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The month of September, 2016 saw the Centre engage with the residents of Kiandutu and Mukuru Viwandani informal settlements in Phase II of the IDRC sponsored project dubbed “Unlocking the Poverty Penalty, and Upscaling the Respect for Rights in Informal Settlements”.

The current second phase builds on the findings of Phase I project and it aims to tackle the problem premised on the fact that the urban poor pay a very heavy penalty for being poor. This is in terms of access to land, housing and basic services (water, power, sanitation). For instance;

It is estimated that an average resident in a residential estate in Nairobi pays between Kshs. 150-300 monthly for water, while an average household in Mukuru pays Kshs. 5 for a 20-litre water jerrican. A minimum of 3 jerricans per day for drinking and domestic use translates to Kshs. 15 in a single day, and consequently Kshs. 450 per month. Furthermore, access to the precious commodity is subject to control by water cartels and groups, who control and regulate the prices.

The Centre therefore engaged the residents of Mukuru Viwandani and Kiandutu through Focus Group Discussions, participatory mapping and verification of spatial data.

In line with the Centre’s principle of Collaborative Planning, the ongoing project is being undertaken in collaboration with Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), Slum Dwellers International (SDI), Katiba Institute, Strathmore University, Nairobi City County Government and Kiambu County Government.

The project was guided by three main objectives;

  1. To enhance the knowledge base that informs the development of solutions for addressing disparities between the informal and formal city
  2. To demonstrate mechanisms for unlocking the poverty penalty
  3. To build, through the use of research and stakeholder engagement, policy recommendations for informal settlement upgrading

Mukuru residents in a mapping session with the University of Nairobi Team

Based on the three objectives, the Centre developed a situation analysis along three concepts; Poverty and Rights, Powers and Interests and Knowledge in Informal Settlements, and, Models and Approaches of Unlocking Poverty. Some of the issues raised through a study of these indicated;

  • There is a disparity between the rights that residents of the informal settlements ought to be accorded, and what currently exists. This includes deprivation of the right to access land, adequate housing, right to adequate health, water and sanitation as well as right to healthy environment; and this has served to lock them into poverty.
  • There are various powers in play within the informal settlements, which have conflicting interests. These include institutional powers, represented by the few existing government bodies and representatives, structural powers that are settlement-wide and control the affairs of the informal settlements, and agency powers that control the supply of various resources and services such as water, power and sanitation. All these powers have conflicting interests in control of land, housing and services, and have also served in locking the residents of informal settlements into poverty.

To unlock the poverty penalty in the informal settlements, the planning and upgrading process should entail;

  1. Mediating the powers amongst the various stakeholders
  2. Mediating the interests amongst the stakeholders in informal settlements
  3. Integrating the local knowledge (non-technical) and the professional knowledge, to develop shared knowledge and shared decision making.

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