This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
How they could be a cheaper solution to slum housing Page 5
The new alternative to crime in Korogocho
Do not buy
Why the government wants to tax you more
By Mirror team
If you are a poor person, brace yourself for tough times ahead. The proposed VAT (value added tax) bill is likely to be signed into law after being reintroduced to parliament for the third time. The government has been relentless in its efforts to tax previously zero-rated products and services. Under public pressure, the government has agreed to remove some items from the tax, like maize flour and bread. However, other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, seed and processed food items— like sifted maize meal, processed milk, and others—will still be taxed. These proposed amendments have been made despite the high and rising food prices that continue to be a challenge in Kenya, as evidenced by the rising food insecurity within households. The quest for increased wages by workers has led to public sector strikes. Most basic commodities currently are not taxed. That will change when the VAT passes. In addition to food, many other items will be subject to tax. These include vitamins, hospital and consumable medicines, spectacles, medical aids for pace-makers, ambulance trips, fire fighting vehicles, wheelchairs, fishing nets, mosquito nets, insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides—including mosquito coils and chips—will also be subjected to tax. This may put medical care out of reach for many poor Kenyans. The Consumer Federation of Kenya has accused the International Monetary Fund of having a hand in this new push by the government to increase taxes. “Prices of basic food stuffs such as maize flour will go up by at least 16 percent. This could even be higher because a loophole will be opened for unscrupulous traders to adjust prices as they wish,” COFEK’s secretary General Stephen Mutoro said. According to contents of the bill seen by the Ghetto Mirror, charcoal will also be taxed. A tin of this type of fuel commonly used by people in the slums retails at 60 shillings in Kibera. The
Government moves to tax basic commodities in order to fulfill election promises
Real life stories from slums
JULY 2013 facebook/ghettomirror
EXPECTED PRICE CHANGES IN TARGETED ITEMS
current price: 40 sh new price: 46 sh
MILK 500 ml
current price: 230 sh new price: 266 sh
current price: 230 sh new price: 266 sh
CHARCOAL 1 tin
Producers will face a higher cost per unit of output, and will pass on to consumers in form of high prices. This will have implications on food insecurity and poverty, particularly among poor and vulnerable consumers.”
Lilian Kirimi, Egerton University
current price: 85 sh new price: 98 sh
current price: 45 sh new price: 53 sh
MAIZE MEAL 2kg
current price: 115 sh new price: 140 sh
Continued on page 6
Looming tussle over housing project
By Paul Owino
Residents of Kisaju Park are accusing Jamii Bora Trust of reneging a deal they made in 1998 that enabled them to move from Kibera, Mathare and Dandora. The former slum dwellers say the low cost housing scheme meant to enable poor slum dwellers own decent housing through self-help groups has been given to a third party Urbanis Africa. Under the original deal, residents say Jamii Bora Trust was to let them own the houses at a paltry 350,000 shillings but the Trust does not manage the Houses anymore. They fear they may be evicted at any time since Urbanis Africa has commercialized the houses. “This looks like a pyramid scheme to me. We were supposed to even get these houses for free since we constructed them using our own hands,” complained Mercy Wairimu. Urbanis Africa has absolved itself from the crisis. “To the best of our understanding, the investment has never been a charity. We are not aware of the said deal and according to us the resi Continued on page 3
New tax to be levied on essential commodities
Wishing you a peaceful and blessed Ramadhan
During the campaigns, the Jubilee coalition promised a lot of free things. Children entering class one were to be provided each with a laptop, mothers were promised free delivery and the youth were promised loans to start their businesses among many things. While this is considered normal in any country where the majority is poor, most of it is intended to get votes. After the election is over governments are pressed to fulfill those promises. This is what we are witnessing right now in Kenya. Just recently, the government declared delivery of children in public hospitals was free to the jubilation of many. After all too many women die yearly during childbirth in Kenya and many more children do not see their fifth birthdays as a result of tropical diseases or malnutrition. Currently the government is hard pressed to fulfill the other promises and it has opted to introduce value added tax to previously untaxed commodities so as to raise the extra money. This is counterproductive considering the fact that all this money will go to giving out free services. What is the point of making over 40 percent of the population unable to buy food so as to buy laptops for their children? Or to encourage women to give birth because delivery is free then make them unable to take care of those children. At the moment the citizens of Kenya are undoubtedly one of the most heavily taxed in the world. This is despite 40 percent of the country living in poverty. In 2002 the former government introduced free education which is run almost entirely through donor funds. Recently the president said the money for the laptop project was a loan. This is putting the entire population in debt on the context of offering them free things. The government should instead have focused on how to raise the standards of living for the poor people. Otherwise we may be faced by a social crisis.
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
We welcome letters on topical issues or the stories we publish and comments on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also drop them at our office at Gatwekera near PAG Church, Kibera.
