A Woman’s Perspective on Community Mapping

by: August 9th, 2011 comments: 1

Today (9/8/2011) I was in the company of community members from Tandale, Dar es Salaam to help them undertake mapping of their own community and also talk about community media.  To be in Tandale, Tanzania was exciting but being with follow women was even more exciting. When starting the discussion about the importance of mapping, it occurred to me the issues which women were relating directly consumed a lot of time.

When I asked one of the women what she would liked to be mapped in her area, she said, toilets and water points. Reasons, she said in Swahili “wakati wa mvua, jamii yangu (Mukunduge,one of the 6 sub-wards) ni kawaida mafuriko na maji machafu kuwa kila mahali” (when it rains, my community (Mukunduge) is usually flooded with dirty water everywhere).  She believes by having a map, she can be able to talk confidently and convincingly with the municipal council about flooding problem in her community.

I have been in Dar es Salaam in Tandale and Sinza areas. One can witness the dominance of men in many cyber cafes. There is higher usage or percent in these cyber cafés.

Also some women were happy to learn that they will be trained on how to use video cameras  to tell their own community stories which will be put in the internet and read worldwide . I am happy that we have been able to identify both women and men who will be trained on the use of global positioning system (GPS) and how to download data into the computer.

Lucy  Fondo

New Media in Mathare

by: May 2nd, 2011 comments: 1

Digital storytelling and new media can be a powerful catalysts for change. In areas where access to internet is limited for most people, introducing new media as an effective means to communicate issues can be a challenge.

Young people in Mathare own mobile phones and have a facebook and email accounts, however the majority of Mathare residents do not use new media or online means to share information. As highlighted in this video Information Sharing by young Mathare residents, word of mouth is still the most powerful medium for information sharing in Mathare.

“Tell me a story, and I will tell you mine. Word of mouth has so much power to make and build a nation”

The team acknowledged these challenges but thought it worth while to experiment with new media in Mathare, as had been done in Kibera. The new media training programme in Mathare was built based on the experience of the Map Kibera team in designing and developing a web-based information sharing site.  The information sharing site for Kibera utilizes the Ushahidi platform for ‘crowdsourcing’ information. In this instance, crowdsourcing refers to providing a channel for information from the general public to be published openly on the internet. The site, Voice of Kibera, aggregates information channeled through short messaging system (SMS) messages and web based submissions and displays report on events, activities, news and other information about Kibera. The site also aggregates content from other sources on the web, including video and news reports. Despite the challenge of internet access, the team behind Voice of Kibera believes the site is an important channel for highlighting issues from Kibera. The team is actively engaged in improving the impact of the site and are excited about its growth.

A similar site initially called “Voice of Mathare” was set up for the Mathare programme. The site was meant to be a means through which Mathare residents participating in the training could highlight issues and information generated by the people of Mathare. While the technical issues were being sorted out for the Voice of Mathare site, the Mathare project coordinator and some of the participants from the other programmes took an interest blogging that was being done by others in the Map Mathare organizing team.

Through a number of discussions, the Mathare participants decided to set up a blog of their own. The Mathare Valley Blog was a thus a spin-off of the Map Mathare work.

The Mathare Valley Blog has become a central site where stories, news and videos generated by the Mathare participants are collected and shared. The blogging team meets of their own initiative and has kept up the momentum for the blog. They actively brainstorm ideas and making changes to the layout and format of the blog. The Map Mathare team provides some technical support to the bloggers and the site continues to run as an effective digital storytelling platform.

Currently the Mathare Valley Blog has 61 blog posts contributed by six different bloggers from Mathare .  Five of the six bloggers are under the age of 25 and have written a blog post for the first time on the Mathare Valley Blog.

Over the past four months (January – April) the blog has been viewed 4,466 times and has six subscribers, plus many other online followers. One Plan USA staff member who runs a blog on ICT and development picked up activity on the Mathare Valley blog and wrote her own post “Mathare Valley is blogging.”

