Issuu on Google+

Mathare Slum

accesso alle risorse e implicazioni per la sicurezza alimentare access to resources and implications for food security

First of all, we want to appreciate the possibility that Karibu Afrika Onlus, Regione Veneto, Interdepartmental Centre on Human rights and the rights of Peoples and Agronomi e Forestali Senza Frontiere gave us, AceA Onlus and Fondazione Raphael Onlus/Ong for their support on data collection. Especially we want to thanks Luca Marchina, Marco Gottero and Tamara LittamĂŠ for their support during our field work in Kenya and Cristina Vitale for the coordination of our work in Italy. Moreover, we would like to thank Professor De Stefani for his contribution to this research. We would like to thank Livia Marchetti (University of Bologna) and Sara Fabian (University of Padova) for their precious contribution to the publication. The interviews they made in the farmers community of Ngong were a significant support for our research. We would never be able to complete successfully our research without the contribution of Julian Ongoma, Martha Lutomia, K. Dennis Kipchumba, Erik Masinde and Cytheria Kamau. Finally, we thank all those we have not mentioned that in some way contributed to the realization of this research, above all the community of Mathare. Marco Berdusco & Giulio Levorato


Mathare slum

Access to resources and implications for food security


Preface Paolo De Stefani, UniversitĂ  di Padova, Centro diritti umani

The survey presented in this book qualifies as particularly interesting under several aspects. Firstly, because it is the outcome of a research conducted in the slum of Mathare by a mixed team of master students of the Universities of Padua and Nairobi, as part of a project of cooperation supported by the Veneto Region. The project, in other words, since its inceptions, has incorporated a research dimension focusing on the planned concrete actions’ impact on the local sociocultural context, environmental and economic context (actions included the creation of a community garden for food production). By incorporating the critical analysis of ongoing actions, the project has become a cause for reflecting on the limits of the cooperation plans, including their multifaceted social implications. Reflexivity is often a neglected dimension in development cooperation actions. And yet it is only a vivid intellectual attentiveness about what you are doing allows you to reform a course of action, reset it, renew it in a more or less radical way. The first important message of this book has thus to do with the methods of decentralized cooperation for development: integrating a critical and self-critical thinking is key for the any sustainable cooperation project.


Mathare slum

Some further remarks regard the content of this survey. The research was carried out in a short lapse of time, but the team managed to involve as many as 160 people (and their families), called to fill in a complex questionnaire and express their views about sensitive topics. From the data collected, as summarized for the present publication, some very interesting points emerge. A first important finding is the confirmation of how dense and multilayered is the social fabric of a “shanty town” such as Mathare. Only a superficial look, conditioned by colonialist prejudices, could consider the reality of a slum like this in Ngong, a few kilometers from Nairobi, as it were an amorphous conglomeration, with no history or identity, virgin land open to any appropriation. Mathare is the scene of poverty and discrimination – of “spatial” exclusion first of all, being an area of squatter settlements. However, a complex and sophisticated web of power and political relations takes shape - perhaps just because of the forced and radical precariousness of life. Life in a slum shows the brutality of a social fabric based on “legal fictions” (the “private property” of the land is fiction, as well as the existence of an administration of the slum, and the existence of regulated economic exchanges ...). Besides this, however, stands the power of solidarity, represented by the web of Community-Based Organisations. On food security, the picture this survey presents is of appalling hardship. Legal and cultural barriers make it difficult for the inhabitants of the slum to have access to adequate food. Environmental degradation and pollution are the hallmark of a community deprived of the means of subsistence, and therefore forced to mere survival. The report shows the dramatic side of expres-

Access to resources and implication for food security


sions that are often manipulated as empty buzzwords: “empowerment”, “participation”, “human rights based approach”, “human security”, etc.. The critical and self-critical analysis provided by this survey pushes all actors and stakeholders to address an issue of key importance for Africa and the world, today and in the future, that is how to grant access to vital goods such as water and food, as basic condition for the enjoyment of human rights and human security. This survey suggests that a pragmatic attitude, a fact-based evidence methodology, and specific policies for the most vulnerable are key to achieve food security. It is no small thing.


Brief description of the project “Coltivare il futuro - Food security a Jukumu Letu”

Introduction This booklet aims to present a qualitative and quantitative survey of the food security situation for women and children and the right to food in the community of the Mathare Slum in Ngong (Nairobi), in the Rift Valley province of Kenya. It is one of the exchange activities planned as part of the “Coltivare il futuro, Food Security for Jukumu Letu” project, launched in April 2012 by Karibu Afrika Onlus (KAO). Brief description of the project The Coltivare il futuro project began in September 2010, during a meeting which brought together Karibu Afrika and Jukumu Letu representatives to develop strategies which would ensure the selfsufficiency of Jukumu Letu kindergarden for the next 5 years. Jukumu Letu is a school which was set up in 2007 in Ngong (Kenya), with the aim of helping children aged between 0-6/7 living in the nearby slums of Mathare in vulnerable socio-economic position or orphans. Jukumu Letu aims to improve children’s physical and psycho-social state and make families and society more responsible for the care of vulnerable children. Jukumu Letu guarantees pre-school education and two meals per day to 142 children.


Mathare slum

The Coltivare il futuro project is the first step towards a greater plan to achieve the following results in the next 5 years: -Food Sustainability: improving the students’ diet by starting up an organic farm; -Social Sustainability: rebuilding Jukumu Letu on its own plot of land and opening a primary school; -Economic sustainability: building and managing an ecofriendly community guest-house. Coltivare il futuro, food security for Jukumu Letu is a one-year project that aims to make Jukumu Letu kindergarten (located in Ngong, Mathare Slum, Rift Valley Province, Kenya) self-sufficient through the construction, creation and management of an organic farm which provides for the children’s daily food requirements. Additionally, ad hoc training activities on organic agriculture and marketing of farming products will be provided to guarantee the sustainability of the project. The project also provides a programme which raises awareness about organic agriculture/biodiversity, as well as expanding research in the field of food security. Furthermore, the project has planned some sharing and exchanging activities between Italian and Kenyan beneficiaries such as workshops. Partners Lead Agency: Karibu Afrika Onlus (KAO - Padua, Italy), is a non-profit association created in 2007 in Padua which works in Italy, Kenya and Zambia to promote intercultural exchange activities among young people from different so-

Access to resources and implication for food security


cial and cultural backgrounds. KAO implements development projects and promotes activities in the fields of education, vocational training, intercultural exchange, sports and social inclusion. KAO works in strict collaboration with several local associations and CBOs. Implementing partner: Karibu Afrika Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya) Local partners: Jukumu Letu (Ngong, Kenya), Agrosphere (Nairobi, Kenya) and KARDS (Nairobi, Kenya) Other Italian partners: Centro interdipartimentale di ricerca e servizi sui diritti della persona e dei popoli (Padua, Italy), Agronomi e Forestali Senza Frontiere Onlus (Padua, Italy), Acea Onlus (Milan, Italy) and Fondazione Raphael ONLUS/ONG (Rome, Italy). Donor The project’s main donor is the Veneto Region which is financing the project with €38772.50, equivalent to 71.37% of the total expected cash expenditure. The balance is covered by the contribution of the partners. Project Duration 1st April 2012 – 31st March 2013 Needs Analysis 1) 50% of the population in Kenya lives on less than $1 per day and 30% of the population is malnourished. In particu-


Mathare slum

lar, according to the needs analysis of the Mathare Slum, food security is not assured. 2) Despite only 12.65% of the soil being fertile and adequate for agriculture, today agriculture is the main activity in Kenya, involving about 75% of the population. Organic agriculture was recently introduced to Kenya but is spreading very fast with a wide range of products. Project objectives The main objective of the project is to help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and improve the quality of life and health in the community of Ngong (Kenya). This is with special attention to women and children in line with MDGs 1, 3, 4, 7 and 8 of the UN International Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Declaration on Food Security in Rome (FAO 1996). The specific objectives of the project are the following: 1. To guarantee sufficient nourishment for the children of Jukumu Letu through access to healthy and safe food, based on the principles of biodiversity. 2. To empower the parents/tutors of the children of Jukumu Letu, with special attention to women by providing vocational tools and management knowledge. 3. To generate social awareness of securing food and biodiversity both in Kenya and in Italy. Beneficiaries The Coltivare il futuro project began because of the needs

Access to resources and implication for food security


expressed by the parents and tutors of the children of Jukumu Letu kindergarden who became project beneficiaries and stakeholders at the same time. We adopted a participatory approach involving beneficiaries since the purpose of the project is to allow them to gain ownership, knowledge and expertise of the project management. Direct beneficiaries: 1. 142 Jukumu Letu students; 2. 30 parents/tutors participating in the training courses; 3. 4 Kenyan university students (2 Agriculture, 2 Political Science); 4. 4 Italian university students (2 Agriculture, 2 Political Science); 5. 30 beneficiaries from the Ngong community involved in horticultural training; 6. 30 Italian students and 30 Kenyan young people involved in the intercultural exchange activities; 7. At least 300 participants attending the public events in Italy; 8. 1 Kenyan beneficiary participating in the intercultural exchange activities in Italy. Indirect beneficiaries: 1. The households of the Jukumu Letu students; 2. The local communities of the Mathare Slum. Predicted outcomes 1. Healthy and safe diet guaranteed for the children of Ju-