There is no point of This is what we were not told when we voted for free things offering free goodies to the public and then taxing them heavily
We should fastrack the relocation of Dandora dumpsite
Quote of the month
The brave man is not the one who has no fears, he is the one who triumphs over his fears. Nelson Mandela
A publication of Shining Hope for Communities
Vincent Achuka Design assistant Illustration Photo editor Paul Owino Boniface Mutie Peter Ombedha
KIBERA TEAM: Eric Ouma,Godwin Oyindo, Abuto Rashid, Sylvia Nekesa, David Otieno, Nicodemus Odalo, Mary Otieno, Sheila Kavzi MATHARE TEAM: Dennis Onyango, Geofrey Mimas, Irene Adhiambo, Maurice Adienge, Berryl Okello, Joseph Ochieng, Crispine Oginga, Gladys Akoth, Juma Onesmus, Mercy Aymah
he Dandora dumpsite site has caused a dependency culture where those who benefit from it believe that their livelihoods entirely depend on the site and they lack any alternatives. Some time back the City Council said it was going to relocate the site but critics of the relocation alleged that it would render those working there jobless. What options then do we have for the Dandora Dumpsite? The situation of the dumpsite cannot be allowed to worsen but it has to be fenced and closed. Various stakeholders must come up with alternatives which will address both the environmental and economic effects of the dumpsite. In bringing real change and transformation in our area, individuals and groups within the community must selflessly work towards harvesting the community and not individual fruits. We must be ready to sacrifice our own individual aspirations for the sake of public good. The dumpsite experience is a lesson to educate our people to be more concerned about their environment and act to improve it. Many are the times
we are tempted to be spectators as others struggle for our rights. We must be participants in the change process. Advocacy and the struggle for a people’s liberation must be spearheaded by the people themselves. The society equally needs to be endowed with adequate environmental etiquette. We should ensure that our own little neighbourhoods are very clean even if they are slums. Other stakeholders therefore need to come up with suggestions which can help us surmount this danger of the dumpsite. If well managed, the site and garbage collection in the city is capable of creating up to five thousand jobs, according to an Italian waste management company, which was temporarily contracted to manage waste at the dumpsite. Experts agree that over 80% of the waste in Nairobi can be recycled, creating more jobs directly and indirectly to thousands of residents. The Dandora interreligious committee on its part has come with a number of proposals as a way forward. The committee has asked that The Dandora dump site be closed immediately and the area developed into a historical park where
communities around can relax and celebrate their struggles. According to environmentalists, the dumpsite area cannot be developed into residential areas for about 15 years. The pressure group has further asked the Ministry of Local Government to decentralise waste management to eight different zones and put up waste sorting and recycling
It is social economic apartheid to let the poor live in a rubbish pit, literally
plants to ensure that over 80% of the waste is recycled. The future dumpsite would then be fenced and ensure that only the wastes which cannot be recycled are dumped there and necessary public health precautions are taken to minimize any human suffering. Those who currently work at the dumpsite are experts in their field and the committee has called on the government and any waste management companies which the government
may contract to ensure that they are absorbed and paid acceptable wages and salaries. Youth Environment Groups will also be involved in collecting, sorting and recycling the waste. The committee promises to stand for the rights of those working in the dumpsite to ensure that none of them is declared redundant by any future development plans for the dumpsite. The Dandora Dumping Site problem is a real human rights issue. When about a million people’s lives are put at risk, especially when the people in question are already poor and impoverished, it is a great injustice and a social economic apartheid to let the poor live in the rubbish pit, literally, while the wealthier suburbs continue to fill the pit with their garbage. All the government ministries concerned, the City Council of Nairobi and all human beings who believe on the welfare of humanity must address this problem once and for all.
The writer is a freelance journalist working for St. Johns Catholic Church, Korogocho
Dan Whipple& Kathleen Bogan
Want NEWS as it
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
Leading the digital revolution through women in the slums
AkiraChix aims to inspire and develop a succesful force of women in technology from slums.
By Lika Gueye
Up to the moment when Edna Sakw a, 22, walked into the offices of AkiraChix in downtown Nairobi, she had barely touched a computer. Her lack of tech savvy meant she was puzzled when she first heard the acronym “IT” for information technology. As a young high school graduate living in Kangemi, her prospects were bleak. “I come from a very humble family and when I finished high school there was no money to take me to college,” she said. Edna’s lucky break came when AkiraChix—a small IT start-up—scouted her, along with a number of other girls, to participate in their training program, designed to prepare young women for a career in the high tech industry. We felt the need to give girls in the slums around Nairobi continuity after completion of form four and through word of mouth and referrals, we got overwhelming responses,” said Judith Ogiwar the firm’s president. “Hundreds of girls were thrilled at the opportunity to not only escape the harsh lives in the slums but the thought of interacting with computers surpassed it,” she continued. AkiraChix has emerged at breathtaking speed. In three years since it was first established by a small group of 12 women meeting regularly to network, it has coalesced into a tightly run organization providing training, mentoring, and internship opportunities for slum girls in the field of information technology. It targets bright girls from poor
A design class in session during the AkiraChix technology bootcamp early this year. Over 200 women who had no chance of getting computer skills have graduated so far in design and programming from the program. Photo: Courtesy
