a year…

The story behind Ngazi Ya Chini can be found on Christy’s and Louis’ blogs.

Here are the basics of the issues.  The expansion is going to happen, and it is scheduled to conclude in 2012.  The community is now trying to form a resettlement plan that is fair.   Or at least respond to the inaccuracies of the most recent RAP.  The World Bank’s Operating Policy 4.12 governs this. Hands down, no questions…it must be followed.

Ngazi Ya Chini
Ngazi Ya Chini

They want to be consulted.

OP 4.12 requires that those affected by the resettlement are consulted and participate in the planning and implementation.  As far as Ngazi Ya Chini is concerned, this has not happened.

They want equitable resettlement.

OP 4.12 also requires that the people who are involuntarily resettled be returned to a standard of living equal to that of their pre-displacement levels.  This includes their businesses, homes, communities, facilities, etc.  The RAP is vague on a lot of the actual plans, but the community wants the same amount of space for their homes and businesses.  If they had 6 meters for their home previously, it does not seem equitable to cram them into 3 meters.

The resettlement will disrupt markets.

Many of the venders along the routes have been there for years.  And the track is a prime location; it provides easy access, it is easy to find, it is established as a market area with captive consumers.  The traders who will be displaced will have a hard time rebuilding such a market.

The resettlement will disrupt community structures.

This plan will separate families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.  With two large walls planned, as well, it will also effectively sever the neighborhood, making one into two.  Compensation for this sort of loss is hard to measure.

The RAP has holes.

There are many issues left up in the air, such as the actual plan, the amount of space, the available retained land for resettlement, the school issues…the list goes on.  The methodology alone is murky.  And as mentioned, Ngazi Ya Chini questions the actual data.

The government does have some valid reasons for the resettlement.  The trains are dangerous.  At least three derailments have occurred in the past two years.  The tracks are over a hundred years old and easily uprooted, which has turned into a protest tool for some residents.  The trains are running inefficiently, as they can only go around 12 mph through the crowded slums.  The uprooting stops the trains entirely, and capacity is decreasing, rather than increasing.  Maintenance crews have a tough lot, falling sick regularly, as many times the tracks become waste heaps for everything from scraps to human excrement.

That being said, the process needs to adhere to the stated guidelines.  A few solid bargaining points for the government does not excuse a shirking of accountability.  Especially when it comes to the Relocation Action Plan.  Because at a certain point, isn’t this all the Bank is going off of?

Fellow: Kristen Maryn

Hakijami


Tags

Africa art Budget cards children Coalition debate dogs eviction Evictions expansion Gigiri government hair salon Hakijamii Home housing Kenya Kenyatta Kibera market Mathare Ministry Mukuru Nairobi Ngazi Ya Chini NPSN Pamoja Trust plants railroad Railway Rights river school settlements slum slums Swahili The Advocacy Project Title tourism water women work plan World Bank


Subscribe


 


Newswire

2013 Fellows

Africa

Benan Grams
Meron Menwyelet
Mohammed Alshubrumi
John Steies

Asia

Andra Bosneag
Chris Pinderhughes
Emily MacDonald
Jasveen Bindra
Kelly Howell
Raymond Aycock
Sujita Basnet

Middle East

Mona Niebuhr

2012 Fellows

Africa

Dane Macri
Laura McAdams
Mallory Minter
Megan Orr
Oluwatooni Akanni
Katie Hoffman

Asia

Adam Kruse
Alex Kelly
Alicia Evangelides
Heather Webb
Jesse Cottrell
Matthew Becker
Rachel Palmer

Europe

Claire Noone
Elise Filo

Latin America

Laura Burns

Middle East

Nur Arafeh
Thayer Hastings

North America

Caroline Risacher


2011 Fellows

Africa

Charlie Walker
Charlotte Bourdillon
Cleia Noia
Dina Buck
Jamyel Jenifer
Kristen Maryn
Rebecca Scherpelz
Scarlett Chidgey
Walter James

Asia

Amanda Lasik
Chantal Uwizera
Chelsea Ament
Clara Kollm
Corey Black
Lauren Katz
Maelanny Purwaningrum
Maria Skouras
Meredith Williams
Ryan McGovern
Samantha Syverson

Europe

Beth Wofford
Julia Dowling
Quinn Van Valer-Campbell
Samantha Hammer
Susan Craig-Greene

