The Plight of Schools Demolished in Kibera

by: November 9th, 2018 comments: 0

Road demolition

 

2018 is a year that most of Kibera residents would really like to forget. In the last 6 months, the residents of Kibera have been waking up to the sounds of bulldozers in their neighbourhood- not for purposes of evading traffic along Lang’ata road or Ngong Road. This time they had come with one purpose, to bring down structures which most of them had called home. To some, it was their business which ensured that they had something on the table at the end of the day. And to others these structures served as schools where their children went to learn and get the necessary knowledge that would prepare them for the market place and change their lives forever.

A Map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera.

A map designed by Zack Wambua showing the effects of the demolitions of schools in Kibera (click image to expand).

The demolitions in Kibera affected 4 schools that were located near the railway line around 42 area and 10 more schools were affected when structures were demolished to pave way for the construction of Kibera Link road (the road meant to link Ngong road and Lang’ata road to ease traffic on Ngong road).

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

Demolition of structures that are along the railway line at 42

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC's place.

A bulldozer brings down structures around the DC’s place.

After all these incidents Map Kibera team went back to the field to track the schools that were affected and update their current location on the Open Schools Kenya website. On our way, we stopped at Babylon Day Care to talk to the school head (who also happens to own the school) to find out if she knows where some of the demolished schools might have moved to. In between our conversation, we learnt that one of her other schools had also been demolished. Her face was filled with grief and sadness as she explained to us how she was forced to take some of her students to the nearest schools because she had nowhere to take them. We asked if she intends to reopen her school again and she told us she doesn’t see the need to and if she gets that chance again she will only do that in her rural place. After our short talk she shared with us the contacts of another school called Damside Preparatory that was affected and told us that the principal of that school would be in a position to tell us where the other schools relocated to.

 

Field work 1

In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

In some area we had find a way through the muddy footpaths to find the schools

I quickly saved the number on my phone and proceeded to where we had been directed. When we got there, we were met with a vast empty land and the remains of what used to be people’s homes and schools. I called the school head and after a brief introduction he told me to go to where the school used to be as he was already there. We went through the rubble and after few miles we saw a group of people standing together. When we got to where they were we quickly introduced ourselves. The school head introduced the team that he was with, which comprised of class 8 candidates and two parents. The school head reminded us that the place where we were standing on is where their school used to stand and they were meeting there to finalize on their preparations for the forthcoming national exams. We were curious to find out where the students will sit for their exams now that the school had been demolished.

“The government offered space for the students in one of the nearby public school and so that is where they will do their exams,” said the school head.

“So what is next for the school? Have you found a place to move to?” we asked.

“Yes we got a place, we bought land somewhere close to Kiserian and that is where we have moved to,” said the school head. He went on to say, “So far we have been able to construct 2 classrooms and a dormitory. The plan is to have the school operate as a boarding school.”

“But that’s too far from Kibera, what happens to your students who live in Kibera?”

“I agree that’s far and the move has proved to be a challenge to some of our students since majority of them were needy and so they cannot afford all the requirements to be in a boarding school. We would have loved to move closer but where in Kibera can we move to? We all know how hard it is to get land let alone to get a title deed.”

The School head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The School Head of Damside narrating their ordeal

The school head went ahead to recount how they had incurred a lot of losses as a result of the demolition. He had just acquired the code to make his school an exam centre, a process that had cost him 100,000 KSH. In addition, he had just finished building a laboratory earlier this year that also cost him a large sum of money.

Afterwards, the school head agreed to an impromptu interview with members of our media team, Kibera News Network, who had accompanied us (check out their video here!). He also asked us to interview one of the parents and a student so that they can share their side of the story.

The school head later told us where the other schools moved to. One moved to a nearby SDA church, another pitched tent in a nearby health dispensary and the other one moved somewhere along Karanja road.