families in Nairobi’s slums who are unable to pay fees for college but are interested in information technology. In the first months, so limited were AkiraChix’s funds that the founding members dug into their own pockets for bus money to enable girls to get to class. Initially, classes were held in a bus until a donation from a nongovernmental organization enabled the company to rent a room. In the past few years, the use of technology has risen dramatically in the country alongside growing access to the Internet. Many young Kenyans are flocking to this promising sector to take advantage of emerging job and business opportunities, but the field is still very much dominated by men. Initially Edna was discouraged by the gender imbalance. The attitude of some of her peers didn’t help. They told her “It’s a tough course. It’s only meant for boys—the bright boys,” she recalls. The creation of AkiraChix lies in a sense of outrage and a determination that women should make their presence known in this field. In 2010, after a meeting of IT experts organized for the launch of I Hub, a Nairobi-based IT center, the 12 founding members of AkiraChix, including Judith Owiga, Linda Kamau, and Marie Githinji, marked the appallingly low turnout of females and decided “Okay, we are going to do something about it,” reminisces Owiga. They settled on the name AkiraChix, meaning intelligent women. Two weeks later, they had a website and a blog. The small group quickly became known and they were hit by a wave of project requests from enthusiastic tech entrepreneurs. The positive
response triggered them to narrow the focus of their action to what they believe is a better long-term solution for the industry: showing young girls that the IT industry is not just a man’s world. Today, about 30 girls are selected each year to participate in AkiraChix training. Over 12 months, they are taught computer skills from word processing to computer programming, through web design and lessons in entrepreneurship. Upon graduation, the girls are qualified to apply for a wide range of jobs or create their own products. Some have even gone on to start their own businesses. Graduates have participated in dynamic start-ups and innovative solutions including the awardwinning M-farm mobile app created by Susan Oguya and Jamila Abass, two of the co-founders of AkiraChix. In a country where 99 percent of the people access the Internet through their mobile phone, this app enables farmers to check market prices, access virtual group buying, as well as connecting them to buyers—all at a touch of a mobile telephone. Other former trainees have participated in the creation of Uhasibu, a web and mobile cloud-based accounting system. “Our target is to expand in the whole of Africa. We want to be a revolution for African women in technology,” says Owiga. “That is our big vision.” AkiraChix’s latest project is the mobile garage, a bus that will tour Kenyan universities to offer training and fill the IT knowledge gap among female university students, and to spread the AkiraChix gospel. Edna might be counted as an AkiraChix convert. “God bless them abundantly! If it were not for them, I don’t know where I could have been,” she says. These days, between preparing to go to university and volunteering at a youth group, Edna interns as an assistant developer for Frontline SMS. Each year, the firm celebrates ‘Girls in ICT day’ where girls get a chance to showcase their innovations and discuss emerging trends in the information technology industry. This year it was held on April 27 and girls from over 10 high schools attended. A panel of successful women in the technology sector including Maureen Wangechi, a senior IP planning engineer at Safaricom made presentations.
Residents protest transfer of project
So you feel you want to be the next big writer, photographer or designer from the Ghettos but you don’t have any skills?
Don’t worry. We were just like you. You only need a passion for journalism and Shining Hope for Communities will offer the rest. We were offered free training and a platform on the Ghetto Mirror Sylivia Nekesa, Features writer Peter Ombedha, Photojournalist Just send and email to email@example.com or call the editor on 0721689996
Finished three bedroom houses at N7 on Kisaju View Park Estate constructed by Urbanis Africa. Photo: Mirror Correspondent
From Page 1
“The residents were provided a loan with a financial institution in order to acquire the houses. A dispute has arisen regarding the payment of the loan and the interest arisen,” continued the statement. Kisaju Park is a low income housing project in in Kaputiei, Kajiado County, 50 kilometres from Nairobi with 2,200 housing units. It sits on 293 acres of previously agricultural land. The initial residents were drawn from slums. They occupied a section called Neighbourhood 5 on the estate in 2008. In September last year, construction of more houses started with Urbanis Africa running advertising campaigns for buyers. Currently a two bedroomed house goes for 2.5 million shillings which is too high for the former slum dwellers. The residents have written to the Commissioner of lands asking him to stop any transactions on the said houses until the matter is solved. They have threatened to take the matter to the courts.
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
STUDENT TEACHER: This is one obvious reason why pupils from public schools will never match those of private schools. This is a class in session at Olympic Primary School during the teacher’s strike. Photo: Peter Ombedha HOMELESS: Just as fires are synonymous with slums with atleast one occuring every month we have not yet seen the last of this scene- a young girl in deep thought after their house was razed down in Gatwekera. Photo: Peter Ombedha
STILL ON CLASSROOM MATTERS: Visiting volunteer Emma Goldstein teaches grade 2 students as Aaron Charney looks on during the third annual Summer Institute at Kibera School for girls. 15 participants are taking part this year. Photo: Nathan Mackenzie
SUFURIAS ALL OVER: The County government should introduce a hygiene certificate for everyone selling kitchen ware to avoid scenes like this.
Photo: Peter Ombedha
SECURE: It appears the National Police service decided there were no longer criminals in Kibera and left the Ayani Police post or they created thi structure to give an impression they are around. It has been empty for months.
STREET ENTERTAINER: John Omwana has found the secret of making money. He goes around Kibera entertaining people on the streets for a fee drawing large crowds whenever he performs using his makeshift musical instruments. Photo: Peter Ombedha
Download free QR reader from the internet and scan this code with your smart phone for constant photos, news and vdeos from the informal settlements
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
In this column, the Ghetto Mirror brings you details about the ghettos of Nairobi, one ghetto at a time. This month it is Mukuru Kwa Rueben. If you want us to come to your hood, just send us an email.
