InformAction

InformAction

Members of the Turkana community living in three villages of Salama Ward in Laikipia West constituency, Laikipia County are an unhappy lot.

Residents of Bondeni, Kieni and parts of Karuahu villages feel marginalized by the county government through their area MCA Wilson Wakahiu.

According to the residents, they are underrepresented and lack many of the social amenities that their neighbours in other villages enjoy.

Mary Lowiweneor said they only have one water source, a dam, despite calling for at least one more, like boreholes.

“We have raised the issue with the MCA’s office but nothing has been done. We have to walk many kilometres to fetch water in other villages, some of which have more than four water sources,” said Lowiweneor.

Members of the Kikuyu community predominantly inhabit Salama Ward.

The Turkana feel they are being handled like second-class citizens.

The road network in the three villages is poor, except for parts of Karuahu, which has some semblance of development.

Kieni village borders Kibuku Ranch, whose owner closes the path that links the village to the main road where they can access social amenities, by 7 pm.

“You have to spend the night where you are and continue with your journey the next day,” said one of the residents.

Kieni is at the border of another village that is predominantly inhabited by the Kikuyu community.

This has made the village enjoy some support from the authorities in terms of development and social amenities.

Francis Loter, a resident of Kieni, said they do not have a single Early Childhood Development Centre in the village.

Getting ID cards for their youth is a nightmare, Loter said.

“We have been living here for decades, but still, for one of us to get a national ID card you will be taken round in circles and until you give up,” said Loter.

In the past, the Turkanas lived a nomadic life, moving with their animals from place to place in search of pasture.

However, because of constant raids by members of the Samburu community, they gradually abandoned the nomadic lifestyle and settled in areas like Karuahu and Kieni to do subsistence farming.

Most of them then got jobs at the Mutara ADC Farm where they worked for many years, enabling some to even buy land in Kieni, complete with title deeds.

James Ekuru, a Kieni resident, feels the lack of national ID cards for most of their youth is the reason for their marginalization.

“Our political leaders feel even if they do development projects here, they will not get many votes because most people here do not have voter’s cards because of the lack of ID cards,” said Ekuru.

Gladys Kabira, a farmer in Kieni, said their children suffer more when they get sick because there is no health facility nearby.

The nearest health facility and even public school are at least 10km away.

However, MCA Wakahiu is not responsive to the plight of the residents, who have now petitioned against him.

Efforts to reach him on the phone have proved futile.

His handlers in the office say all areas in Salama ward are treated equally.

The residents aired their frustrations during a screening by InformAction (IFA) in Kieni village.

The IFA Central Base took the residents through their basic human rights, which they should be enjoying.

A Community Action Team (CAT) was formed to lead the process of petitioning the county government, with support from IFA.

Through the petition, the residents want the county government to establish an ECDE Centre in the area.

They also want the community to be allowed to fetch water in a nearby river, which has been fenced off by a private rancher.

The residents want at least one dispensary constructed in the area to cater to their medical needs.

They say they have encountered several challenges with stray wild animals and want the Kenya Wildlife Service to control them.

 

Story by the IFA Central Team

 

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Toku is a small village found in North Kamagambo ward of Rongo constituency in Migori County, Kenya.

The area has a unique history.

It is approximately 59km Kisii town, where the InformAction Kisii base is located.

Our team moved to the ground in early May 2019 to conduct a fact-finding mission after concerns about human rights violations against the community were raised.

Tucked about a kilometre from Kitere, the closest major town centre, the community in Toku has a public primary school, Toku primary, which is surrounded by many homesteads, indigenous churches, vast sugar cane plantations and a couple of small jaggery plants.

Although the area is predominantly inhabited by members of the Luo community, there are pockets of areas where members of the Kisii community are found.

It is this minority group that has been crying foul, claiming they are being marginalised.

Our first encounter with the community members was on 26 April 2019, when the IFA Kisii team met nine representatives of nine households.

Edward Kennedy Miencha, one of the nine, narrated their settlement history dating back to the 1880s from Kitutu ancestry.

According to Miencha, their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers, originally from Majoge, Ayora, Bosinange, Bomonyama and Nyagenke areas within Kisii County, were married here over 100 years ago.

In the early 1970s, during boundary setting, elders felt that natural geographical features like mountains, valleys, and rivers should have automatically acted as boundary setters.

To their utter dismay, this was never the case. Boundaries were supposedly demarcated using inexplicable formulae.

Tribal clashes ensued. The Luo, Kisii and Maasai communities started fighting for lands, each accusing the other of encroaching into their lands.

The clashes escalated during the electioneering period.

