A sanitation overview – the significance of CLTS in India

Images of Open Defecation

India’s population accounts for approximately 1/7th of the world’s population. The Government of India has the immense challenge of governing and providing services for over 1.2 billion people.  As we were touching down in Mumbai last week (14th March 2012), and the infamous smell of the city hit our noses, I was reminded of the enormity of the task of governance and service provision for 1/7th of the world. The fact that Rose, Susan and I were in India to learn about the implementation of CLTS in the urban context of Nanded City, meant that we were acutely aware of the relationship between what we were smelling and sanitation service provision in cities in India.

Striking figures: toilets vs mobile phones

The day before our arrival (March 13, 2012), the Census Commissioner of India released census data that reported that 49.8% of the Indian population (about 600 million people!) practice open defecation. This was in stark contrast with the statistic that an estimated 68% of Indians (about 800 million people) own mobile phones – demonstrating that financial barriers were not the major problem, but rather prioritization of investments at household level. However, as one participant pointed out, these statistics need to be understood in terms of livelihoods. Mobile phones are now not only used for personal communication, but have become essential for conducting business, as well as maintaining professional networks in India (and indeed this is a global trend).  Toilets and sanitation, at first glance, do not have the same significance for livelihood (although sanitation does of course have a direct impact on one’s livelihood in terms of health status and ability to work). Given this situation, any social movement that is geared towards improving sanitation would do well to integrate a mobile component, for communication, coordination, monitoring and advocacy.

CLTS in the urban context

So far, CLTS has been implemented primarily in rural areas. The belief has been – even amongst CLTS practitioners – that urban sanitation is far too complicated and not conducive for the strict zero- subsidy approach.  The first attempt to adapt and implement CLTS methodology in an urban area was in the city of Kalyani in West Bengal (near Kolkata, within the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority) in India in 2008-2009. The second was in Mathare, village number 10 – an informal area of approximately 20,000 people in Nairobi, Kenya. The third is now Nanded City, with a population of 500,000 people located in Maharashtra State. Due to the sheer scale of the problem of open defecation, the CLTS approach is particularly important in India.

We had been invited by the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation to share experience from Mathare at a sharing and learning workshop on urban CLTS. Kalyani was also represented by the ex-mayor of Kalyani, Dr. Shantanu Jha, a visionary leader and pioneer of urban CLTS.  Hearing about

Government housing for the urban poor

the work in Kalyani and Nanded was indeed inspiring. Kalyani was the first city in India to be declared open defecation free in 2008. After receiving word, the State Government of Kolkata took an interest, and in January 2009 also declared it officially ODF. However, the Indian government has not adopted CLTS as an official policy and as such has no framework for assessing ODF status. Instead, the Indian government is implementing mainly subsidy-focused development projects, such as Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) which provides low-cost, upgraded housing options for urban populations in informal settlements.

At the time of the urban CLTS work in Kalyani, the then mayor refused funds to build toilets and when he could not refuse BSUP funds, used them to reward those communities who had adopted CLTS and were working towards becoming ODF, once they had made significant progress. In an external evaluation, the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation programme (WSP) pinpointed good governance as a key element in the success of urban CLTS in Kalyani. It is important to note that Kalyani is also a smaller, less densely populated city (approximately 100,000 people) and does not have many of the larger urban informal settlements that we are familiar with in Nairobi. It is a planned city with well laid out infrastructure. These three elements – good governance, relatively sparse population and planning – make it uniquely well-suited for urban CLTS implementation.

The Nanded case is also a story of a charismatic leader, Dr. Nipun Vinayak the Municipal Commissioner for Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation. Rather than being an elected official (as in the case of the Kalyani mayor) Nipun is an appointed officer of the local government, allocating and managing the budget for local development. Nipun has long been a champion of CLTS, and brought this with him when he was appointed to the Nanded Corporation about a year and a half ago. As part of his work in facilitating a city sanitation plan – together with the mayor and other local elected leaders (called Corporators – the equivalent of Councillors in Nairobi) – he invited two NGOs with experience in rural CLTS to lead the process of urban CLTS in Nanded who then facilitated urban CLTS pilots in several locations around the city. They had successes and challenges and over several months began to scale up the work in 28 different areas of the city.

Upgraded water treatment facility in Nanded

The urban CLTS work is taking place alongside several large-scale urban development works. Nanded is a holy site for the Sikh community – as the location where the last Sikh Guru made his final ascent. It is a major site for tourism and religious pilgrimage, and funding has been made available to support the development of the area’s tourism, expand roads, upgrade the water treatment facilities and improve sewage treatment in the city. This poses a challenge but also an opportunity for urban CLTS and Nanded would do well to learn from the lessons of Kalyani, where urban CLTS was successfully implemented alongside several large-scale infrastructure projects, such as BSUP.

Monitoring the urban CLTS process

At the workshop I shared my experience as a facilitator for monitoring and evaluation of urban CLTS, using digital technology. I have a keen interest in the CLTS process, the lessons that can be drawn from ‘triggering’ (as applied to different fields), and internal monitoring and external evaluation of CLTS. When integrated with well-established participatory approaches, new technology can be used to evaluate the resources required (eg through baselines surveys), to effectively communicate the sanitation situation and the need for investment in this area and to monitor the progress toward ODF. Work on CLTS has continually highlighted the need for improved monitoring and evaluation – and the proliferation of mobile phones represents an opportunity for citizens to become involved in monitoring the sanitation status of their cities. Of course, the political will also has to be strong to ensure that information is received and acted upon by the relevant authorities.

