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Upgrading Korogocho

We would like to give hereby some updating about the upgrading of Korogocho, this is a journey which show, according to us, that dynamics of marginalization, which are very common in our world, can be overcome and the dream can become reality as Fr. Daniel had written in one of his articles on the same upgrading programme of Korogocho.

One of the biblical image which reflect the reality of Korogocho people is the exodus the people of Israel had been called to start in order to walk and gain towards the promise land. The journey in the desert was not easy for this people, many the failures, many the temptation to give up and to go back to the slavery of Farao; But the love of God, the constancy of his presence and the courage of Moses has made this journey possible. Even though many times we want to get rid of this journey in the desert because it’s hard and demanding… it is instead the journey that we cannot avoid if we want to live a life which is meaningful.

Approved the Work Plan for the Korogocho Slum Upgrading Programme (KSUP)

The people of Korogocho has passed through many phases and many difficulties, but the great thing to be happy for is that the process of upgrading has been started and the it is now a reality that can give hope and dignity to this people.

As you know since last year the upgrading of Korogocho has been enhanced as an outcome of the good results of the campaign for the swap of the Kenyan external debt with Italy. The campaign W Nairobi W had been started in March 2004, and going ahead through many activities and difficulties

has reached the good result of the agreement between Italian government and the Kenyan one to swap 44 million of Euros in favor of Kenyan people. The commitment of Kenyan Government is to utilize this amount of money in favor of many projects of improvement of the life of Kenyan people, among this projects there is the upgrading of the slum of Korogocho. Since that time many meeting have taken place to put together several ministers of Kenyan Government and give start to this upgrading. This has been an exercise in which the role of the communities and foremost the community of Comboni missionaries through Kutoka Network has been very important and useful to put people together, to dream with them what now we can say it is a reality!!

In fact, Thursday 2nd October after many meetings and discussions the steering committee of the Korogocho Slum Upgrading Programme (KSUP) has approved the Work Plan for the programme. It’s an achievement that deserves attention and gratitude.

The programme of upgrading for Korogocho is a way to improve the condition of the live hood of the area. In fact, one of the most striking features of life at the location is the very high levels of unemployment (and underemployment), especially among youth. The main economic infrastructure facility in the area is a large market in Kisumu Ndogo that is owned by the residents. This is however inadequate for the community’s needs, and requires development to meet the expectations of a broader cross-section of the Nairobi population. The main economic activities at the villages are small scale grocery shops, food kiosks, second-hand clothing stands, barber shops and hair salons, recycled goods (from the nearby dumpsite) sales, illicit brews and other small and micro-enterprises. These are however grossly inadequate for the community’s needs, hence large numbers of unemployed persons and the concomitant crime.

The residents' pro posals

The residents of Korogocho have many times seen people proposing the upgrading and when majority of them were informed about this programme was about to start expressed concern that they do not believe in the idea of the government putting up high-rise buildings. They strongly advocated that first there should be allotment of land, with plans to build being left to themselves. They proposed that the government should provide housing loans which they are ready to pay back.

Secondly, they proposed to have a good road network and proper drainage system and a suitable access road between blocks to avoid spread of fire. Thirdly, they expect the rehabilitation of streetlights as a way to curb increasing insecurity. They added that health and education facilities should be put up in response to counter inadequate facilities or none at all in some of the villages.

They raised concern that leadership is a major obstacle to development since a system of hierarchy exists which determines who builds, when and where. They complained that the leaders are often after their own interest as landlords and stand in the way of government idea of high-rise building so they can command great influence.

The steps up to now

That’s why the steps the programme has moved up to now are the followings:

* Consultative meetings with the community between community representative, faith based organizations and the provincial administration were held around May and June 2008. The purpose of the meetings were to sensitize the community about the Programme and discuss the framework of community participation.

* The Korogocho listening survey was carried out over a period of two days by a team of fourteen social surveyors under the guidance of experienced social planners and PMU (Programme Management Unit) staff. The students were accompanied by an equal number of community elders, two from each of the eight villages of Korogocho slum. The survey involved field observations, ad hoc informal interviews from a broader category of residents, and transect walks in all the eight villages. The findings of the survey will inform the formation of the sustainable integrated upgrading plan.