That is why I opted to be a hawker,” says Mike Wambua, as he sells his good s. “Business is good especially on Fridays and Saturdays,” he adds. Some of the hawkers are small children who Musyimi says have been forced to do so to supplement their families’ income. They can be seen crisscrossing the slum at any time of the day, including school days, pushing carts, hawking or doing manual work. “The biggest challenge facing Mukuru is the lack of tenure by the residents who rightfully own the land. The government has been unwilling to settle this issue leaving as to stay as orphans,” argues 67-year-old Dorothy Macharia. She has lived in Mukuru for the last 36 years. She sells vegetables for a living. Last year the residents were involved in a bitter court battle over the right to live on the land with Orbit Chemicals. Orbit accused the residents of squatting on its property which they wanted to develop. On the other hand, the residents claimed they have a right to stay on the land which they have lived on for decades saying under the law they are entitled to own the land. The company wanted to evict them but the court halted the eviction until the case was settled. The case is yet to be settled. There are many health centers and health-related issues within the slum, and the most common diseases include malaria, typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis and AIDS. Malnutrition is visible among the children. This is primarily related to the high cost of food in relation to the low family income. Any medical facilities are beyond the reach of most of the residents. There are 29 pharmacies in the slum and the pharmacies like Pama medical clinic, Lunga medical clinic among others and the slum has seven hospitals which are Mwa medical clinic and maternity, Tumaini health center and Wadani hospital among others. Food access is very easy because more women cook food and sell along the road side and there are many roadside cafes dotting the area. There is no hotel or restaurant even any big project in the slum apart from Rueben Centre which runs a school and health centre.
1 billion required to upgrade all the slums
By Mirror reporter
Kenya requires nearly sh 1 billion if she is to fully upgrade all the slums within her borders, a forum on slums upgrade heard According to Pauline Mbote, the deputy director of the slum upgrading programme at the ministry of housing, the money would be used to upgrade the planning, infrastructure and social amenities in all the slum areas around the country. She however cautioned against ‘throwing money at the problem’ saying that in order for the slums upgrade to be achieved, it required well coordinated efforts from all stakeholders in order to ensure the gains made were sustained.
A busy street at Mukuru Kwa Rueben slums near the Chief’s office. Most of the residents work at the nearby Industrial Area while the rest sell such wares. Photo: Peter Ombedha
By Peter Ombedha
After the Second World War in 1945, the British colonialists awarded one of its veterans a huge tract of land 18 kilometres south east of Nairobi. Jack Rueben was his name. He started Villa Franca, a huge sisal plantation that also included a hauling company and employed dozens of natives. His employees lived in a labour camp inside the vast estate. When Kenya gained her independence from the British in 1963, Jack Rueben went back to Britain. Without Jobs or homes, his former employees started squatting on the land. They called it Mukuru Kwa Rueben meaning Rueben’s place. In the 1980’S the government promised to give the inhabitants tenure but instead cronies of the then regime awarded themselves tracts of land in the area. The original inhabitants could not claim the land. Today it is the fourth largest slum in the country after Kibera, Mathare and Korogocho. Many people simply refer to it as Kwa Rueben or Community. To get there you take a bus number 33 at Machos bus station in the city centre via the busy Mombasa road. It is a 40-minute drive if the roads are clear, but when there is a snarl up you can take up to two hours or more. “There are about 800,000 people living in Mukuru. A majority of them are elderly and very young children,” says Bernard Musyimi, a village elder, as he shows this writer around the vast slum. Most of the families live in 10-by-10-foot iron sheet houses constructed side by side. “A majority of the families earn very little money. Consequently their children look for other means of survival such as prostitution, drug peddling, begging or stealing,” he adds. The most abused drug in the area is bhang and it is openly sold in alleys. Many of the slum dwellers in Mukuru work as casual laborers in the
The population of Mukuru Kwa Rueben
manufacturing industries area situated close to the slum. They work as a mechanics, carpenters or any handwork. Others operate small-scale businesses selling vegetables and fruit or hawking various items. The most popular business is selling household goods, especially plastic ware. You can hardly walk 20 metres without meeting a shop selling plastic ware. Other traders opt to hawk their plastic ware. “I looked for a job in Industrial or a long time without success. area f There is a lot of corruption and nepotism in the industries which makes it hard for people like us to get employed there.
When presenting the National budget recently the Cabinet secretary for treasury allocated a paltry 600 million shillings for slum upgrading.
She further called for a review of the existing framework to ensure that all persons and organisations involved in the slum upgrading programme were working in consultation and were aware of what the others were doing. “This will greatly help in doing away with duplication of activities where someone comes and does something that another is doing or had already been done and in the process wasting valuable time and resources,” she said. When presenting the National budget recently the Cabinet secretary for treasury allocated a paltry 600 million shillings for slum upgrading. IHe did not say what the money would be used for.
Interlocking bricks could solve housing problem
Workers making finishing touches for a drainage system where Kounkuey Design Initiative is teaching people how to make interlocking bricks.
government is currently using concrete blocks for the slum upgrading project in Soweto East which is very expensive. “We are using soil and a small portion of cement to create these interlocking bricks,” Said Peter Mwai who I working at the construction site as he points to a bucket of red soil used in making the bricks. Kibera like other slums has a lot of soil. This is because most of the slums are situated near river banks or on idle pieces of land where soil is abundant. The bricks are made using a Soil Block Press (SBP) machine, which compresses a mixture of sifted soil, water and cement to produce a solid building block. Any type of soil except black cotton soil which is common low attitude areas like Eastlands Nairobi can be used. The bricks interlock with each other during construction eliminating the need for mortar to bind the building. Makiga Engineering Services is a locally owned company that manufactures a range of machinery used to make walling and roofing materials for the lower end market segment. “The SBP makes building blocks using a mixture of soil from site and cement. It was designed to lower the cost of construction in areas where quarry stones are unavailable or places where people cannot afford to buy quarry stones,” says Moses Kiroko of Makiga engineering services. “All blocks are tested for strength and durability by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the University of Bath, UK; results show that bricks made with Makiga machines are 82% stronger than a clay-fired brick,” he adds. “A tone of soil produces 50 blocks. One machine operated with four people is capable of producing up to 500 blocks per day,” explains Mwai as he is interrupted by two women in the team who want him to give advice on how to mix the soil and cement. The women are from the local community and are part of the group being taught how to construct using the technology. This is the third such project being done by the initiative. “Since many people living in slums cannot even dream of constructing their own houses I would like to urge them to form groups and buy the SBP machine,” said Mwai. One machine costs roughly 100,000.