Sanitation and governance

In light of the scale of the sanitation crisis in India – 600 million open defecators – the approach of government subsidized toilets will fall short. Dr. Shantanu Jha posed the questions: is construction of toilets for 600 million people possible by the government? How? By when? Can the government address this by providing free and subsidized toilets? Despite lessons from elsewhere that have shown this approach to be ineffective, it is still favoured by governments worldwide, including the Government of India.

However change is indeed taking place; CLTS has been implemented in over 51 countries worldwide and as many as 15 governments have adopted CLTS as their national strategy for sanitation. CLTS provides an alternative, relatively low-cost approach but it requires courage and innovation. As Nipun put it: “Like they say, there’s nothing good about democracy except that its alternatives are worse. In the same way, CLTS is not the best approach, but it is better than anything else we know of.” We will look to Nanded over the coming months, to learn how they take this social movement forward and hope the ‘commandos’ and local government take up the call to “leave no one behind” in the improvement of the sanitation situation in the city.

This post was prepared for and originally posted on the CLTS blog.

Mapping a school near Ukunda, Kwale County

Creating information is easy. Through mobile phones, GPS devices, computers (and countless other gadgets) we are all leaving our digital footprints on the world (and the World Wide Web). Through the open data movement, we can begin to access more and more information on the health and wellbeing of the societies in which we live. We can create a myriad of information and display it using open source software such as Ushahidi, OpenStreetMap, WordPress, and countless other online platforms. But what is the value of this digital information? And what impact can it have on the world?

Youth Empowerment Through Arts and Media (YETAM) is project of Plan International which aims to create information that encourage positive transformation in communities. The project recognizes young people as important change agents who, despite their energy and ability to learn, are often marginalized and denied opportunities.  Within the YETAM project, Plan Kenya works with young people in Kwale County (on the Coast of Kenya) to inspire constructive action through arts and media – two important channels for engaging and motivating young people.

Information in Kwale County

Kwale County is considered by Plan International to be a “hardship” area. Despite the presence of 5-star resorts, a private airport and high-end tourist destinations on Diani beach, the local communities in Kwale County lack access to basic services such as schools, health facilities and economic opportunities. Young people in the area are taking initiative and investigating the uneven distribution of resources and the inequities apparent within the public and private systems in Kwale County.

As one component of their work in Kwale, Plan Kenya is working with the three youth-led organizations to create space for young people to participate in their communities in a meaningful, productive way. There are different types of participation in local governance – often times government or other agencies invites youth to participate (“invited space”) as “youth representatives” but they are simply acting to fill a required place and are not considered  within the wider governance and community structures. Youth representation can also be misleading as the KYGC reports that “youth representatives” aren’t necessarily youth themselves – government legislation simply stipulates that there must be someone representing the youth – but there is no regulation that states that person must be a youth themselves (they must only act on behalf of the youth). This leaves the system open to abuse (the same holds true for “women’s representative” – you can find a man acting on behalf of women in the position of women’s representative).  Plan Kenya and the young people we met are instead working to “create space” (as opposed to “a place”) for young people in community activism in Kwale County.

The 5 weeks we spent in Kwale was the beginning of a process to support this on-going work in the broad area of “accountability” – this encompasses child rights, social accountability and eco-tourism. The process that began during the 5 weeks was the integration of digital mapping and social media to amplify voices of young people working on pressing concerns in the region.

To create the relevant stakeholders and solicit valuable feedback during the process of the YETAM work on digital mapping and new media, the last 3 days in Kwale were spent reviewing the work with the teams. On Thursday November 10th, we invited advisors from Plan Kwale, Plan Kenya Country Office, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and officers from the Constituency Development Fund to participate in a half-day of presentations and feedback on the work the young people had undertaken.

By far the work that generated the most debate in the room was the governance tracking by the KYGC. The team presented the Nuru ya Kwale blog – the blog showcased 28 of the 100 + projects they mapped during the field work. They classified the 28 projects according to various indicators – and for example documented that 23 of the projects had been completed, 1 was “in bad progress”, 2 were “in good progress” and 1 “stalled.” The CDF officers (the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer of the Matuga CDF committee in Kwale County) were concerned with the findings and questioned the methodology and outcome of the work.  They scrutinized some of the reports on the Nuru ya Kwale site and questioned for example, why Mkongani Secondary School was reported as a “bad” quality project. The officials wanted to know the methodology and indicators the team had used to reach their conclusions because according to the representatives of the CDF committee, the auditors gave the Mkongani Secondary School project a clean bill of health.

One important message from the feedback on their work was the need to clearly communicate the methodology used to undertake the documentation of projects (i.e. what are the indicators of a project in “bad” progress? how many people did you interview? Whose views did they represent?). There is significant value in presenting balanced feedback that challenges the internal government (or NGO) audits – for example the data on Kenya Open Data documents that 100% of CDF money has been spent on the Jorori Water Project mentioned above, but a field visit, documented through photos and interviews with community members reveals that the project is stalled and left in disrepair. This is an important finding – the youth have now presented this to the relevant CDF committee. The committee members were responsive to the feedback and, despite turning the youth away from their offices the previous month, invited them to the CDF to get the relevant files to supplement some of the unknown or missing information (i.e. information that people on the ground at the project did not have access to, such as for example, who was the contractor on a specific project, and what was the project period).

Kwale youth with staff from Plan Kenya, officers from the CDFC and the local Youth Officer

Samuel Musyoki, Strategic Director of Plan Kenya who joined the presentations and reflections on November 10th and 11th, reported that:

“The good thing about this engagement is that it opened doors for the youth to get additional data which they needed to fill gaps in their entries. Interestingly, they had experienced challenges getting such data from the CDF. I sought to know form the CDFC and the County Youth Officer if they saw value in the data the youth were collecting and how they could use it.