Field work 2

After saying goodbye, we left to find those schools and pick the coordinates of their new location. On our way we couldn’t help but think of what some schools have had to endure as a result of the demolitions. Some have been left counting

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

Sam picking coordinates of where one of the schools moved to.

losses, some have been forced to shut down. Others have had to partition some of the rooms to accommodate the number of students. Parents had to go through the hustle of looking for a new school and the most affected group is the students that have to walk a long distance to their new school and at the same time adapt to the new environment. I can’t imagine what could be going through the minds of class 8 and form 4 candidates. How are they supposed to compete with students from other schools considering what they have been through? While other students were in classes reading, students from the affected schools were busy trying to salvage what they could from the rubbles of what used to be their classroom. While other students are reading their books, students from these schools lost all their books during the demolition. The few books that they could salvage would have to be shared amongst themselves which means that they don’t get a chance to carry the books home with them to read.

We will continue to follow up with the schools, and update their information and locations on Open Schools Kenya.

Mapping Counties with Participatory Budgeting

by: July 17th, 2018 comments: 0

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Kenya’s devolution process and constitutional reforms of 2010 means that Kenya’s counties, of which there are now 47, are directly responsible for a much greater amount of their local development. Some counties have integrated citizen participation in planning by embarking on an intensive annual participatory budgeting process, with support from the World Bank. But, in order to allow communities to directly plan and budget for development, counties realized that they needed better information about existing projects and features, best represented geographically. Many times, participatory budgeting (PB) groups were relying on memory or on hand-drawn paper maps of existing terrain and features in order to determine where they should place new water points, health centers, and other key new projects.

To help fill this gap, Map Kibera Trust, along with GroundTruth Initiative, have begun to work with two pilot counties, Makueni and Baringo, to create participatory digital maps with both citizen and county government mappers. Makueni has already been mapped in two pilot wards, including collecting feedback on county development project status and quality. Please see the maps here.

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The base map data is, of course, gathered on OpenStreetMap – including various key features such as roads, shops, landmarks, schools, as well as the PB projects themselves. However, the mappers also collect project feedback information using Open Data Kit (ODK) and store it separately. The digital maps are then created using MapBox tools to combine them together. While mapping, participants mark whether the project is completed or not, whether it’s in good shape or poor, and add a sentence about the project’s quality or impact. We intend for this aspect to be updated regularly in preparation for the annual budgeting meetings, so that citizens can get a sense of how their intended projects are faring. Therefore, the map also allows  those who take part in the budgeting process to see the extent to which the county is doing what they had intended. Each PB meeting will receive a printed map, so as not to have to rely on digital maps in locations with very little internet connectivity or even electricity.

Mobile data collection using ODK

Mobile data collection using ODK in Mbooni ward, Makueni.

Check out this great video showing the mapping in Mbooni ward of Makueni county, also illustrating the challenges of working across rural terrain. By engaging young residents of each locale, we hope to spread participatory mapping throughout Kenya, county by county.

Citizens and Government Map Makueni County

by: May 30th, 2018 comments: 0

By Peter Agenga and Lucy Fondo

The month of April was bound to be a busy month for the Map Kibera team since we were to conduct a training and mapping exercise in Makueni County. This was in support of the Public Participatory Budgeting program, which is a program in several counties in Kenya allowing citizens to determine collaboratively the spending of a portion of the county’s development budget. Because communities decide on needs and priorities themselves, there was a need for up-to-date maps that could show them existing resources and assist with planning. As well, the counties were in need of maps to show exactly where those projects they had funded were located, and their condition and status.

Supported by the World Bank and facilitated by the Makueni County Government, the task at hand was to train the participants in creating maps with the use of various tools for data collection and editing like ODK (Open Data Kit) which is a mobile phone based application, GPS, OpenStreetMap (OSM), Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM) — all of which are very familiar to the team from Map Kibera.

