Why Uzalendo?

The Swahili word ’Uzalendo’ means ’Patriotism’ in English. Patriotism generally means love for one’s country. However, without the basic conditions of life such as food, healthcare, education, water and concern for persons living with disability, uzalendo loses its meaning as citizens feel disenfranchised. This is why this project hopes to promote a sense of ’Uzalendo’ by awakening the marginalized communities to ask for their fair share of service delivery. To be included in the national cake. To become ’wazalendo.

A great majority of poor and marginalized Kenyans are excluded from the processes of public participation, accountability and gender inclusion during service delivery, this happens especially to groups experiencing dual marginalization i.e. those with severe socio-economic vulnerabilities including persons with disabilities, young women, the youth and the elderly. Most of these communities are found in informal settlements, peri-urban and remote rural areas where they experience human rights violations almost on a daily basis.

The Uzalendo project was conceived to provide grassroot platforms to these deprived populations. Its purpose is to provide a legitimate platform for the target communities to voice their concerns besides imparting them with the relevant advocacy skills based on credible data. In its pilot phase (2016/2017), the Uzalendo project is using specially generated GIS data of health and educational facilities in Kibera (Nairobi) and Ganze (Kilifi) to map out the quality of service provision in these two sectors. The mapping baseline will then inform the gaps upon which tangible efforts of advocacy will then made. The activities implemented in the pilot phase of Uzalendo include community capacity building on economic and social rights (Article 43), GIS mapping, Street educative theater, radio broadcasts through community radio stations and concerted stakeholder advocacy and public forums.

The choice to implement the project in Kibera and Kilifi (Ganze) are informed by the low Human development indicators from these locations. Kilifi generally remains one of the most marginalized counties in Kenya where the majority of rural people lack almost all types of amenities. In Ganze where the project is implemented, conditions are dire and challenges range from extreme poverty and hunger to lack of functional health facilities and almost no facilities at all for persons with disabilities. Large distances between health facilities make it almost impossible to attain emergency health care or education (similar case for schools).

Kibera on the other hand remains one of the oldest and largest slums in Kenya. Despite its fame, its people are still marginalized and poor. Its resident population (totalling approximately 600,000) live in makeshift structures and lack several basic amentities and commodities such as sufficient and safe water, high cost of education resulting from lack of enough public schools and low health standards due to under-stocked health facilities, unqualified teaching personnel, lack of disability-friendly amenities and limited access to safe water.

Due to lack of evidence-based knowledge and exposure on particularly these two issues (Health and Education), these two communities are denied basic rights as enshrined in the constitution. The pilot phase of the Uzalendo project presents a platform for the communities to highlight the issues and to advocate for better service delivery backed by article 43 of the Kenyan constitution.