Kenya SDI Affiliate Reports on the World Urban Forum

**Cross-posted from the MuST Kenya blog** 

By Irene Karanja, MuST Kenya

The World Urban Forum was established by the United Nations to examine one of the most pressing problems facing the world today: rapid urbanization and its impact on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

In the space of a few short years, the Forum has turned into the world’s premier conference on cities. Since the first meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in 2002, the Forum has grown in size and stature as it travelled to Barcelona in 2004, Vancouver 2006, Nanjing in 2008 and Rio de Janeiro in 2010.

The Forum is one of the most open and inclusive gatherings of its kind on the international stage. It brings together government leaders, ministers, mayors, diplomats, members of national, regional and international associations of local governments, non-governmental and community organizations, professionals, academics, grassroots women’s organizations, youth and slum dwellers groups as partners working for better cities.

Muungano wa Wanavijiji and Muungano Support Trust in the World urban forum in Naples

Increasing population and rapid urbanization in Africa pose a serious threat of depletion, pollution and degradation of freshwater supplies, especially in the fragile environments of high density areas which are already slowing down development in water-scarce countries in this region. As a result of this scenario, a comprehensive insight into this was warranted and the topic of discussion was floated as:

I.       Human Right to Safe Drinking Water & Sanitation, Germany: “Building Sanitation for Equitable Future Cities: Community-Driven Approaches from across the SDI Network”

The key note speakers included:

  • Jockin Arputham (President of SDI),
  • Celine de’Cruz (SDI Coordinator, India),
  • Irene Karanja (Muungano Support Trust /SDI, Kenya),
  • Pauline Manguru (Muungano wa Wanavijiji/ SDI, Kenya) and
  • Virigina Roaf (UN Special Rapporteur).

Kenyan SDI, federation Member, Pauline stresses a point

During this event SDI’s message is that the existing deficit in sanitation reflects a serious deficit in governance at the city level, as water and sanitation are some of the most obvious amenities that link citizens to their government. In this event, Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) in collaboration with the UN Rapporteur for the Right to Sanitation will present community-driven approaches to address the serious deficiencies in sanitation in slums across Africa and Asia.  In addition, the Rapporteur will share the challenges of stigma faced by various groups within the context of sanitation.

A section of the audience pitch questions to the panelists.

In Kenya, Muungano wa Wanavijiji through the support NGO, MuST has been undertaking community led planning which seeks to leverage city investments on infrastructure to the community managed sewer and water connections.

Following a successful networking event at the World Urban Forum, key points which arose included the following;

  • Plan early, plan ahead, plan big and leave plenty of public spaces; this allows for future infrastructure as needed;
  • Plan for future population growth – assume a doubling of the population;
  • Plan constantly; planning should be going on even while urban          improvement programmes are underway;
  • Carry out sanitation, water and hygiene (WASH) planning in close collaboration with urban and land use planners – not in isolation. This is essential to ensure that WASH investments are appropriate to the future development plans of each city area and will therefore not be wasted;
  • Coordinate WASH planning with energy sector plans as water services are heavily dependent on a reliable energy supplies;
  • Integrate water and sanitation planning with flood protection planning to achieve more resilient, city wide systems;
  • Have a clear vision of full service coverage and commit to achieving it;
  • Segment cities into zones with different characteristics of income levels, topography, housing density, water supply, and access to sewerage. Build up service development plans and wider urban development plans to suit each area;
  • Develop specific plans for low income areas, as these are likely to be distinct from those in higher income areas. Use innovative models (such as the micro-water systems in Lagos) and test their viability. Where appropriate, cross-subsidise low income users with revenues from higher income users; make specific plans for city wide faecal sludge management, including the full sanitation value chain;
  • Use the planning process as a means of convening stakeholders and building collaboration between Ministries, departments and ensuring the participation of non-government stakeholders.
  • Especially in cities with scare water resources, maximise supply by developing all sources of water possible, including where possible: rain water, groundwater, surface water, recycled water and desalination. On the demand side, make every effort to reduce non-revenue water as this is like to deliver a very high return on investment; implement campaigns to reduce consumption;
  • Support local governments to perform their key role in urban sanitation, as they have many other responsibilities such as health, education and transport. Help the different departments of local government to plan in an integrated way to ensure a properly coordinated urban development;
  • Demonstrate political leadership, as this is needed to ensure that effective and participatory planning is achieved – it will not happen without this;
  • Make use of one of the planning tools available, such as IWA’s Sanitation 21 city wide sanitation planning framework.

 II.    UNDP Side event: Sustainable Urban Governance, Engagement with Informal Dwellers for Inclusive Urban Governance

The participation and civic engagement are key avenues to better governance. Governance addresses pertinent issues of social equity and political legitimacy, which in most cases is misconstrued to mean efficient management of infrastructure and services.

Unfortunately most cities grapple with issues of transparency and accountability to its people. Overtime this has grown into poverty traps thus putting millions of people in socio-economic bondage.

From Left to Right :Hon. Daniel Chisenga (Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia) , Joyce Lungu (Federation Leader, Zambia), Paul Manyala (Ministry of Lands, Kenya)
and Pauline Manguru (Muungano Federation leader/ Kenya),

Speakers at this forum included;

  • Pauline Manguru (Muungano Federation leader/ Kenya),
  • Joyce Lungu (Federation Leader, Zambia),
  • Hon. Daniel Chisenga (Mayor of Lusaka, Zambia) and
  • Paul Manyala (Ministry of Lands, Kenya)

In hopes of establishing a harmonized governance process in which informal dwellers are included as participants in urban development and governance rather than ignored due to their often characterized “illegal” status, this side-event focuses on building a relationship between these slum dwellers and urban managers of urban centres. The event will convene representatives of government at all levels; technical city managers; representatives of informal urban dwellers; civil society; and academics to discuss alternative forms and processes for urban managers and other actors to engage informal dwellers in responding to slum development as a governance issue.

