Muungano wa Wanavijiji is the Kenyan Federation of Slum Dwellers that was started in 1996 as a network of slums in Nairobi and Athi River. Muungano was formed by slum dwellers facing eviction threats, as an avenue for resistance against brutal evictions and land grabbing that was rampant from the mid 1990s to early 2000s. Muungano has since then spread to other regions and now includes Kisumu, Timau, Mombasa, Kitale, Nakuru, Makindu, Ndia. The movement represents over 100,000 members spanning over 300 informal settlements across Kenya.
The movement champions for acquisition of secure tenure for residents of informal settlements, while at the same time, agitating for provision of better services and amenities within the settlements. This is done through a raft of measures including advocacy at Government, Private Sector and Civil Society Organization levels as well as litigation among other strategies.
Muungano primarily organizes communities around issues affecting them and mobilizes through daily savings in savings schemes, conducts community-led enumeration, propagates cross-settlement learning and sharing through periodic exchanges and implements community driven housing and infrastructure projects. Muungano also operates an urban poverty fund and this Special Purpose Vehicle is mandated to provide affordable project financing to the Muungano membership. The facility has so far disbursed over 75 million shillings which has been used in community led slum upgrading projects that have so far delivered close to 200 housing units in Huruma’s Kambi Moto, Ghetto, Gitathuru and Mahira as well as Kahawa Soweto settlements.
Muungano wa Wanavijiji continuously seeks avenues through which members can improve their prevailing conditions by tasking teams to agitate and engage on different issues such as savings, land, housing, water and infrastructure with relevant players. These teams, with support from PT, routinely visit other regions within the country to encourage, motivate and share experiences within their settlements, creating avenues for horizontal learning between different regions and fostering camaraderie. As a result, the railway reserve dwellers have been able to amicably engage with Kenya Railways (KR) and other stakeholders with a view to stop the eviction notices by revising the Relocation Action Plan. These efforts have also resulted in formation of stronger ties with government agencies in general and the Ministries of Lands and Housing in particular, aside from developing working relationships with Municipal Councils as is the case in Nakuru.
An integral component in a strong federation is an optimum system of checks and balances. To attain this, communities’ capacity to conduct process monitoring, financial and project management has been built. Financial management systems have been developed and put in place, upon which, communities under the federation have been able to process loan agreements with Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT) to allow for financing of an array of development projects. PT has also built the movement’s capacity in corporate governance best practice and as such, Muungano makes periodic reports and reviews during regional and national AGMs where teams would be tasked to oversee implementation of resolutions made at the AGMs.