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From Kibera slums to ‘Canaan’ -slum-upgrading programme

KENYA: From  Kibera slums to ‘Canaan’


NAIROBI, 18 September 2009 (IRIN) – At least 1,300 slum dwellers from Kibera – Nairobi’s largest informal urban settlement – have been moved to new blocks of flats under a slum-upgrading programme.

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“I can’t believe I have left Kibera for good! My new home is so clean, we have a toilet inside the house; it is a dream come true,” Pius Okello, 46, father of six, said.

Okello, who had lived in Kibera’s Soweto East zone for 10 years, was one of those who moved on 16 September. The government provided trucks and workers to help the residents settle into their new homes, which they have dubbed `Canaan’, the Promised Land.

Kibera is one of the largest informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UN-HABITAT, estimates of its population range from 500,000 to 800,000, with densities of over 3,000 people per hectare – one of the most densely populated informal settlements in the world.

The monthly rent for a room in the new flats, about a kilometre from Kibera, is Ksh 500 (US$7) and tenants pay an additional Ksh300 ($4) for electricity and Ksh200 ($2.5) for water. The kitchen, toilet and bathrooms are shared but if a family takes three rooms, they get exclusive use of these facilities.

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“I took three rooms because I have six children and I take care of four other children of my dead brother when schools close; at least now my wife and I have our privacy and the children have a bedroom for the first time,” Okello said.

“The only problem is that I feel that water and electricity charges are high because they are charged per room; I should be charged a single fee for the whole house.”

The ongoing $300,000 Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) was mooted in 2000, and jointly funded by the government, HABITAT and the World Bank Cities Alliance.



Targeted intervention

Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister and member of parliament for Langata, in which Kibera falls, participated in moving the slum dwellers to their new homes.

“Absence of decent housing means abundance of other problems,” he said in an address to the residents. “Today, we take the first step towards meeting the basic needs and rights of slum dwellers and saying No to slum related problems. This is an initial step towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”

Nairobi has some of the most dense, unsanitary and insecure slums in the world, according to HABITAT, with almost half of the city’s population living in over 100 slums and squatter settlements.

“The objective of the programme is to improve the overall livelihoods of people living and working in slums through targeted interventions to address shelter, infrastructure services, land tenure and employment issues, as well as the impact of HIV/AIDS in slum settlements,” according to HABITAT. 







Wednesday May 6, 2009



Prime Minister Raila Odinga (right) is baptised by Pastor David Owuor in Nairobi on Monday.


Pastor David Owuor comes across as one of the more colourful and esoteric voices in Kenya’s growing legion of fire-and-brimstone evangelical preachers.
His long dreadlocked beard lends him instant recognition, but there can be nothing that more vividly marks his acceptance into the mainstream than his new standing as the preacher who baptised Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
Having made a career out of constant predictions of earthquakes, Pastor Owuor now has the keys to the corridors of power where his prescriptions to avert doomsday might find sympathetic ears.
Repentance day
Indeed soon after immersing Mr Odinga in water, the preacher announced he would be convening a meeting between himself, the PM and President Kibaki to plan a national day of repentance.
Mr Odinga concurred: “Very soon, the President and I are going to announce the specific date on national repentance in which I will ask all people to observe a day of repentance in seeking God’s intervention and direction,” he said.
It would indeed be a major feat if Pastor Owuor becomes the main preacher on such an occasion, usually the preserve of the Catholic, Anglican, Islamic, Presbyterian and other mainstream denominations.
Pastor Owuor first came to the limelight with his October 2005 predictions of an earthquake that would bring down Nairobi’s tallest buildings. It did not come to pass.
Still, the pastor has not been discouraged from regular prophesies. He also has not been shy to seize upon events, like the earth tremors in 2007, as proof that his prophecies are accurate.
On Monday evening, Pastor Owuor dipped the PM into the water of a swimming pool at a residence on Riverside Drive, Nairobi, and was catapulted to the national limelight.
His future predictions will not be so easy to dismiss henceforth, if he is seen to have the devoted followers amongst the high and mighty.
Followers of his Holiness and Repentance Ministries began trooping into the home at around 11am.
The women wore long dresses and scarves that covered the hair. In the crowd were a few Asian women in saris. The men were in suits and ties and soon, the choir began belting out Gospel tunes as a pianist ran his fingers over an electronic keyboard.
The baptism ceremony was set to begin at 2pm. A tent was set up behind the house, just next to the pool, and decorated with blue and white ribbons and balloons. The pool was a glittering clean, and the breeze formed ripples on the water.
After sodas and cakes, the congregation settled to wait for the PM as journalists began to arrive. It turned out to be a long wait and a few hours later, at 5.35pm, the PM’s motorcade entered the compound.
The ceremony was fulfilment of a promise more than a month earlier, on March 28, when the PM showed up at one of Pastor Owuor’s huge rallies in Nakuru and declared that he was born-again.
On arrival, Mr Odinga greeted the congregation and then went into a private meeting with Pastor Owuor, to emerge having changed from the dark business suit he wore earlier at his meeting with President Kibaki, into a spotless white ankle-length tunic ready for baptism.
Prayers and sermons and a reading from the book of Matthew on the baptism of Jesus Christ by John at the River Jordan followed.
The PM was then led into the pool and to raptures of the congregation, and was baptised by immersion into water. Later, he was presented with a Bible.
Mr Odinga said the decision was made in the context of the ills now facing Kenya, key among them the incessant political infighting.
Source-The Nation