Mathare slum

kumu Letu by creating a shared school garden in which the parents/tutors of the children will have an active role. 2. An improvement in the agricultural skills of the parents/ tutors of the children of Jukumu Letu through theoretical and practical training based on the methodology of “learning by doing”. 3. An enhanced awareness of organic agriculture and biodiversity in the Ngong community. Furthermore, the current food security of the Ngong community will be documented by field research and an intercultural exchange programme involving Kenyan and Italian university students. 4. The inhabitants of the Veneto Region will be educated about food security and environmental sustainability through theoretical and practical training. A real change in lifestyle and consumption patterns through research and cultural exchange, with the participation of one beneficiary from the Kenyan project. Planned activities: 1.1 Preparation activities. 1.2 Land research. 1.3 Rental of a 1-acre agricultural plot. 1.4 Purchase and installation of a 10,000 liter tank with steel support towers. 1.5 Construction of an organic greenhouse with a drip irrigation system, equipped with agricultural tools and seeds. 1.6 Creation of a list/menu of organic products grown in the garden and used in the children’s diet at Jukumu Letu. 1.7 Initiation of horticultural organic production.

Access to resources and implication for food security


1.8 Sale of agricultural surpluses in local markets. 2.1 Training course on organic agriculture (20 participants, at least 70% women). 2.2 Training course on the marketing/sale of organic products (10 participants, at least 70% women). 3.1 Selection and training in Italy of 4 Italian students (2 Agriculture, 2 Political Science), volunteers to act as junior trainers and researchers in the project . 3.2 Selection and training in Kenya of 4 Kenyan students (2 Agriculture, 2 Political Science), volunteers to act as junior trainers and researchers in the project . 3.3 A horticulture workshop (30 participants, at least 70 % women, 3 days). 3.4 A “Female Economic Empowerment Committee”. 3.5 Research into food security for women and children in Ngong. 3.6 2 seminars/workshops of 3 days each concerning food security and environmental issues for 30 Italian students and 30 young people from the Ngong community. 4.1 4 training meetings and 1 awareness conference. 4.2 Involvment of 1 project beneficiary in local public events carried out in the Veneto Region and a public presentation of the experience. 4.3 Publication and promotion of the research into food security and the right to food around the Veneto Region.


Research methodology

Objective The main objective of the research is to give a comprehensive overview of food security in the Mathare Slum (Ngong). The research provides a way of better understanding the reality and the needs of the Mathare community. The research will be used as an educational and communication tool in the Veneto Region Moreover, the research will try to help ensure more effective management of Mathare by the community itself, by the government and by the local administration. The research should guide associations, CBOs and NGOs when planning future projects or activities in the slum. The research will highlight the existence of equal conditions between men and women, adults and children in the right to food access. Team The research team was made up of four political science university students, two Italian and two Kenyan. The Italian students, Marco Berdusco and Giulio Levorato, were selected from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Padua after successfully winning a grant. The Kenyan students, Dennis Kipchumba and Eric Masinde, were selected by the Diakonia Institute from the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Nairobi. The team was coordinat-


Mathare slum

ed by Marco Gottero (Karibu Afrika Onlus representative) and Bokada Buluma (Director of Diakonia Institute) under the supervision of Luca Marchina (Karibu Afrika Kenya Director). Approach to food access Food access was the main topic of the research and we analyzed its main variations, starting from the general situation and living conditions in the slum, then approaching issues that are affecting the inhabitants’ access to food such as access to land, water and sanitation.

Access to resources and implication for food security


mogenous geographical distribution of the sample on the total area of the slum and the parameter of an equal gender and age distribution. Most of the interviewees were women (113 people, 70.63% of the sample) because, for safety reasons, the interviews were conducted during the day when the majority of men were at work and not in the slum. The average age of the sample was 32 years. The age and gender of the 680 individuals presented in the interviews is summarized in the table and graph below:

Target location The target location was the Mathare Slum, Ngong. The location was selected since most of Jukumu Letu students and their families live in the slum. Only Mathare Slum dwellers were interviewed. Mathare is unusual compared to other slums: the peri-urban location, the composition of its inhabitants and the almost total absence of reliable information or studies. Sample size All the data presented in the booklet is based on the information gathered from a sample size of 160 interviewees representing 160 families out of 824 that are estimated to be living in the slum. Since each family is, on average, composed of 4.25 members, our sample covered 680 individuals among an estimated population of 3,500 inhabitants. We chose our respondents following the parameters of the ho-

An interesting piece of data to highlight is that 51% of the individuals interviewed were under 18.


Mathare slum

Looking at the marital status, almost 50% of the interviewees are married, followed by single (30.63%), divorced (11.88%) and separated (1.25%). As for religious make-up, the vast majority are Protestant (60.13%), followed by Catholic (31.65%), Muslim (3.8%), Animist (3.2%) and Rastafarian (1.2%). None were atheist. In terms of spoken languages, the entire sample is able to speak at least two different languages. One is the langauge of the native tribe and the other is Kiswahili. 54.38% of the interviewees also speak English as a third language. Focusing on the ethnic distribution of the interviewees, the majority are Kikuyu (56.69%), followed by Kamba (14.65%) and Luhya (8.92%).

Access to resources and implication for food security


Questionnaire To better expand the questionnaire, the research team did 15 days of assessment in the Mathare Slum with several field visits, long walks in the slum and informal interviews to test the questionnaire. The assessment was useful for the team both to gain a better picture of the slum and also to share knowledge between members. See below for the questionnaire used in the interviews:


Mathare slum

Access to resources and implication for food security


Interviews We carried out 160 interviews, following and filling in the questionnaire whilst trying to maintain a conversational tone. We conducted the interviews both in respondents’ houses or along the road based on the interviewer’s choice. We worked in two teams, each one composed of one Italian and one Kenyan student. The teams worked in different areas of the slum trying to cover all of the areas equally. Each interview started with a brief introduction of the team and the interviewee. The respondent had the choice whether to be interviewed in English or Swahili. On average each interview last for 15/20 minutes. The interviews were always conducted in a way which allowed interviewees to make relevant comments or give their own opinion, or to ask us more information about the purpose of the research. Data Once the interviews were completed, we entered the data into software which compiled it in a way which meant that relevant statistical information could be obtained. The research adopted Sex and Age Disaggregated Data (SADD) for data collection, analysis and use.


Chapter 1

Overview of Matahre slum “Officially slums do not exist. Maps of Nairobi’s urban center almost universally show slums as unoccupied land.” UN-Habitat “[…] There are no real owners here; if someone tells you that a person is the owner of the place in reality they are only someone who rents the land, but is not entitled to it .” Resident of Mathare

The Mathare Slum is located in the town of Ngong near the Ngong Hills along the Great Rift Valley in southern Kenya, about 20 km from the city of Nairobi. Ngong is the central town of the Ngong division in the Kajiado District. The location of Mathare is very atypical in comparison with other big slums, being located in the immediate periphery of the large city of Nairobi. It is situated in a semi-urban area neither in the city nor in a rural zone. We asked for some explanations about it: “There was land available for the slum to spread. Ngong is a little town, the majority consider it more homely than Nairobi, it’s growing economically and it’s a cosmopolitan community. There are possibilities for the people of Mathare to get into the employment market in the buses (matatu) that leave from Ngong, in the rich houses, and it is near Nairobi but cheaper than there”. Anyienda Matsalia, Director of Jukumu Letu kindergarten


Mathare slum

According to the data obtained from the local authorities and the inhabitants of Mathare, the slum came into existence between 1963 and 1969, soon after the nation became independent. The land where the slum is now located once belonged to a rich white man who gave it to the Bank of Kenya as a guarantee for a loan he took out. He was not able to pay the loan back and so the land was taken by the Bank. Since the bank of Kenya later became the Central Bank, the land was passed on to the government. After this, one man was particularly important in how the slum evolved. “A man called Kanume was very important in the foundation and the evolution of Mathare because he was a sort of chairmain for the whole area and all the people who wanted to move there had to go through him like today you have to go through the village elders and the Chief. Also the other chiefs of this area had to go through him when a new family arrived, even if Kanume was not the owner of this area.” Joseph, resident of Mathare There are two moments in the history of Kenya that have had huge consequences in terms of the demographical growth and geographic expansion of the slum: Firstly, “In 1982, there was also a “political crisis” followed by a period of violence in the country, especially in this region. And so a lot of people came here searching for better living conditions.” Resident of Mathare

