Huruma is a relatively small informal settlement compared to the 180 informal settlements within Nairobi. It is located 6.8kms on the North-East of the Capital and lies on the left side of Juja road. It consists of six villages: Kambi Moto, Mahira, Redeemed, Ghetto, Gitathuru and Madoya. These six villages occupy a total area of 10.2 acres. Of the six villages, Kambi Moto stands out as a unique case of successful slum upgrading in Kenya.
The reason why Kambi Moto is such a unique case can be accredited to the process being led by the residents of Kambi Moto and the project being in-situ. With the assistance of Pamoja Trust and the Italian organization – COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale )the community was able to develop saving schemes and gain the necessary skills to achieve proper housing for all members. (http://www.pamojatrust.org/muungano-wa-wanavijiji)
The Kambi Moto residents began the process in 1999, when negotiations facilitated by Pamoja Trust resulted in a commitment to enhance the community’s physical environment. After an initial enumeration and the formation of local savings group – Muungano in 2000, the technical team negotiated a special planning dispensation with the city council that would see all 270 households living in Kambi Moto settled on the land owned by the city council. To date, four phases has been realized and 114 households have completed their homes.
Kambi Moto is still a work in process. In the area there are already completed three storey houses within the first phase while later phases have houses under-construction. The drainage and sewerage infrastructures are well built, water supply is in good conditions and the installation of electricity is safe compared to their earlier deplorable conditions. The common spaces are clean, and the residents meet there to chat about their interests and fears.
Common spaces in Kambi Moto
In this environment we met Pauline, Ann and Susan, three of the community’s most involved members who gave us a tour around the four phases already built. They gave us a detailed explanation of the current status of the project and the improvement process underway.(www.pamojatrust.org) For us, as researchers, whose objective was to learn about the reasons for the project’s success, our main interest was on the challenges the community faced during the process and how they were able to overcome them. Most importantly was how such a model could be replicated and applied to other slums.
The main challenge they had to overcome was the acquisition of land. At first, the city council didn’t trust in Kambi Moto residents' capacity to develop the settlement. The support by Pamoja Trust, Muungano Wa Wanvijiji and the University of Nairobi came in as a key boost in building that trust. The creation of the savings group “Muungano” was also another major step in buying the land. Muungano Wa Wanvijiji mobilized and organized the community into saving scheme groups that were registered at the Huruma Social Services office. Pamoja Trust would later give financial support to members of the groups who complied with the set criteria and requirements – To have been with the group for six years, to have participated in the advocacy for land tenure and housing, and to have saved at least 10% of the total cost of the house.
At certain points of the process, some of Muungano’s members - whose houses had to wait for another phase, became discouraged. This situation would be made worse when the City authority started evicting such members from the shanties they lived in then. To solve this, the members had to come together every Sunday, and among all try to encourage them again. They also had to device a rigorous selection process of the beneficiaries for each new stage. The Nairobi City County had to acknowledge the community´s efforts and stop the forceful evictions.
Another concern that cropped up was some families selling their houses soon after construction was complete, and then moving to new informal settlement. Apparently, the fact that there were people who needed the houses within the group, and were involved in the process since the beginning, proper monitoring of the saving schemes and beneficiaries made it difficult for this happening.
The community is willing to assist other urban poor communities to replicate the process achieved in Kambi Moto. Such can be seen in the already started Greenfield project in Mukuru. Susan and Pauline are already teachers and Kambi Moto’s members have supported other community building teams in Uganda and South Africa by sharing their experiences in Asia through SDIexchange programmes. The major problem they see for Mukuru upgrading is land ownership. In Kambi Moto the City Council was the owner of the land and they transferred the land for the 270 households to the community, whilst in Mukuru there are several private owners unwilling to sell the land to the residents, so they can begin to enhance and secure their housing situation.
Inspite of Kambi Moto being proof that a community-led initiative can improve lifes, and bring most benefits to the community, the scale of the project is too small considering the large slums in Nairobi today. The slum upgrading efforts in Nairobi need to bring together all the available forces. Definitely the Nairobi City County should take into account Kambi Moto project lessons and look for effective ways to take on larger projects that benefit more people. This will be a positive move towards promoting the rights of the people under the constitution, by improving access to adequate housing and facilities for all persons.
Prepared by Francisco J. Guerrero and James Wanyoike