Empowering communities in slums to promote a culture of protecting rights of the girl child.
We come to cities because they represent opportunities for better life but once people arrive at these urban centres, they quickly realize that everyone is scrambling for the few and scare resources. Many developing countries including Kenya have lately witnessed a rapid growth of their urban centres. This is mainly due to mass rural-urban migration of populations in search of employment opportunities. Because these jobs never come through, many people find themselves living in low income settlements-slums. In these settlements life is extremely difficult and it is a survival of the fittest theory in action. Many of the children especially the girl become vulnerable and unable to access very essential services for their development.
This idea will work because my organization is already implementing a project that aims at safeguarding rights of children. This project will be specific to address the plight of the girl child and empower women with parental responsibilities at younger age. Islamic Relief Kenya is already partnering with Youth Initiatives Kenya in a child protection project in Korogocho slum.
Snapshot of houses/shelter in Korogocho slum in Nairobi, kenya
Explain your idea in one sentence.
Empower poor communities in low-income urban settlements to safeguard rights of the girl child through education, awareness creation and skill development for employment and wealth creation.
What is the need you are trying to solve?
According to UNICEF’s report dubbed State of Worlds Children (SWC) 2012 which documented the well-being of children in the urban world, primary education is generally more readily available in urban than in rural areas but it remains beyond the reach of many children growing up in poverty-especially in slums, where there is often little or no public schooling. Many of the girls here are less likely to attend school due to the many underlying factors associated with the slum environment. With such a situation, the urban advantage no longer extends to girls living in slums. Urban advantage means that circumstances in urban areas are much different and better from those in rural areas. It could be a common believe that urban areas have more equipped hospitals, schools and living standards are generally better, meaning children raised in urban areas have more advantages than those raised in rural areas. The fact is, children in rural areas are much better safer than those in urban slums.
In Korogocho Slum in Nairobi Kenya for instance, an estimated 200,000 people live in crowded conditions, a combination of extreme poverty and absence of essential basic services characterize the circumstances under which hundreds of girls in slums are raised. Crime, drug and substance abuse, health related threats as a result of poor hygiene, dilapidated shelter etc are some of the serious problems affecting children, particularly girls. There is a huge population of young mothers most of whom had a potential to pursue education but due to lack of attention to the girl child, majority of them could not access the opportunities in life. Young mothers therefore require the support as much as the girl child so as to avoid the spiral of poverty and suffering among girls and young women living in slums.
Communities living in slums therefore need to be empowered to intervene and address the plight of the girl child and recognize potentials among young mothers at the same time supporting government agencies to develop workable plans for slum dwellers. To make this idea a reality, the approach will focus on capacity building on protection of girls and young mothers targeting key stakeholders who include community leadership, religious institutions, youth and women groups, local administration, school children and teachers, massive awareness creation for behavior change by all community members on protection of girls and entrepreneurship skill development for young mothers. Esther W. is a 21 years old young mother who left her rural home for Nairobi City several years ago to look for opportunities after loosing her parents. She began her life in Korogocho slum at a time when Youth Initiatives Kenya, a local organization has just begun a Girl Empowerment through Micro-Franchise project. She was among the first to be enrolled into the programme and started a hair dressing business. Currently, she attends to 70-100 clients per day and her monthly income is about Kenya shillings 10,000. With this income, she is supporting her child to access education and other basic needs. She is one of the success stories of the girl child protection and empowerment interventions in this slum.
Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?
This idea will directly benefit hundreds of girls and young mothers who experience difficulties accessing the basic necessities of life as well as opportunities for personal development within the slum set-up. A monitoring plan will be developed and a project team established to ensure that successes, good practices and challenges are documented and shared. Review meetings will also be done for learning and improvements.
Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?
This idea will be implemented by my organization (Islamic Relief Kenya) in partnership with a non-governmental organization based in Korogocho slum, Nairobi. This partnership has already been formed and we are jointly implementing a project on child protection in the slum since mid-2013.
Where should this idea be implemented?
This idea should be implemented in urban slums around major towns and cities. This is because communities living in slums experience similar socio-economic problems.
How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?
This idea will first be tested in Korogocho slum or any of the other four slums in Nairobi City. Islamic Relief Kenya is already partnering with a community based non-governmental organization called Youth Initiatives Kenya in Korogocho slum and implementing a child protection and education project since 2013. This idea will be important in scaling up the project and replicating some of the already achieved successes.