* A sensitization workshop was carried out on 7 th of July 2008 with the aim of sensitizing the community on the KSUP and discuss the framework and criteria of setting up a community Residents’ Committee (RC). The participants were identified from the listening survey. The workshop had interactive discussions between the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG), the community and other stakeholders. The participants included: MoLG officials, the Italian Cooperation, the area Councilor, two assistant chiefs, CBOs, FBOs (Comboni missionaries, the Imam, and Church pastors) and over 30 community opinion leaders including women, youth, tenants, landlords, disabled and the elderly. The main objectives were: to understand the upgrading process; to prepare for the election of Residents’ Committee; to build consensus among the community and to consolidate the commitment of the community.

* A 48 member Residents Committee (RC) was elected on the 7th of August to represent residents of each village in Korogocho. The RC election exercise took place in eight villages which are part of the whole Korogocho area The process involved eight returning officers who were drawn from Chiefs from neighbouring locations and eight neutral observers hired by the Ministry of Local Government’s Programme Management Unit (PMU) to oversee the process in each of the eight villages. This aimed at ensuring transparency in the process. The exercise saw the election of 6 representatives from each village adding to a total of 48 representatives as agreed in previous community meetings.

* A Residents Committee (RC) training workshop was carried out on the 14 th and 15th of August. The purpose of the workshop was to train the 48 representatives and take them through a leadership training to build their capacity to lead the community through the upgrading process. The topics covered during the training were: leadership and communication skills; the upgrading process and the role of the community in the process; land tenure options; and the planning process. The RC also elected 11 representatives to form the Executive Residents Committee (ERC), including the ERC chairman, treasurer and secretary. The area Chief, the area Councilor and Ward Manager are ex-officials of the ERC. During the workshop the RC identified as the priority short-term projects for implementation including water tanks, a bridge and a vocational centre.

This process and activities has been carried on with the assistance and supervision of a Steering Committee composed of several ministries of the Kenya government mainly: Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Lands. Also forming part of the Steering committee are Nairobi City Council, UN-HABITAT, the Community Residents Committee, Italian Cooperation and Comboni Missionaries.

The outcome of this activities is the work plan prepared by the lead agencies that was harmonized with proposals and plans coming from others stakeholders in a workshop held on 28th and 29th September. It was attended by the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Lands, City Council of Nairobi and UN-HABITAT. At the end of the workshop a draft harmonization work plan was prepared. This was finalized and presented to the steering committee, which approved it on 2nd October. The work plan is now ready for implementation.

The work plan for the first year

The outline of the work plan for the first year is as follow:

this phase is meant to provide the community and the ministries with the necessary resources to manage this programme. It includes logistical expenses, support to the management team and hiring of consultants.

The first year works are most linked with gathering of information from the community that will serve as the building blocks for the Programme, in order to give to the people ownership of the programme, avoiding a top down approach which doesn’t give big hope to the programme. Involving as much as possible the people in this programme is the key tool for its success. This will include a socio-economic survey, numeration of the people, physical mapping, and participatory planning.

This will be used to effect participatory planning to realize the Programme objectives and realize community harmony for purposes of successfully implementing the Programme.

This will be used for equipping the participating ministries and beneficiary community with the equipment which they deem appropriate for purposes of implementing the Programme..

This will involve the implementation of works to build a foot bridge across one of the rivers as identified by the community as a short-term project.

People are waiting and have to be involved as much as possible

People are waiting for the outcome of this upgrading process and the extent of how they will be involved; they have to be involved as much as possible.

Despite having as its shadow previous failed Slum Upgrading Programmes the KSUP can be, we hope, a model of a participatory way to bring improvement in peoples lives and settlements.

It can also be a methodology in the advocacy for the eradication of poverty and ensuring the equal distribution of available resources.

This can be seen as a good dream difficult to be realised considering the trend of the world economy and the increasing marginalisation of the poor, but this dream should become a reality if we believe that each person has right to live and to partake the wealth God has handed over to the humanity.

Fr. Paolo and Fr. John

St. John Korogocho

Il Vangelo nella discarica, Lettere da Korogocho, baraccopoli africana

di Daniele Moschetti (con la collaborazione di P.Alex Zanotelli e Don Luigi Ciotti):

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