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The East African : Oct 13th 2014
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK OCTOBER 11-17,2014 The residents are grateful that the flying toilets phenomenon reduced tremendously. “Most parents would not enrol their children in my school” said Eveline Kathere, a mother of two who runs the Little Angels PreUnit School located a few metres away from the KUUM Biocentre in Mukuru-Kaiyaba slum. Ms Kathere said that before the biocentre was put up, “flying toilets” would land outside the classrooms, making parents reluctant to register their children there. When the facility was put up, the school population rose from 50 to 102. Boiling bath water using gas The poor in slums have had to devise survival methods that often bring them in conflict with the authorities. Picture: Morgan Mbabazi SERVICE BEYOND SANITATION Aptly called bio-sanitation centres (or biocentres), the complexes are one-stop shops for a host of services and businesses: Money transfer, offices, residential rooms, halls for hire, libraries, computer labs, kitchens (where clients pay a fee to cook), and bio-digesters that convert human waste into biogas and chemical fertiliser. The complexes are found in in Mukuru-Kaiyaba and in Kibagare off the Nairobi-Nakuru road, Kibera, Korogocho, Mathare and other areas. mestic fire and damage to people’s possessions. Common man’s loud ‘No!’ The biocentre solution could be interpreted as a common-man’s loud “No!” to the pursuit, by the Kenya government, of a market approach to the provision of municipal services and officialdom’s lack of concern for the plight of the financially weaker members of society. This is largely to blame for one of the most pervasive challenges facing urban management in Africa and villages Students swept their school grounds. “It is not easy to change old habits,” Modi said and urged citizens to upload videos of their cleaning activities on the programme’s social media page. “If Indians can reach Mars with so little money, why can’t Indians clean their neighbourhoods?” Activists said the campaign will be suc- cessful if waste collectors are treated with dignity and the work is made less hazardous. “Waste collectors are not organised, their health problems are not even acknowledged,” said Bharati Chaturvedi, director of Chinan Environmental Research and Action Group, in New Delhi. “They pick up all kinds of trash with bare hands, and carry it home in their slums to separate it. Are we creating safe space for separation? What rights do they have?” — the exclusion of millions of poor people from land, municipal services and the benefits of urban planning, growth and development. “Indeed, 60 per cent of Nairobi residents live in informal settlements” said Omotto. “To get around this systemat- ic neglect, the poor have devised survival methods that more often than not, bring them into conflict with authorities and private land owners… (with) the latter accusing them of illegally squatting on land that does not belong to them and consequently using different methods — including violence — to evict them. “For too long a time, the people inhabiting these areas were forced to rely on water vendors who not only sold the water at high prices but were also quite unreliable.” Omotto explained that most slum residents had either to cope with the few filthy pit latrines available or to resort to “flying toilets” — essentially meaning defecating in a plastic bag and flinging it away over your wall — and the subsequent health risks that had become synonymous with life in the informal settlements. In many of the slums, the toilets are no longer flying. The residents now have a better, healthier option in the form of biocentres; with each meant to cater for residents living within a radius of 60 metres. from the bio-digester is the thing that Gilbert Kinyua is most happy about. The 28-year casual labourer who lives in Mukuru-Kaiyaba says that he is merely required to pay Ksh10 (US cents 11) to warm bathwater while earlier, he would buy water for Ksh5 (US cents 5.5) and use Ksh20 (US cents 22)-worth of paraffin to warm it. He says that warming water in the facility is far cheaper and faster than using charcoal or kerosene stove. However, some of the residents are unhappy that the facilities are closed after 10pm. “It would greatly help people with stomach upsets if those manning biocentres kept them open 24 hours,” says Jeremiah Achinga, a 27 year-old resident of Kaiyaba area. Not every group However, biocentres are not for every group. For groups to benefit, they must have shown a desire and effort to better their lot. For example, they must be registered with the Social Services Department, must have opened accounts with different banks. Most importantly, they must secure the land on which the biocentres are now built and provide labour for excavating the site on which the bio-digesters are constructed. Before they are given the man- date to run the facilities, the group’s officials are taken through a training in leadership, proposal writing, biocentre technology and business management skills as well as how to run the facilities transparently and in an accountable manner and how to promote hygiene in the settlements. “The training enabled us to budget and manage the project and to prepare financial reports,” said Ms Kariuki. Poo≥ planning cu≥se of u≥ban autho≥ities 37 A congested Kampala street. Picture: File By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican CITY AUTHORITIES in East Africa are grappling with the high costs required to provide social and physical infrastructure as development and population growth outstrip their planning capacity. This is the general assessment that urban development experts, city planners, mayors, development partners and civil society organisations made during the Future of Cities forum held in Kampala from October 1-3, under the theme “Making the case for regenerative urban development.” Deputy executive director at the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira said authorities have been slow in planning their cities. This comes as East African coun- tries are struggling to upgrade slum areas to improve people’s living conditions. Data from the UN-Habitat on the state of African cities 2014 shows that the population of the East Africa’s cities by 2040 is projected to be five times that of the estimated 78.7 million people in 2010. In Africa, the population of urban dwellers is projected to increase from 400 million in 2010 to 1.26 billion in 2050. In 1950, 30 per cent of the world’s population was urban, and by 2050, 66 per cent of the world’s projected nine billion people will be urban. This implies that East Africa will face huge challenges associated with massive urban population increase, monumental new and additional demands for the provision of adequate and affordable housing and urban services, and urban based income-generation opportunities. Paul Obura, WaterAid’s region- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sweeps a street at the launch of the Clean India Campaign on October 2. Picture: NYTNS al programme manager for East Africa, told The EastAfrican that water, sanitation and hygiene in the cities across the East African region remain a big challenge even after African governments agreed to increase investment in the sub- “All the countries committed to invest at least 5pc of their GDP in water and sanitation.” Paul Obura, WaterAid’s regional programme manager for East Africa sector, six years ago. “African countries made com- mitments in Durban, South Africa, to increase investment in water and sanitation. All the countries committed to invest at least five per cent of their gross domestic product in water and sanitation, but this has not been achieved,” Mr Obura said. Mr Obura said that only Rwanda has invested up to 2.5 per cent of its GDP whereas the rest of the East African countries invest less than 1 per cent on water, sanitation and hygiene. Mr Obura argued that $1 invest- ment in hygiene could save the EAC cities up to $4 million in other sectors that the economies would have lost either in time, health or insecurity. Senior urban consultant at the World Bank Prof Ortiz Castano Bernado said city authorities in East Africa risk paying nine times more for the provision of social and infrastructural services to city residents in future as population surges. Prof Ortiz said the authorities need their own planning model and not foreign ones that may not be easy to implement. Jennifer Musisi, the executive director of the Kampala Capital City Authority said they are planning to unveil a passenger train in collaboration with Rift Valley Railways and construct satellite cities through public private partnerships to reduce congestion in the capital. “We are also planning to intro- duce a minimum fee for those using cars as a way to reduce traffic jams,” she said, adding that the Authority plans to ring-fence some of the city roads specifically for pedestrians.
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Oct 20th 2014