ENGINEERS WITHOUT BORDERS

Kenya 2015 Blog

24th September 2015

 

Check out KDI’s blog in this link http://blog.kounkuey.org/2015/09/16/anwa-juniour-school-ewb-ucl-kdi-project/

 

 

 

 

28th July 2015

Hey Guys,

As it comes to the final week of our amazing trip, we would like to thank you all for your continuous support! This blog covers our exciting experience doing site analysis and interviews with two shortlisted schools during our second week.

After our tour of Kounkuey Design Initiative’s (KDI) sites on Saturday our weekend was capped off with some fun at Nairobi National Park on Sunday to get a glimpse of the wonderful nature and wildlife that Kenya offers. The team spent the day there, enjoying our welcoming party hosted by some wild African animals – zebras, giraffes, elephants, and rhinos – under the warm sun. The view of the boundless grassland in the park against the backdrop of the Nairobi cityscape was especially breathtaking, this being the very first time some of us were seeing these wild and wonderful creatures up close.

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Giraffes enjoying their feast with the cityscape at the back

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Back of Kenya

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Introducing our new team member- Mr. Giraffe!

Monday 6th July began with the team starting the site analysis of the 2 schools beginning with a few days spent carrying out a desk study to get a sense of the sites on broader scale, in the context of the wider area. The school project represents our partner organization, Kounkuey Design Initiative’s (KDI), potential next project KPSP08. Through the project they hope to improve the physical conditions and management of schools in Kibera to support children’s education and serve the wider community by making better use of public space. They have requested proposals from Kiberan schools earlier this month, shortlisting two schools which show the greatest potential for collaboration with KDI in this project. Our team is responsible for reviewing the two schools’ administrative structure and physical conditions to better understand their existing conditions, needs and priorities as well as to give recommendations on how to improve the schools. As an observer, what both schools have achieved and are attempting to do with very limited resources was really impressive and inspiring. Students are often studying in overcrowded, dark and poorly ventilated classrooms with questions over the sanitation and stability of the structures however despite this and limited resources, the aspirations and faith in education could not be faulted.

Also admirable was the simple but effective ideas used to provide the best learning experience for their children. One of the schools was beautifully decorated with coloured metal sheets as their ‘walls’ with teaching posters hanging on the outside to best utilize the space they have, yet providing a colourful environment for students to explore their senses. This school also runs a water purification programme by putting water bottles under the sun to provide cheap, yet clean, water for their students and wider community. While analysing the school’s management and physical conditions, the determination and achievements were impressive, especially their knack of developing simple solutions to provide a quality education and school environment. We are continuously learning – learning how to walk through Kibera, learning the implications of education in Kenyan culture, and learning how thinking big yet simple can provide the best solutions.

Next week we will be compiling the report, doing river cross-sections in support of an urban flooding advocacy project and experiencing the market culture in Kenya. Stay tuned!

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Creative use of colours within the compound of School 1 even though the structure could fall apart anytime

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Alley connecting the primary and secondary section of School 2

 

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View from the Dorimitories of School 2

 

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Our team working on the site analyis

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Two forms sharing one classroom and one teacher is very common in both schools

10th July 2015

 

As always thanks for your best wishes and kind messages of support and welcome to our first blog post (a little later than planned!). This blog covers the first weekend in Kenya and basic context to the projects our partner Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) is currently undertaking alongside the initial stages of our school project we are working on.

Our journey began after 8 harrowing hours of watching the hobbit trilogy whilst desperately trying (and failing) to sleep on board our Kenya Airways flight. After arriving in Kenya on Friday and experiencing Nairobi’s answer to a good old traffic jam, we were promptly shown to our home for the next 4 weeks, about 15 minutes from KDI’s offices, half an hour from Kibera…and a million miles from functioning Wi-Fi! With the team settled in, Friday was rounded off with enjoyable introductions between Team Kenya and KDI over Thai food.

 

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(Team Kenya departing from Heathrow)

 

Saturday kicked off with a first welcome to Kibera, 7-hour hike including site visits where the KDI team introduced us to the Kibera Public Space Projects (KPSPs) that they have worked with the community to collaboratively design and build over the years and continue to do so today.