Latin America

Amy Bracken
Catherine Binet

Middle East

Nikki Hodgson

North America

Sarah Wang


2010 Fellows

Africa

Abisola Adekoya
Annika Allman
Brooke Blanchard
Christine Carlson
Christy Gillmore
Dara Lipton
Dina Buck
Josanna Lewin
Joya Taft-Dick
Louis Rezac
Ned Meerdink
Sylvie Bisangwa

Asia

Adrienne Henck
Karie Cross
Kerry McBroom
Kate Bollinger
Lauren Katz
Simon Kläntschi
Zarin Hamid

Europe

Laila Zulkaphil
Susan Craig-Greene
Tereza Bottman

Latin America

Karin Orr

North America

Adepeju Solarin
Oscar Alvarado


2009 Fellows

Africa

Adam Welti
Alixa Sharkey
Barbara Dziedzic
Bryan Lupton

Courtney Chance
Elisa Garcia
Helah Robinson
Johanna Paillet
Johanna Wilkie
Kate Cummings
Laura Gordon
Lisa Rogoff
Luna Liu
Ned Meerdink
Walter James


Asia

Abhilash Medhi
Gretchen Murphy
Isha Mehmood
Jacqui Kotyk
Jessica Tirado
Kan Yan
Morgan St. Clair
Ted Mathys

Europe

Alison Sluiter
Christina Hooson
Donna Harati
Fanny Grandchamp
Kelsey Bristow
Simran Sachdev
Susan Craig-Greene
Tiffany Ommundsen

Latin America

Althea Middleton-Detzner
Carolyn Ramsdell
Jessica Varat
Lindsey Crifasi
Rebecca Gerome
Zachary Parker

Middle East

Corrine Schneider
Rachel Brown
Rangineh Azimzadeh

North America

Elizabeth Mandelman
Farzin Farzad

2008 Fellows

Adam Nord
Annelieke van de Wiel
Juliet Hutchings
Kristina Rosinsky
Lucas Wolf
Chi Vu
Danita Topcagic
Heather Gilberds
Jes Therkelsen
Libby Abbott
Mackenzie Berg
Nicole Farkouh
Ola Duru
Paul Colombini
Raka Banerjee
Shubha Bala
Antigona Kukaj
Colby Pacheco
James Dasinger
Janet Rabin
Nicole Slezak
Shweta Dewan
Amy Offner
Ash Kosiewicz
Hannah McKeeth
Heidi McKinnon
Larissa Hotra
Hannah Wright
Krystal Sirman
Rianne Van Doeveren
Willow Heske

2007 Fellows

Johnathan Homer
Adam Nord
Audrey Roberts
Caitlin Burnett
Devin Greenleaf
Jeff Yarborough
Julia Zoo
Madeline England
Maha Khan
Mariko Scavone
Mark Koenig
Nicole Farkouh
Saba Haq
Tassos Coulaloglou
Ted Samuel
Alison Morse
Gail Morgado
Jennifer Hollinger
Katie Wroblewski
Leslie Ibeanusi
Michelle Lanspa
Stephanie Gilbert
Zach Scott
Abby Weil
Jessica Boccardo
Sara Zampierin
Eliza Bates
Erin Wroblewski
Tatsiana Hulko

2006 Interns

Laura Cardinal
Jessical Sewall
Alison Long
Autumn Graham
Donna Laverdiere
Erica Issac
Greg Holyfield
Lori Tomoe Mizuno
Melissa Muscio
Nicole Cordeau
Stacey Spivey
Anya Gorovets
Barbara Bearden
Lynne Engleman
Yvette Barnes
Charles Wright
Sarah Sachs

2005 Interns

Eun Ha Kim
Malia Mason
Anne Finnan
Carrie Hasselback
Karen Adler
Sarosh Syed
Shirin Sahani
Chiara Zerunian
Ewa Sobczynska
MacKenzie Frady
Margaret Swink
Sabri Ben-Achour
Paula
Nitzan Goldberger

2004 Interns

Ginny Barahona
Michael Keller
Sarah Schores
Melinda Willis
Pia Schneider
Stacy Kosko
Carmen Morcos
Christina Fetterhoff
Stacy Kosko
Bushra Mukbil

2003 Interns

Erica Williams
Kate Kuo
Claudia Zambra
Julie Lee
Kimberly Birdsall
Marta Schaaf
Caitlin Williams
Courtney Radsch

Login

Login/Manage