The County Youth Officer was the most excited and has invited the youth to submit a business proposal to map Youth Groups in the entire county. The mapping would include capturing groups that have received the Youth Enterprise Fund; their location; How much they have received; enterprises they are engaged in; how much they have repaid; groups that have not paid back; etc. He said it will be an important tool to ensure accountability through naming and shaming defaulters.

The 5 weeks have been of great value — talking to quite a number of the youth I could tell — they really appreciate the skill sets they have received-GIS mapping; blogging; video making and using the data to engage in evidence based advocacy. As I leave this morning they are developing action plans to move the work forward. I sought assurance from them that this will not end after the workshop. They had very clear vision and drive where they want to go and how they will work towards ensuring sustained engagement beyond the workshop.”

The impact of digital mapping and new media on social accountability is still an open question. Whether the social accountability work would have provoked similar feedback from duty bearers if presented in an offline platform (for example in a power point presentation) instead of as a dynamic-online platform is unknown.  The Matuga CDF officers were however rather alarmed that the data were already online and exposed their work in an unfavourable light (in fairness, there were some well-executed projects as well). There is a definite need to question the use of new technology in governance work, and develop innovative methods for teasing out impact of open, online information channels in decision-making processes and how this is or isn’t amplifying existing accountability work.  There is definite potential in the work the young people are undertaking and the government officers consulted, from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and local CDF Committee (CDFC) stated that they were “impressed by the work of the youth”.

Within the community development systems and particularly the structure of devolved funding, there is a gap in terms of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) that the CDF committee to date has not been able to play effectively. As Samuel Musyoki stated the youth “could watch to ensure that public resources are well utilized to benefit the communities.” The Youth Officer even invited the youth to submit proposals for assistance in buying GPS gadgets and computers to strengthen this work.

Continuing the on and offline integration

As discussed, the work in Kwale on various issues is dynamic and evolving. The 5 weeks we spent with the teams was meant to provide initial trainings and support and to catalyse action that would be continued by the youth in the area, with support from Plan Kenya. Not only did we provide training to the young people, but Plan Kwale staff were also involved in the process and started documenting their work through the tools and techniques introduced by our team. With these skills, the Plan Kwale staff will support the on-going field mapping and new media work. We are also available to provide remote assistance with questions about strategies and technical challenges.

Some of the future activities include:

  • Holding a “leaders forum” during which the youth interact with a wider cross-section of stakeholders and share their work.
  • Continuing work on their various website – updating the sites with results from social auditing work to be carried out throughout the last weeks of November, as well as digitizing previous information collected during historical social auditing.
  • Validate the data by revisiting some project sites and documenting projects that haven’t been done yet, gathering stories from some of the Project Management Committees, taking more photos, and potentially conducting surveys within the communities to get more representative views on project evaluations.
  • Each group also needs to develop a more structured advocacy strategy to direct their activities in these areas.
  • All teams expressed interest in developing proposals to submit to the Ministry of Youth Affairs, through the Youth Enterprise Fund and CDF Committee, based on the suggestion of potential funding for this process. Plan Kwale staff, as well as some of the Country Office advisers offered to support the youth in developing these proposals.
  • Most importantly, the teams want to consult the wider community in their respective areas to demonstrate the relevance of YETAM, including the skills they have gained, to the community stakeholders (beyond the relevant government authorities

The potential of new technologies, including digital mapping promote accountability is only as powerful as the offline systems into which it is integrated. Without offline engagement, existing community systems of trust and recognition will be threatened and thus undermine any online work. The youth must remain grounded within their existing work and use new technology to amplify their voices, build their network, share their stories and lessons and learn from and engage with others.

Mildred and Mukuru residents with hand-drawn village boundraies (photo credit: Primoz Kovacic)

In 2010, Map Kibera was awarded a Youth Fund grant from Unhabitat. With the many developments in the Map Kibera project, the Youth Fund grant was delayed until mid-2011. Some of the other initiatives the team was working on included the establishment of the local agency Map Kibera Trust, with support from the Africa Technology and Transparency Initiative and the expansion to work (led by Map Kibera Trust ) to Mathare and Kwale.

Map Kibera Trust received the Unhabitat youth fund grant in order to expand its work to other parts of Nairobi. Given the existing ties with Mukuru (an informal settlement in Nairobi’s industrial area) and the demand for training from young people who had been introduced to mapping in 2009 and 2010, the mappers decided to implement the youth fund grant in Mukuru.

The Unhabitat youth fund grant is designed to support organizations led by young people in developing countries. The grant involves a component of skills development; young people from selected organizations are trained in project management, documentation and budgeting. The young people then put their newly acquired skills into action throughout the project lifecycle.

Primoz and I have been supporting the mappers in Kibera however we believe that the best way to learn is through experience. And so in order to see them develop these new skills, we have taken a step back and supported the project mainly through some limited technical assistance. The field work and documentation has been led by Mildred Anekeya, the mapper coordinator (herself a young mapper from Kibera) and Vincent Mutuku and Moses Wahor, young mappers from Mukuru.

Below is a question and answer from Mildred, Vincent and Moses that documents their experiences in mapping Mukuru during the first half of the youth fund grant cycle.  Their insights are important to those undertaking similar projects in similar contexts. These answers were submitted to Unhabaitat as part of a mid-term report.

What is the progress you have made [in mapping Mukuru]?