 

Kibera is the largest slum in Africa, home to more than 1 million people in an area smaller than New York’s Central Park, encompassing the Ngong River, a regular source of flooding and pollution in the region. Although over $25 million has been spent by the numerous Non-government Organisations (NGOs) aiming to improve living conditions in Kibera each year; clean drinking water, a formal trash collection system, dumping sites and sanitation facilities are still sorely lacking. In fact an average toilet is shared by about 75 people.

 

KDI has launched 7 KPSP projects so far with the aim of transforming waste spaces along the streams of the Ngong River into a network of small public spaces which address major challenges such as poor sanitation and the lack of income generating opportunities. 3 projects particularly captured the interest of the team including: a project combining composting toilets and multifunctional structures (KPSP01), urban agriculture (KPSP05) and flood resilience (KPSP07).

 

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(General map of Kibera, Nairobi)

 

KPSP01

KPSP01, the first completed by KDI in partnership with the community is located at the border of two villages, near to the heavily polluted Nairobi Dam. The community was previously threatened by flooding as it blocked their access across villages and to vital services. A gabion system along with a bridge was built to control the impacts of flooding, improving connectivity in the village. The site has become a lively multifunctional hub as a school during the week and as churches during weekends. It also serves as a covered stage for public lectures and performances with retractable wooden walls. The roof also serves as a rain-harvesting system, supporting a vegetative farm which provides food and raw materials for basket-weaving. The community also owns a sanitation block, consisting of 3 composting toilets and showers, improving hygiene and generating income by selling the composted fertilizers. The team was impressed by the ambition and self-financing capability of the community along with the real-life impacts that such small structural interventions make.

 

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(KPSP01 School/church building)

 

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(KPSP01 Pedestrian Bridge over the river)

 

KPSP05

Walking downstream along the river in the village of Gatewera, KPSP05 explores the possibility of urban agriculture within youth groups. KDI has collaboratively constructed a toilet block and found a natural stream which could support laundry services within the community, previously unable to connect to sewer lines. With the success of the partnership, the project has now further developed with a pilot scheme of planting kale and tomatoes in greenhouses, which potentially could generate profits for the community and further supports the maintenance of the sanitation blocks and developed with a pilot scheme planting vegetables to generate income towards sustaining the project.

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(KPSP05 Bridge and greenhouse)

 

KPSP07

The most recent project currently under construction, KPSP07, is an ambitious plan of utilizing flood protection structure as an amphitheatre and play space for young children, along with sanitation facilities and a pedestrian bridge over the Ngong River. Witnessing the construction of the sanitation blocks was interesting, with a continuous process of problem solving to combat river erosion and unexpected challenges posed by other developments in order to create a public space for all.

 

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(KPSP07 View across the river with the current bridge to be replaced)

 

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(KPSP07 View across the river where amphitheatre and play space to be built)

 

Whilst the team has never experienced the conditions seen in Kibera and it undoubtedly faces huge challenges with flooding, sanitation and unemployment, there is another side to this hugely complex region that immediately stands out. The best way to describe Kibera – total sensory overload. When you step foot on the slum’s red dusty ground and gaze out at the vast, never-ending expanse corrugated metal buildings, you are also welcomed by the hustle and bustle of an interesting, vibrant and diverse community brimming with character, entrepreneurship and Kiberan resolve to make the best of any situation. Whether it’s loud, booming party music; the hectic activity of the street markets or legions of excited children repeating in unison “How are you?” running to shake your hands – Kibera has been nothing but welcoming to the team. Perhaps that is the biggest thing the team has learned: that no matter what life throws at you, one can always find great strength in community.

 

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(The scale of the Kiberan slum in Nairobi, Kenya)

 

 

Rosheena Jugdhurry reporting from London (26th June 2015)

An Engineers Without Borders (EWB) UCL team of 3 are travelling to Nairobi, Kenya this summer for a slum redevelopment project. The team consists of a travelling team and a supporting team member. The travelling team consists of Shane Mann, Yanny Tsang and Afaf Azzouz. Shane is a final year Civil Engineering Student, Yanny is a first year Urban Planning student and Afaf is doing a master’s degree in Environmental Design. This widely skilled and knowledgeable team will be working alongside the partner organisation in Nairobi named Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI). Rosheena Jugdhurry, final year Civil Engineering Student, will be supporting the travelling team from London, being the main point of contact to UCL and EWB in the UK, managing the project from London, providing resources from UCL academic staff if required and providing support on documentation and monitoring.

