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

The Star (Kenya) - - Big Read - CYN­THIA ILAKO @TheS­tarKenya

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

/ FILE

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.

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