First of all we held two successful community forums, in Mukuru kwa Reuben and Mukuru Kayaba, which sensitized the community on the importance of mapping before we launched it. Finally we will hold other forums to confirm the mapping that we have done to the community.

We were been able to cover all five villages of Mukuru which are Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Rueben, Mukuru Lungalunga, Sinai and Mukuru kayaba. We were able to train 24 trainees in data collection which involved usage of GPS gadgets, downloading the data, editing and uploading it which involved gaining of computer knowledge. We had problems like getting approval from the local authorities but we had to convince on what to implement on the ground and later they had to approve us. We also faced minor problems from the participants which are commitment towards the training and some were demanding allowance for their time, but after giving them the importance of the training they had to commit themselves fully. Insecurity was also one the problems but we had to find ways to curb it, and this was to work the residents from the same village.

What problems have you encountered during the first phase of the project?

At first we encountered problems from the administration, allowances of the trainees they were not ready to work without being paid, insecurity especially in Mukuru Kayaba and lack of commitment from the trainees especially Mukuru Kayaba where initially we had about 12 trainees and they all left remaining with 4. The obstacles that we faced in technical issues were: too few computers which led to extension of the timeframe and also it took time for the participants to catch up with what we were teaching them. Less internet modems which lead to limited internet access.

How did you overcome these problems?

Coordinators from Mukuru had to talk to the administration concerning the project and convince them for approval. They also coordinated and made the availability of the trainee to training centre. They ensured security was intact and organized for the venues. This made the mapping process run smoothly despite the challenges. Concerning technical issues we had to make use of what we had at hand and the administration of the  Map Kibera Trust made sure that we full credits for the modems and the computers were available each time we needed them.

What project activities are planned for the next 6 months?

Drawing of boundaries of the villages and their zones, drawing of paths and tracks, drawing the industries and also showing how they are close to residential areas which can be used to explain some of the risks that people in slums are prawn to, like in the case of Sinai tragedy.

Finalizing on the mapping process and ensuring that the trainees are able to comprehend what we taught them.

Making follow up on all the stakeholders that would be interested in using the final maps in their work groups such as Administration, Youth, women groups, trainees, Community based and Faith based organizations.

To understand the spread of development in every particular village and also make conclusion on how the developments could be enhanced.

Any other comments?

The mapping exercise is a very unique method of bringing out problems in informal settlements; hence it should be enhanced to cover all the slums in Kenya. The trainees will need to have ongoing exercises less they forget what they learned, this can be improved by having substations in Mukuru.

Throughout October and November 2011, Plan Kwale worked through Map Kibera Trust with Primoz Kovacic and I, along with 4 young people from Kibera (Zack Wambua and Maureen Omino) and Mathare (Jeff Mohammed and Javin Ochieng), to conduct digital mapping exercises to support ongoing youth-led development processes in Kwale county. One of the important lessons learned through the Trust’s work in Kibera and Mathare is that the stories behind the mapping work are important for understanding the processes that contribute to a situation as represented on a map. To tell these stories and to complement the data collection and mapping work done by the youth in Kwale, the Map Kibera Trust team worked with the Kwale youth to set up platforms to share this information nationally and internationally. Sharing the important work being done in Kwale will hopefully bring greater visibility to the issues which may in the longer term lead to greater impact.

Sharing stories of local governance

To support their work on social accountability, the Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium mapped over 100 publicly and privately funded community-based projects. The projects were supported by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Local Area Development Fund (LATF), NGOs and private donors. As one channel of sharing this information, the Consortium set up a blog called Nuru ya Kwale (Light of Kwale). According to KYGC the blog “features and addresses issues concerning promotion of demystified participatory community involvement in the governance processes towards sustainable development. We therefore expect interactivity on issues accruing around social accountability.” This involves sharing evidence about various projects and stories from the community.

One example is the documentation of the Jorori Water project in Kwale; through the mapping work, the Governance team collected details of the constituency development fund (CDF) project. The funding allocated to upgrade the water supply for the community was 6,182,960 ksh (approximately 73,000.00 USD). From their research the KYGC identified that the Kenya Open Data site reported that the full funding amount has been spent. A field visit to the site however revealed that project was incomplete and the community is still without a stable water supply, despite the fact that the funding has been “spent.”

Jorori Water Project, built using approximately 6.2 million shillings (73, 000.00 USD)

Read more about the questions the team raised in terms of the governance of CDF projects, including the detailed the project implementation process and some reflections on why the project stalled. This is information on community experiences (tacit information) that is well-known in a localized context but has not been documented and shared widely. New media tools, a blog in this case, provide free (if you have access to a computer and the internet) platforms for sharing this information with national and international audiences.

 

Addressing violence against children and child protection

Another blog was set up by the Kwale Young Journalists. The Young Journalists, registered in 2009, have been working with Plan Kwale on various projects, including Violence against Children campaigns. The group has been working to set up a community radio station in Kwale to report on children’s issues. Thus far, their application for a community radio frequency has encountered several challenges – new media provides an interim solution and will allow the team to share their stories and network with partners on a national and internal stage.

The Kwale Young Journalists worked with Jeff Mohammed, a young award-winning filmmaker from Mathare Valley. The YETAM project not only equips young people with skills, but through peer-learn establishes connections between young people working on community issues throughout Kenya. The programme also provides young people with life skills through experiential learning – Jeff reflects on his experience in Kwale and says:

“My knowledge didn’t come from books and lecturers it came from interest, determination and persistence to know about filmmaking and this is what I was seeing in these Kwale youths. They numbered 12 and they were me. They are all in their twenties and all looking very energetic, they had the same spirit as mine and it was like looking at a mirror. I had to do the best I could to make sure that they grasp whatever I taught.”