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KDI is a non-profit organisation in Nairobi and other places of the world, which aims at using their skills and knowledge to improve the infrastructure and consequently the standard of lives of the communities living in informal settlements. They also aim to empower local engineers and workers by managing and developing their projects together with them. KDI earned its reputation by changing the face of the slum regions and make the communities much happier in their daily lives and also my giving ownership of the developments to the communities. One such example, is the biggest slum region in Kenya, Kibera, where together with the local community members, KDI has created public and recreational spaces, sanitation facilities and improved the drainage system. This made the community more empowered, responsible and safe.

Our team or engineers, designers and planners are joining KDI this July for 4 weeks to provide them with some technical support on 2 of their projects:

  1. The site assessment of technically challenging potential sites for the development of an ‘Eco-School’ in Kibera.
  2. Development of a Flood-risk map based overlapping the areas exposed to flooding and the activities of the community members during the rainy season.

After the 4 weeks, the EWB-UCl travelling and supporting team will be delivering site assessment reports, site technical drawings and sections and also community engagement reports which are key pieces of work for the continuation of the 2 projects.

The team will be departing on the 2nd of July for an enjoyable, rewarding and once-in a lifetime experience to contribute to international development.

However, going to Kenya to work on international development projects for EWB is no simple task. We are there to represent the bigger organisation EWB and their work and hence whatever we do will be part of their portfolio. Hence, there are multiple considerations that feed into the pre-departure preparations.

The task that started earlier in this project was budgeting and fundraising. The team participated in the EWB UCL bakesales throughout the academic year 2014-2015 to raise funds. The UCL Engineering Faculty has also greatly contributed to this project and other EWB UCL projects. Finally the team has set up an online crowdfunding page to raise further funds using the powerful tool and social media and the World Wide Web.

Once, the scope of the project and the team roles were established, the main task were logistics. We came to an agreement with the partner to work with them during the month of July. The flights were then reserved and the trip came to reality.

The main concern that required particular attention was security. Kenya can be a dangerous place if tourists are not careful enough. The security of the team members are of utmost importance due to their precious lives, the fate of the project, the reputation of KDI, EWB and UCL. In this regard, the team attended a 3 day pre-departure course organised by EWB which covered the most important security risks and mitigation, travel health and everything we need to know before we go and while are in the field. Furthermore, the team has made extensive research on Kenya, Nairobi and Kibera, including the potential political issues, the health issue and the code of conduct to be fully prepared mentally and physically. Alongside KDI, EWB UK and EWB UCL, the team also has a step-by- step security plan with a series of emergency numbers to contact in case of an emergency.

Now, few days before departure, the team are finalising a weekly deliverables plan with the KDI, developing a daily expense log to keep track of their expenses and budget and also making the last few pre-departure preparations such as shopping for suncare products, first-aid kit, and important medications.

Watch this blog for further updates on this exciting trip to Nairobi and Kibera and the wonderful stuff the EWB UCL Kenya KDI team will be doing there.

 


Kenya 2014 Blog

Alexa Bruce reporting from Nakuru

Another week has passed in Nakuru, so time for an updated blog.

Last week we have been mostly locked up in our office/apartment coming up with the designs for the two communities, Nyalenda and Kibos. While doing research on different ways to go about an affordable design that could include all the communities’ wishes, early on we had a shipping container revelation. Shipping containers are being increasingly used in alternative ways. Recycling shipping containers has been popular for a while in Europe and there are some amazing innovative designs made out of containers. In Africa, this all still very new, however in South Africa there are a number of examples of successful projects that have used shipping containers for low-income housing and sanitation blocks. We were instantly taken by the idea and convinced that shipping containers would be an innovative and appropriate solution. The few advantages associated with shipping container architecture are as follows:

  1. The use of containers significantly reduces costs meaning you can do a lot more for your money.
  2. Shipping containers are highly engineered structures that have been perfected to fit their purpose; transporting goods across the oceans. They provide a surprisingly cool interior and are extremely robust and structurally sound.
  3. They are easily adaptable, flexible to many different designs and their semi-permanent nature are a great feature in informal settlements where there are potential future redevelopments (such as in Nyalenda).
  4. The requirements for substantial foundations are eliminated, reducing the cost further.
  5. There are thousands and thousands of decommissioned shipping containers sitting in docks around the world. Recycling of these extremely useful structures reduces the environmental impact of both our designs and of the shipping industry.