Access to resources and implication for food security


The second was in 2007-2008 during the period of postelectoral violence. The slum was seen as a safer place to go and so many people, in particular from other parts of Nairobi, moved there. This meant that in the last four years there has been an increase in the number of residents. This is also because of the ambiguous politics of the former local authorities who promoted a climate of corruption and the establishment of illegal settlements in the area of Mathare in charge of money. “Today the land belongs to the government and so you have to make an informal agreement with the Chief to rent a piece of land. There are no real owners here; if someone tells you that a person is the owner of the place in reality they are only someone who rents the land, but is not entitled to it.” Resident of Mathare


Mathare slum

Due to all of these factors, the area Chief is placing restrictions on any new family who wants to find a place in Mathare. In the words of the local authorities, Mathare is a not permanent residence. For a long time, the government has planned to move the inhabitants from the slum to another place and to rehabilitate the area. “We are looking for a space for those people […] They live in an area that is not their land so we can’t put a dispensary there or permanent structures.” Francis _County Council of Olkejuado The issue of non-permanent residencey is felt greatly by the people of Mathare, who face the threat of eviction every day. The former Member of Parliament (then Minister of Internal Security) and Vice-President George Saitoti, who unfortunately died in an plane crash in 2012, had promised to give the residents of the slum ownership of the land, but after his death nobody has continued with the project, even if the people continue to call for it. From the data we have obtained, looking at the official register of the inhabitants, there are 812 families in Mathare. The estimated population is 3,451 in an area of 22 acres, corresponding to 0.09Km². The density of the population is 38.345 per square kilometer. We have already seen the composition of the sample; the majority of the people have casual jobs and, on average, a family in Mathare lives on 368.67 Kenyan shillings per day (€3.25). Almost all the data is unofficial, because no official register exists in the govern-

Access to resources and implication for food security


mental offices which themselves too often show a lack of knowledge and general information about the slum.


Chapter 2

Administration of the slum “We cannot put permanent structures in Mathare, because it isn’t a permanent place, we are looking for a space for those people.” Francis “Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure that the rights of all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction are recognized by the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Art.2, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

2.1 Local administration The administration system, in particular at local level, is very stratified and heterogeneous. Some authority roles come from a democratic route following independence, others clearly belong to a colonial inheritance that is still present at a political level. 2.1.1 Chief During the colonial era, a British government official was in charge of enforcing authority and the laws of the Crown over the whole colony, even its remotest parts. With the end of colonialism, the figure of Chief took over the majority of this power.


Mathare slum

This is the part of the interview with the Assistant Chief in charge of the area of Mathare (24 October 2012): Legend → Researcher: - ; Interviewed: *

- How does the Chief come to power? * It is not an elective office. The candidates for the position of Chief must present a CV and all the necessary documents to the Provincial Administration and Internal Security before being called for an interview. The qualities looked for include: the ability to relate well to the public and having the charisma of a leader. Afterwards, the panel of interviewers investigate to confirm the integrity and the honesty of the candidate. At the end of this procedure, if the candidate is suitable, he/she is employed. […] - I’ve read the Chief ’s Authority Act and it seems that the Chief has a lot of powers within judicial authority. * It’s true, but my role still remains mainly administrative; I’m engaged in the civil cases (marital disputes, little brawls etc.). The criminal cases are referred to the police and delegates . The term “civil cases” is very reductive when defining the powers of this important figure in the local administration. To better understand the distinctiveness of this office and the variety of his powers, we want to report an extract from paragraphs 8, 10 and 11 of Chapter 128 of the Chiefs’ Authority Act: “8. (1) Any chief or assistant chief may interpose for the purpose of preventing, and shall to the best of his

Access to resources and implication for food security


ability prevent, the commission of any offense by any person within the local limits of his jurisdiction. [...] 10. Any chief may from time to time issue orders to be obeyed by the persons residing or being within the local limits of his jurisdiction for any of the following purposes: (a) prohibiting or restricting the consumption or possession of intoxicating liquor by, and the supply of such liquor to, young persons;[...] (c) prohibiting or restricting the cultivation of poisonous or noxious plants, and the manufacture, transfer, sale and possession of noxious drugs or poisons; (d) prohibiting or restricting the carrying of arms; (e) prohibiting any act or conduct which, in the opinion of the chief, might cause a riot or a disturbance or a breach of the peace; (f) preventing the pollution of the water in any stream, watercourse or water-hole, and preventing the obstruction of any stream or watercourse;[...] (h) preventing the spread of disease, whether of human beings or animals; (i) prohibiting any act or thing which may cause damage to any public road or to any work constructed or maintained for the benefit of the community; 11. Any chief may from time to time issue orders to be obeyed by the persons residing within the local limits of his jurisdiction for any of the following purposes [...] (c) requiring persons to report the presence within the local limits of his jurisdiction of any property stolen or believed to have been stolen outside such local limits; [...]

Mathare slum


(f) requiring any person to report to his chief without delay the arrival in or the passage through his location from without of any cattle;[...] (h) requiring the proper burial of deceased persons in cemeteries or otherwise; (i) forbidding the deliberate exposure of persons supposed to be dying […]”. The Chief is the first link between the people of the slum and the government. He/she is also the center of all semiformal offices: “A chief or assistant chief may employ any person or persons subject to his jurisdiction to assist him in carrying out the duties imposed upon him by this Act or otherwise by law, and any person so employed may carry out and give effect to any lawful order given by a chief or assistant chief “ Chiefs Authority Act, Cap.128, Paragraph 7 We interviewed one of these “assistants”, a village elder, and we asked him to explain to us the composition of the structure under the authority of the chief. Here is an extract from the interview (22 October 2012): Legend → Researcher: - ; Interviewed: *

- What is your role in Mathare? * I’m sort of a secretary of the village, one of my tasks is to do a census of the people living in Mathare, to ensure that children at-

Access to resources and implication for food security


tend school, to serve as a connection between the slum and the Social Offices of the Government. I also often collaborate with the Chief if there are some special requirements; […] - What is the purpose of all these figures in the slum? * The Chief is only one person and obviously cannot control the entire area which is under his administration […] - Can you give us an idea of how the local administration is structured?


Mathare slum

- Are all the tribes represented in the Committee? * Yes. - Is it true that the most present tribe in the slum is Kikuyu? * Yes, but there are many others: Luhya, Luo, Kalenjin etc ... - The Chief is a Kikuyu? * Yes, he is half Kikuyu and half Maasai [...]” We can see from the words of the Chief, of the village elder and from Kenyan law that there is an intricate and semi-formal network of power relations and connections between offices. This is how the territory is controlled in the broader sense, from the issues within the administrative field to the management of family disputes and private tensions. The system is designed, in particular with regard to to the Chief ’s tasks, in an arbitrary way recalling the colonial policies. Moreover, the principal roles reflect the composition of the population of the area, hence being occupied by the Kikuyu people. However, the role of the Chief has changed a lot compared to the past. He is a more qualified figure whose tasks are more defined; however, the current Constituition of Kenya does not clearly spell out the position of the Chiefs. 2.1.2 County Council of Olkejuado The County Council of Olkejuado was formed in the 1940s

Access to resources and implication for food security


when it began as the local native council. After Kenya attained independence in 1963, the council became the County Council of Olkejuado (CCO) serving the Kajiado District. The council is legally regulated by the local Government Act (Cap 265) Laws of Kenya. It is mandated to legislate, execute and levy rates as well as provide services within its area of jurisdiction. The council carries out its functions through council meetings, committees and subcommittees. The full Council is the supreme decision-making unit of the council and it enacts by-laws to govern the local authority. The council is further divided into the following committees: • Town planning, Works and Marketing Committee • Environment Committee • Livestock and Agricultural Committee • Finance and General purpose Committee • Audit Committee • Youth and Aids (AIDS or aid?) Committee • Education, Housing and Social Committee • Tourism and Wildlife Committee These committees are further supported by services departments that provide technical advice and are in charge of coordinating and implementing policy decisions and the running of the day-to-day operations of the Council. These departments are: • Clerk’s Department • Treasurer • Education • Works and Engineering • Audit


Mathare slum

Access to resources and implication for food security


• Physical Planning • Civic Department • Social Services • Environment

2.1.3) Local authority As we weren’t able, despite our best attempts, to meet the politicians, we asked the County Council for some information about their tasks:

We asked to an official of the department of Social Services what the issues related to Mathare that involve the County Council are:

“The Councilor makes the policies; we have a meeting with him every 3 months […] The politicians don’t assist people; they block and interfere with the management of that particular area.” Francis

“Each year, the Local Authority Trust Fund (LATF) gives us some money that we use to work with the local social offices. We provide water, build classrooms, dispensary, we have food programs for disabled people and children especially. […] We cannot put permanent structures in Mathare because it isn’t a permanent place, we are looking for a space for those people. The administration sometimes visits the slum. We can only provide water. There is a plan to do research into Mathare but I am blocked by the politicians.” Francis It is clear that the County Council have a little bearing in the administration of Mathare. From the interview with the officer, there also emerges a lack of basic information about the slum, reflecting the inaction and perhaps indifference to the problems of Mathare. None of our respondents have ever been to the County Council to ask for help or assistance. Another body which is perceived as irrelevant in the administration of life in slum, whilst at the same time being one of the reasons for its existence, is the local authority, as the political branch of the local administration.

