by: September 4th, 2017 comments: 0

As part of the internship we are having at Map Kibera Trust under the YouthMappers programme, one of the activities that we were involved in was the Security Mapping project in the months of June and July.  The project was aimed at highlighting the areas of concern within the region owing to the fact that it was an electioneering period in the country, and there was a need to update the security map since the last time it was updated and used was during the 2013 elections. Some of the features that we were going to map were safe and unsafe areas, street lights, health centers and police posts within the area.

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Prior to the mapping exercise, we had a training session at our offices under the leadership of Zacharia Muindi, our Mapping coordinator and team leader. In the training we were trained on how to use the GPS in collecting data and other tools like the questionnaire and camera. We grouped in twos, with local volunteers who had adequate knowledge of Kibera. The training went on well and we had a few practicals before heading to the field, this was to ensure that the tools were working and everyone was on the same page.

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The mapping experience was interesting and challenging at the same time. The interesting bit of it included working with the locals and getting to know the vast expanse of Kibera, which was actually intriguing. We also noticed that some areas were unique and different in terms of development; areas like Nyayo Highrise and Fort Jesus had modern housing and well planned infrastructure. On the same note we also realized other areas that were still lagging behind in terms of development like Mashimoni and Lindi Ward. However, the mapping exercise was also challenging-moving around the area was physically demanding. Despite of the challenges we all managed to capture all the points (data) that we intended to collect.



From there we computed the data we collected using OSM editing tool Java script OpenStreetMap (JOSM) and uploading the data into OSM. What followed was designing of the Security Map and printing them out for distribution. The distribution exercise went on well and the maps were well received by most of our recipients such the D.C, AP inspector general, local NGOs that are working around peace initiatives in Kibera and the local community members. Through the interactions with the map and explanations from the team they were able to interpret the data very well and they acknowledged that the map is going of great help to the work that they are involved with.

This is a guest blog post by Peter Agenga and Phylister Mutinda, interns with Map Kibera from the Youth Mappers chapter of the University of Nairobi.

Map Kibera and The Sentinel Project launch “Una Hakika?” in Mathare and Kibera

by: May 10th, 2017 comments: 0

Misinformation and disinformation pose a challenge to development, governance, public health, and human security efforts around the world.

Una Hakika logo

Una Hakika logo

As communications technology has become more widely distributed in the developing world, the spread of inaccurate, incomplete or fabricated information is an increasingly significant threat to peace and stability, particularly in regions with limited access to reliable third-party media. Through the use of WikiRumours, a workflow and technology platform, it is possible to count the spread of false information ensuring transparency and early mitigation of conflict.

Map Kibera Trust together with The Sentinel Project have launched the “Una Hakika?” project (in Eng. “Are you sure?”) in two different informal settlements of Nairobi: Mathare and Kibera. Before, during and after the elective season, people can subscribe and report rumors anonymously through SMS free of charge at the number 40050. All the rumors are collected on the WikiRumors, prioritized and verified through a network of trained Community Ambassadors on the field and trusted sources, whether they are true, false or impossible to verify. Through the same platform, the verified information is then sent in a SMS to all the subscribers interested in that area, in order to avoid the beginning of possible violence and the spread of misinformation. Moreover, people can also report rumors calling for free the number 0800722959 or directly contacting the Community Ambassadors in their area. Intervention, when necessary, might be the last step of the process, aiming to involve community partners such as chiefs, elders, youth leaders and women’s representatives.

The Una Hakika workflow

The Una Hakika workflow

On the 8th March, celebrating the International Women’s Day, Map Kibera Trust in partnership with Mathare Peace Initiative and The Sentinel Project launched the “Una Hakika?” project in Mathare.

Joshua Ogure at the launch of the Una Hakika? project in Mathare

Joshua Ogure speaking at the launch of the Una Hakika? project in Mathare

The launch of Una Hakika? project in Mathare

The launch of Una Hakika? project in Mathare

On the 14th April, the project was launched also in Kibera by Map Kibera Trust in partnership with The Sentinel Project and Carolina for Kibera, promoting also Sports and Art initiatives for Peace. The launch saw different groups performing Art, coral verse and inter-ward football teams play at Undugu grounds Kibera.

Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

At Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Community Ambassadors and Map Kibera staff at the Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

Community Ambassadors and Map Kibera staff at the Una Hakika? launch event in Kibera

For more updating, follow the Facebook page of Una Hakika? Nairobi.

How slum communities came together to help prevent election violence

by: March 21st, 2013 comments: 0

Famed local grafitti artist Solo 7 at work

The power of self-representation

A few years ago, a not-so-well-known but immensely talented rapper in Kibera wrote the following lines:

“Hakuna camera ina-face hii valley of the dying stars
Siwezi rise and shine”

The artist was called Heddex. He was my favorite rapper. Here he was referring to the fact that he cannot ‘rise and shine’ for there are ‘no cameras pointing toward the valley of the dying stars.’ Heddex somehow stopped rapping, perhaps after convincing himself that he couldn’t make it as a rapper in this reality. Yet at the end of every five years when elections happen in Kenya, cameras of all shapes and sizes descend on Kibera, Mathare and other slums in Nairobi. They descend for a reason. The reason unfortunately is not to make the dying stars rise and shine.

Within hours or even days of their presence, these cameras summarize the lives of a people into sound-bytes and ‘speaking pictures’. They are especially known to seek moments of action, action being violence and other animal acts of human survival. While all this is happening, they do all the talking. Opinions of residents of these locations is never sought, unless for ornamental reasons. The first-person perspectives are not covered or reported perhaps for the same reason I was once dismissed in an interview with a foreign reporter, that “I am too emotionally close to the situation to be objective…”

It was beautiful in a way during the recent elections to see residents rise up in arms against this vulture-reporting style. Well, vultures only descend whenever there is something dying or dead. In different parts of Kenya, as well as on social media, people spoke angrily against such irresponsible reporting. In Kibera for instance, the media (mostly foreign press) were virtually sent packing at one point by angry residents. They had to come around flying in choppers and snapping away from the clouds.

KNN reporters on the scene

Forget the disappointment of these folks. They are in business and we are living our lives. This is why we have our own cameras, and our own filmmakers and our own media: We believe that we have the responsibility to share with Kenyans and the world what is happening in some of the most misunderstood, often mis-reported and largely marginalized places in the country – the urban slums of Nairobi. We strongly believe that people have a right to speak for themselves and to write their own stories. Ordinary citizen reporters empowered with mapping skills navigate their neighborhoods to bring news and stories of happenings within the slums. Many years of misreporting and negative media have brutally condemned the residents of Nairobi slums to second hand category of citizenry who cannot even speak for themselves. This situation has contributed to huge stigma that for a long time has destroyed the self-esteem of young people struggling to make it in these neighborhoods – self-esteem being the most valuable ingredient in any human being’s progress. This is why Map Kibera Trust was formed — to empower residents in places like Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru – 3 of the biggest slums in Nairobi — to engage in citizen mapping as well as citizen reporting in their own neighborhoods.

Preventing violence works from the ground up

It is likely that many NGOs, agencies and individuals will – or may already have started talking about how they prevented violence. The truth is that most organizations had shut down operations in the slums days before the general elections. Many people had stocked a lot of food stuff and purchases for fear that shops would close. Many shops actually closed and prices hiked overnight in the few shops that remained open. The streets were mostly patrolled by a few residents and community leaders as well as uniformed policemen and intelligence personnel who were mostly in plain clothes. In this rather challenging situation, some organizations however could not pull out or shut down operations in these locations mainly because their beneficiaries, members and staff lived there, besides, they had set out in the first place to be there; open and operational at the worst possible moments, to help these communities go through the election period safe and if possible with a positive outlook and optimism.