This resulted in little or no development – no access road, no water supply, skewed public works.

According to the Toku residents, Toku primary was a Kisii community initiative yet school the management committee is monopolized by the Luos.

Miencha said the school levies are exorbitant.

The area has a population of over 3,000 people yet there is no assistant chief.

Locals have to travel all the way to Cham Gi Wadu in Rakwaro for administrative services.

Ezekiel Omwoyo Moraira indicated that the community enjoys peace in four years.

Come the political campaign season, Kisii residents suffer harassment and are threatened to vote as a bloc for a Luo aspirant.

The Kisii dialect works as a negative impediment, as a language barrier and as a tool to segregate the Kisii-speaking citizens.

The Luos are given priority whenever government-sponsored programs are in place, according to the Toku residents.

These include bursary disbursements, Huduma Number issuance, mosquito nets distribution, registration of persons, vaccinations against diseases like polio and measles, and veterinary services.

Other infringements of political rights, according to the residents, include threats of eviction and arsonist invasion in case the voting pattern went against the grain.

Moraira said there was a high level of nepotism, confiscation of documents meant to benefit members of the Kisii community, and rampant hate speech.  

A common bridge was diverted towards the Luo side of the area.

The Kisii community members felt sidelined during the national census exercise.

The residents were not connected to the national electricity grid.

The residents said the elderly hardly get the monthly stipends in the cash transfer program. This was the case with the Women Enterprise Funds and OVC schemes.

The learned children from the Kisii community rarely get considered for employment.

Whenever there were public barazas within the area, Kisii community members were never mobilized to participate.

Due to assimilation, the Kisii-speaking populace was forced to learn Dholuo to break the language barrier and to interact well with their neighbours and in markets, whose spaces and stalls were also discriminately allocated.

InformAction Intervention

IFA Kisii conducted two screening sessions where we showed the residents a film titled ‘My Land, My Right’.

This brought 119 participants together.

The filming sessions on different dates were meant to enlighten the community about the Kenyan Constitution 2010 Chapter 4 on the Bill of Rights, amongst others.

After leading discussions, a 21-member committee, with representation of men, women, the elderly, the youth and the Persons With Disability (PWD) was formed.

Out of the 21, another core team of five was identified to revisit the issues.

An appointment with the Rongo MP was sought.

The Toku Community Action Team narrated a summarized grievance before the MP’s personal assistants who were in office by then.

Impact Felt in Early 2021

Following IFA’s intervention, Toku village now has an all-weather road from the entrance to exit, complete with the improvement of the access roads connecting to the main road.

Toku primary school’s Board of Management/committee now has a good representation from all the community members found in the area.

The school itself has been expanded with additional classes constructed. Currently, the school’s playing field has been earmarked for leveling.

Due to government’s 100 percent transition, there has been an increased enrolment, which has prompted more washrooms to be constructed.

Now, the Kisii, Luo and Maasai communities co-exist amicably and there is relative peace and tranquillity before, during and after elections.

The Rongo NG-CDF service delivery has become more open and satisfactory with other government-run recruitment programs offered on merit.

Alternative electrification is in place and there is no more sidelining and discrimination based on colour, race, tribe, sex or religion.

There has been enhanced integration and cohesion, through intermarriages, learning and trading patterns.

The area has seen improved agricultural activities cutting across, with more trading investments mooted.

The Toku community has gained acceptance and associates well on either side of the divide.

The local administration has raised its bar of operation on public participation policy and service delivery.

Fear and despondency is no longer the order of the day.

Conclusion

Despite it taking longer, we, as IFA Kisii, are contented with how things have panned out.

Our satisfaction index has been well achieved. A short film will be produced to showcase the importance of community mobilization and organization to face duty bearers whenever things are done in the wrong way.

BY IFA Kisii Team

 

 

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For a long time, women in Isiolo and Meru counties have had to endure human rights violations believing in entrenched retrogressive cultures, which give women no respite.

 

Rape, physical and sexual assault, forced marriage, Female Genital Mutilation, denial of resources and job opportunities, and psychological or emotional abuses are some of the injustices women in the North face.

 

Women from the two counties had a chance to come together and share challenges they face daily in their homes and society during our community screenings.

 

IFA Isiolo Team met and educated 365 women on their rights and action to take whenever they face such challenges.

 

The stories they told were heart wrenching.

 

Rita Kendi (not her real name), a 16-year-old girl, was defiled by a 42-year-old man who impregnated her, and now she has a two-month-old baby.

 

The perpetrator has not been arrested and he is roaming freely in the streets of Isiolo town.