Here is an example of shipping container architecture, obviously there won’t be quite so much glass in our designs.

However we did have our doubts on how the communities would react, given their unfamiliarity with the approach and the potential negative connotations that containers might have with them.

In terms of the collection/treatment systems we were to adopt, we had a little more difficulty finding a solution. Both communities a significant distance from the sewer line which makes a sewer connection a risky option. The area also has a high water table as is prone to flooding, which can be an issue when considering a septic tank as there is a risk of contaminating groundwater and clean water supplies, only adding to an issue we are trying to address. Water tables can vary significantly within a short distance however and our information and data on the issue is at quite a low resolution. To make sure we decided to dig a hole on both sites to observe the depth of the water table and the soil conditions on site. The results were as hoped. The water table in Kibos is low enough that a septic tank and soak pit provides good primary treatment of the waste without contaminating groundwater and would not need to be emptied at a frequency that is unrealistic for the community to manage. Work on Nyalenda is still on going and we still need to decide between a septic tank or continue lobbying for a sewer connection, which we would need to cooperation of the water and sewer company.

Both designs include sanitation blocks with toilets and showers, laundry facilities, water taps, a community hall and a commercial area that can be used for storage and rental to private enterprises (these had all been identified as priorities by the communities in our initial workshops).

When 5 people are working on their laptop all day long, without any outlet for our energy, things get a little crazy. Aside from our insanity work out rush, we soon found another way to unwind in the evenings…. With an xmen marathon. The mutants are quite effective in taking our minds of sanitation from time to time.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we made our second trip to Kisumu to present the first draft of the designs.

We first went to the Nyalenda community. We began with feeding back the outcomes of our previous meeting with them and what they had informed us were their priorities and aspirations around the sanitation block. Next we introduced the concept of shipping container architecture and our reasons for believing it to be appropriate in this context. Only then did we hand out the designs and discuss the feedback and comments them in smaller groups. This was done so we would be sure that everyone had the opportunity to voice their opinions. Afterwards we discussed several overarching topics with the entire group to reach a consensus on a number of design aspects. These include potential uses of flexible space, where they wanted the sanitation block located in relation to the street, what should the laundry facility include etc. It wasn’t always straightforward to reach a consensus as opinions were divided, so we put it to a vote. Luckily they were keen on the use of shipping containers and the design of the facility in general.

Erickson Sunday (Muungano wa Wanavijiji national federation leader from Kisumu) expressed his satisfaction with the process, describing how ‘they had never had a participatory process like this one’ with this level of community participation in the design. The vision is that Nyalenda and Kibos can act as demonstrative processes for future community engagement in design.
In the afternoon we went through the same process in Kibos. The community was very excited to see us again, they were thrilled with the design and want construction to start as soon as possible. Again we worked through the design and conclude on desired changes. We then had another look at the site, as we walked through the market the president of the Kibos committee, held up the design, displaying it for all the community to see as we passed. We will never forget the beaming smile on his face. We can only hope that after we are gone, construction can take place as planned without any obstacles.


The mizouri (disabled) were also extremely content that they are recognized as an important group, they will get their own toilets and showers completely adapted to their needs.

In the evening we met with the MCA (Member of County Assembly) to share our plans. A good relationship with the county government is crucial to the project, especially as they are buying the land for the sanitation block in Nyalenda.

The next day we made a quick stop at the water and sewer company (KIWASCO) to lobby for a sewer connection for Nyalenda. The water company is going to look into the possibility of connecting to the nearest sewer line, however we must consider that this may take a few years.

The successful workshops had to be celebrated, and being in Kisumu this meant a trip on Lake Victoria followed by a fresh wet fry fish….. Anchors away. We spotted some Hippos in our ‘Nelson Mandela Limousine’, … I don’t think it can get more African than this….