Maintaining the inhabitants of Mathare in a permanent situation of need assure themselves a constant field of assured votes in exchangeof little gifts and promises during the election period. 2.2 Informal Networks: In many ways the slum is a world apart. Mathare is isolated from the town of Ngong, despite being geographically close and 61% of our respondents confirm they don’t receive any assistance from it. This data is important because it is closely linked with the mistrust that people have in the public system but also results in the social exclusion of the inhabitants of Mathare and the isolation of the slum as a whole from official assistance, in particular for new residents. This particular type of exclusion is called “spatial” and it affects people who live in certain areas like the slum. Those people may be prevented from fully participating in national economic and social life or can find it harder to get a job because of the social stigmas that may be attached to them.


Mathare slum

This spatial exclusion is both a result and a cause of poverty because it denies some people the same rights and opportunities as are afforded to others in society. Social exclusion explains why some groups of people remain poorer than others, have less food, have less water, are less economically or politically involved, and are less likely to benefit from services. Furthermore, social exclusion is a leading cause of conflict and insecurity inside the community both because they are denied a voice in decision-making processes and young people feel alienated form society and excluded from job opportunities. Over the years, the inhabitants of Mathare began to create networks of solidarity and mutual assistance, in particular on behalf of sick and elderly people who are assisted both economically and emotionally. Many workers in the market have special agreements with the families that provide for the use of credit. There are some CBOs working with those who are HIV positive and the disabled. They have also formed a community police that patrol the slum during the day. In this context, the churches and their projects have a central role. We interviewed the Father of the Catholic Cathedral and the Pastor of a Pentecostal church of Ngong about their projects: “Church related activities, pastoral guidance, we also offer some jobs to people. [...] We have the “Restore Hope Institute” which gives training on practical subject, like domestic work, computers, fashion and beauty. We are also planning a mechanic’s course, we have a Welfare Fund that works like a bank – it

Access to resources and implication for food security


started 12 years ago and we recollect funds and we invest in social projects. [...] In terms of food security, we don’t have a real project, but when there is an emergency we call the Peace and Justice Department of the Dioceses which contacts donors or others parishes to gather money for food and other items .“ Father John Kariuki_Ngong Catholic Cathedral “We have CBO with disabled people, we do pastoral activities and training in different subjects. I am also trying to fund talented people who exist in the community so that they don’t miss out on the opportunities that their talents could give them “. Pastor Peter Nderito_First love pentecostal church Social redemption of the inhabitants of slums helps to challenge the stereotypes which see them as reaching out and being totally dependent on aid and charity.


Chapter 3

Access to land “Without secure land rights, individuals and communities live under the constant threat of eviction, impacting on a range of fundamental human rights.” Institute for human rights and business - Land Rights Issues in International Human Rights Law; Elisabeth Wickeri & Anil Kalhan “You know, it often happens that people who have lived here for a long time rent to others –, first come, first sell.” A village elder of Mathare

General overview The ownership of land is a critical issue in the Mathare Slum. The place is nothing other than an informal settlement on land which officially belongs to the government. ‘Temporary’ is an adjective that qualifies Mathare both in the words of the authorities and in the words of the population, according to their different points of view. In its 2005 ‘Slum Upgrading Strategy’, the government admits that “a common denominator in the urban slums and informal settlements of Kenya is the lack of security of tenure and/ or residency”. It commits to “regularize land for purposes of integrating the settlements into the formal physical and economic frameworks of urban centres” (Kenya the unseen majority: Nairobi’s two million slum-dwellers, Amnesty International 2009 p.13). Seven years on, this promise is yet to be delivered. The Area Chief is worried about the situation


Mathare slum

in the slum, in particular in terms of overpopulation and insecurity. At the same time he is very clear about describing issues related to land ownership. Here is an extract from the interview with him (24 October 2012): Legend → Researcher: - ; Interviewed: *

- How does a new family settle in Mathare? * Mathare is only a village, it is not a permanent place, the Ministry of the Interior has no plans to relocate those people. The community has grown in an atmosphere of corruption supported by the former Chief, now we can no longer allow other people to settle in the village.

Access to resources and implication for food security


ployment and by the cheap rent and living conditions in an area which is evidently growing economically and is more “homely” than the large town of Nairobi without being far from it. Equally, the great majority of the people of Mathare don’t think of it as their home or a permanent place, but as a temporary location, an initial step towards a better life. But the reality is that many people are swallowed inside the slum and they often end up spending the rest of their lives there. Thirty families in a sample of 160 families answered the question “Where do you come from” with “Mathare Ngong”. The following graph reflects, in percentages, the combined data from answers to the question “How long have you lived in your current location (i.e. the Mathare Slum)?”:

- Are the people who live in Mathare the owners of the land and houses in which they live? * No - The Minister of Internal Security, George Saitoti, originally from Mathare and who died in a plane crash last June had promised to grant ownership of the land to the people of Mathare, is that correct? * Yes, the Minister had taken on this responsibility, but was not able to execute it because he died. The majority of Mathare’s inhabitants have been forced there by circumstances, attracted by the possibilities of em-

As has been said, despite the intentions of the large majority of Mathare’s inhabitants considering the placeto be a temporary location due to circumstances, the graph shows that almost half of the sample has lived in the slum from more than 5 years. Particularly interesting is the fact that 16% of inter-


Mathare slum

viewees were born, grew up and have had a family in Mathare, so that there is currently a second generation of people born and growing up there. Moreover, on average, people live 12 years in the slum, very far from a period of transition. This is most likely due to the fact that the average income of the inhabitants of Mathare doesn’t allow for any kind of saving and consequently any kind of long-term planning. Additionally, as we have deduced from our data, we can confirm that there is a little, but influent part of stakeholder, very much interested in the permanency of the situation as it is at the moment because of the advantages, both political and economical, that they have from it.

Access to resources and implication for food security


- Why only some people pay rent and others don’t? * Some don’t pay because they own the land. - How is it possible that someone owns the land if it belongs to the government? * You know, it often happens that people who live here for a long time rent to others – first come, first sell.

- Do people in the slum pay rent or not?

It is evident from comparing this statement to our interviews that the data is contradictory. We registered the existence of an informal structure of people and rules around the management of land. The habit to the current “unclear” situation is reflected in the confused and never-ending explanations that people were giving during the interviews. But relying on our data there are some individuals who buy the land informally. It still remains governmental land, but this process gives some people the authority and the permission to act as landlords inside the slum, renting houses or pieces of land at variable prices. This is one of the main reasons people who own a piece of land prefer to rent it instead of cultivate it (only 9% of the sample cultivate a piece of land):

* Yes, some pay it, but it is very low rent.

“ - Are there people in the slum who own land and cultivate it?

- Who do they pay?

* Almost everyone who owns land prefers to rent it; agriculture is too expensive.”

* The landlord, but the land belongs to the government.

Village elder

Land management The management of land is another complicated issue. Despite the government being the official owner of the land there are some people who carry out the functions and the tasks of a landlord and a large number of people who pay a rent to them. A village elder explained this peculiar issue to us: Legend → Researcher: - ; Interviewed: *


Mathare slum

This circumstance are quite common as we can see by elaborating the answers to the question, “Who is the owner of the land in which you live?”:

The vast majority confirm that the land where they live belongs to a private person, or “landlord”. Since in our sample 69% of the residents pay rent, the data is reconfirmed. The management of land is a great business in the slum and a very remunerative market. On average, each household pays 1292.59KSH rent per month and all the households taken together spend 726636KSH per month (€7200), without any legal framework or official recognition. Housing Another issue related to land access is housing. It is no coincidence that there is nothing ressembling a house in the slum, just informal settlements. The stakeholders have no

Access to resources and implication for food security


desire to build houses in a place like Mathare which is temporary and impossible to find in any register for. The barracks are usually made with iron sheets, wood and mud and the living conditions of the people are very poor. Kenya is a part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and is legally obliged to respect, protect and fulfill the right to adequate housing as provided by Article 11(1). The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has clarified that legal security of tenure is one of the requirements which determines “adequacy” of housing. Moreover, in the report on his visit to Kenya in February 2004, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing noted that, “the complexity of the legal system governing housing and land has done little to ensure security of tenure or to facilitate realization of the right to adequate housing”.