 

Kendi had to discontinue her education after she got pregnant. She now lives with her drunkard father, who constantly reminds her of the incident as if it was her fault.

 

Her parents separated years ago and her mother left for her relatives’ home in Meru.

 

Despite many reports filed with them, the Isiolo children’s office and police have not been adequately addressing the matters.

 

Residents accuse them of offering little or no help, a claim they vehemently deny.

 

Mary Akiru, a resident of Isiolo, says all along they knew husband battering and spouse rape are the rights of the husband.

 

“In our culture, once a woman is married the husband has full right over her, which includes sex whenever he wants even if am not ready and beating me whenever I wrong. I am treated the same as my child,” shared Akiru.

 

In many pastoralist cultures, whenever women violations happen, elders sit under trees to solve the issues without considering how the victim feels.

 

The perpetrator usually pays a fine to the victim’s family and that is all.

 

The participants said women have no freedom to own property and whenever they own one, the husband has control over it.

 

There is also no freedom to say ‘No’ to anything bad happening to them.

 

In most cases, women in the north have no access to clean water, good health care, education and jobs.

 

Six Community Action Teams were formed to push for women’s rights, water provision and quality healthcare.

 

The community requested capacity building for the community activists who will be our contact persons and champions for women and human rights.

 

The project, funded by KIOS Foundation, which promotes the work of African and Asian Human Rights Defenders, gave women a chance to speak out and feel worthy in the society.

 

They felt powerful and free to raise their voices every time they are oppressed.

 

Story by IFA Isiolo Team

 

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Residents of Bomorenda in Kisii County are up in arms over the poor workmanship in the construction of four classrooms in Nyangoge Primary School.

The classrooms cost Sh2.6 million.

However, barely a year after the construction, cracks have emerged on the floors and walls.

Edward Keire, a resident and parent at the school, said the construction of the classroom using the Bonachari NG-CDF had given them hope that their children would learn in a better and secure environment.

“However, the state of the classrooms only a year after construction means our children may even have the walls fall on them because of the poor workmanship,” said Keire.

The residents accused the Project Management Committee of irregularly awarding their cronies the tender to construct the classrooms.

“We have discovered the committee has been the judge, jury and prosecutors in this project. They awarded tenders to their own people regardless of expertise,” said Keire.

The residents were unaware of how the PMC should operate until InformAction Kisii Base team educated them on how public funds should be utilised and the processes through which they should be monitored.

“After being taken through the training by InformAction, we discovered that this Nyangoge primary school project implementers had been lying to us all along.

“They have been doing things irregularly but we had no idea. We should have been watchdogs in the project,” said Keire.

The residents said they had all along been allowing the area MP and the NG-CDF committee to come up with projects for them.

“We have now known that it is us, the residents, who should be telling the committee what we want done for us,” Keire said.

Nyangoge Primary School is in Bomorenda Ward but the area MCA, who is closest to the residents, has not informed them of how the government should be working for them.

The residents said more training should be conducted so they could better monitor how their funds not only in the constituency level but also at the county level are utilised.

For the Nyangoge Primary School, the residents said the school head was always being called by the Project Management Committee to sign blank cheques.

“He did not know who was awarded the tender and how much was being used or how it was being used. They just signed cheques without questions asked,” said Keire.

During a screening session by the IFA team, members of the public were informed of how some contractors cleared their payments while the project was not completed.

They wanted more social audits on more projects done using public funds.

Social audits are citizen driven tools used to engage citizens and community members in collecting and publicly sharing information on available resources allocated for service delivery and public works.

This is to ensure that the work done on public projects benefits the people or the community.

It involves understanding, measuring, reporting and improving efficiency and effectiveness in governance.

Social audit are important because they focus on citizens as stakeholders.

Its approach demystifies public offices and officers to the general public.

The participatory approach in monitoring enlightens the citizens on the projects/programmes being undertaken in their locality and s them to demand accountability and transparency in project implementation.

InformAction utilises social audits as a sensitization and awareness-creation tool.

This is achieved through sharing the findings in public fora to illustrate corruption to the common mwananchi.

In the social audit exercise at Nyangoge primary school, the beneficiaries present included the Community Action Team (CAT), implementers (school board), supervising authorities and the financiers of the NG-CDF committee.

It was resolved that the contractor fixes the gapping anomalies like the veranda and the floor at his own cost.

Keire said there is a need for the IFA team to sensitize and empower the community on how public funds should be used.

“There is a need for transparency and accountability in the commencement of any project implementation,” he said.

Public participation is key for the betterment of the community, though the use of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and records should be well kept, Keire noted.

Story by IFA Kisii Team

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