Photo: Peter Ombedha
By David Otieno
Provision of better housing in the slums continues to be a major headache to the government and the people living in slums. Kounkuey Design Initiative is training people in is constructing using
low cost quality bricks that could be an eye opener to future housing projects and a permanent solution to the problem which has stalked the slums for decades. According to the Initiative’s construction coordinator Julius Muiruri the interlocking brick technology can
reduce the cost of constructing a permanent house by up to 60 percent. “The technology invented by Makiga engineering Company has been implemented in other parts of the country for some time now but has never been used in any slum,” he explained. The
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
The skating alternative
Since the introduction of the sport there are fewer kids on the streets of Korogocho and crime reduced
the streets. The group nurtures creative talent and uses sports as a tool for violence prevention. More than 40 youth from Korogocho whose ages range from six to 21 years are involved weekly. The founders were inspired by their own upbringing in the slum. “Hope Raisers skating club is a place where young people come to act out their dreams. Skating is easy to learn, keeps them fit and keeps them off the street,” says Daniel Onyango the founder of the group. “It also creates a road map for success and makes it happen through interacting with others, sharing life experience, learning roller skating skills for positive social transformation,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, it doesn’t matter if you are from the slum, if you are determined and hardworking you can actually make it in life. This is focus,” he explained. Korogocho, a slum with 120,000 people is one of the most insecure slums in Nairobi. Muggings and robberies take place at any time of the day. Because of its good road network, some criminals rob people using motorbikes which provide a quick escape. We have great imagination want to use sports as tool to reflect on major societal issues—to combat exclusion, delinquency, and violence, to fight indifference, intolerance and all forms of discrimination, to raise awareness, change the way people think about the youth, develop critical thinking to work to make our communities and the world a better place,’’ he said. So far the project has run on donations from the well-wishers. Most of the equipment is second hand. They don’t have enough skates, so kids have to share. “These kids are the future of Korogocho and if we are able to invest in them and train them basic life skills and give them hope that will be one of the alternatives of fighting crime in our area,’’ Onyango said. Established in 2005 in Korogocho slum and registered in 2007 as a community arts organization, the architects of the Initiative share the passion of creating a safer community that provide opportunity to all for sustainable developments using a neighbourhood approach. Although skating is not a popular sport in the country only perceived as a sport for the affluent, Hope Raisers has given it a new perspective. Residents say they feel the streets are safer since roller skating was introduced in the neighbourhood. The group was invited to take part in the ‘I am a city Changer campaign’ by the UN in June “The neighbourhood approach makes it possible to deal with youth at risk in an integrated manner, the group says. It allows for a deeper understanding the appreciation of the particular needs and aspirations of the inhabitants living in Korogocho, including the way they see life shaped by their experiences, which may not necessarily be the same as other neighbourhoods of Nairobi,” said Onyango. Above all, the approach allows us to contextualize Korogocho as the place where young people socialize. It provides an opportunity to influence how social relations in the community take place by its physical, social features and geographic localizations. The safer community of opportunity model is the basis for applying the neighborhood approach through sports, arts and culture in Korogocho. Samuel is now an inspiration to the kids of his neighbourhood. He took part in the National qualifiers and qualified for the Africa competition taking place later this year. This is an example of how investment in sports can change lives.
Samuel Wachira of Hope Raisers roller skating club during the National trials in Kasarani where he qualified for the African Championship that will take place later this year. Photo: Courtesy
By Sylivia Nekesa
Samuel Wachira was a street boy. He dropped out of school and joined a local gang as a thief. But skateboarding changed all that. The sport gave him confidence. He has gone back to school. ”When I first raced, I was number one and then won three medals. That is when I realized skating could transform my life and help my parents,” said Samuel, a member of Hope Raisers skating club. The Hope Raisers Initiatives is a community sports project structured to offer mentorship and outreach programs to children and young people living in Korogocho using roller skating and other forms of urban arts expression. It keeps them fit and off
Water How VAT bill will make you poorer Nairobi to cut illegal
From page 1
same costs 50 shillings in Mathare. If subjected to 16 percent VAT the cost of charcoal will increase to around 58-70 shillings per tin. “Electrical energy which is currently charged at 12 percent will be subject to 16 percent rate of VAT. However the standard rate can be increased or decreased by up to 25 percent by the Cabinet Secretary,” says another section of the bill. “Exempt supplies like petroleum products and zero rated goods like medicaments and medical equipment will remain in their current tax status for a period of three years after which they will become taxable at a standard rate,” it says. This however excludes sanitary towels, medical dressings and plasters whose price will increase immediately. A packet of Always sanitary pads costs 85 shillings. It is set to rise to around 97 shillings. A girl may require up to three packets per month. Most of the girls in the slums cannot afford sanitary towels and depend on NGOs to help them. With this increase in prices, NGOs may find it hard to provide free sanitary towels. Michael Kamau, a stall keeper at Toi market, uses 140 shillings to feed his wife and four kids at supper time. “Most of the days my wife buys sukuma wiki at 20 shillings, tomatoes at 10 shillings, charcoal at 50 shillings and maize flour