Mathare slum

Forced evictions The lack of security of tenure also means that informal settlement dwellers are particularly vulnerable to forced evictions. Forced evictions are a violation of human rights that governments are obliged to prohibit and prevent. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights define forced evictions as: “the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection…” (General Comment No.7, paragraph 3). The UN Commission on Human Rights has also recognized that forced evictions constitute gross violations of a range of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing (UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1993/77, para 1). Only a small part of our sample put eviction as the top reason that makes their lives in the slum unsafe. The daily struggle for life means that they often consider the threat of eviction with uncertainty and far off in the future compared to other problems like food, water, rent, safety and sanitation. Yet this doesn’t mean that they don’t have a full understanding of the matter: “The land is not ours so there is the threat of eviction.” Samuel W_resident of Mathare “We can be evicted anytime from Mathare.” Evelyne K_resident of Mathare

Access to resources and implication for food security


“The living conditions are poor and we face threats of eviction.” Agnes K_resident of Mathare “I hope people change their behavior and find a job and that the government reallocates the place and creates some empowerment programs. But it’s also so probable that the bulldozers will come to demolish the slum.” Martha L_social worker The authorities are working to solve this problem but, at the same time, the Kenyan Constitution does not prohibit forced evictions, nor does the court interpret its provisions to include such a protection. There are also no specific Kenyan laws prohibiting or preventing forced evictions.


Chapter 4


“Hygiene is commonly known as cleanliness or conditions and practices that serve to promote or preserve health. A population that does not take into consideration hygiene is at risk of infection and illness. Improved housing, improved nutrition and improved hygiene are the essential components for the war against infectious diseases”. Greene, 2001 “You can only get medicine when you have money.” Agnes K_resident of Mathare

The people of Mathare constantly live in unsanitary conditions. Substandard and inadequate houses have been built in the slum with contaminated material which is unsuitable for living conditions. Mathare covers an area of 22 acres with a density of 38.345 people per Km². Overcrowding and congestion results in a lack of space; on average, 4 people share a single room which they use for cooking, sleeping and living. The lack of basic services, the visible and open sewers, the lack of pathways, the uncontrolled dumping of waste and the polluted environment leads to unhealthy and hazardous living conditions. Houses are built in dangerous locations which are unsuitable for a human settlement. Kenya is part of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:


Mathare slum

Article 12 “1. The States part of the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health. 2. The steps to be taken by the States Parties to the present Covenant to achieve this right shall include: (a) Provisions for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for healthy child development; (b) The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene; (c) The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases; (d) The creation of conditions which would ensure that all have access to medical treatment and medical attention in the event of sickness”. 74.4% of our sample have access to a toilet, but few people have one in their house; the great majority share it with the families living in the same compound (usually 3-5 families). Hence, one toilet is used on average by 12-20 people. 25.6% do not have access to a toilet, and 39% of the people who don’t have access to it pay 5KSH for the public services (one built in the center of Mathare by the Constituency Development Fund of the government, and another one immediate-

Access to resources and implication for food security


ly outside the slum in the middle of the local market). The remaining 61% who don’t have access to a toilet don’t pay and use the so-called “flying toilet” (human waste emptied into plastic bags and tossed out into the open drains). Mathare’s main problem in terms of sanitation is the presence of a large dumping site near the slum. The site makes up around a quarter of the entire territory of Mathare. See map below:


Mathare slum

The proximity of the dumping site to the inhabitants of the slum makes a profound impact on their lives. The garbage comes from the whole area of Ngong and in some cases from other places too. The children are used to playing there and many of them are affected by diarrhea and chest problems. The site becomes even more dangerous when people burn the various materials present there and when, during the rainy periods, the surrounding sewage mixed with the garbage travels to the fields of sukuma wiki which isa typical vegetable of the region. These vegetables are then usually sold in the market. The people of Mathare are “resigned” to the situation. For the most part they do not have any other option or place to go, but their perception ofthe consequences of the proximity of the dumping site are unequivocallyclear. 59% of our sample thinks that the dumping site affects the food that they eat, and 80% think that it affects their quality of life. How does the dumping site affect the food that you eat?

Access to resources and implication for food security


How the dumping site does affect your quality of life?

Bad odours and black smoke surrounding the dumping site are one of the first notable things. As for food, a huge number of flies attracted by the dumping and the sewage infest the fields of sukuma wiki, the market, the houses and the “hoteli” (Kiswahili word to define restaurant) where people eat. The ‘dirty environment’ presents a series of negative consequences linked with the proximity of the dumping site and the effects of the rain during the rainy season; in particular the overflow of sewage, floods, and water and soil contamination. The most common diseases that people attribute to the dumping site are diarrhea (sometimes chronic), chest problems (pulmonary infections), and malaria. People who say that the dumping site doesn’t affect the food that they eat and their quality of life say this because of the distance from the dumping site. The distance between

Mathare slum


the houses and the dumping site is no further than 500m. Another section of those people simply admit that they don’t have any other alternative or that they are used to the dumping site and all the problems related to it. Moreover, the dumping site is a very controversial issue. People are affected badly by it but at the same time a lot of families are able to survive only because of it. Many people work at the dumping site collecting materials (like plastic and glass) that they later sell. “What you call dumping site I call a factory.” Resident of Mathare There is a governmental plan to move the dumping site to another place but people who work there are complaining because the site is their principal source of income and without it their living conditions could be even harder. “The hope is that it will be relocated to another place where it is may become a recycling factory. It affects the health of people and the growth of children, but it’s also a controversial matter: there are a lot of people who don’t want it to be relocated because they work there. Equally, the authorities don’t seem to be eager to go on with the project because they still receive money from people working there.” John K._ Father in charge of Ngong Catholic Cathedral When they are sick, almost all the people in Mathare go to the Ngong sub-district public hospital, approximately

Access to resources and implication for food security


1.25km away from the slum. Only 7% of the sample go to a traditional doctor and usually only when they can’t afford medicine. Apart from this, the majority of people in Mathare consider the services of the hospital accessible and affordable. The real problem is the affordability of the medicine. The vast majority of the sample go to the chemist where medicine is always available, but only 38% of our sample can always afford them. “Essential medicines are a crucial component for fighting disease.Tthus, having access to them in terms of affordability, though an insufficient requirement in itself, is essential for achieving the healthrelated Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and attending to other health needs of developing countries.” MDG gap task force report 2011, UN Medicines become a luxury item closely linked to the economic means of people who mostly rely on casual jobs and uncertain incomes. “Sometimes I didn’t buy the medicine that I needed because I couldn’t afford it.” Ann N_resident of Mathare “I’m asthmatic and I often can’t afford my medicine.” David_resident of Mathare


Mathare slum

HIV and AIDS in Mathare is a huge health issue and a cause of social exclusion. We were only able to interview a few people affected by HIV, not because of the scarce presence of them but because it was very difficult to find someone willing to be interviewd. They often live alone, they don’t receive visitors unless strictly necessary. They rely on help and donations from the community: usually friends, relatives or some CBOs (the biggest one in Mathare is “Live in Positivity”). Physical and sometimes emotional isolation is not always accompanied by economic self-sufficiency. Moreover, the anti-retroviral medicines for the HIV positive are provided by the public health system. The challenges they have to face every day are even greater compared to those of the other inhabitants of Mathare. Since the economic situation for those who are HIV positive is very hard, some are forced by circumstances to sell their medicine. Some of them are even added “Changaa” (a typical but illegal liquor in Kenya which is very common in the slums) so that it becomes stronger. It is important to note that 21% of our sample mentioned sanitation as the primiary need in Mathare, and 48% mentioned sanitation as one of the main needs in the slum, even before food and security. This is an indication of how sanitation is a wide-reaching and varied concept that has a strong influence on the lives of the inhabitants of that area in every aspect.

Access to resources and implication for food security



Chapter 5


“The place is very unsafe, you cannot walk around alone after 8pm.” Stanlas, Resident of Mathare “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Art. 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Foto Daily Nation – Crashes in Ngong

5.1 A new concept of security In the 1970s and 1980s the attention toward security grew in a debate about a multidimensional approach to this matter. This dialogue has also developed in Africa, under the impetus of the “Kampala Movement”, an initiative made up of representatives from African civil society who met in Kampala, Uganda, in 1990 (M. Mascia, Obiettivo sicurezza umana per la politica estera dell’Unione Europea, CLEUP, 2010). The Movement put pressure on African leaders in order to redefine their security policy as a multidimensional process which goes beyond military issues and also takes into account economic, political and social aspects. This international debate led the UN community to create a different concept of security which was outlined in the UNDP 1994 Human Development Report entitled “New Dimensions of Human Security”. Human Security principally means protection from chronic threats such as malnutrition, disease and repression. Yetit also means protection from severe and sudden risks in eve-


Mathare slum

ryday life. The list of human security dangers is long and the report has highlighted seven broad spheres: food security, personal security, political security, health security, community security, environmental security and economic security. Human security is more or less a translation of the philosophy on human rights in terms of security. Human security is person-centered; the most important aspects are to ensure the well-being of individuals and to respond to ordinary people’s needs in dealing with sources of threats. In addition to protecting states from external aggression, human security enlarges the scope of protection to include a broader range of threats, including, for example, pollution, diseases and economic deprivation. The attainment of Human Security involves not only governments, but also a wider participation of different actors, like regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations and local communities. Human security and human development are closely related. Without guaranteed safety from personal harm, threats to life and property, human beings cannot engage in development activities that enrich their livelihoods and enable them to overcome adversities like hunger and poverty (Kenya National Human Development Report 2006). Human Security should not merely be viewed as a basic right; it is also a foundation for progress in other areas, including health, nutrition and the development of institutions of democracy and peace building (UN Secretary General, In Larger Freedom, 2005).