We are now back in Nakuru working hard to incorporate the communities feedback into our designs and add all the necessary details.
The project is coming to an end at an alarming pace and we will make our last trip to Kisumu next Tuesday to present the final draft of the designs. After that it’s back to London for most of us.


Evelyne Saelens reporting from Nakuru

Now approaching the end of our second week in Kenya, the project has truly begun in earnest. Now comes the time to add to Alexa’s first blog post and reveal what we have been up to.

By the end of July the rest of the team had found their way to Nairobi where Alexa was eagerly waiting. For those of you who are unaware, our Kenya team is as follows:

  • Alexa Bruce, British, graduated Environmental Engineer
  • Julius McGillivray, British, graduated Environmental Engineer
  • Tonny Okedi , Kenyan, 2nd year Chemical Engineer
  • Devang Patel, Kenyan, 1st year Civil Engineer
  • Evelyne Saelens, Belgian, undergraduate was in Business Engineering and is currently completing her Masters in Environment and Sustainable Development

While we were waiting for the arrival of our last member, Devang, we had a few days for ourselves in Nairobi before travelling up to Nakuru. I spent my day in Nairobi visiting an elephant orphanage and a giraffe sanctuary, Tonny was with his family and Julius and Alexa headed out to the Masai Mara.

The elephant orphanage, The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was a very inspiring place. The caretakers go out and try to rescue abandoned baby elephants. Most of their mothers are killed by poachers for the ivory market. Afterwards I headed to the giraffe sanctuary, not really knowing what to expect. Imagine my surprise when I found out how happy the giraffes were around humans and apparently giraffe saliva kills all kinds of germs so I just had to go give it a try….

On the 29th of June we spend the day in the MusT offices in Nairobi, which for most of us was the first opportunity to meet our partner. After getting to grips with all the logistics sorted for the project, we soaked in the Kenyan cuisine with a typical dry fried fish and ugali.

The next day we made our way to Nakuru, to our home away from home, and office for the next month. We travel in style here in Kenya, our wheels for the month come in the form of a 1980’s Peugeot, fondly named Simba. The quirks, like only being able to open the one working back door from the outside, opening the boot with a screw driver, and needing two pillows behind Alexa’s back so she can reach the pedals, are all part of Simba’s magic

As they say, no rest for the wicked as we headed straight off to Kisumu for our first three days in the field for our initial participatory ‘dreaming’ workshops.

We prepared several activities to do with both the communities in Nyalenda and Kisumu to get to know the communities and understand what their problems, priorities and needs are concerning the sanitation block.

On the first day we started with an introduction in an attempt to create an environment of trust and positive atmosphere with the community members from both Kibos and Nyalenda. We did not really know what to expect and how engaged the community would be. Upon our arrival (in simba of course) the community members, a group of 50, were eagerly awaiting us. They immediately presented themselves, were happy to see us and the meeting started in the typical Muungano, call and answer style… Muungano… ‘nguvu yetu!’

We talked with the community about the plan for the following weeks what we expected of them, and what they expected of us. It was very clear that they were ready to move things forward, making everyone very eager to begin. The first activity we did was a ‘rich picture’ that allowed us to understand the current problems from their point of view. In the rich pictures the community members draw their current situation incorporating different aspects such as structures, stakeholders, the environment and processes. We were a bit nervous about how the community would react when we took out our markers and colors, hoping they would not find it too childish. It only took a few minutes and the members totally got into it, discussing what they were going to draw and letting their imagination take over. Afterwards each group presented their pictures, explaining their views around the ‘problem of sanitation in their community’.

We spent the next day with the Kibos community where we did several activities simultaneously. Alexa, Julius and Devang spent the day conducting a stakeholder meeting with a representative group chosen by the community to engage in the participatory process. Firstly we conducted an exercise that established and ranked priorities around what was important to them about the sanitation block, be it ‘the inclusion of a community hall’ or ‘access for the disabled’.