Jeff and the Kwale Young Journalists shooting a scene from “The Enemy Within”

Jeff worked with the Young Journalists on a short film called “the Enemy Within.” The film, shot with flip-cameras, tells the story of 12-year-old girl who is sold into indentured labour by her parents to earn money for her family. During the time she spends working, the young girl “falls prey of her employer (Mr.Mtie) who impregnates her when she is only 12 years old.” Jeff reflects that “early pregnancies are a norm in the rural Kwale area and what the young filmmakers wanted to do is to raise awareness to the people that its morally unacceptable to impregnate a very young girl, in Enemy Within the case didn’t go as far because the village chairman was bribed into silence and didn’t report the matter to higher authorities.” This is a common scenario in Kwale, and the young journalists plan to use the film in public screenings and debates as part of their advocacy work in the coming months.

Jeff and the Kwale Young Journalists shot the film in four days – they travelled to Penzamwenye, Kikoneni and also to Shimba Hills national park to shoot 7 scenes for the movie. Read more about Jeff’s reflections on working with the Kwale Young Journalists on his blog.

Sharing ecotourism resources

The Dzilaz ecotourism team – a group that encourages eco-cultural tourism in Samburu region of Kwale count – also integrated social media into their work. During the last week (November 8th-12th) the group set up a blog to market the community resources, services and products. They also plan to document eco-culture sites and the impact that eco-tourism can have on the community. As of November 10th, 2011 the Dzilaz team had already directed potential clients to their website and thus secured a booking through the information they had posted.

The importance of telling the stories behind the maps

One important component to mapping work is to tell the stories behind the map. The three groups in Kwale are working to build platforms to amplify their grassroots level work in order to share stories and lessons learned; the information documented on the various platforms will hopefully develop over time and contribute to a greater understanding of the processes at a local level – and where youth as young leaders can intervene to begin to change the dynamics of community development.

Cross posted on Linda Raftree’s blog Wait…What? and the Map Kibera bog.


The team!

We’re back in Kwale County – working with Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium, Kwale Young Journalists and Dzilaz Ecotourism group to continue mapping governance, child protection and eco-cultural resources. There was quite a bit of excitement on Monday & Tuesday as we gathered together to review the progress made while our team was away. We also returned with Jeff Mohammed and Javin Ochieng – two young men from Mathare Valley who will share their experience and train their peers from Kwale on videography and blogging.

Overall, field data collection on the various themes had gone well. In one week, Kwale Young Journalists collected 27 points that relate to children’s issues. The features included schools, CBOs and dispensaries.

Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium had collected over 100 points – and had managed to cover various devolved funding projects. They had about 50% of their target data collected.

Dzilaz aimed to map 38 schools in Samburu area and had reached 18 of them. They were also planning to map 8 nature trails that included community sites preserved for eco-tourism – they had mapped 5, so had 3 left to cover.

Zack Wambua and Kwale team edit data

Challenges

During the week of field data collection, the three groups reported the following challenges:

  • Large area to cover and mappers were spread out so had to travel long distances to meet (or in summary, coordination)
  • Poor attendance at one community meeting because of last minute planning
  • Bad roads (heavy rains and flooding exacerbated this situation)
  • Interviwees not giving correct information
  • Too few field days
  • Work was very tiresome
  • Gaining cooperation from stakeholders
  • Did not have money for transport
  • Group dynamics (coordination)
  • People working late hours
  • Some vehicles were having problems (lack of fuel, uncooperative driver)
  • Lack of clear information
  • Creation of high expectations from schools in the community (i.e. some schools expected that the presence of the mappers, and the involvement of Plan International meant that they were there to assess the prospect of giving direct assistance to school programmes)
  • Some GPS units had problems

Most of the challenges encountered were logistical and we asked the youth to brainstorm solutions. The solutions involved planning ahead (we’re trying!), having a letter of introduction to facilitate open data sharing when they reach a site and to manage expectations from the community (very important!).

The challenges remind me of those reported by the YETAM teams in Mozambique and Cameroon – logistics in rural areas is a difficult beast (e.g. long distances to travel, poor roads, bad weather exacerbating the bad road conditions, etc). Some of these challenges can be mitigated by planning, a flexible time frame and a lot of patience!

The experience of resistance to giving information is perhaps another type of challenge. We’ve also experience similar resistance in Kibera and other areas. Sensitization meetings were carried out in the 3 areas ahead of the data collection work, however the teams were of course not able to meet everyone they encountered during the field work.

An introduction letter by the District Officer for the area was something the Cameroonian team prepared – and yesterday the teams were having difficulty obtaining information without such a letter. It was our intention to have these prepared ahead of time, but time restrictions and the large area we are trying to cover has made it difficult to have this arranged in advance. Next week the letters will have been prepared and the youth will continue with data collection. This will no doubt make it easier for the Kwale teams (note that in some villages, people were more open to giving information so this may or may not help in the area where the group experienced resistance).

In some cases, the letter may make little difference as the mappers probe for information about school drop outs and early pregnancies – this is sensitive information and school administration may not be keen to provide information that may paint their institution in an unfavourable light – even if the information may be used to generate a discussion that could lead to youth-generated solutions. This is understandable and can happen in many contexts. The youth have already identified those schools where they suspected they were receiving mis-information. As with any data, we cannot expect 100% accuracy and the interpretation of the results must be taken with a grain of salt.