Access to resources and implication for food security


5.2 Security in Mathare People passing through the narrow streets of Mathare looking at the houses made of corrugated iron sheets, the open sewers and the dirty areas may think that these are the only problems. The more you stay there the more you can understand that people living in Mathare not only face deprivation and lack of basic needs, but also violence, insecurity and, in some cases, social exclusion. This scenario is confirmed by the data. Even though the Assistant Chief told us that the instances of crime are few, more than 83% of the people interviewed told us that they have experienced security problems in their area as shown in the graph below.


“Security is bad most of the time. Two days don’t pass without something happening.” Ruth W.

Mathare slum

“We experienced insecurity almost every time (I don’t understand) and it gets worse every day.” Peter N.

There are many problems related to safety: - Muggings (each person who experienced some security problems told us that muggings are the main problem related to security) - Arson (a lot of residents told us that this problem is quite common. Someone set a house on fire in order to attract all the people who live nearby so that they could rob their houses. Moreover, the fire is very dangerous for the other houses because the structures are very bad and there is insufficient water to put out the flames) - Police (a few people told us that they were frightened by the police because they are corrupt and more interested in killing undesirable people than protecting the community) - Corruption (someone told us that itis difficult to operate in an area where everything gives you an incentive tobe corrupt) Furthermore, we discovered that the dumping site is not only a sanitation issue but also presents a security problem, being one of the most dangerous places in the slum according to the residents. Most of the interviewees are scared of the people who work and hang around there. Sometimes when a thief steals something, he goes to the dumping site

Access to resources and implication for food security


to hide it because the police don’t want to search for anything in the garbage. “That dumping site is a major issue for security. The people who work there are usually angry with others and sometimes drunk.” Joseph N. The inhabitants’ perception is that security is something very important for them. From the data we have collected from the interviews we can see that security is the third most mentioned requirements in the community after food and sanitation. It is one of the main reasons which lead the respondents to say that they don’t felle safe in Mathare (60 %). Out of the remaining 40 %, 65 % of the people who told us that they feel safe in Mathare fell like this because they know that the area is unsafe but they are used to it. Feeling unsafe turns into mistrust and fear and it increases the tendency for aggression rather than for reciprocal help. Because of fear,people think it’s better not to report what happens to the police or to the Chief. Mistrust produces social uncertainty and creates a situation in which people are focused only on the present. “It’s better not to say anything to the Chief if you don’t want to be suspected. You can never know what happens with the police.” Resident of Mathare Even though the Assistant Chief told us that there aren’t any security problems, only security challenges, many residents do suffer because it is unsafe. Analyzing the reasons


Mathare slum

for this situation, we found different answers. The Pastor Peter Nderito told us that, “the most significant aspect is that there is a lot of poverty. This is closely linked with many other things like lack of safety, stealing, prostitution, drugs, children who drop out of school and other things ”. However, Martha Lutomia, a social worker, told us that the main problems are lack of capital, lack of jobs, the poor environment and that for these reasons you cannot keep expensive objects or electrical devices in your house. Do you receive any assistance?

Access to resources and implication for food security


alone”, or “every man for himself ” as Lukas said. Moreover, if you ask “where do you go if you need assistance?” several people answer, “I don’t know where to go” or “nobody can help you”. These answers become more common for those who have recently arrived in the community. Because of such exclusion, the people of Mathare have created some networks. In our research we found several groups and CBOs who work with young people and disabled people, for example . There’s only one group related to security: the community police. We interviewed the Secretary of this group who explained to us how it works. “This group came into place in 2002 due to the high level of insecurity and to the will of the community to manage this situation. The idea is that we have to make ourselves the security as community. We have informed the police and the chief that we wanted to collaborate with them and they confirmed this possibility.” Joseph N.

“One of the main problems in my opinion is that there isn’t enough money to educate children, to get healthcare and to improve the condition of the houses.” Father John Kariuki This situation ends up making the residents’ feelings of vulnerability even worse and they are forced to retreat into themselves. Mary told us: “You must take care of yourself

This security patrol consists of 15 people from 25 to 35 years old along with some senior members who guide the group. They go out every night and during the day without weapons. Each community has its own community police and these groups colaborate. For example, if a thief passes from one community to another, the community police have to inform the Chief and the community police in area where the thief has gone. Every community police force has to be recognized by the Chief who gives permission for them to operate in a specific area. As Joseph highlighted: “the first person who gives you permission to operate is the Chief ”.


Mathare slum

“Not everyone can be a member of the community police. It is the entire community that advizes the best young people from the community to join this group. It isn’t a formal meeting but we consult the members of the community, the village elders and in this way we find out who the best people are.” Joseph N. The group is not financed by an individual but the group asks for 20KSH per month from each household to help those who have suffered from crime and also to give something to the members of the group as a reward for their services. The original idea was to give them a weekly allowance but some weeks they don’t have enough money or they don’t give money to encourage the group to work for the community. In this way the reward usually comes to approximately 200KSH per month. Additionally, the community police has a monthly meeting with the Chief of the area in which they make a form of report on the security situation and the main problems that they have found. “Has the community police ever had to use violence?” “We don’t use violence but sometimes we have a severe approach, it depends on the situation. If the thief wants to run away, you can catch him, tie him with a rope and then call the police.” Joseph N. According to Joseph Ndirangu, the groups’ work has positive effects. They try to regulate crime in the community and sometimes they manage to deal with it. Joseph told us

Access to resources and implication for food security


that now the situation is better than some years ago and he hopes that it can be further improved. In spite of this, the security situation is still very bad inthe community and it harms a lot of the inhabitants.


Chapter 6

Access to water

“Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity.” General Comment No. 15 _ International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights _ 2002 “They live in an area that is not their land so we can’t put a dispensary there or permanent structures. The main challenge is water, they don’t have it, and sanitation is very poor because they don’t have latrines. There is a lot of disease, which spreasd very quickly because of prostitution and drugs.” A functionary of the County Council of Olekajuado

It is difficult to consider water as a separate issue because it is related food and sanitation amongstothers. On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the attainment of all human rights. In the guidelines provided by various agencies of the UN, water has to be sufficient, safe, physically accessible and affordable for all.


Mathare slum

Sufficient: “There is not enough water for these people.” An engineer at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation for the Kajiado area The water supply for each person must be sufficient and continuous for personal and domestic use. These uses ordinarily include drinking, personal sanitation, washing clothes, food preparation, and personal and household hygiene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between 50 and 100 liters of water per person per day are needed to ensure that most basic needs are met and few health concerns arise. In Mathare there aren’t any water pipes and since it is a temporary place there is no interest on the part of the local authorities to build permanent structures. The management of water in Mathare is a very complicated issue. We have tried to reconstruct the system behind the administration of it as best as possible but some inconsistencies still emerge when comparing the information people gave us. This information shows an intricate network of interests, unwritten rules and corruption which is largely impermeable. Water is supplied by single water projects financed by different entities or by private individuals who sell water to people from their own water holes at differing prices. The private owners have to ask a permission to drill from the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA).

Access to resources and implication for food security


There are three main water projects in Mathare: 1. Water Project of the Pentecostal Church of East Africa Given that the PCEA is situated outside of Mathare, we asked for some information from a church inside the slum which is linked with PCEA: “The water that we have here comes from the PCEA church. We buy it from there for 100KSH per unit (1,000 liters) and then we sell it for 4KSH/20 liters. Water is for everyone, not only for the people of the church and we sell it at the same price for everyone. The only problem that we have sometimes is the pipe which pasess through all the barracks and arrives here from the PCEA. Sometimes the pipe is broken because of public works.” Pastor of First Love Pentecostal Church 2. Water Project of Ngong Catholic Cathedral: “We began a borehole (I don’t think this word exists in English!) that went to a water tank near the cemetery, but there was not enough water.Then we linked it with the borehole of the San Joseph Cathedral Academy, but now it is under repair. We sell water for 5KSH per 20L to cover the cost of maintenance and the salary of the school’s watchman.” Father in charge of Ngong Catholic Cathedral 3. The Mathare Water Project This is a governmental project created by the former Member of Parliament, Saitoti, and financed by the Constituency


Mathare slum

Development Fund (CDF). There is a borehole that pumps water to a nearby water tank. Water is sold for 3KSH per 20 liters. Around 50% of the interviewees come here to get water. The majority of our respondents say water is always available, but there are cases of people saying the opposite; namely that water is only available sometimes, during certain hours or certain days.

Access to resources and implication for food security


26% of our sample said that water is not available all the time. In some cases it is available only for a few hours during the day, in other cases only once a day or even only some days during the week. On average, the inhabitants of Mathare have access to 63 liters of water per family per day. Hence, if one person usually uses only 15 liters per day, this is more than four times below the threshold indicated by the United Nations!