at 60 shillings,” he explained. This is without the cost of cooking oil, which he buys monthly. He will however be forced to spend 165 shillings for the same meal after the VAT bill is signed to law, despite the fact that his daily wages will still be 200 shillings. He will still have to save enough money to pay 1,500 shillings for rent. He stays in Laini Saba. “It is painful the government wants us to be poorer so as to support its lavish expenditure on things like laptops and the deputy president’s house,” he argued. “Producers will ultimately face a higher cost per unit of output, a cost they will likely pass on to consumers in form of high output prices. Thus the real implications of imposing VAT on inputs will go beyond the increase in input prices and reduced affordability to affect consumers through its effects on prices food. This multiplicity of effects is likely to have significant implications on food insecurity and poverty, particularly among poor and vulnerable consumers,” said Lilian Kirimi, an economist in Egerton University. “When the 16 percent VAT is imposed on the sifted maize meal, price would increase to 70 shillings per kilogram. This implies that the consumer will pay 22 percent more for a kilogram of sifted maize meal because of the effects of VAT.” she said. A packet of maize meal like Jogoo which retails at 115 shillings in Kibera will rise to 140 shillings. “Elasticity of sifted maize meal in the urban areas of Nairobi is -1.85. Based on this elasticity, imposing 16 percent VAT will lead to a decline in demand for sifted maize meal of 30 percent. For poor households that mainly eat ugali, a decline in demand basically implies that these households will have to adopt various coping mechanisms as a result of the increase in the price of sifted maize meal,” she added. These coping mechanisms may include skipping meals, taking smaller portions of food, and diversifying to less preferred foods, among others. The government hopes to raise 10 billion in taxes through the bill which is likely to signed into law as it has pressure to fulfill its election promises. This includes free laptops, free maternity care, and higher basic wages. It has also been pressured by trade unions and MPs pushing for higher salaries. More Kenyans, however, will slide deeper into poverty
By Mirror Reporter
Omena on sale at Gatwekera. Demand for this type of fish that is popular with the poor is likely to increase as other types of food will become expensive. With increase in demand the price will definitely increase even without taxation.
Photo: Peter Ombedha
as the cost of living increases. “We want to speak with one voice in parliament so that our government can make good on its pre-election promises to Kenyans. We must ensure that the VAT bill sails through in order to raise enough money to finance our development programmes,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta during a State House meeting with members of the ruling Jubilee Alliance. Opposition Members of Parlia-
ment who vowed to oppose the motion stand little chance because they have fewer numbers. Other commodities whose prices are expected to rise include processed milk and cream, Ordinary bread, gluten bread and unleavened bread, infant formula, computer software, chalk, newspapers, journals and periodicals, exercise books and printed books, cinematographic cameras and projectors.
The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company has started a citywide campaign aimed at disconnecting illegal water connections starting with Mukuru Kwa Njenga. The chief executive of the water company Eng. Philip Gichuki said the institution was losing above Sh250 million to illegal connections. “The water company loses almost half of its treated water to illegal connections and collects an average revenue of Sh450 million against the projected Sh750 million,” said Gichuki. “The illegal water connections are rampant in the informal settlements where many of the dwellers do not want to follow the right channel to get water connections but opt for brokers,” Eng. Gichuki said. He also fired a warning shot to the brokers who it is alleged work in hand with Nairobi Water employees to create temporary water shortage so as to make a windfall from selling water to the slum dwellers.
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
Micro credit groups working miracles for women in Kibera
of Nairobi's informal settlements have difficulty accumulating wealth. Microlending groups like Blessed Women offer the much-needed credit required by the residents to start or improve their businesses. Interestingly, the Blessed Women's group started as a weekly prayer group meeting, hence the name. “Sometime before 2006 we started having prayer meetings on a weekly basis at one of the members' houses. During these meetings, we also discussed issues facing us and we realized poverty was the main problem,” says group member Gladys Wanjiku. “To counter this, we started a merrygo-round where the group would visit [the home of] one member at a time and contribute some money to the host.” “Our decision to switch to micro credit amongst ourselves was reached after we attended a workshop on savings and entrepreneurship,” says the group's chairwoman Nancy Wanjiku. The group meets twice a month. During meetings, each member deposits 200 shillings with treasurer Mercy Mureithi. They used to deposit only 50 shillings, but as the members' financial stability has increased they've adjusted it upward. The money is then consolidated into an account which members are allowed to borrow from, repaying their debts within a month at 10 percent interest. They have two types of loans – a short-term loan allows a member to borrow a maximum of 3,000 shillings while a long-term loan has a ceiling of 5,000 shillings. The interest earned is added to the group's account to increase their lending capability. In order to be allowed to borrow, you must have saved with the group for a couple of months. First-time defaulters are required to pay twice the interest amount; defaulting three times will get you expelled. Luckily, that's never happened so far. At the time of the meeting I attended, a total of 39,500
Mercy Mwangi displays some dresses she made at her shop in Laini Saba. Six years ago she used to sell sukuma wiki. Photo: Vincent Achuka
By Calvince Ochieng
