WATER TOWER, AERIAL PIPING SYSTEM SPARE KIBERA RESIDENTS DAILY TREK
The initiative’s mandate to provide cheap, self-sustaining water sources in the community will ease the plight of women and children, who are forced to travel an average of 16 minutes a day to the nearest water kiosk — precious time the children could spe
Amidst the largest informal settlement in Africa riddled with dry mud and mabati shacks, open sewers sifting through man-made pathways that pass for roads and home to a large population of Nairobi’s urban poor, we find a little blue oasis.
The Shining Hope for Community Foundation, based in the Gatwekera region of Kibera with its radiant blue buildings a 100,000-litre water tower at its core, comes off as the area’s beacon of hope.
The NGO, co-founded by Kennedy Odede and his wife Jessica Poisner Odede, has fostered tremendous community change and development since its inception in 2004.
Shofco set out its clean water initiative in 2012, a project to be unveiled in phases that aims to supply the whole of the Kibera slum with clean, cheap, accessible water over seven to 10 years.
To kick-start the initiative, Shofco partnered with Newman’s Own Foundation, who provided the 100,000 litre water tank that could serve up to 4,200 individuals.
This was then followed by the aerial piping system and building of 10 water kiosks across the region, designed and supported through partnership with the Pentair Foundation, serving 42,000 residents.
Shofco’s latest exploits, a partnership with Safaricom, will double this impact to reach a whopping 84,000 individuals with the addition of 10 more water kiosks.
The aerial piping system is the first of its kind in an urban slum, conceptualised as an alternative to the complicated and costly hurdle of water distribution across the informal settlement.
“More than two-thirds of the world population lives in cities. The resulting social instability, risk to critical infrastructure, potential water crises and the potential of devastating spread of diseases are a reality. Kibera and other informal settlements in Nairobi are not an exception,” Shofco founder Kennedy Odede said.
The initiative’s mandate to provide cheap, self-sustaining water sources in the community will ease the plight of women and children in the region, whereby they are forced to travel an average of 16 minutes a day to the nearest water shop — precious time that could be spent learning or doing homework for the children as the women find a way to set food on the table.
DISRUPTING THE POVERTY CYCLE
Shofco aims to combat hardships in slums by establishing initiatives that uplift the community.
A robust healthcare centre offering free medical services to the community, has a record of 600 patients per day and is dedicated to improving the livelihood of Gatwekera residents. The centre, which specially focuses on providing maternal care to women, encompasses a fully equipped dispensary providing people with medication.
In a bid to increase healthcare accessibility, Shofco has three satellite clinics set up in various other locations in the slum. The non-profit organisation also has a gender development centre, where gender violence victims are counselled and provided with relief and medical assistance.
An economic development centre in the premises offers adult education, where community members are equipped with skills, such as beading, cooking and teaching, that they can use to improve their futures. Through this, the organisation has provided employment for 376 people so far.
Most of these are women, who are involved in cooking, cleaning and management of the Shofco centre.
The organisation’s crown jewel is the Kibera School for Girls, offering free education to young girls. This initiative does not end at the primary level, as students are sent to secondary school on scholarship to further their education.
“We have already sent some of the girls to form one and will support them until they complete secondary education. I am not sure, but if we can, we will take them even to colleges and university,” head teacher Veronica Audi said. She is one of the NGO’s largest beneficiaries.
To tackle Kibera’s flying toilets and improve sanitation and cleanliness, 10 toilets have been set up in each village. The organisation ensures its environs are clean by engaging members of the community to tidy up their surroundings, allocating duties to the people and increasing awareness through sanitation education.
THE PARADOX OF HOPE AND DESPAIR
Kibera is globally recognised as the largest slum in Africa. It is plagued with poor sanitation and drainage systems, making it highly susceptible to water-borne diseases.
During his speech, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore likened the loss of children resulting from water-borne disease to a jumbo jet full of babies crashing every four hours. Concurrently, the region is the biggest entrepreneurial space.
During his speech, Collymore urged the company heads in attendance to step up in sponsoring the project.
“We hope to have other partnerships like this with the people here today,” Jessica said.
TWENTY SHILLINGS AND A FOOTBALL
Odede has lived in Kibera all his life. At 15, while his age mates joined gangs and abused drugs, he read a book by Martin Luther King Jr and decided that he wanted change for his community. With Sh20 he bought a football, and years later, he is making a difference in his community. “I knew I had to do something when I saw my friend about to die,” Odede said. Despite a number of NGOs operating in Kibera, the area is still significantly challenged in terms of poverty,
KIBERA IS GLOBALLY KNOWN AS THE LARGEST SLUM IN AFRICA. IT IS PLAGUED WITH POOR SANITATION AND DRAINAGE SYSTEMS, MAKING IT HIGHLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO WATER-BORNE DISEASES.
sanitation and drainage.
The government launched water ATMs last year to provide cheap, clean water to slum residents in Nairobi, with four currently working in Mathare.
Odede believes the collaborative efforts between communities and the private sector are key to solving societal challenges.
“I see hope for this community. Gone are the days of saying ‘serikali saidia mimi’. With support from companies, we can do it on our own,” he said.
‘I SEE HOPE FOR THIS COMMUNITY. GONE ARE THE DAYS OF SAYING “SERIKALI SAIDIA MIMI”. WITH SUPPORT FROM CORPORATE SPONSORS WE CAN DO IT ON OUR OWN.” — SHOFCO FOUNDER KENNEDY ODEDE
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore (C) commissions Kenya’s first overhead water piping system in Kibera, as Shofco founders Jessica and Kennedy Odede and other Safaricom officials look on.