General information about CDF ( The Fund was set up in 2003/04 to facilitate the decentralization of national resources and enhance participation of local communities in decision making i.e. project identification, prioritization and implementation. The Minister, with the agreement of the Constituencies Fund Committee, allocate funds to each constituency each financial year. The approved areas of funding are: administration, education bursaries, emergency reserves, sport activities, monitoring & evaluation, environmental. We asked the Junior Minister for Water and Irrigation about how the governmental project is managed: “There is a committee for each project, made up of some beneficiaries.Every year in a meeting with the Chief and the Ministry they are changed by election.”

From the table, we can see that the inhabitants of Mathare have a “basic access” to water which permits consumption but makes it difficult to reach a proper level of personal and food hygiene, and makes it almost impossible to wash clothes and household items. Instead, just a few people, usually women, do laundry at their own house and ask for some


Mathare slum

money for the service. The result is that the level of health concern for these people is high. Safe: The water required for personal or domestic use must be safe, therefore free from microorganisms, chemical substances and radiological hazards that constitute a threat to a person’s health. We have asked the deputy of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation to explain to us what the phases in the implementation of a water project are: “First we do ahydrogeological exam. Then, the National Environment Management Authority reports on the impacts on the environment before we can start drilling.” Joseph J._engineer Then we asked if there are any water quality checks in place: “The Ministry of Health is in charge of this; they do periodical chemical and biological analyses.” The people of Mathare have never told us of any form of checks by the authorities, and some ofthem complain about the bad quality of the water which is often “salty”. Physically accessible: Everyone has the right to a water and sanitation service that is physically accessible within, or in the immediate vicinity of the household, educational institution, workplace or health institution.

Access to resources and implication for food security


According to the WHO, the water source has to be within 1,000 meters of the home. We have discovered that, because of the high concentration of houses and structures in little spaces, as is typical in the slum, the distance from the water sources is not a big problem. On average, the distance between the houses and the water source is 213 meters. In spite of this, the transportation of water still remains a problem, in particular for sick and old people who have to pay for it or rely on the help of their relatives. Affordable: Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) suggests that water costs should not exceed 3%of household income. The average daily income per household in Mathare is 368.67 Ksh, the average daily expenditure on water per family is 12.17 Ksh, That equates to 3.3% of a normal income in Mathare, so just a little beyond the UN threshold, but there are some cases where water expenditure constitutes up to10% of the family income. “Water is always available, but we find it difficult to pay.” Caroline A_resident of Mathare “[...] The direct and indirect costs and charges associated with securing water must be affordable, and must not compromise or threaten the realization of other Covenant rights.” General Comment No. 15 _ International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights _ 2002


Mathare slum

Water is a necessity and a right. It is clear that in the case of Mathare the minimum conditions do not exist to ensure that the right to adequate access to water is achieved. “Where achievement of full access to a basic level of service has not been achieved, policy initiatives should address increasing the numbers of households with this level of service.� Domestic Water Quantity, Service Level and Health_Guy Howard; Jamie Bartram_ WHO 2003 - Water is one of the main needs in the slum for 13% of our sample. We know that water is not an isolatedconcept but is linked to other issues. If we look at water and sanitation together, for example, we realize that 60.6% of the inhabitants of Mathare consider them to be themost fundamental need in the slum. The percentage grows if we add to this the notions of other issues which are related to water, (like food and clothing), meaning that 100% of the sample consider water, in its broader sense, to be the foremost problem in the slum.

Access to resources and implication for food security



Chapter 7

Access to food

“This day more than 17,000 children will die of hunger. One every five seconds. 6 million children a year. The world has more than enough food. Yet, today, more than one billion people are hungry.” Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, in his address to the World Summit for Food Security in November 2009 “In future will be harder to get food because of the escalating food prices.” Ann, resident of Mathare

7.1 – General framework and definition The definition of food security that was adopted by the World Food Summit in 1996 describes this concept as “a situation in which all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. This definition introduces different dimensions to the concept.


Mathare slum

Access to resources and implication for food security


All these patterns have been developed over several years of field work and have found their place in the international legal framework. The right to adequate food as a human right was first formally recognized by the international community in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, as a part of the right to a decent standard of living.

In addition to the dimensions of food security we can also analyze the different levels of food security.

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” Art.25, Universal Declaration of Human Rights It was further recognized in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a legally binding instrument for those states having ratified it.

The FAO definition that we have quoted above (“at all times”) leads us to also look at the relationship between food insecurity and time.

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right […]. 2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger […]. Art.11, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


Mathare slum

As a State party to the ICESCR, Kenya is obliged to regularly present a report on the attainment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The last report was presented in 2006 and examined by the CESCR in its session in May 2008. In its Concluding Observations, the CESCR recognized a number of advances and positive developments but expressed its concerns about the adverse effects of corruption on the attainment of economic, social and cultural rights as well as the high disparities in levels of enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, including access to land. It also noted that these disparities have led to inter-ethnic tension and contributed to the post-election violence of 2008. The FAO, moreover, adopted the “Right to Food Guidelines” in 2004 in order to offer guidance to States on how to implement the right to food. In 2000, the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food was established by the former Commission on Human Rights to promote the fulfilment of the right to food and the adoption of measures at national, regional and international levels. In the same year, the international community also adopted the Millennium Development Goal No.1 which has as its objective the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. At a regional level, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, to which Kenya is a party, specifically recognizes the right to food under the right to health. According to Article 14, State Parties must “ensure the provision of adequate food and safe drinking water”. According to Article 20(2) they must also take all appropriate measures to assist parents or other persons responsible for the

Access to resources and implication for food security


child and, where needed, should provide material assistance and support, specifically in relation to nutrition. We can also find the right to food in the new Kenyan Constitution of 2010. “Every person has the right: (a) to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care; […] (c) to be free from hunger, and to have adequate food of acceptable quality.” Art. 43, Constitution of Kenya, 2010 Serious impediments to the full realization of the right to food in Kenya are pervasive economic and social inequalities and the political exclusion of people suffering from food insecurity in the country. Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in the world and, despite increases in GDP over the past years, the discrepancies between the rich and the poor have been growing. The distribution of income in Kenya is extremely unequal with the top 10% of households controlling 42% of the total income while the bottom 10% controls less than 1% and this makes Kenya the tenth most unequal country in the world. Inequality is exacerbated by both small- and large-scale corruption. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has pointed out that pervasive corruption in the national authorities’ amounts to serious violations of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to food.


Mathare slum

The hunger situation in Kenya has been seriously exacerbated during the past years. According to the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey 2009, the reasons are “inadequate rainfall in parts of the country, post-election violence and high agricultural input prices.” This situation is highlighted by the general statistics of the FAO and WFP on the country. According to their statistics, the prevalence of undernourished people in the country was 33% in recent years, which was higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa. The 2011 UNDP Human Development Report ranked Kenya among the “low human development” countries of the world, placing it 143rd out of 187 countries. In the Food Security District Profile of the Kajiado District we can see similar data, with approximately half of the districts’ inhabitants below the poverty line. The most undernourished segment of the residents, according to the District Profile, are also exposed to nutrition-related infections due to poor health (because of the poor access to and the unaffordability of healthcare) resulting in low productivity, trapping the households in a vicious cycle of poverty. 7.2 – The situation in Mathare 22% of our respondents mentioned food as the first of their needs, and 46% consider food to be one of the main unsatisfied needs in the slum. Maize is the basic staple of the Kenyan diet. Ugali, the main dish, is a thick porridge of maize meal that is usually eaten with a sauce of vegetables or meat, or simply accompanied by fermented milk. Dishes of boiled

Access to resources and implication for food security


maize and beans (githeri) and maize, beans, vegetables and potatoes (irio) are also common. Mashed plantain (matoke) is an alternative to maize. Other staples are cassava and sweet potatoes, and rice in urban areas. People are considered well-fed and well-nourished when they can obtain safe food of sufficient quantity, variety and quality to sustain them. They need food that provides energy for growth, physical activity and basic human functions; from breathing and thinking to circulation and digestion. When starvation terminates these vital functions, people die. But when poor nutrition insidiously compromises these functions every day, it is the future that is silently forfeited. Children, their development arrested, are unable to achieve their full potential. Malnourished adults fail to develop the full range of their capabilities and are unable to function at their best. As previously mentioned, food security can be defined as “[the condition] when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food [to meet] their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. It thus encompasses the availability of food, people’s access to food and their use of food, as well as the stability of all three components. “There aren’t farms around; it could be something very important for people without an employ and a way to sustain themselves.” Father John K_Ngong Catholic Cathedral