The Plan Kwale staff – keen to see the project succeed – have been working diligently to try to fix the “bumps in the road”. One main challenge to designing and carrying out an iterative project that is supported by a large organization is procurement procedures that need to be followed (eg to secure accommodation so the youth can work from a central location, or ordering more vehicles to split the teams into smaller groups to cover a large area – different DOs for different areas are spread across hundreds of kilometers) – but the great team from Plan Kwale are doing their best and are working long hours to see that the project moves forward! So kudos to the Plan Kwale team for their hard work.

We’re learning together with the youth and the Plan Kwale team about mapping rural areas. One week of data collection in Kwale County results in about as many GPS points as we could have collected in Mathare in a single day! This of course presents a different set of challenges and opportunities – we look forward to reporting more stories and lessons from the field!

Review of Week 1 – October 3-7, 2011

The Youth Empowerment through Technology Arts and Media (YETAM) project is a joint initiative of Plan International and local partners in 6 African countries (Cameroon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Rwanda and Senegal). The project was initially funded by Nokia but is now supported by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Plan Finland. In Kenya, YETAM is being implemented in Kwale County, with youth from 3 districts receiving training in digital media, including audio recording, visual arts, and various new technologies.

In Kwale County, the YETAM project has thus far empowered young people to employ video, audio recording and radio programmes to explore issues of child protection and child rights. Youth have also used information communication technology (ICTs) including Facebook to connect and explore governance issues and discuss accountability within local and national institutions.

Through the YETAM methodology, technology, arts and media are used to “start the conversation” about community issues – a strategy that has also been employed by our teams– through work that started first in Kibera and expanded and evolved in Mathare Valley with the support and mentorship of Plan Kenya.

Our team was first approached by Plan Kenya in July 2010 to support a 3 day mapping and new media training which were components of a week-long training and reflection for the YETAM project.

On October 3rd, Primoz Kovacic, Zacharia Wambua, Maureen Omino and myself joined Plan staff, members of Plan Kenya’s partner youth groups, and District Youth officers from Kwale County to begin a process of youth-led community mapping.  The purpose of the mapping is the support the on-going YETAM project and feed into youth-led advocacy work in the 3 districts. We were very conscious that we did not want to do “mapping for the sake of mapping” but rather hoped to add value to existing projects and programmes through supporting the collection of issue-specific information that could be used together with other information

The first step in the process was a “feasibility assessment.” Our work in Mathare, Kibera, Mukuru and some rural areas (Taita Hills, Mt Elgon) had given us the technical skills and understanding of the opportunities and challenges of digital media, particularly in relation to the type of youth-led advocacy work that Plan Kenya supports, however we were not familiar with the particular environment in Kwale. The first week we spent in Kwale, 30-some youth and Plan Kenya staff convened together at the Kaskazi Beach Hotel in Ukunda (south of Mombasa).

The mapping process involves young people from three of Plan Kwale’s partner organizations. The groups are:

  • Kwale Youth and Governance Consortium – with representations from the National Youth Councils from the 3 districts in Kwale
  • Kwale Young Journalists – a coalition of 14 organizations in Kwale distrct who have been trained to produce audio clips and are working on licensing for a radio station to deal with children’s issues.
  • Dzilza eco-tourism group – a community based organization based in Samburu along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway

We spent the first day of the feasibility assessment going over expectations and exploring the concept of mapping, with practical examples of our work in Kibera, Mathare and Primoz’s work in Taita Hills. The expectations from the youth included “meet new friends” & “exchange ideas”, “know more about mapping”, gain “more skills on ICT and mapping”, understand “the impact of mapping to the community” and “how to contextualize mapping and social life.”  It was clear from the expectations that the youth were excited about and interested in the process we were about to embark on and had come prepared to embrace mapping and digital technology as part of their toolset for advocacy and action within their communities – it is up to us to impart our knowledge to further empower them in their work.

After a morning of discussions, we needed to start to understand the geographic environment and social issues facing the young people in their communities.

This would help us facilitate the mapping process and organize the 3-5 weeks of data collection and field work.

First we asked each group to prepare a presentation of their group including, who they are, where they work, the main issues they deal with and activities they undertake. We also wanted to know the stakeholders they engage with on the various issues and during activities they carry out.

The youth were asked to draw a map of Kwale county. They divided into the three groups – Kwale Young Journalists, Kwale Youth and Governance Constorium and Dzilza. The exercise took longer than expected but the teams had interesting and thoughtful discussions of what features to include on the map and how to represent the entire county – which proved to be more challenging than anticipated.

Exercise 1: Mapping Kwale County

Realizing that the challenges of mapping the entire county and that each group needed to narrow down a smaller geographic region and specific issue to map – on Day 2 we asked the youth to break out into groups and draw the 3 districts that make up Kwale County. Interestingly, they divided themselves into groups based on who lived in what district instead of going into teams based on the region in which their group worked.

The smaller geographic region and the previous days experience made the paper-mapping much easier. The maps were more specific and clear than on Day 1!

Kinango District Paper Map

Kwale District Paper Map

Msambweni District Paper Map

The youth also identified a wide ranging list of approximately 10 issues for each District. In Msambweni for example, the youth discussed child abuse, sexual exploitation and child trafficking (in relation to the tourism industry in and around Ukunda), drug abuse, disasters such as floods and drought, poor academic performance in schools, early marriages and pregnancy, deforestation, lack of birth registration and ID cards, environmental pollution and squatters. This wide range of issues are important to note and discuss – however for focused advocacy work and 3-5 weeks of data collection it would be unmanageable.

