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Piloting CLTS in an urban setting: Diary of progress in Mathare 10, Nairobi Kenya

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PLEASE NOTE: Further blogs on Mathare will now appear on the main blog

Below you will find an ongoing blog about CLTS in the urban setting of Mathare 10, Nairobi, Kenya in which Sammy Musyoki of Plan Kenya documents and reflects on progress as the pilot unfolds.

The UCLTS team in Mathare is also on Facebook Check out their group!

And you can now watch Story Yetu, a film about urban sanitation and waste management, Community Cleaning services work, youth engagement and entrepreneurship in Mathare 10 online.

Read the most recent entry immediately below or choose from the links to the dated entries at the bottom of the page. There is also a summary pdf that combines all entries thus far

2nd June 2011

Yesterday 1st June 2011 was the 1st Anniversary since the CLTS triggering in Mathare 10. It is great and significant that the Anniversary coincides with Madaraka (Independence) day. So are the Mathare residents liberated from the shit menace? Has the situation improved? What is cooking?
As I am on leave and far from Nairobi or Kenya for that matter, I decided to call Rosie to find out if there were any key events to mark this day. Unfortunately Rosie was not picking her phone so I decided to call Njenga. These two have done an amazing job and have remained passionate and very positive in the UCLTS process.

Well I asked Njenga what they did on the 1st June 2011. His response was easy- it was holiday so we took a break. Then I follow- a year ago we triggered CLTS in Mathare 10 so what would you say has changed? Njenga brightens up and he outlines some major changes he has seen since the triggering.

  • First is a community that is aware of the dangers of open defecation, dirty environment and how this affects their health and well being.
  • Second, is a community that has begun to take action to police itself and ensure that the environment is kept clean.
  • Third is landlords who are aware and are triggered to construct toilets for their tenants.
  • Fourth, is government, local administration and public health officers from the City Council of Nairobi who are beginning to enforce environmental sanitation laws and wants to leave a legacy of good sanitation in Mathare.
  • Fifth and last are emerging technological options that entrepreneurs and landlords can choose from to address the sanitation needs.

And by the way as Njenga added-some two (additional) helicopter toilets which were emptying to the river directly have been destroyed by the communities. These points seems to flow from Njenga’s mind without any struggle.

As I spoke with him he told me he was in Plan Kenya offices with Frank Marita (my colleague) preparing a presentation on UCLTS for the AfricaSan 3 to be held in Rwanda in July. One year down the line since I started this blog may not seem like a long time-but a lot has happened. Pioneering UCLTS has been quite and exciting journey. To see what we have achieved, the interests generated and the new horizons that are emerging gives me a lot of joy. In the coming weeks we will be reflecting with the UCLTS and Map Mathare team, to draw lessons and chat our next steps. As I am on leave let me resists the temptation of making this entry long.

16th May 2011

Last week marked a new chapter and push for Community Led Total Sanitation in Kenya. The launch of a CLTS campaign for Open Defecation Free (ODF) Rural Kenya by 2013 was like music to my ears. This coincided with a Plan International AUSAID-funded Water & Sanitation Initiative Workshop hosted by Plan Kenya which drew 40 participants from 10 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Plan Australia, Plan Netherlands and Plan UK). The launch brought together over 200 participants most of whom were from the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHS) (national, provincial and county levels) and Civil Society organizations, UN bodies and natural leaders. It marked the climax of Dr. Kamal Kar’s visit to Kenya, hosted by UNICEF/MOPHS. The launch was presided over by the Permanent Secretary MOPHS on behalf of the Minister.

It is almost 4 year now since the first village in Kenya, Jaribuni in Kilifi District (Kenyan Coast Region) celebrated ODF status (19th November 2007) and the CLTS fire is still burning and bright. Results from the earlier pilots in Kilifi (see Dr. Tsofa’s powerpoint and review report 2010) and Homa Bay Districts where Plan Kenya works were key in sparking institutional buy-in for CLTS. To see CLTS come this far does motivate and inspire us to continue championing for the approach, not only in Kenya but also regionally and globally. As this launch went on, Philip Otieno (CLTS champion and Trainer and Plan Kenya Colleague) was busy in Southern Sudan where Plan Kenya is training WASH practitioners from NGOs and Government in a Plan South Sudan/UNICEF Partnership.

Since these early (2007/2008) pilots in Kilifi and Homa Bay, the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and other key players have taken keen interest in CLTS. Plan Kenya heeded to requests to partner with them and UNICEF to train Public Health Officers in Coast, Nyanza and Western Kenya. Subsequently MOPHS successfully tested CLTS in 6 districts in Nyanza and Western Provinces. Results coming out of these tests demonstrated beyond doubt that CLTS has everything it takes to accelerate sanitation coverage and use

During the launch it was evident that the concept of CLTS, its principles and methods have been internalized. From the opening prayer by the Nairobi Provincial Public Health Officer “…4000 years ago God you told the children of Israel not to defecate in the open…we are gathered here today to declare an ODF Kenya by 2013”, to the natural leader “… never again should mothers shed their tears because they are losing their children due to something as basic as open defecation”.

The permanent secretary who started with a joke made my day when he shared a story of an accident that had happened in a village when a hunter threw his spear when he thought he had seen an antelope only to realize that his spear landed on his neighbour. He reiterated that such accidents were still happening in Kenya today as open defecation was still rampant.

