Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu

Virginia Ngina Kisavi

 

Kiambiu Slum  is located near Moi Air Force Base Eastleigh South location. The place is inhabited by several Kenyan tribes. These tribes are a source of diversity bringing about a mixture of different cultures and values. At times too, spots of tension could be felt amongst them.

Sometimes back 2000 there were strong tribal sentiments among the residents of Kiambiu. These sentiments were especially strong among the Kikuyu who were the land owners and the Luos who were tenants. The people were therefore divided and could not associate positively, work or stay together. It even became difficult for Landlords to rent their houses to members of a tribe they did not have any positive regard towards preferring loosing rental income. This meant that no Kikuyu would rent a Luo his/her house.

After post election violence in 2007, some NGOs started civic education to improve the community trust levels, community members were empowered with skills which could help them come together. Self help groups were hence formed with the aim of promoting healing and generating income through “merry go rounds”. These small acts of healing helped in cementing relationships among different tribes and in time they started relating well with each other.

Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu was formed as the aftermath of all the associative and cooperation activities. It included several self help groups who came together with the ideas of forming an umbrella organization in the Kiambiu community. Implementing the idea initially was a challenge as people still mistrusted each other. The mistrust extended to the governance structures of the new collaborative endeavor. During organizational committee elections; every group fronted an official as they felt that if they did not do so, their interests would not be effectively represented. This mistrust was quite a challenge nearly bringing the governance process of the new initiative to a standstill and threatened its existence.

The initiative was able to address the so called teething problems of “mistrust”. It in time developed clear objectives and a set of activities. The group started to clean drainages every Saturday, collecting garbage. At the end of the activity each member to contribute 20 shillings for banking. These activities in the long run cemented the relationship amongst the residents of Kiambiu and they started talking about their common problem. Everyone agreed that there was a great need for a toilet in Kiambiu. Once this need was identified, the next step was to look for a site to put up the toilet. A member from the group decided to sell his plot to enable the toilet project to proceed. Once a site was found members went on with their usual contribution meanwhile officials searched for sponsors to help in the construction of the latrine. They later found a sponsor.

After one and a half month the toilet was complete and ready for use by the Kiambiu residents. This gave Ushirikiano wa Wanakiambiu job opportunities like fetching some water for the construction, , transporting the materials from the security base to the working area, digging of the sewer line to connect the main one and also guarding the building. During the time of use also the youth got employed as toilet attendants.

The new toilet project has changed the condition of Kiambiu which was  uncouth when there was no toilet. You could find flying toilets all over the streets and even along the houses. People never knew the importance of unity and cooperation but for now we have strong groups in Kiambiu. Three other toilets serving the community which are affordable by the residents with adults paying 3/= while children enjoy the services freely. The new toilets created new jobs. Apart from the toilets, members started other activities  which generate money for the group. This has developed Kiambiu as a slum with 220 members hence recruiting many more members every year regardless of ethnic groups. They get dividends every year and monthly allowance.

The story of Muungano wa Wanakiambiu is a story of Social Innovation. Social innovation occurs in situations where people think of developing simple solutions to community problems. The endervor started to unite the Kiambiu Residents not only achieved its aim but has also contributed immensely to improving their living conditions. There is a great need for integration of Kenyans not only in Kiambiu but in the entire country. The fact that there is prejudice makes us not being able to address our development needs.

A process of deliberate integration could lead us to  experience a change in social relations especially with regard to influencing the governance while increasing participation in social political process. This happens because the once excluded person feels that he or she has been integrated in the societal structures that alienated him or her in the past.

Decreasing social exclusion has many positive outcomes such as increasing integration independence and participation in various dimensions of life that helps people like their life respectively.

 

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