On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon at Laini Saba, Mercy Mwangi attends to a customer who has just walked into her garments shop. The customer wants to buy a new dress for her daughter to wear on her tenth birthday. After looking around the small shop, she comes across an orange-andwhite pleated dress that delights her. “I think my daughter would look nice in this,” the lady says. “How much?” “1,500 shillings,” replies Mercy, stopping her sewing machine. After a brief negotiation, they agree on a price and the customer pays for the dress. As she is about to wrap the dress in a plastic bag, Mercy receives a call from her friend Charity Mugoiri informing her that “the meeting” is about to start. She completes the sale and leaves her shop under the watch of a lady running an adjacent shop, hurrying off. Just six years ago, Mercy was a grocer selling sukuma wiki, onions and tomatoes. But thanks in part to these meetings of women's micro credit groups that are sprouting in the slums of Nairobi, she has managed to make the audacious leap to designing and selling her own line of clothes. “I used to make a profit of about 600 shillings) per month when I was selling sukuma wiki, which was barely enough for my family's expenses,” she says as she heads to the meeting, up a flight of stairs to the rented room where the meeting is about to start. “I started my current business from the first 2,000 shillings that I borrowed from the group.” Mercy belongs to the Blessed Women's group, an assembly of 13 women who believe they have found a way out of Kibera. With banking services out of reach for the majority of the people in Kenya, the hundreds of thousands of residents
shillings had been given out as loans. Members are encouraged to borrow more so they can improve their lives. For instance, Gladys, who has just borrowed 3,200 shillings, says she plans to use the money to buy more stock for her charcoal business. She recently repaid 2,800 she owed to the group. “I am expected to pay back [plus interest of] 310 shillings,” she says, “This is quite cheap compared to asking a loan from a bank. Banks have a lot of bureaucratic procedures which make it impossible to poor women like me to borrow.” In the recent report “An empirical study on the effects of Microcredits on women's lives in Kibera,” Elisabeth Hofbec writes, “Microcredit leads to economic empowerment and subsequently it is the new tool to fight poverty in the developing world.” The report also says that over 60 percent of the households in Kibera are headed by women because most of the marriages are unstable and divorces are frequent. The group's vision is to have every member get a chance to relocate from the slums and it seems that they are on course. Every woman in the group has started a small business from the loans borrowed. According to Hofbec, 71 percent of the money borrowed micro credit groups is used in businesses while 17 percent was used on school fees. In February of last year, the group collectively bought a piece of land in Thika, on the edge of Nairobi, for 250,000 shillings. They are planning to build some houses there as an investment. Right now they are attending workshops on entrepreneurship to get the skills they'll need to develop the land. Even as poverty continues to be a term synonymous with slums, there is no doubt that if more micro-finance groups like Blessed Women group were formed and supported with steady borrowing, they can go a long way in helping to transform the lives of people in urban slums.
Owira’s family still living in poverty despite his success
By Sheilah Kavuzi
Daniel Owira’s family is still living in abject poverty two months after he became famous with his family still unsure of how to handle his new found fame. This is despite the financial prosperity that is usually though to accompany famous people. When he first came into the limelight in April as the boy who made the President laugh uncontrollably amazed by his narrative in Mombasa after the National drama festivals many Kenyans automatically fell in love with him. He even got the privilege to shake the president’s hand after his magnificent performance of the narrative ‘Otonglo Time’ becoming an instant celebrity. The Ghetto Mirror did a headline story about him titled ‘How slum boy stole the president’s heart’ An Mpesa pay bill number was created to assist his poverty stricken family after NTV aired a story about the challenges that his family goes through. The President even invited his family to state house where he declared that he had ‘adopted him. ’ He promised to pay school fees up to University level for him, assist his elder sister Susan Owira on the projects she was doing for the youth in their neighbourhood and also help his mum to expand her fish business. He appeared in a Naivas advert as school opened for second term and as part of the cast for popular TV comedy – Inspector Mwala but up to now his mother Rose Owira says she does not know how much her son was paid for the advert. “Susan is the one who signed the documents for the Naivas shoot and she has not disclosed to me how much was given out,” she said. Susan Owira is Daniel’s elder sister. “I am not very sure (sic) about the payments but am sure we they (Naivas) will work it out. It was Daniel who talked to them and there is a bank account for the family where all the monies are deposited,” Susan explained. “People sometimes meet me on the street and tell me they think we had moved out and I have a hard time explaining to them why I am still living here,” she said. “We have not yet touched a penny from the money donated through Safaricom. I am
Daniel Owira’s mother Rose Owira at her fish stall in Fuata Nyayo. The president promised to expand her business. Photo:Calvince Ochieng
still looking for another place to move with my family but even if I was to buy a piece of land, the remaining amount would still not be enough to construct a house. Don’t you think so?” She poses. “I am waiting for Daniel to come during the holidays so that I ask him for money to top up,” she said further. She says, the president connected him with one of his aides known as Winnie who she will be communicating with and she even got her number. “The first time I called the number I wanted to inform her about my two children who are epileptic. She (Winnie) told me to hang up and she will call me immediately. She never called and up to now am still figuring out whether to call or still wait for her to call me,” she said. “When Jaguar visited us, he promised he was going to come back with his wife to see what can be done to these two children, but he hasn’t come yet and I don’t know how to reach him. For now I can’t even leave the house for a long time as no one will take care of them. .