Joshua Ogure introducing the team to the work of of Map Kibera Trust

Joshua Ogure introducing the team to the work of Map Kibera Trust

On the first day of the assignment 16th April, we were all gathered at Acacia Hotel for the commencement of the training exercise for the participants in the entire mapping exercise. The number of the trainees was around twenty-six and gave us the impression that they were the most capable and devoted persons who were ready to learn and contribute towards achieving the project’s goals. They included Senior County Officials from the Finance and Planning Departments, the county Monitoring and Evaluation team, Interns from the various departments of the County Government, and village administrators.
The training started on a good note and Joshua Owino took the responsibility of introducing the Map Kibera Team by showcasing our various successful mapping projects like Open Schools Kenya. From the looks of the audience it was clear that mapping was a new and exciting venture in as far as data management is in the picture. The feedback from the trainees also gave us the notion that they were able to understand the diversity of map data and how the exercise would greatly contribute not only in highlighting the county projects but also the long-term aspect especially in assessments of other programs within the county.

Mr. Eliud Ngila Munya Chief Officer, Planning. Makueni County on the front left following the training keenly

Mr. Eliud Ngila Munya Chief Officer, Planning. Makueni County on the front left following the training keenly

Zack Wambua from Map Kibera introducing the team to mapping using OpenStreetMap

Zack Wambua from Map Kibera introducing the team to mapping using OpenStreetMap

With the training in motion, the first week saw the trainees learn about OpenStreetMap, JOSM, the GPS and ODK. The training also involved thorough practical sessions in data collection using the GPS and ODK followed by an editing exercise with the use of JOSM and OSM just to affirm that the trainees were well equipped in using the tools.

Some of the trainees having a short mapping exercise within the training venue

Some of the trainees having a short mapping exercise with assistance from Peter of Map Kibera on the far right within the training venue

 

The team editing points they collected from the small mapping exercise

The team editing points they collected from the small mapping exercise

The first week objectives were fully achieved despite a few hitches especially with the internet connectivity. We tried to relocate to Kusyombunguo Hotel with the hope of accessing better internet service, but this was in vain. However we all managed to continue with our work with the weak internet signal and surprisingly a few trainees took the opportunity to use their own phones in availing the internet for all to access and complete the online tasks especially while working with OpenStreetMap’s ID editor which is an online editing platform.

The long awaited day finally arrived and the field mapping exercise started on the second week 22nd April which was a Monday. Our greatest fear was that the weather would interfere with the week’s program, but all was in place and we were well prepared to adjust our program in the case of heavy rains. The participants were divided into eight groups and assigned areas (villages) to cover in the mapping exercise. We also had to join some of the teams at intervals just to monitor their progress and give them moral support as we shared our field work experiences from previous mapping exercises.

Nziu sub-ward on the far right drawing a route map for the team she was in charge of

Nziu sub-ward admin on the far right drawing a route map for the team she was in charge of


Sam one of the interns from the County office collecting a point using GPS

Sam one of the interns from the County office collecting a point using GPS

As predicted, the following day saw heavy rainfall hinder our mapping exercise and we had to gather at Acacia Hotel to work on the edits of the data that was collected on the previous day. This was also followed by a lengthy session of reviewing the previous day’s work. A few changes had to be made in order to enhance our work, for example clarification of some areas/villages and features to avoid the teams overlapping and duplication of work. The participants were also urged to proceed with caution since the heavy rains wreaked havoc in some areas.

One of the team crossing a river in order to access points that are on the other side

One of the teams crossing a river in order to access points that are on the other side

The remaining days were fruitful as the participants had proven that they were thorough in the field exercise and they were also able to edit the data with minimal supervision from the Map Kibera team. However, some of them were not prepared physically for the mapping exercise and we could hear them complaining about exhaustion and muscle cramps. The terrain of the area was also a factor, especially for the team that covered Nziu area which was mountainous and full of streams that they had to cross eventually. All in all the mapping exercise was quite involving and productive as expected, and it is only through such experiences that people appreciate the work that Map Kibera does in availing data to the public and other interested parties through maps.

