More than a year since Kenyans celebrated with vigour and ecstasy the promulgation of the new constitution, the fruits of the many promises enshrined in the document are yet to be felt by many.
A project known as Huduma that is meant to hold the relevant authorities accountable for the institutions they head was recently introduced to the church leaders of the various OAIC churches in the Nairobi County. The leaders in the 8 constituencies from Dagoretti, Embakasi, Kamukunji, Kasarani, Lang’ata, Makadara, Starehe and Westlands constituencies were all enlightened on how the service would enable the improvement of service delivery in their communities.
“The constitution is meant to empower the Wananchi and enable them to lead better lives. For all of us to fully enjoy the fruits, we must be able to look at it meaningfully and ensure that the government and other institutions are able to provide the required services to the all the citizens,” stated the General Secretary of the OAIC, Reverend Nicta Lubaale.
“We allowed the politicians to hijack the constitution, and now they have already elected themselves to the various available positions. As church leaders, we need to ask ourselves, Are we prophets or brokers?” the Reverend posed. “Many times rather than speaking with a prophetic voice, you will find that we are used by the politicians as brokers and they tell us what they want us to help them achieve rather that we telling them what we need them to do. We should always remember to speak for the weak and not he powerful,” added Reverend Nicta.
He stated that there was need to hold the government and other institutions accountable to its citizens and thus the Huduma project would go a long way in ensuring that this objective was met. The service is going to enable the citizens to relate to multiple structures in the country. This service seeks to enable to citizens to take charge of their situations to better themselves.
Philip Thigo a co-ordinator Reverend Phyllis Byrd addressing church leadersof the Huduma project states that for citizens to fix their constituencies, hospitals, schools and general service delivery the project is one of the ways that shall effect the realisation of the promises enshrined in the constitution.
One can send a text to 3018 or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the service which in reality is meant to transform relationships between citizens and the government for effective service dleivery.
For example, if the residents of a certain place feel they are not getting services from whatsoever institution, they can send a text to the number and the information will be relayed to the responsible institution. For more information on the same one can log on to www.huduma.info.
If a road construction has stalled for a while one can send a text and it will appear in the database of Huduma which will be sent to the relevant authorities, and if nothing is done about it, they shall seek away forward that may include calling for Town hall meetings where the leaders will be required to be present to answer the pertinent questions.
Philip was saddened by the fact that a school like Kibera Primary has not had running water for the past 8 years. The fact that the school uses a lot of money to buy water every week that amounts to a sum of Shillings 4,000 each week was a sad state of affairs. He noted that various high level officials had visited the school but no desired change had been effected.
A Town Hall meeting is being organised for Lang’ata constituency to call the Member of Parliament to answer some of the questions that the residents have. For instance recently, Raila Educational Centre, a project that cost the tax payers 16 million shillings to construct was brought down under unclear circumstances by an investor who wants to build a “centre of excellence”.
Philip adds that in such circumstances, the poor suffer a great deal and it was high time the people took action and demanded for answers. “If you go to the Kenyatta National Hospital, Mbagathi or another and they tell you that the Stocks for Malaria are out, send a text to 3018 and say what the situation on the ground is like and ensure you state clearly your location. The message sent goes to the database of Huduma and institutions and relevant stakeholders who are notified upon which they strategise on how to deal with the matters arising,” stated Philip.
“Huduma will find a way of ranking the best and worst service providers as per the citizen’s record,” stated Philip. The charges for the text are Shillings 3, as they seek for more partnerships to make it a free service.
The Executive Director of the African Institute for Health and Development. Dr. Mary Amuyunzu Nyamongo stated that in a baseline survey conducted between the months of September and October 2011 in a report to be launched later this years, shows that there are still lower levels of participation in various decision making processes in the constituencies.
In-depth interviews as well as Focused Group Discussions were done which showed that levels of unemployment were on the upscale with most of the casual labourers coming mostly from the informal settlements. On issues relating to the access to justice and governance, few people were enlightened and despite them knowing some of their rights, they had nowhere to seek justice from. Men mostly complained of being treated badly when they sought justice.
Nardos, United Nations Millenium Campaign (UNMC), Dr. Mary Nyamongo with other church leaders.
Dr. Nyamongo states that the most essential needs for these communities are water, health, justice and infrastructural issues. “ When we report some of those incidences concerning justice to the police stations, we find that they waste a lot of time and we are sometimes beaten up,” Dr. Nyamongo narrated of the ordeal some of the interviewees recorded.
Dr. Nyamongo notes that some of the most influential decision makers in society were seen as Youth groups, Community elders, Women groups, Legislators and Non-Governmental Organisations in that order.
She was surprised that the church leaders did not feature in the top five yet they are capable of influencing large numbers.
The director of Just Communities Reverend Phyllis Byrd urged the church leaders to step up and be counted as they have the ability to bring the desired change in society.
“We carry our bibles every day and wear the robes, yet it is a sad reality that we are not able to influence our congregants to becoming pro-active in decision making in this Nation. If I was you, I would stop adorning those regalia’s if I am not going to bring any desired change in my community,” stated the Reverend.
The Reverend however, stated that despite the church not being noted as an influential group, the youth groups identified, the women as well as the community elders have some role to play in the churches they attend. This however should be a definite challenge for the church to wake up and be heard.
They were addressing the church leaders while introducing them to the Huduma service at a conference at the Savelberg Retreat Centre recently.
By: Fiona Imbali, OAIC Communications