Reverend Ambani discusses his success through community mobilization.

Reverend Ambani discusses his success through community mobilization after being trained by the OAIC.

“It had been a near impossible task for the members of my community and more so the youths to get documents as most of them do not have birth certificates. For a long time, they had been taken in circles as they tried to seek help from the various authorities they thought would be of help. After the Training of the Trainers (TOT’s) workshop earlier on in the year that was organised by OAIC, we got some insights on how we can and should empower our communities and we took up that challenge. As we speak, over 250 people in Kiambiu have been able to get birth certificates and can now apply for documents,” stated Pastor Keneth Ambani.

Kiambiu is an informal settlement area adjacent to the Moi Air base in Nairobi that is home to thousands of people.

Pastor Ambani notes that the reason why there are many people without the birth certificates was that for a long time, a large number of women preferred to give birth at home rather than incur the high costs of delivery in the hospitals. This he says was also one of the issues that the community has had to grapple with for a long time but currently many women are able to access hospital services as a cost of only Shillings 20.

“Through sensitisation, service delivery in the health sector has improved tremendously. The pregnant women can now pay a paltry Shillings 20 to give birth at the nearest health centre called Bahati. They are now attended to in a safer environment by professionals and this largely reduces the complications arising during birth,” he stated.

While sharing his insights with mobilisers from different Counties in the country from the Savelberg recently, Pastor Ambani noted that the success they have had was as a result of mobilising like minded individuals and this enabled them make headway in ensuring that services are delivered to the community.

“We managed to mobilise all the people who had issues with their birth certificates and we worked hand in hand with the authorities on the ground. By speaking with one voice and also by virtue of the numbers being large, we spoke with one voice and the relevant authorities could no longer ignore our plight. They helped us write letters to the responsible officials at the registrar of persons at Sheria house and the problem was resolved in the nick time,” stated Pastor Ambani.

He states that some other challenges like the lack of government schools in the area has been a challenge as the private schools which have also been built on grabbed land in the area, require students to pay up to Shillings 3,000 per month. The community thus worked together to start their own school which is run by professional teachers at a cost of Shillings 300 per month which is sometimes also difficult to come by for the residents there.

Pastor Ambani further notes that there are various peace initiatives that are ongoing in his community that seek to avert a repeat of the 2007/2008 post poll chaos. The church leaders he says have joined hands with various stakeholders that include the local leaders to preach peace across the board and ensure that peace prevails before and after the elections. He adds that many pastors from the different ethnic groups have been invited to preach to the various congregations in the community to remind them of their oneness in Christ and urging them not to perceive each other through the very many different colours of ethnic bigotry that led the country into a mess then.

Kiambiu has had to grapple with various other problems, but Pastor Ambani says that the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step which they have already started. Theirs is an example that should be emulated by the community mobilisers seeking to bring the desired change in their various communities. He says that they have learnt to incorporate all the members of their community regardless of their religious affiliation.

In another area in Kangemi area, insecurity was once a big problem that the people had been grappling with for long time. The Mau Mau Bridge, an area that connects two areas in Nairobi – Kangemi and Kawangware – was one of the most dangerous spots in the Kangemi area. Many people had been mugged, maimed, raped and their bodies dumped in the river even during the day. Community mobilising that brought forth community policing and various other initiatives improved the security there and the residents of the two areas can live their lives without fear.

Pastor Protus Luyai who was also one of the TOT’s says that after the training, they were able to mobilise the members of the community and demanded that the issues be dealt with. The men took up the challenge and started doing patrols in groups from time to time and with time, flood lights were erected and the lighting has come a long way in ensuring that security has improved greatly.

Kangemi Location’s chief, Otieno Oduor, says that the incidences of insecurity have reduced tremendously since they partnered with the community to look at the insecurity issues.

“Mau Mau Bridge was a danger spot for the residents. In a month approximately 6 to 7 cases of incidences that ranged from murder, rape, attacks even with guns during the daytime was the order of the day. We partnered with the community to do regular patrols and also the numbers of the Administrative Police was increased and this helped the situation. After putting up all the measures to improve security in the area, security has tremendously improved and the people are happy. We are even looking to build a police post just beside the Mau Mau Bridge to heighten security even more,” he stated.

He notes that most of the perpetrators of the heinous crimes were people from other areas who had decided to terrorise the residents there.

The Chief Security of the Administrative Police, Joseph Kibor, stated that the regular patrols played an important role in turning around the situation.

“The Administration Police and the church leaders have had a cordial relationship for a long time and this had led to tremendous developments in this area. We look at these people as our friends and even when one had been accused of doing something, we don’t manhandle them; we take them to the police station and let the law take its course.  This good relationship has ensured that many more people are coming forward with important information about crimes that are about to be committed as they know that they are helping their community and themselves,” stated Kibor.

He noted that the people involved in vices are always coming up with new ways of perpetuating their acts and the community has been very helpful in aiding the security administrators with the information.

“The people who transport the illicit liquor -chang’aa- have devised new ways of carrying the liquor. They used to transport in the 20 litre jerricans but nowadays they even put in plastic paper bags and use the egg trays to transport it. One might think that one is transporting eggs, yet they are transporting the illicit liquor. The people in the community give us this information and we are grateful and this is why we have a cordial relationship,” stated Kibor.

The chief noted that the young people are increasingly seeking wisdom from the older men in society and this ensures that they are on the right side of the law. He stated that there are various peace committees that are always meeting to talk about peace issues. The area was not affected much during the post poll chaos but the Landlords had been blamed for increasing the rent and this is one of the issues that the peace committees are seeking to address before the next elections.

The chief states that the Kazi Kwa Vijana project- work meant for the youth project – that was initiated by the government, has also improved the livelihoods of the young people in the area as they could no longer idle around.

“We cannot always blame poverty for the many atrocities that bedevil our society. The young people who are mostly the perpetrators need guidance and ideas on how to develop themselves in order for them to become the best people in society,” stated the chief.

Other incidences that the chief says are rampant in Kangemi include: Cases of child abuse, domestic issues, child neglect, prostitution, and numerous others.

The people in this area were also able to agitate for a health centre which was built by the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which also charges Shillings 20 for the women to deliver.

The two communities have been able to demand for service delivery through proper mobilisation strategies and this if followed by many communities that experience poor service delivery, the country will experience tremendous developments.

Fiona Imbali, OAIC Communications.

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