JULY 2013: ISSUE 7
Finally swimming in volleyball glory
By Calvince Ochieng & Peter Ombedha
Neatly tucked in Soweto Kibera is a school that was virtually unknown to the outside world apart from the people who living around it. The school itself is built on an abandoned quarry near Ngong forest to the South. A cliff overlooks the school and in the evenings people come to rest there as the sun sets. At the same time girls from the school come out to practice volleyball after 4 p.m. Today, Soweto Academy are the Nairobi City County girls volleyball champions after they beat their fierce rivals Buruburu Girls high school an impressive five sets to two at the just concluded term two County games. This is despite the clear lack of volleyball facilities in the school. With lack of space in slums like Kibera, a majority of the schools do not have space to put up playing grounds. Soweto Academy utilizes the part of the abandoned quarry as a playground. The pitch is rocky and girls have to risk injuring themselves in order to practice daily. “After we lost to Buruburu girls in the semifinals last year, we were prepared for a fierce battle this year, and we came from two sets down to winning the Nairobi title in the fifth set,” said the jubilated Principal Johnstone Makabwa when the Ghetto Mirror visited the school. The slum queens easily beat all the teams on their way to victory at the finals. “We started our preparations very early in January and we had predicted it was going to be us against Buruburu in the final and the only thing on our mind was victory,” he added. Buruburu, a provincial school has way better facilities than Soweto and have been champions six times. The girls use makeshift posts mounted on tyres with concrete in the middle as bases. Every evening the girls carry the posts to the ground for practice and return them to the school afterwards. During practice, the posts occasionally fall when the net has been hit hard by the ball and the game has to be stopped so that they are erected. Caroline Chepkoech, Zainab Alemu and Caroline Wangeshi who are some of the team’s members said they started playing the game while in primary school. “All the members of my family are volleyballers. I can’t believe this game brought me to Nairobi,” said Chepkoech. Back in primary school she played till the national competitions when she was in class six. She has a sports sponsorship from the school because of her prowess in the game. Zainab Alemu, a shy girl with Ethiopian roots plays as a libero in the team. She is referred to by the coach as ’the engine’. In volleyball, a libero is a player specialized in defensive skills: the libero must wear a contrasting jersey color from his or her teammates and cannot block or attack the ball when it is entirely above net height. When the ball is not in play, the libero can replace any back-row player, without prior notice to the officials. This replacement does not count against the substitution limit each team is allowed per set, although the libero may be replaced only by the player whom he or she replaced. “I want to be the best in the country like Caroline Wangechi and I believe out technical bench is the best, said Zainab, a 16-yearold who has already been spotted by the National team. She will go for trial during the holiday. “Three former students in the school got scholarships to study in Universities abroad because of volleyball and right now one of our students recently got a volleyball sponsorship to study in Botswana,” bragged the principal. The slum queens will represent Nairobi in the Regional competition to be held Makindu, as they hope of progressing to the Nationals. They are practicing every day in preparation. “Kwadhandhe School from Machakos is the best team in Kenya so far, and that is our class, we are ready for them” Makabwa finishes.
KPL Division 1 zone A
P 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TEAM K.R.A Bidco United Mahakama Nairobi Stima FC Talanta Ligi Ndogo Coast United Kibera Celtic Sparki Youth K.C Center Maweni City Brighter Stars P 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 W 9 6 5 4 4 4 3 2 3 3 3 2 D 2 3 5 5 5 4 3 5 1 1 0 2 L 0 2 1 2 2 3 5 4 7 7 8 7 PTS 29 21 20 17 17 16 12 11 10 10 9 8
KPL Division 1 zone B
P 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 TEAM Moyas Posta Rangers M.C Rangers Nakumatt Admiral Ad Police Kariobangi Sharks Green Berets West Ham United M. Kenya United Jericho Allstars Mumbi Nationale P 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 11 W 8 8 7 6 5 3 3 3 3 2 1 1 D 2 2 4 2 3 4 3 2 2 2 4 2 L 1 1 0 3 3 4 5 6 6 7 6 8 PTS 26 26 25 20 18 13 12 11 11 8 7 5
Kibra League under 11
P 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 TEAM Uweza C. Ambassadors GYFF K.S. Academy Tiger Stars Marren Kibera Egan More Fire Red Planet Brothers Magic 90 K.B Lions KIMMTA Timsales FC P 13 12 13 13 13 12 12 11 13 13 13 11 12 13 W 11 10 6 6 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 0 D 2 2 3 2 3 5 4 3 3 5 5 3 1 2 L 0 0 4 5 5 3 4 4 6 5 4 6 9 11 PTS 35 34 21 20 18 17 16 15 15 14 14 9 7 2
Zainab Alemu of Soweto Academy receives the ball during the teams practice. She has already been approached by the national team scouts for trials. Photo: Peter Ombedha
Fun and learning at third Summer Institute
By Godwin Oyindo
For the third year running the annual Summer Institute program at Kibera School for Girls is on. 15 volunteers from universities and colleges in the United States and youth from Kibera have been teaching and mentoring the students at Kibera School for Girls in the month long exercise. The teachers too are holding a workshop on literacy and science with teachers from Chapin School. “Summer institute is about us SHOFCO getting some international volunteers who are also students who have been to good schools in the US which means quality education to teach our students different skills and things which help develop their mental capacity in different areas,” said John Mark Mwangi the new country director of SHOFCO. The teachers are being trained on student handling skills and lesson planning. The Kibera School for Girls is one of the projects of Shining Hope for Communities.
The Ghetto Mirror, is a monthly newspaper published and distributed for free by Shining Hope For Communities as part of its programs aimed at empowering the youth through developing their media skills and also to bring attention to the issues affecting the residents of the informal settlements. All the work that goes into production of this newspaper is done by youth from the slums. Correspondence should be addressed to theghettomirror@ gmail.com. You can also visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ghettomirror for constant news updates, photos and videos . News and advertising: 0721689996.