Public debate for parliamentary candidates in Kibera organized by Hotsun Foundation on 22nd Feb 2013

While a few organizations suspended their projects in the slums during the period, a few home-grown organizations regularly sat in meetings to discuss how to join hands in preparing for and tackling extraordinary eventualities. KCODA, Pamoja FM, Map Kibera, Kamukunji Pressure Group, CREAW, the Langata District Peace Committee, Community Policing groups and the office of the District Commissioner joined efforts to create a network called the Kibera Civic Watch Consortium, a body that would respond to and coordinate the community’s efforts to maintain peace and provide interventions where possible. Hotsun Foundation even managed to bring together a host of parliamentary candidates to the first parliamentary debate in Kibra ahead of the elections, which I moderated. Influential opinion leaders held meetings with the police officials and candidates. Ahead of the elections, these local efforts even invited the Commissioner of Police himself to Kibera and Mathare slums to speak at the public security meetings.

The Police Commissioner attends a public security meeting at Kamukunji grounds Kibera on the 2nd March 2013

Map Kibera: The role we played

For the 2013 elections we had created election specific maps for Kibera and Mathare locations marking all the polling stations and ward boundaries and providing background information about each one. These maps were intended to help the different actors to understand the complex slum dynamics and even provide information on access to various points of interest. Ahead of the elections, we distributed these maps to several organizations including the police and security organs. (The first thing you will see inside the District Commissioner’s office in Kibera is the first and the latest Kibra constituency elections map made by Map Kibera Trust). In the constituency office of the District Committee there is our latest security map on the wall which the committee used regularly in monitoring security during the elections period. And as one drives or walks into Kibera through Kibera Drive, they will see a large wall-painting of the security map. This wall painting captures the attention of hundreds of residents and visitors daily. Another wall painting of the security map is at Darajani junction at Makina in Kibera. Next to these wall paintings of the maps, is the SMS number used for citizen reporting during the elections period.

The background information on each polling station includes information on the nearest service providers, particularly the security and health service providers. Besides distributing the maps to the these important entities, we made presentations to them on the interpretation of the map, a overview especially of the security situation based on the security map. As well, we had partnered with several service providers who were on standby to act on any information. Most importantly we stationed our trained citizen reporters in each polling station to be relaying SMS news to our verification team to be verified and approved before being posted on our Voice of Kibera and Voice of Mathare websites.

The Map Kibera verification team dealt with every information that came in, calling back and forth to establish the facts and figures about every report sent in. Our video teams rushed to scenes, most of which were not known or easily accessed by the mainstream or foreign press to capture instant news which they edited and uploaded on Youtube. Members also took photos and posted them to our blogs and Facebook group. In this verification process, the team succeeded in dismissing several false alarms, wrong information and propaganda for violence. In addition and in response, security organs and emergency service providers enhanced their presence in these areas highly reducing chances of violence. In one instance, when many reports were sent about youth gathering around in groups in one area of Kibera, after several phone calls with the security organs, the Police Commissioner authorized a chopper to fly around conducting a security check, the crowds soon dispersed and calm returned.

Kibera residents awaiting election results

In Mathare, there was a tense moment at St Teresa’s tallying centre when a candidate attempted to reject the results. This situation was inflamed by some people who claimed that violence had broken out and who were sending text messages around. We quickly checked this information working with our reporters on site and finally dismissed these claims as sensational and not worth raising an alarm.

Intense is what I would call the activities of Map Kibera teams on the Election Day. At the end of it, we were glad that due to the joint effort of close to 50 election monitors and citizen reporters in the project locations, our effort likely contributed to the suppression of violence and prevention of escalating election conflicts. We did not switch to our Plan B (Emergency) or Plan C (Crisis and humanitarian intervention) plans. Particularly our partnership with the Uchaguzi project and Ushahidi ensured that our teams had a great complementary workspace at the iHub, which helped our team members have a easy time and counter the technical hitches with ease. In turn we contributed reports coming into our sites back to Uchaguzi and helped instantly verify any of their reports coming from the slums. We worked together sometimes till a late as 1 am verifying reports and monitoring trends of the elections.

But to say this does not mean that we are celebrating. The job is not yet done, we still have to work throughout the tense political period to enhance awareness and to prevent violent conflict in the slums of Nairobi. Whatever the future brings, we will not put down our tools until we see a completely peaceful transition, and we have vowed to wash out the demeaning tag of ‘post election violence hotspots’ in the city’s slums. May be one day some talented kid would smile and say “Kuna cameras zina-face hii mountain of the great stars, tunaweza rise and shine.”

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