At the same time Tonny and I conducted several focus group discussions with specific groups of people such as the disabled, women, men and the elderly. It was extremely valuable as many people felt more comfortable talking in smaller groups and we were able to talk in detail about the specific problems they face. Especially the stories of the disabled people were very moving. It is impossible for us to imagine the difficulties they face. They were sharing their stories on how they often have to crawl through dirt and feces to get to the current toilets while facing social stigma and bullying other members of the community. We were extremely moved by their experiences and are more keen than ever to make their situation a little more bearable and ensure our design caters for their needs also.

We also had a talk with the children from the local school. This was a very uplifting experience and the children were extremely excited when we asked them to draw their ‘dream toilet”. We then talked with them about the current problems around sanitation; they were able to speak freely to us without the presence of any adults. It became clear that the children were a lot more educated than most of the adults on hygiene and the importance of waste management!

The next day we undertook exactly the same process with Nyalenda, which was again extremely successful. Needless to say we had a mountain of information to process following three very productive days of engagement with the two communities!

After our return we started some dreaming of our own as we started thinking of the designs for each community that would incorporate all of the aspirations and priorities that the communities had communicated to us. Our apartment in Nakuru is a perfect little work nest.

Off course it’s can’t always be all work and no play. We have spent most of our evenings absorbed in the world cup but with no African team left to support, the division in the house is getting bigger (especially now Belgium has been sent home). At the same we are trying to stay in shape with Shaun T’s Insanity workout! It’s an amazing work out that has us all hooked. The rooftop of our apartment building with the views over lake Nakuru is the perfect setting to blow off steam. Watch out everyone cause we will probably be coming back with insane abs!

Next week we will travel back to Kisumu to present a first draft of our design. Keep an eye out for the next post where will show our designs and the communities reaction.


Alexa Bruce reporting from Nairobi

So, as the blogging season begins for EWB UCL, with all of our teams heading off to their respective destinations, I contribute here on behalf of our Kenya Project with Muungano Support Trust. Before I delve into the excitement of all the activity that has been going on, I will begin with an overview of the project and its objectives for those who are not familiar with the project to date.

Muungano Support Trust (MuST) is the technical secretariat to Muungano wa Wanavijiji, a settlement based federation of slum dwellers across 300 informal settlements, representing thousands of urban dwellers in Kenya. ‘Muungano, a movement of the urban poor was formed by slum dwellers to address the challenges of forced eviction, with a keen interest of addressing matters of secure tenure and livelihoods of the poor communities’. In a new collaboration for this academic year, EWB UCL is partnering with MuST to engage in a participatory design process of a community sanitation facility in two locations: Kisumu and Naivasha. Through a series of participatory workshops over the month that will be spent in Kenya, the EWB UCL team will work on the design of the facilities through an iterative process, incorporating the desires, aspirations and feedback of the communities into the design following each meeting with them. The Federation, through their savings scheme, along with the local WASCO, will then be responsible for funding and implementing the construction of the sanitation facility.

In the second week of June 2014, I took the opportunity to stop over in Kenya for a few days, ahead of the arrival of the rest of the team at the end of July, and travel to Kisumu with MuST for a stakeholder meeting with the various parties involved in the project.

Firstly, it was such an amazing trip. MuST were very hospitable and it was an extremely interesting crash course in getting to know the organisation. As much as you do your research online and have conversations over Skype, this was the kind of insight one can only get by travelling for 6 hours in a car with the Secretariat’s Director, Irene Karanja and our contact and Programme Manager, Leonard Kigen. We travelled up to Kisumu where representatives from the federation were gathered (the National Chairman, the Treasurer, The Secretary and others) as well as community leaders from the slum we will be working with in Nyalenda. Also there was a representative from the local WaSCO, who will be co-funding the sanitation facility (along with money from the communities savings schemes), and the locally elected county council representative for Nyalenda. Upon arrival, a member of the federation handed us a clipping from the newspaper of that day, and how timely it was, affirming the relevance of the project in our eyes. The article discusses the appalling state of the slums sanitation facilities and describes how “when it rains, the waste from the latrines floods most of the houses”.