Mathare slum

This definition includes the qualitative dimensions of safety and nutrition, linking food security to people’s energy, protein and nutrient needs for life, activity, pregnancy and growth. It also points to a horizon beyond food security, the potential for a full and active life. Human development is the expansion of capabilities: the freedoms that people have to lead lives they value. Availability: Almost our entire sample (94%) get food at the Ngong market, where many inhabitants of the slum work and where there are often special arrangements in place providing some families with the possibility to buy food on credit when they have insufficient money. 2.5% go to the little hotel in the slum (from the kiswahili word “hoteli” that means restaurant), mostly managed by women in their houses. There are also people that rely on help and donations from friends and relatives, typically old and sick people, especially the HIV positive. Only 9% of our sample has land to cultivate; the use of the land is reserved for the landlords of Mathare and everything must go through the village elders first. The people who control land are clearly linked to the local authorities, or otherwise the perimeter of land reserved for cultivation is so small that it is almost irrelevant for self-sufficiency. Moreover, cultivated land is often very near to the dumping site and therefore highly exposed to air pollution and soil contamination. The people of Mathare are totally dependent on food that

Access to resources and implication for food security


can be purchased. As such, the chance of eating depends on the daily income that they managed to gather from uncertain jobs each day. Access to food: Being able to access food is central to food security. As Amartya Sen observed in his classic work on famine and poverty: “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat”. When people go hungry, it is typically not because food is unavailable but because people are too poor to acquire it. The average household expenditure on food in Mathare is 248KSH per day, which is 67.3% of their average income. If we compare the percentage of food expenditure in Mathare with the percentage of all Kenya, we can see that, at national level in 2006 before the crises of food prices, 45.8% of the total household consumption expenditure was spent. On the other side, if we compare this with a European country, for example Italy, which in 2010 hadan average expenditure of 22.2% we see an inhabitant of Mathare spends more than three times what an Italian usually spends on food in relation to their income. Limited opportunities for paid employment at decent wages impede people’s ability to acquire food. In more than a few cases expenditure on food surpasses the daily income of a family, which, as we have said, is often constrained to buy on credit or to ask for help from the community. But even in poor households that depend on salaries and wages as a


Mathare slum

critical source of income, wages are no guarantee of a life without poverty and hunger. Almost 71% of our respondents affirm that they have at some stage not eaten for a whole day, but with variable degrees of regularity. How frequently does it happen?

It is very significant that 37% often can’t afford to eat. Often generally means once or even twice a week. 54% can’t afford to buy something to eat at least once a month. “Hunger is exclusion – exclusion from the land, from income, jobs, wages, life and citizenship. When a person gets to the point of not having anything to eat, it is because all the rest has been denied. This is a modern form of exile. It is death in life...”. Josué de Castro, Brazilian sociologist and chair of the Executive Committee of the FAO from 1952 to 1956_2004

Access to resources and implication for food security


Use of food: Even when food is readily available and accessible, good nutrition and human development do not follow automatically. Food security also depends on using food properly, which includes eating a diverse diet; avoiding nutrient losses during food preparation; having clean water and adequatesanitation and energy to ensure basic hygiene for food preparation, storage and consumption; and ensuring basic capabilities in health and education. A shortfall in any area can lead to malnutrition. We have already discussed the conditions and the lack of water and sanitation. We also know that there aren’t any water pipes and there is almost no electricity in Mathare making it very difficult to prepare food correctly. Another big problem is the diet and we know that a correct diet must be varied and must provide all the components necessary for the well-being and healthy growth of children. People in Mathare mainly eat sukumawiki, ugali, giteri and rice. The diet is a very static, rich in carbohydrates but low in protein and vitamins. Stability: Stability also refers to stability of food prices and supply. World food prices increased dramatically in 2007 and in the 1st and 2nd quarter of 2008, creating a global crisis and causing political and economical instability and social unrest in both poor and developed nations. Riots broke out in various parts of Kenya following the results of the 2007 election, forcing hundreds of thousands


Mathare slum

of people from their homes. Many of those displaced were farming families from the Rift Valley, the country’s “grain basket”. The country’s food deficit rose as many farmers were unable to plant in 2008. Food and fuel prices are still high in Kenya, making it difficult for poor urban and rural communities to access the food they need. In June 2009, the price of maize, the country’s most important staple, was nearly double what it was two years earlier. It’s obvious that Mathare and its population are also heavily affected by the crisis in terms of economic accessibility to food and the continuity of food supplies. “Since Kibaki is in power food is very expensive.” Patrick, resident of Mathare

“The price of food commodities is raising.” Ruth, resident of Mathare

Risk perception: Subjective risk perceptions are particularly valuable because they incorporate multiple factors, including the individual’s understanding of the objective risks, the individual’s expectations of his or her own exposure to risks, and his or her ability to mitigate (ex ante) or cope (ex post) with adverse events if they occur. A negative perception of the future capacity, in this case to get food, can have strong consequences for the way in which people relate themselves to life and in the way in which people manage difficulties. 70% of our respondents say that in future it will be more difficult for them to get food, and 10% say that it is unpredictable. Only 18%, often relying on God, think that in future it will be easier.

Access to resources and implication for food security


There are many reasons for this dim view of the future, but most of the inhabitants of Mathare are suffering because of the daily uncertainty that they have to face due to the absence of a permanent job and of a stable salary on which rely and which allows them save to prevent future difficulties. Moreover, we have to put this in relation to constant worry linked to the increasing cost of living and in particular of food commodities. All this puts at risk the chance these people have of improving their conditions and living with dignity. “Everyone is entitled to a social [...] order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” Universal Declaration on Human Right_1948_art.28



The aim of the booklet was to analyze the general situation in the Mathare Slum (Ngong town), focusing on the access to food for the slum dwellers, especially children and women. Mathare represents a complex and dynamic context where different aspects are mixed together. The consequences of local, national and international dynamics coexisting in the same place creates a web of factors which are difficult to investigate separately. We analyzed the situation in terms of food access in Mathare through its main declinations, starting from the general situation and living conditions in the slum, then approaching issues that affect the access to food of the inhabitants such as access to land, water and sanitation. Particularly interesting is the comparison of the households’ average income with their expenditure:


Mathare slum

The average daily income for each family is around 370 shillings, 11060KSH per month. The income is supposed to sustain a family of 4.25 people on average. Once we look at the expenditure of an average family, we discover that almost the entire amount is spent on buying food and water and paying rent. The monthly balance of each family is 1957KSH, which is supposed to cover all the extra expenditures such as school fees, transport, medicine, clothes, etc. 70.62% of the monthly income is used for feeding (food and water) the family, while 11.69% is used for renting a tiny shanty house. The balance available for other expenses is only 17.69%. We can confirm that an average family in the Mathare Slum is not in a position to save a single shilling at the end of the month. The analysis shows how Mathare is not a subsistence economy but a survival economy. Access to land affects the access to food for Mathare’s inhabitants. In contrast to in rural areas, the vast majority of the population does not practise agriculture in the slum and 69% of the residents pay rent. Land is public but people pay rent. The management of land ends up being a great business in the slum and a very remunerative market. Each family pays an average rent of 1292.59KSH per month, meaning that the slum “produces” 708470KSH per month from rent. Approximately € 7000 are “spent” outside of any legal framework or official recognizance on a monthly basis. Mathare Slum inhabitants don’t have sufficient access to safe and affordable water. The inhabitants of Mathare on

Access to resources and implication for food security


average have access to 63 liters of water per family per day. Hence one person usually uses only 15 liters per day - more than four times below the threshold indicated by the United Nations. Hygiene conditions in the slum are very poor. People live in an overcrowded and congested environment, where houses have been built with spoiled materials. One toilet is shared between 12-20 people in the majority of the cases and 25.6% have no access to a toilet at all. Moreover, the presence of a dumping site strongly affects the health of the slum dwellers, even if many people consider this irrelevant because they live thanks to it. The situation is even worse considering the low income of the inhabitants which does not guarantee the access to adequate medical treatment and proper medicine. People in Mathare live in a permanent state of insecurity. Mistrust in public officers and lack of assistance makes them feel exposed to threats on their lives and properties. In this environment, the inhabitants have more difficulty becoming engaged themselves in development activities that could enrich their lives. In terms of access to food, people are considered well-fed and well-nourished when they can obtain safe food of sufficient quantity, variety and quality to sustain their lives. Slum dwellers, without adequate access to cultivatable land, depend totally on their income to get food. Since their income is not constant and sufficient, their right to food is not guaranteed. Food security in this context is not ensured in all its aspects. Availability and stability are influenced by the volatility of


Mathare slum

food prices and by the stability of supplies. Furthermore, scarcity of water resources and lack of proper sanitation prevent the correct use of food. All the issues that we have analyzed in this booklet are strictly related to the food insecurity status of Mathare and contribute to creating poverty. Poverty is not directly a violation of human rights but is “a human condition characterized by the sustained or chronic deprivation of the resources, capabilities, choices, security and power necessary for the enjoyment of an adequate standard of living and other civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights” (E/C.12/2001/10, para. 8). The inhabitants of Mathare are marginalized and left in a precarious state, depending entirely on their irregular income. They have no social protection, despite Kenya having ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 11 of this Covenant states: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right […]”.

Access to resources and implication for food security




Mathare slum



Mathare Slum ENG