Rent defaulters evicted by force



More than 2000 families were rendered homeless after police enforced an eviction notice at Makongeni estate in Nairobi.
The residents, who have had differences with the Kenya Railways Staff Retirement Benefits Scheme, had allegedly not paid rent amounting to millions of shillings.
Police moved in early Monday morning to evict them but met resistance.
A scuffle ensued and the residents engaged the police in a cat and mouse game. They overpowered the police who retreated and sought reinforcement.
Hours later, Administration Police and the General Service unit (GSU) arrived to effect the eviction.
Some youths moved to Jogoo Road and started pelting motorists with stones when the police moved in.
One man was shot and injured on the leg while two others received minor injuries.
They were later taken to nearby hospitals. The railway scheme loses 16 million a month and collects 2 million from tenants.
The money is used to pay 10,000 pensioners who were retired early last year.
Residents called for revision of the rates. They wanted pay Sh2500 instead of Sh3500 a month. The houses are expected to generate Sh16 Million a month.
Disgruntled tenants in the company of their councillor, Mr George Aluadwa, said the police were fighting residents yet they had agree to pay subsidised rates.
Source-The Standard

Makongeni residents engaging police in a day long battle on Monday.
Properties belonging to some of the Makongeni residents who were evicted from their houses are taken away.
A lady ponders her next move after she was evicted from her house in Makongeni during an eviction exercise for rent defaulters.

KENYA: Tens of thousands facing acute food shortage

12 August 2008


Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Tens of thousands of people are facing food scarcity in Kenya’s north Rift


Tens of thousands of people are facing food scarcity in the areas of Baringo and East Pokot in Kenya’s north Rift, a humanitarian official said.

“There is an acute food shortage and the situation has been rated as alarming,” Anthony Mwangi, public relations manager with the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), said.

At least 64,000 people were affected in East Pokot and another 32,000 in Baringo.

Mwangi said the food scarcity was attributed to poor rainfall and drought, which had led to crop failure. High food prices had exacerbated the situation.

In addition, prolonged drought was contributing to environmental degradation, he said.

Absenteeism in schools had also been reported, with at least 5 percent of children missing school. “They are staying behind to support their parents,” he said.

Livestock health has been affected due to a lack of pasture and water. The two areas have a large pastoralist population.

“The livestock are in poor condition and are fetching low prices in the markets,” said Mwangi. Milk production had also fallen.

He said some of the affected population was feeding on wild fruits and rodents to cope with the food shortage.

The worst-affected areas include the localities of Sacho, Margat, Makutani, Tenges, Koloo, Tangul bei and Nginyang.

The KRCS has launched relief food aid distribution targeting at least 68,000 people in the affected areas. So far, the KRCS had distributed 1,246 tonnes of assorted food stuff, including 1,152 tonnes of cereal, Mwangi said.

Film of Zimbabwe ‘vote-rigging’

“New evidence of vote-rigging in last month’s presidential election in Zimbabwe has emerged in the form of a secret film made by a prison guard. The guard, Shepherd Yuda, filmed the vote-rigging at his jail in a production for Guardian Films.

Prison officers, including Mr Yuda, who has now fled Zimbabwe, were forced to vote for President Robert Mugabe by superior officers. The officers organised a postal ballot and stood over them as they cast votes.

Mr Yuda decided to speak out after the murder of his uncle, an opposition activist, two months ago. He knew he and his family would have to leave Zimbabwe as a result.

“This election: I have never seen that type of violence,” he says in the film. “The impact has left a lot of orphans; it has left a lot of people displaced. You cannot expect that from your government.”

He secretly filmed a war veteran, Superintendent Shambira, watching as prison officers voted. Supt Shambira ensured they marked their ballots for Robert Mugabe, and not the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai. Supt Shambira then logged each vote against an identification number. There was no secrecy.

All those voting knew Supt Shambira had the power to condemn them as MDC supporters. Mr Yuda says he had no choice but to vote for Robert Mugabe. Mr Yuda also spoke to voters on the streets of Harare.

“They’re standing right in front of you when you cast your vote,” one voter told Mr Yuda. “They watch.” The voter went on: “Shambira definitely sees you vote – there’s no way of hiding it. I was thinking I could vote when he wasn’t looking, but he was watching like a hawk.”

Among the prisoners is Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition MP and human-rights lawyer. Mr Yuda filmed him having his leg-irons removed for a court hearing. Mr Biti, who is awaiting trial on treason charges, was released on bail, but could still face execution.

“You know, I was so touched: for a man of his status to be reduced to such levels, to be put in a criminal institution,” Mr Yuda says in the film. “It’s very, very sad.”

Mr Yuda also captured conversations between prison guards in the run-up to the 27 June run-off election, as tension was increasing.

“In my area, there’s a lot of tension,” one guard tells him. “Zanu-PF (ruling party) thugs came to my house as soon as I left for work today. They abducted my wife. They took her to the base.”

These “bases” are springing up in private houses all over Harare. Previously they were a feature of rural Zimbabwe; now they have reached the capital. Ordinary people are abducted and compelled to attend Zanu-PF re-education rallies.

“I am forced to go and guard these bases all through the night, after my shift here,” another prison officer says. “They cordon off the whole street: it becomes a no-go area. These people are killers, the thugs that Zanu-PF are using.”

And another guard says the rest of the world should do more to help Zimbabwe.

“It’s in the hands of the international community now,” he says. “[South African President] Thabo Mbeki has betrayed us. He didn’t want to come down hard on Mugabe. Instead, he kept going on and on about pan-Africanism.”

On election day itself, Mr Yuda films a woman who is so fearful that she has pretended to have voted. She colours her little finger with a pink marker, hoping to simulate the ink used to identify those who have already cast their ballots.

The day after Robert Mugabe’s election, Shepherd Yuda and his family began packing, preparing to leave Zimbabwe. Their lives would have been in danger if they had stayed. They can only begin to think about returning once Mr Mugabe has gone.”



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