Experiences in youth-led slum mapping

by: January 30th, 2012 comments: 0

In 2010, Map Kibera was awarded a Youth Fund grant from Unhabitat. With the many developments in the Map Kibera project, the

Mildred and Mukuru residents with hand-drawn village boundraies (photo credit: Primoz Kovacic)

Youth Fund grant was delayed until mid-2011. Some of the other initiatives the team was working on included the establishment of the local agency Map Kibera Trust, with support from the Africa Technology and Transparency Initiative and the expansion to work (led by Map Kibera Trust ) to Mathare and Kwale.

Map Kibera Trust received the Unhabitat youth fund grant in order to expand its work to other parts of Nairobi. Given the existing ties with Mukuru (an informal settlement in Nairobi’s industrial area) and the demand for training from young people who had been introduced to mapping in 2009 and 2010, the mappers decided to implement the youth fund grant in Mukuru.

The Unhabitat youth fund grant is designed to support organizations led by young people in developing countries. The grant involves a component of skills development; young people from selected organizations are trained in project management, documentation and budgeting. The young people then put their newly acquired skills into action throughout the project lifecycle.

Primoz and I have been supporting the mappers in Kibera, however we believe the best way to learn is through experience. And so in order to see them develop the new skills, we have taken a step back and supported the project mainly through some limited technical assistance. The field work and documentation has been led by Mildred Anekeya, the mapper coordinator (herself a young mapper from Kibera) and Vincent Mutuku and Moses Wahor, young mappers from Mukuru.

Below is a question and answer from Mildred, Vincent and Moses that documents their experiences in mapping Mukuru during the first half of the youth fund grant cycle.  Their insights are important to those undertaking similar projects in similar contexts. These answers were submitted to Unhabaitat as part of a mid-term report.

What is the progress you have made [in mapping Mukuru]?

First of all we held two successful community forums, in Mukuru kwa Reuben and Mukuru Kayaba, which sensitized the community on the importance of mapping before we launched it. Finally we will hold other forums to confirm the mapping that we have done to the community.

We were been able to cover all five villages of Mukuru which are Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Rueben, Mukuru Lungalunga, Sinai and Mukuru kayaba. We were able to train 24 trainees in data collection which involved usage of GPS gadgets, downloading the data, editing and uploading it which involved gaining of computer knowledge. We had problems like getting approval from the local authorities but we had to convince on what to implement on the ground and later they had to approve us. We also faced minor problems from the participants which are commitment towards the training and some were demanding allowance for their time, but after giving them the importance of the training they had to commit themselves fully. Insecurity was also one the problems but we had to find ways to curb it, and this was to work the residents from the same village.

What problems have you encountered during the first phase of the project?

At first we encountered problems from the administration, allowances of the trainees they were not ready to work without being paid, insecurity especially in Mukuru Kayaba and lack of commitment from the trainees especially Mukuru Kayaba where initially we had about 12 trainees and they all left remaining with 4. The obstacles that we faced in technical issues were: too few computers which led to extension of the timeframe and also it took time for the participants to catch up with what we were teaching them. Less internet modems which lead to limited internet access.

How did you overcome these problems?

Coordinators from Mukuru had to talk to the administration concerning the project and convince them for approval. They also coordinated and made the availability of the trainee to training centre. They ensured security was intact and organized for the venues. This made the mapping process run smoothly despite the challenges. Concerning technical issues we had to make use of what we had at hand and the administration of the  Map Kibera Trust made sure that we full credits for the modems and the computers were available each time we needed them.

What project activities are planned for the next 6 months?

Drawing of boundaries of the villages and their zones, drawing of paths and tracks, drawing the industries and also showing how they are close to residential areas which can be used to explain some of the risks that people in slums are prawn to, like in the case of Sinai tragedy.

Finalizing on the mapping process and ensuring that the trainees are able to comprehend what we taught them.

Making follow up on all the stakeholders that would be interested in using the final maps in their work groups such as Administration, Youth, women groups, trainees, Community based and Faith based organizations.

To understand the spread of development in every particular village and also make conclusion on how the developments could be enhanced.

Any other comments?

The mapping exercise is a very unique method of bringing out problems in informal settlements; hence it should be enhanced to cover all the slums in Kenya. The trainees will need to have ongoing exercises less they forget what they learned, this can be improved by having substations in Mukuru.

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