So at the risk of discussion fatigue, we took the youth on an afternoon of setting up GPS devices to prepare for field work – to introduce GPS data collection and start to understand the scope of the issues we could focus on.

Setting up the GPS devices

On the third day we focused on the major issues within each group. We asked the young people to come up with the main issue or challenge their work was trying to tackle, their proposed solution, the action steps required (including releveant stakeholder engagement) and the data required to work toward the proposed solution.

Kwale Youth and Governance Council

The main challenge/issue identified by KYGC was social accountability (or lack of accountability due to poor governance and leadership). Their proposed solution involves “empowering society” through community forums, sensitization of the community on social accountability and “participation and inclusion [of community members]in decision-making process.” This will include activities such as stakeholders meetings, participatory planning & implementation of government projects, community involvement in monitoring and evaluation of projects, involvement of the community in the mapping, making recommendations and impact assessment. The team wants to focus on devolved government funds, including the Constituency Development Funds (CDF).

The data the team requires to support their work in social accountability are the following:

  1. Number of projects (aggregated from the data collection process)
  2. Budget allocation for each project
  3. Community participation (identification, place, project, proposals , capacity project committee)
  4. Relevance
  5. Impact (no of beneficiaries, workmanship, quality)
  6. Observations
  7. Project Categories
  8. Recommendations

Kwale Young Journalists

The Kwale Young Journalists chose to focus on two issues related to child protection: child labour & early pregnancy. The tean proposed that these issues can be tackled mainly through increased awareness of children and parents about the importance of education.

The action steps or activities for this proposed solution include 1) reporting cases of child labour and early pregnancy to the administration and the voluntary children officers 2) guidance and counselling of children and parents 3) holding barazas with the community through the administration 4) introducing life skills clubs in schools and villages (for example music, accounts, and journalisms clubs, etc)

Data required

  1. Reasons and vulnerability to child labour
  2. Forms of child labour
  3. The number of children involved in child labour
  4. The number of parents not taking care of the children
  5. The number of people
  6. The number of orphans
  7. The most vulnerable areas
  8. Family status
  9. Blended families
  10. Number of pregnant girls
  11. Reasons of vulnerability to early sex
  12. Number of schools most affected
  13. Number of girls who have gone back to school after giving birth
  14. Data on the number of reported cases
  15. Data of the effects of early pregnancy

When mapping child protection issues, we are aware that some of this data may be extremely sensitive and has the potential to result in further victimization of children and families if publicized. We suggested to the team to focus on publicly available information, such as information on schools, cases, cases of school-drop out, qualitative and quantitative information on the reasons for school drop-out and safe places for vulnerable children.

Eco-tourism in Samburu

The major issue that the Dzilaz group in Samburu will focus on is eco-cultural tourism and human-wildlife conflict. The causes of tension between tourism and culture, as well as wildlife conservation is exaserbated by the conditions in the semi-arid area, where the Dzilaz group operates. Poor government policy, animal migration and poaching and killing of animals are related issues the group is concerned about. The solutions proposed by the group include a combination of advocacy, participation in policy and livelihood activities. They suggested the community work on afforestation and reforestation, installing proper fencing eg electrical fence along animal migratory routes, enforce good governance policy through community participation with other stakeholders, liaise with the relevant authorities for technical support, for example lobby with KWS to permit us to introduce watching, animal hunting of antelope. Actions toward these solutions include door to door campaigns, awareness meetings, seminars/trainings, empowering communities on policy development, identifying resources for exploitation and meeting stakeholders.

Data required

  1. Points of human-wildlife conflict
  2. Number of people affected by the human wildlife conflict
  3. Distance of one school to another
  4. How many have been compensated for human-wildlife conflict
  5. Degree of damage to people, crops, properties

The brainstorming of data/information that the 3 groups hope to collect is a great start, however several concerns arose – including issues of privacy and child protection. Our on-going work focuses primarily on public datasets so we encouraged the youth to think about public assets rather than private data. We also realized that the type of information the teams are interested in is a combination of qualitative and quantitative information – GPS data collection will be only part of the information solution for this work. This week, Primoz, Zach and Maureen are working with each team to create data collection forms to concretize this information and decide on the strategy for further documentation to support GPS data collection and mapping.

 

Field work – Mapping Ukunda

The final two days of the feasibility assessment involved data collection and practical field work with the GPS devices. This was to begin to build skills, excitement and a better understanding of the practicalities of mapping.

The team of 30 youth split up into the three teams and divided the area to be mapped among them. Some walked along the main strip along Ukunda beach – from Kaskazi hotel to Congo Mosque – including the small village of Gombado, others mapped the area between the beach front and Ukunda town and the last team mapped Ukunda town itself.  Three hours of walking through the area and collecting data in the hot sun proved to be quite tiring for everyone. In two afternoons of field work the teams collected over 350 points of interest and mapped several roads and paths that were not previously mapped. The youth also learned how to digitize over the GPS points and tracks they had collected in the field to contribute data to OpenStreetMap and begin making a map!

Mapping Ukunda

Data collected in Ukunda area

Watch this space and Mapping [No] Big Deal for more updates as the project continues.

Harnessing GIS mapping and social media to improve lives

Mapping the sanitation in situation in Mathare has been a process of continual learning. When we began the Map Mathare pilot project in December 2010, we employed a dynamic methodology to engage young people and the community issues in the approximately 20 villages in Mathare. My colleague Primoz and I worked closely with the Plan Kenya team to design a training programme and over the past 8 months, have learned a great deal about working with youth and communities to “make the invisible visible” that is – to document tacit knowledge and turn the experience of communities and young people into information that translates across social and geographic boundaries.