After the successful work in Wote ward, Map Kibera proceeded to Mbooni Ward to conduct another training to community members/volunteers, despite the work being delayed for two weeks due to the heavy rains as well as the county’s commitment to other activities. The exercise was part of the larger mapping that was in line with the PB program, with the two wards Wote and Mbooni being the target areas for the pilot. The team from Mbooni was comprised of seven youth residents of the ward — three young women and three young men and their leader who was also the sub-ward administrator for Mbooni ward.

To facilitate the exercise, six members from the previous mapping exercise in Wote ward joined their counterparts in Mbooni. The added personnel would be key in covering more ground and hastening the field exercise that was scheduled to start on Friday 18th May on the same week. With everything in place, the training went on well on the first day and the team of seven from Mbooni ward were quick to grasp the exercise as shown by their time keeping and response to the short data collection exercise they conducted that afternoon.

The second day of the training was on Thursday 17th May, and the day started with one of the most annoying challenges common in Africa and that was a blackout. Most of the training equipment rely heavily on power and a blackout would be a huge drawback to the exercise. Because of the fact that there was no back up for electricity, the training session became a lecture conducted by the team leader Zachariah while two laptops with full battery were used for demonstration and practice. The trainees were also forced to be attentive for the two hours of learning about JavaScript OpenStreetMap (JOSM). This was followed by an editing session of the data they had collected on the previous day’s short mapping exercise.

We managed to conquer the challenges faced on the second day of training and the team from Mbooni had a chance to prove that they had leant something from the two days of training. The big day had finally arrived and six teams comprising of both participants from Wote and Mbooni wards were assigned different villages to cover. This mapping exercise was able to benefit from learnings from the previous exercise in Wote, with an emphasis on the allocation of villages to avoid the possibility of overlapping and teams mapping the same features. This was made simple by the ward and village administrators who were thorough in their coordination efforts, and they also went further to alert the authorities and village elders who would offer more assistance to the mappers on the ground. The day came to a successful end. An extra day was added in order to allow for more time for the mapping exercise to be completed.

Elizabeth(in white), Kyuu/Nzeveni sub-ward and the current acting Mbooni Ward admin, assiting the team in the field to locate the points.

Elizabeth (in white), Kyuu/Nzeveni sub-ward and the current acting Mbooni Ward admin, assisting the team in the field to locate the points.

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Mbooni is a hilly place that is riddled with hardship and it appears dry and surprisingly cold even during the day. The team from Mbooni were well aware of this and were it not for their wardrobe advice then the rest of us would be toast. On Monday 21st all the teams met at the sub-ward administrator’s office prior to the mapping exercise. We had a short recap session and the teams were sent out to complete the remaining areas. We also came to realize that Mbooni is well endowed with natural resources and beautiful scenes that would distract you in the field. The presence of more than five dams, rivers as well streams was a clear indication of the bounty resources in the area. Another thing worth noting were the planted forests in the place, for harvesting wood.

One of the team mapping an earth dam

One of the team mapping an earth dam

 

 

Ruth, one of the trainees, taking a photo of a point.

Ruth, one of the trainees taking a photo of a point.

 

Mobile data collection using ODK

Mobile data collection using ODK

The mapping exercise came to an end on Tuesday 22nd, with all the teams having exhausted all the features that had to be mapped in the area. After the intensive three day field work, the teams were ordered to meet at Kusyombunguo Hotel on the following day for data editing. The editing session at Kusyombunguo Hotel went smoothly with minimal intervention from the Map Kibera team since the team from Wote and Mbooni joined forces in editing their work. At this point they were all well conversant on using JOSM. This was also a great time to reflect on the their experiences during the mapping exercise with most of them citing the treacherous routes they would take in order to reach areas that were inaccessible by both vehicles and motorcycles. Funny enough, the team from Mbooni never really complained about physical exhaustion unlike the rest of us, maybe we had not faced half of what they usually face on a daily basis.

The end of the editing exercise was marked by a group photo shoot and we bid each other goodbye.

Group photo of the team from Mbooni and Wote

Group photo of the team from Mbooni and Wote

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