Ridge, Road, River: Connecting the Catchments of Kibera (Rev 02 15.12.22)
Kibera residents collect drainage data to inform design and development of Nairobi City County’s flood-risk reduction program.
Example of drainage mapping undertaken by KDI and Kibera residents highlighting hotspots and mapping sub-catchments. This exercise was completed as part of our research on urban flooding and also on request from the Nairobi City County Roads and Public Works Department who are currently planning a series of drainage clearance and improvement works in Kibera.
EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA
Kibera’s informal and clogged open drains connect the newly tarmacked roads on the ridges of the settlement to the Ngong River and its tributaries. These drainage ways serve as conduits for human and solid waste, causing disease and reducing the capacity of the network to transport storm water. In a survey of 963 households in Kibera by KDI, 52% of residents reported that their houses flooded during the 2015 “long-rains”. Households at further distances from the rivers/tributaries reported a similar level of flooding as those who live in close proximity, reflecting the extent and impact of local drainage flooding.
In the absence of formal drainage construction or maintenance, residents and community groups have taken the lead: 44% of Kibera residents interviewed by KDI reported seasonal involvement in drain clearing. At the same time lack of resources to invest in material drainage improvements limits the effectiveness of these efforts.
In recent months Nairobi City County has stepped up efforts to address drainage clearance and improvement, partly in response to severe flooding in May 2015 (#NairobiFloods). However they have limited paper, digital or ground information on the status of drainage hotspots in Kibera or other informal settlements.
This project will use community-collected data on the myriad drainage channels of Kibera to build up a picture of the sub-catchments of Kibera and help the County make decisions about priority projects.
Community residents of the Kibera informal settlement who are affected by flooding biannually would be the primary beneficiaries of a more responsive and grounded effort by the County. The project would enable Nairobi County to focus its response in areas of greatest need and fulfill its mandate on roads, drainage and flooding - an area where the government is under significant pressure to improve its performance.
HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?
The challenge of flooding in Kibera and other informal settlements is set to become more severe over time as increased urbanization and higher-intensity rainfall events in East Africa drive flash-flooding and overloading of drainage systems. Our experiences in Kibera have demonstrated that residents have sophisticated knowledge about the consequences of climate change, how to act quickly and effectively to respond to short-term climate risks and also what needs exist to build resilience in the longer-term.
To build on this local knowledge residents and active community-groups will be trained on the data collection process as they have the knowledge of the drainage network and can interact with residents to understand which areas are worst affected. Simple android-based software that KDI has successfully employed can be used for data collection and easy updates for future flexibility.
Local government will use the data collected to make informed decisions on where to concentrate their limited resources and how to connect with and understand the challenges faced by the residents of Kibera. The data will be an instrumental resource for developing a long term strategic approach to flooding and waste management practices in Kibera. Developing drainage mapping links the issues of drainage, flooding, solid waste, water, sanitation (and associated impacts) and can enable integrated and responsive planning. As the County considers harder investment in drainage improvement innovative maintenance partnerships with residents could be considered to boost local employment.
Yes, for two or more years
I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
KDI is a design and community development organization that partners with communities living in extreme poverty to physically transform degraded environments, build social cohesion and grow resilience. KDI has been working with residents and community partners in Kibera since 2006.
IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?
This is an evolving idea coming out of an existing two-year research/action program (2015-2016) on integrating community perspectives to build resilience to flooding in Kibera. Data collected through this project has resulted in a data set that highlights key flood hazard hotspot areas in Kibera. Nairobi City Council (NCC) Dept. of Public Works has recognized the potential in this information to help inform their efforts on the ground. Initial conversations in the last couple of weeks have resulted in an agreement between NCC and KDI to partner on drainage improvement projects within Kibera.
Our idea would build on this concept of using community knowledge to inform government decision-making and will enable NCC to develop of a prioritised schedule of works that takes into consideration both operational drivers (where drainage infrastructure is most fragile) and strategic drivers (where the greatest number of people will benefit).
HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?
COMMUNITY CONNECTION: If this idea is implemented this will represent a new level of cooperation between government and community organisations. Having successfully worked with community organisations in Kibera since 2006, KDI will be instrumental in connecting and enabling this partnership.
DATA COLLECTION: KDI has a long and proven track record of implementing large scale data collection exercises within Kibera. Legitimacy in the community is key to making this approach work and many of KDI community facilitators are residents of the place they work.