Success stories

The blog has attracted considerable attention within and outside Nairobi and Kenya. There have been numerous success stories that have resulted from the blog. The first is a result of this story, entitled “Attempted rape by a neighbor”. Simon, the author, followed up on the blog post and wrote about the girl’s attempt to contact the authorities in this post. After reading these two posts, a human rights activist from Nairobi contacted Simon and was put in touch with the young girl from the story. The activist then accompanied the girl to the police station to follow up on her case and assure a report was properly filed and acted upon.

The second success story was sparked by this blog post about Mr. Ndeti from Mathare who speaks fluent German and has started teaching German to interested students. The blog post was forwarded to the Goethe Institute in Nairobi. A staff member from the Goethe institute read the story, took an interest in Mr. Ndeti’s work and was put in touch with the teacher. Through this interaction, the Institute donated books and material to support the initiative started by Mr. Ndeti in Mathare.

One of the young bloggers (and videographers) has attracted the attention of an international newspaper published by the Rebel Film Board. The newspaper was impressed by his writing and has offered to publish a version of his post on “The Vice of Violence in Mathare” in their publication, which circulates in print in Toronto and Mathare.

In a short time, the blog has proven an extremely effective platform for young residents from Mathare to highlight their stories. The blog facilitates online – and more importantly – offline dialogue and action on issues of importance to the residence of Mathare. The Mathare Valley Blog is most importantly an initiative of Mathare residents themselves.

To provide the participants with some ideas about other options in terms of new media, some basic training on the use of the Ushahidi Voice of Mathare platform was provided to some of the Map Mathare project participants. The Voice of Kibera team conducted a number of hands-on trainings with 8-10 Mathare participants. The participants were interested in the platform and learning from the experience of the Voice of Kibera members, but did not take-up the software as we saw in Kibera. We therefore agreed to provide technical support for the blogging platform as a central online information focal point for the Map Mathare initiative. We were careful not to impose the original ideas of New Media in Mathare and have adhered to the original methodology agreed upon by the team with support from Plan Kenya and CCS. This was a community driven approach from which the technical and coordination team “leads from behind”. We are and continue to be flexible when it comes to programming in Mathare.

Second phase of Water and Sanitation Mapping – Intermediary analysis

by: April 29th, 2011 comments: 0

The second phase of Water and Sanitation mapping is over and with it the pilot in Mathare, which lasted for 4 months. You can read all about the events and the processes leading up to this point on our previous blog entries. I will call this an intermediary analysis because the work is by no means over, but we’re at a good stopping point to reflect and set the way forward.

Here’s the data we collected regarding toilets, water points and open defecation areas, and what it tells us (these numbers reflect the data which we collected during our pilot):


  • We collected 144 points of interest where toilets are located in the whole of Mathare. These points have 373 individual units attached to them. These are mostly publicly accessible points, meaning we only took points which are public and, for example, didn’t walk into people’s homes.
  • Most of these toilets are privately owned, with 50% of the toilets having known ownership. The other 50% are owned by different organizations, government, etc. and are considered public.
  • The majority, 50%, of the toilets with known type are Asian Style, followed by 26% pit latrines, and 11% hanging toilets. The rest are trench and English toilets.
  • Most of the toilets are located in the public within the communities; this is because we collected mostly public toilets in the first place. I’m happy to say that 90% of collected toilets are operational.
  • Most toilets are connected to sewage (60%), and have available piped water (54%), and are usually cleaned, either by the operator (38%) or the caretaker (33%). Many toilets have almost non-existent hand washing accessories (37%) and non-existent towel bins (0,7%).

Couple of visualizations of the upper data displayed on maps:

Distribution of toilets in Mathare and customers

Toilets with sanitary towel bins

Toilet connection

Water points

  • We collected 167 water points.
  • 60% of these water points are privately owned. As with toilets, the rest are owned by different organizations, government etc. and are considered public.
  • Most of these water points are piped or tap water (75%), while others are water tanks.
  • As with toilets, most of the water points are located in the public within the communities.
  • 98% of collected water points are operational and have connection to water pipes.

A visualization of the upper data displayed on a map:

Type of water points

Open defecation areas

Open defecation areas cover 16144 m2 of Mathare (3 km2) and their placements vary throughout the slum.  They are mostly located in the areas where there are majority corrugated iron sheet houses, which usually don’t contain toilets.

Open Defecation Areas

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