Empowering young people

youth map toilets in Mathare

Young people as “digital natives” – are growing up in an age where mobile phones are viewed as a necessity – even a right – in everyday life. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, M-pesa, SMS, Email – all products and services familiar to young people – even the disadvantaged youth in urban areas engage with these products at some level. Harnessing GIS mapping and social media to improve access to sanitation and hygiene may very well be led by these young people.

Yes, the word empowerment is over-used – and has become almost meaningless. Watching the transformation (that can even occur in one day) of a person’s perception of their environment  through the simple act of collecting GPS data about their village – is a very powerful experience and can only be described as empowering.

The team of mappers, videographers and bloggers– now about 15 in number – who have stuck with us since December of last year, can really tell you what empowerment means to them. Not only have they put themselves and their community on the map – a process that evokes a great sense of pride and responsibility. Some of the young people who did not know how to read a map before they engaged with Primoz, Simon, myself and the Kibera mappers. Philip Amukoya, one of the Mathare mappers told me on Tuesday that his soccer coach, who knows his interested in community forums, told him about “this thing called Map Mathare” back in December of last year. Philip decided to come and check it out despite not really know what “Map Mathare” could mean. He is now one of the star mappers and speaks with authority on the importance of “Global Positioning Systems,” Geographic Information Systems and community information.

Putting yourself on the map is the first step toward demanding recognition and everything that comes along with it – including basic human rights (the right to a clean living environment, the right to health) and by extension – the right to access services provided to the rest of Nairobi. Through our programme, young people are given the chance to represent their community through the medium of a map. Standard GIS symbols break down the barriers that separate youth and elders – rich and poor – and allow these young people to express themselves on a level playing field. Looking at the maps,  who would know they were generated by youth from the informal settlements?

Map of toilets, water points and open defecation areas in Mathare

Now that we have started that process of empowerment, and triggered this amazing group of young people to act as “community explorers” – documenting their lives and their community – the larger question is – how can we make an impact? How do we ensure that the process of community engagement, mapping and digital storytelling inform not only the youth about issues in their villages, but also reach duty bearers and decision makers who can then work with the community to take action based on the data collected?

Data in decision making

On Tuesday September 20th, we held a stakeholders forum at Plan Kenya, organized and hosted jointly by the Map Mathare team and Plan Kenya. We invited representatives from the private sector, Government and NGOs – as well as community representatives – to discuss the findings and products of the Map Mathare pilot. More importantly we asked attendees to make commitments to engage with the mappers, videographers and bloggers to “turn information into action.”

The forum was attended by City Council of Nairobi, Athi Water Services Board, MSF, KWAHO, Plan Kenya, Internews, Dignitas Project and several private sector companies.

We presented the trends that drive our work – the “urbanization of poverty”, the growing urban population, the untapped potential of young people, the importance of informal settlements to the economy of Nairobi and the “invisibility” of these areas that contributes to the ability of governments to “ignore” the needs of people living in the informal, marginal areas of the city.

Simon Kokoyo presented some perspectives from Mathare and discussed the research fatigue in Nairobi’s informal areas. He spoke candidly about how his mother has lived in Mathare since 1958 and that NGOs and researchers are constantly doing research and asking questions of Mathare residents. He said “my mother is an expert in filling questionnaires. She is part of a women’s group. And when researchers come to ask questions on water and sanitation they point them to Momma Njeri. Momma Njeri is the one who is an expert in water and sanitation questionnaires.”

But what happens to all this data – how can these “local experts” be the involved in shaping their own narrative – to take on the role of researchers instead of the subjects. That’s why Simon got involved with Map Mathare. He sees the potential in the community members as “experts.”

There was genuine excitement in the room when we spoke about the findings of the community (and youth) experts. Mathare Valley is an area of about 3 square kilometers. The pilot area of 4 villages (Thayu, Mabatini, Mashimoni and Village 10) is covered with 8.5 kms of open drainage. Two percent of the same area is covered with open defecation. These are statistics generated by the people of Mathare Valley.

The statistics, visualizations, stories and presentations inspired the representatives to make commitments to working with the Map Mathare team to turn this information into action. Realizing that not everyone is in a decision-making role, some were personal commitments to take the information presented at the meeting forward to the relevant decision-makers in various offices.

The representatives of City Council of Nairobi were not in a place to make commitments on behalf of the City Council but personally committed to continue to engaging with the community to change or transform social behaviour and to better living and health conditions in their work. The representatives will pass on the information to City Council decision makers so that they are aware of the existence of GIS maps developed by the community.

Athi Water Services Board representatives commit to creating awareness in the community to make better use of the existing WATSAN facilities. They also have some data regarding water services in Mathare and would like to work with Map Mathare to harmonize the information and identify gaps.

The private sector representatives were interested in continuing to innovate around sanitation solutions. They would like to work with the youth from Map Mathare and use the data to make a business case for sanitation service provision. This would include exploring the size of the population, their ability and willingness to pay, what toilet models are most successful and how to take it to scale.

Many of the stakeholders raised the issue of the linkages between sanitation and security – particularly for women. Medicinés Sans Frontier (MSF) work in Mathare on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). The advocacy officer who joined the meeting mentioned the importance of sanitation and the need for mapping security issues – these maps could then be used to complement MSF’s advocacy work to improve lighting and security, particularly around toilets. The private sector representatives were interested in participating in lobbying efforts for improved lighting and security.

The Map Mathare youth have also committed to continuing the mapping work and to represent their community well. They are excited, empowered and will continue mapping and telling their stories!

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