INSTITUTIONAL CONNECTION: The implementation of this idea will require a cohesive and collective approach across the many managerial levels of the NCC. Over the last nine years KDI has developed relationships at the various stakeholders levels that are critical to the success of this project.
PROJECT TIMING: Following the widespread impacts of the May 2015 floods which were felt particularly hard in Kibera and the developing El Nino weather patterns, government organisations and are under immerse pressure to better respond to and reduce the effects of flooding.
Naroibi City County (NCC) organised a El Nino preparedness forum for Kibera residents on the Wednesday 14th October to discuss strategies around disaster preparedness
KDI Program Coordinator Ibrahim Maina facilitating a community workshop with Kibera residents in Silanga on flood risks faced by the community 26th of March 2015
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?
The following questions have arisen through the development of this idea:
1. Will Kibera residents be willing to take part in a data collection project with the government? Will it be possible to find people with the right profile to record the necessary information?
2. Will the information collected have sufficient detail and accuracy for the NCC to develop a prioritised schedule of works? What are some of the key indicators that might help inform these choices?
3. Is it possible to trace the drainage channel networks of Kibera following acceptable Health and Safety guidelines? Will security and lack of access significantly hinder this process?
WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?
In former years, Kibera has largely been neglected by government intuitions with regards to infrastructure development and services provision and in many cases residents have developed their own autonomous coping mechanisms. This has changed with the implementation of several large scale projects in Kibera in the last year. At the same time these projects have faced challenges in parts around a lack of community sensation and engagement. This project seeks to navigate these tensions by forming innovative partnerships between government and community organisations to develop resident-responsive projects in Kibera.
HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?
Feedback from our users was gathered in two stages; the 1st being a practical session with NCC representatives and Kibera residents to complete a drainage channel data collection survey (on 30th October), and the 2nd being an open workshop to discuss possible solutions to help reduce the impact of flooding (on November 20th). Key feedback is detailed below:
1. The trial survey confirmed initial beliefs that Kibera residents should be the ones responsible for collecting drainage channel data.
2. Accuracy of the information collected in the survey can be improved by including downstream and upstream photos of drainage channels and carrying a GPS tracker to validate location of survey points.
3. At the workshop improved drainage was voted as the best solution for reducing the impact of flooding and flooding related hazards (ie. solid waste blockages, disease outbreak, structure damage) by Kibera’s residents and outsiders. This results reflects the information collected by the KDI household surveys which revealed that residents located away from the river reported equally high rates of household flooding as those who live beside the river.
4. Some of the limitations discussed with this idea included the time it would take to complete drainage improvements and the challenges in some areas from lack of space and accessibility. The next stage of idea development will require some high level work planning on project timeline/targets to manage community expectations.
Kibera residents voting on improved drainage as the idea that would most help reduce the impacts of flooding in Kibera during the urban flooding "open day" organised by KDI as part of Nairobi Design week on the 20th of November.
Drainage channel data collection surveys were undertaken with NCC representatives, Kibera residents and KDI to trial the drainage channel mapping process and identify any physical challenges that would hinder this exercise
Screenshot of the drainage channel survey loaded on a smartphone device
WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?
This project could support local government to manage a process for planning and prioritising drainage improvement and maintenance across Kibera and in other densely-populated informal settlements with difficult access. Ideally, this project creates an opportunity to include Kibera and Nairobi’s informal settlements into Nairobi’s greater Storm Water Drainage Master Plan (underway 2013-present). With great potential of scaling and replication of the process, this tool enables accurate and detailed decision-making and increases the capacity of government entities to provide adequate flooding preparation and protection for the city’s most vulnerable residents.
How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?
The government (especially at the County level) is actively trying to improve its engagement in flooding issues in the informal and prior to the El Nino rains of late 2015 announced a number of initiatives to both map flood-risk and improve drainage in Kibera and other settlements. The challenges they have faced are how to identify the worst-hit areas, as oftentimes the County staff don’t have ready knowledge or access to the places in question. Drainage pathways in Kibera are not easily understood without local knowledge. This idea provides Nairobi City County and other relevant departments with a means to get that access and to make assessments based on real information driven by community knowledge gathering. We are currently discussing with the County how the approach could be applied in other areas in the City.
Visit of the Nairobi City County Executive, Mohamed Abdullahi, to Nairobi Dam, Kibera, with KDI and New Nairobi Dam Community Group on December 1st 2015.