The meeting involved introductions and how each was involved in bringing the project where it is today. The work described by Muungano to establish sanitation as a priority for the community was also important context to the project. Following this was an outline of the expectations of each of the representative parties with regards to the project. It was in this meeting that I was introduced to the unique and powerful way in which every member of the Federation greets one another and introduces him or herself. The member of Muungano begins by interlocking his/her fingers and declares, ‘Muungano (unity/federation)’, in response, other Muungano members chime ‘nguvu yetu (is our strength!)’. This initial call is followed by any combination, of all or none, of the following:

‘Akiba…. Mashinani! (savings at the grassroots)’;

‘Pesa zutu…. uamuzi wetu! (our money, our decision!)’;

‘Ardhi na makao…. Haki yetu! (land and shelter is our right!)’;

‘Uoga…. Umasikini milele! (fear/cowardice will make us poor forever!)’;

‘Umoja…. Silaha ya maskini! (unity/organisation is the weapon of the poor!)’;

‘Chingli!… Chingli! (Shillings/our savings)’

‘Chingli!… Chingli Chingli!!

‘Chingli!… Chingli Chingli Chingli!!!

There was something very striking about a chorus of people answering in unison to the greeting of their peers. It reminds me of the exhilaration and power that one feels witnessing the call and answer of a Samba band, perfectly in sync. A strange parallel to make I know, but hopefully some of you out there have either played in one or witnessed this and can understand where I am coming from. To everyone else, I am probably making no sense!

Also at the meeting were representatives from a nearby slum called Kibos. This community has emulated the Muungano model by mobilising themselves putting a savings scheme in place. A sanitation block was built in their slum but it collapsed before it had even been used and is now in a state of disrepair. They informed us that they had mobilised their community and that we absolutely had to go and visit the site as the community was waiting for us. We travelled to the site where the community was in fact waiting for us and another similar introductory meeting ensued. The meeting was mostly in Swahili so I only got brief translations from Irene, but the community was essentially expressing their desire and readiness to engage with a similar process to the project in Nyalenda. They were ready and waiting with their site and wanted to know when we would come back. Our capacity to engage with Kibos in a similar process, as well as with the other two communities we are committed to, is something we at EWB UCL are in the process of discussing.

We got a call late in the afternoon from the locally elected county representative who had been present at our previous stakeholder meeting in Nyalenda, informing us he had managed to secure a last minute audience with the County Governor. We therefore travelled to the government building in Kisumu CBD for the meeting with ‘his excellency’. Everyone was excited as this was a big break for Muungano but the last minute nature of the meeting left little room for nerves. In the meeting that followed the various members of MuST and the federation introduced themselves (of course in the true call and answer style of Muungano) and essentially pitched Muungano to the Governor. He liked what he heard. He stated he had never quite witnessed a greeting like it and was struck by how ‘those who appear to have nothing, have something’. He followed his own pitch as to what his vision for Nyalenda is (Nyalenda is notorious for its appalling sanitation and general services as you can tell from the press coverage shown above! and so is the focus of his 3 year development plan). It was inspiring if perhaps a little ambitious and idealistic. I felt his intentions were true and he often reiterated that he does not wish to evict the residents of Nyalenda as is feared because this would encourage informal settlement to move elsewhere, merely shifting the problem rather than solving it. His views seemed to align with that of Muungano and a fruitful relationship is likely to develop. Most importantly for us, he committed to providing the land for the sanitation facility in Nyalenda. Here are a couple of photos of the group with the County Governor (unfortunately the one with myself in is a little fuzzy but I still wanted to get it in there!).

So this was a big meeting for Muungano and everyone was buzzing from its success. In celebration of a very productive day, I then spent the evening eating extremely tasty chicken and drinking a Kenyan version of cider. There was a live band and I ended up on the dance floor with Irene Karanja, Director of MuST, the National Chairman of the Federation, Rashid Mutua, the National Secretary of the Federation,Erickson Sunday and Leornard Kigen, our Programme Manager. An enjoyable evening to say the least (of course all very respectably and within the bounds of our code of conduct!).

The next day we met with the community leaders to establish a preliminary itinerary and walk around the four potential sites for the sanitation block. Some photos of the sites are shown below.

We then travelled back to Nairobi bringing my short two-day whirlwind visit to an end (I was also introduced to Kenyan traffic as it took us 9 hours to get back to Nairobi!).

That’s it for now but keep an eye out for our next blog at the beginning of July when the project gets fully underway!