The Toi Fire Agony

by: April 30th, 2019 comments: 0

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It was on the dawn of 12th March, around 3 am, that Kibera residents woke up to the news that one of the largest markets in Nairobi, Kibera’s Toi market, was on fire.

Most of the traders come from a bit far from the market and so they could not rescue a lot of their goods and ended up losing almost all their properties to the fire.

Those who live in the neighboring villages came together to try and put out the fire using any means they could, including having to literally walk with water buckets to and from the sources of water.  One Ramsha Dee Maunda even posted a picture of himself with fire injuries after spending time trying to help put off the fire.

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There was heavy presence of the General Service Unit of The Police guarding the market that morning and no one, not even the traders, were allowed to access the market and there was  no explanation given for that, many people were left guessing what the reason for that could be.

Relief came when the former Prime Minister came to speak to the affected traders and, together with the County Government of Nairobi, stepped in and offered iron sheets to help in rebuilding the structures and also help in restructuring their business lives all over again.

According to the traders we interviewed, the iron sheets, worth five million, were still not enough aid to help them restart their businesses again, and most of them turned to money lending institutions to be able to rise again from the ashes and make things work for them.

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The market is so far taking back its former shape and glory and very soon, according to most traders, things will be fully back to normal.

“We are only requesting the customers to come back because the market is now operational,” summarizes Mr. Fredrick Mutinda, trader at Toi Market.

The Plight of Schools Demolished in Kibera

by: November 9th, 2018 comments: 0

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

Open Schools Kenya: Kangemi

by: October 31st, 2018 comments: 2

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Open Schools Kenya is a great initiative that seeks to make data about schools available and meaningful to the public and stakeholders in the education sector through mapping. The idea initially started in Kibera and the rigorous mapping exercise saw slightly over 300 schools mapped in the region. What has followed ever since has been a success story. The mapping of schools has made it easier for parents to make informed choices when sending their children to school. The mapping of schools has also made it easier for the relevant authorities to know about and follow up with schools and contact them without having to hustle for their contact details like before.

Moving forward, Map Kibera was first in line to assist in the implementation of the same idea of mapping of schools in Kangemi with the generous support of Indigo Trust. Map Kibera offered training to participants from Kangemi to map their local schools, with support from many including the MP of Westlands Constituency, Hon.Timothy Wanyonyi, Evans Onchiri, the APBET (Alternative Provision of Basic Education) Coordinator for Kangemi, and the District Education Officer Julius Mburu.

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DSC_0002We had a total of twelve mappers with seven of them being locals from the region, and the rest from the Map Kibera team. Lead mapper from Kangemi was Sharon Adhiambo, who had previously worked with Map Kibera on trainings while a member of Youth Mappers at Moi University. The selected wards were Kangemi, Kitusuru, Mountain View, and Parklands. The training started on Thursday 13th of September and we proceeded to the next day taking the trainees through OpenStreetMap, Open Data Kit (ODK) and Java OpenStreetMap (JOSM).

DSC_0406The mapping exercise commenced on Monday 17th September and each of the 6 teams was allocated a specific area to cover. The field work proceeded quite well and the mappers were well received in most of the schools they visited. The entire mapping exercise took a total of fourteen working days and despite the challenging task the mappers managed to cover all the schools in the designated wards. My team specifically mapped the highest number of schools since the schools were concentrated in the area.  

With the support of the community and leaders,  this exercise has already covered more than 250 schools which are now on OpenStreetMap, and will soon be added to the Open Schools Kenya website. Please check back for more updates soon!