Closure of the World Urban Forum 2012

The President of the UN-Habitat Governing Council Mr. Albert Inzengiumba appealed to political leaders to pay more than lip service if the urban future was to be a reality. The president, who is also Rwanda’s Minister for Housing was optimistic that achieving the urban future.

In his address, UNEP Executive Director Dr. Achim Steiner said his organization was committed to working with UN-Habitat to achieve sustainable urbanization. “Issues of ustainable urbanization, lessening poverty and such related issues can only be tackled jointly and not in isolation,” he said.

Dr. Kirabo appealed to the delegates to go back to their respective countries and reinvigorate the National Forums saying they were the best avenues for addressing urbanization issues.


Statement Issued Following Fire in Mukuru Sinai

Slum areas along the Mukuru Pipeline

Slum areas located along the Mukuru pipeline. 

For the last week we have been reporting on the events following last Monday’s explosion at Mukuru Sinai, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, where the Kenyan Federation has a strong presence. The stories coming from mainstream media have blamed everyone from the State to the slum dwellers to the Kenyan support NGO, arguing that had the slum dwellers been relocated from the area surrounding the pipeline, such a tragedy could have been avoided. This past week, the the Kenyan Pipeline Company Ltd. (KPC) went so far as to say that the Kenyan support NGO is to blame for stopping the aforementioned relocations. Affiliates in Kenya, however, have described a different reality: that the pipeline’s overflow channel drains directly into a river, a river which joins the river home to last Monday’s explosion on Sinai slum. In addition, maps presented by the Kenyan SDI alliance locate the explosion quite far from the pipeline itself, calling into question the extent to which relocations would have prevented such a tragedy at all. Getting to the truth with regard to such a tragedy is key, particularly in determining what happens from here.  And while SDI and the Kenyan Alliance surely advocate for safe and secure homes for the urban poor, we are at the same time dedicated to monitoring the situation in order to ensure that evictions do not take place in the guise of helping the urban poor.

A statement issued by The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing in Nairobi voices the position clearly: 

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing has been working with the Government of Kenya in facilitating discussions around relocation of informal settlements from possible danger zones. A major result of such efforts is the Railway Relocation Action Plan (RAP) that now covers Mukuru and Kibera.

We believe in the urban poor’s right to adequate housing safe environment as provided for in section 43 of the constitution.

We also believe in the responsibility of the state in ensuring realization and protection of these rights as provided for in section 21 of the constitution.

In view of the above, we would like to affirm the position that residents of Sinai, just like all other Kenyans, are entitled to enjoyment of these rights.

It is the onus of the state to put in place measures that essentially ensure that the right to housing for all Kenyans is safeguarded. The fire tragedy in Mukuru Sinai puts in question the state’s commitment to these principles, especially in relation to service delivery to residents of informal settlements.

Subsequent action and utterances by state agencies now leads us to believe that there are plans to evict these residents, as well as residents from other settlements perceived to be in danger zones from their homes.

We would like to categorically state that any eviction exercise should be preceded by a comprehensive resettlement strategy that should not leave the residents in a worse off state than they were before the tragedy.

It is also our position that residents of Mukuru Sinai should be compensated. This stems from the fact that the state failed in its mandate to protect its citizens’ right to housing in a safe environment when it allowed Kenya Pipeline to discharge hazardous materials through channels that cross through densely populated areas.

It is our view that the basis of such discussions is the fact that there was indeed a petroleum spill at the Kenya Pipeline facilities. Initial statements by Kenya Pipeline’s Managing Director are an admission of this fact.

We further submit that this fuel made its way to Mukuru via a series of wastewater drains that cross through much of Industrial Area. In fact, the epicentre of the tragedy was at a point where the drain terminates into an open channel that drains into the Ngong River. It was not envisaged at any time, that any real danger to residents of Mukuru would originate from these drainage channels.

We appreciate previous attempts at relocating residents of Mukuru that were made between 2004 and 2010. But it should also be noted that this only affected residents who settled on a small section of the pipeline. These residents received a resettlement facilitation allowance ranging between 6,000 ksh and 10,000 ksh and Kenya Pipeline has since reclaimed the area in question.

A visit to the scene confirms the fact that, the main pipeline is actually some 400 meters from the disaster area and none of the burnt structures actually sits on the Kenya Pipeline reserve.

While building on top of a fuel pipeline is indeed dangerous and should be discouraged, discharging fuel through storm water drains pose equal or even far greater danger.

In light of the above, we are proposing the following measures in response to the situation.

Short-term measures: 

    • We are calling for Kenya Pipeline Company to take responsibility and immediately open discussions around possible compensation.
    • We would like for the government to put in place mechanisms that allow for reconstruction efforts. Such mechanisms should ensure uninhibited access to basic rights such as safe water and sanitation services.

Mid term measures: 

    • In the medium term, we are calling for discussions around development of upgrading options for the area.
    • If there is need for evictions, these should be in line with the eviction guidelines as contained in Sessional paper no. 9 of 2010.

Long-term measures:

    • In the long term, we are calling for development of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and response system. This should take into account the intricate nature of informal settlements, particularly those in perceived danger zones.
    • Along the same lines, we are also calling for greater involvement of slum dwellers in initiatives that seek to improve quality of life within their settlements. 

In conclusion, The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations on Housing, would once again like to express its heartfelt condolences to all those who were affected by this tragedy. We would like to strongly urge the Kenya Pipeline Corporation to take responsibility and to look into compensation for those affected. We would like the Government of Kenya to put in place mechanisms that allow for reconstruction efforts as a matter of priority.