I can confidently say that within this period (2007-2011) capacity has been developed, institutional champions and natural leaders at different level have emerged and we do now have a critical mass for propelling CLTS to the next level. This is a key moment and we cannot continue counting and celebrating a few (1000) villages attaining ODF, while 13-15 million Kenyans continue to defecate in the open. To date not a single district has been declared ODF. It is evident that efforts that went into hands-on training for CLTS facilitators are a strong foundation for accelerating the move towards attaining the MDGs on sanitation. There are opportunities and challenges for scaling CLTS in Kenya. While MOPHS sees CLTS as complementing both the Government of Kenya policy on Environmental Sanitation and Hygiene (2007) and the Community Health Strategy, the task of going to scale and delivering an ODF Rural Kenya by 2013 is nevertheless enormous and requires investment in a process that will support the 4000 Public Health Officers, local and natural leaders.

Prior to the Launch the ODF Kenya Campaign, the Permanent Secretary MOPHS inaugurated a National CLTS Coordination and Knowledge Management Hub which will be hosted at the Ministry headquarter. This hub, once operational, will work with partners to ensure that no parts of the country are Left behind. It will

  • serve as a focal point for all CLTS activities:
  • oversee quality capacity building of ministry’s and partners staff,
  • provide technical backstopping of Provincial/ County governments,
  • mobilise resources for the campaign,
  • coordinate and harmonize to avoid duplication,
  • ensure regular availability of quality data for evidence based planning and monitoring, knowledge creation/ packaging and dissemination.

The hub will also have a website, a library and a database.

While I do celebrate the launch of the campaign as a milestone by MOPHS, I am sad that this campaign excludes urban areas, even though it is clear that in future a larger majority of the Kenyan population will live in urban areas. I raised questions about this but I must say the response was not adequate. There is a clear indication that the Government of Kenya has a rural bias simply because currently about 80% of the Kenyan population is rural.

However, in 2010 it was estimated that over 12 million of the 38 million Kenyans lived in urban areas. A larger proportion (about 60%) of these are living in low income and informal settlements where access to sanitation is very poor. To me this is enough reason to focus more on the Pilot Urban CLTS work we are doing in Mathare 10.

Just a day (12th May 2011) after the CLTS campaign launch ODF rural Kenya, I was privileged to be among 40 participants who visited Mathare 10 to see and learn from the UCLTS pilot project supported by Plan Kenya and Community Cleaning Services. It will be a year on June 1st 2011 since we triggered the communities in Mathare 10. It was amazing to see what has been achieved within such as short period.

Walking through Mathare 10 and not having to jump or skip over shit is a big miracle I would say. I still remember vividly how it was last year. This time round it was great that we had colleagues from Kilifi, Australia and Bangladesh who had previously visited Mathare 10 in June and August 2010 and could make the comparison. I asked them to give us their assessment. They testified that Mathare 10 had undergone drastic transformation-they literally looked for shit but they did not find it. Open Defecation Areas have been transformed to different use, e.g. for market stalls, kiosks, vegetable gardens and in some areas toilets have been constructed. The efforts the communities have put are evident: drains are regularly cleaned.

The Mathare mappers had their gadgets as we walked and they were taking points to update the maps. Some key achievements include the formation of a market security committee in Ngumba village that monitors to ensure that no one defecates in the open; construction of 2 one-door model sanergy toilets one outside an informal school and the other near Ngumba Market which did not have a single toilet when we triggered last year. They charge 3 shillings per use. I had an opportunity to pee in one after it had been inaugurated during our visit. The toilets are ecosan-separating urine and faecal matter. They cost about 16,000 KSH (200 US$). The barrels have airtight covers and once they are full the operators will be emptying the shit into a nearby Umande Toilet bio- digester which will be producing bio-gas and running a cooking and water boiling business for the residents of Mathare 10. If not able to cope with the quantities of shit generated the operators have an option of emptying to the manholes in the main sewer line. The idea is for the landlords/structure owners to see that there are affordable options which they can construct for their tenants so as to eradicate open defecation.

The provincial administration and the city council of Nairobi will be issuing official notice to all the structure owners to have sanitation facilities in their buildings. There are still a few toilets emptying to the river and they will also be served with notice to replace them with environmentally friendly ones. Failing that, they will have to demolish all of them.

As demand grows, technological and financing options are emerging Earlier on in this process I remember there was anxiety as to whether ending open defecation was not an unrealistic goal as some of us did not even have a clue what technological options would be needed and how much they would cost. The anxiety is being put to rest here as there is every sign that with collective commitment by the natural/local leaders, community and key institutions OD will be history. The public health officer who initially was suspicious and sceptical at the onset of UCLTS has now become a straight shit talker. No doubt he is an institutional champion.

This time round there were quite a number of senior staff from the city council of Nairobi. We will capitalize on this emerging interest and commitment to penetrate the key departments in the city council of Nairobi and begin exploring more long-term solutions to the sanitation challenges in the informal settlements. With the small victories and the data collected through the participatory GIS mapping and social media the next round table meeting will be carefully targeted to enlist commitment from key departments and stakeholders. On the ground, the natural leaders and UCLTS facilitators are obtaining breakthroughs with the wider community and the landlords. We anticipate a planned documentary shoot which will bring the Kenya Broadcasting Team back into Mathare 10. This will generate new enthusiasm and passion in the community as they move toward better sanitation and hygiene in Mathare 10.

You may also like to read an article in The Standard 20th May 2011 on CLTS in Kisumu

Date: 1 July 2010