Each of the 12 zone leaders will have 6 section leaders on the basis of proximity to toilets and routes normally used by after dark. Each of the section leaders will work with 4 team leaders to ensure that the entire slum is covered.
These 288 women will form the backbone of the operation and will be crucial for the;
- Identification of all toilets,
- Mapping out the routes most commonly used by women after dark,
- Identifying all security black-spots,
- Developing a vigilance and communications system and suitable alarms
- Renovation of toilets and recasting them as “locations of dignity and safety"
- Leading Focus Group Discussions on dignity, safety, security and sanitation
- Foster intergenerational cohesion among women in slums
- draw younger men into the protection role - where their sisters, mothers and daughters are concerned
Anticipating clarifying questions that may be prompted by the suggested approaches
1. Does the idea address a specific need for women and girls?
A commemoration of the international day of social justice in February this year, two women from the Mukuru slum were invited to talk about the greatest need they saw in their current environment. They both spoke of the sanitation need – and graphically illustrated how demeaning it is for them to have to choose between ‘damaging their bodies’ by ignoring the call of nature, or risk rape or other forms of violence on account of venturing to the toilet in the dark. There is no doubt about the level of need here. Perhaps it should be noted that most gender based violence often happens in or around toilets and the indignity, shame and trauma of reliving the experience during reporting makes it unattractive for most victims, leaving them little choice but to suffer in silence.
2. Does the idea make life safer for women and girls?
The reality is that the risk of gender based violence (GBV) can impact significantly on the access of women and girls to sanitation and hygiene. In both urban and rural contexts, girls and women regularly face harassment when going to the toilet. They often often change their drinking and eating habits in order to wait until nightfall to relieve themselves. Given the taboos around defecation and menstruation and the frequent lack of privacy, women and girls, often prefer to go to the toilet or use bathing units under the cover of darkness. This project will engender unity borne of collective action, collaboration and intergenerational cohesion within the community.
3. Does the idea make the urban context more empowering for users?
Women in informal settlements do not trust the police and the administration. The safety, security and attendant dignity that the project will bring around the use of toilets will foster cohesion among the women and girls, which in turn could very likely translate to changing the attitudes of their menfolk.
4. Does the idea lead to urban solutions specific to the urban context?
In the short term in is anticipated that the project will trigger community wide behaviour change, enhance the confidence of women and ultimately, the project will instill a greater sense of dignity and an awareness of rights and responsibilities in the community. The project design is informed by the fact that sanitation is a basic right under the new constitution. During the piloting phase, a reporting mechanism will be established through which local authorities (Area Chief, local Police post and resident community leaders will be regularly appraised as the women demand the cleaning, repairing, painting and lighting of the toilets, which over time will become established locations of safety and dignity.
5. Can the idea be replicated/scaled in other locations?
Over 60% of Nairobi’s residents live without access to water and basic sanitation facilities. This project will pioneer a paradigm shift around access and the use of toilets for girls and women in these settlements. The fundamental principals can easily be adapted, replicated and scaled up in other slums areas.
6. Does the idea have the potential to impact the lives of low-income women and girls living in urban areas?
This project requires very little technology. It however will require that the project users make a break with ethnic, political, religious and generational barriers that have kept them from uniting towards the fundamental right to sanitation and basic services. The project will require women across the generational divide to work together, design the finer details of the implementation together and actually work together to ensure safety and security for all.
7. Does this idea describe a set of next steps to be accomplished and a timeline to accomplish them?
The Project is ready for immediate implementation because all girls and women have to go to the toilet at least once every day. Every zone and section within Mukuru will have to identify the specific toilets, routes, safety corridors and timing of the implementation. Each zone will be encouraged to identify issues to do with accessibility to the toilets, quality of the toilet facilities, quantity of the toilets within a given zone or section and designing the project in a way that guarantees the long term sustainability of the initiative.
8. How easy will it be to pilot this idea in the next 12 to 18 months?
The project deals with fundamental rights of girls and women living in severely marginalized conditions. It is anticipated that the pilot will certainly succeed.
Once the project is launched, it is anticipated that it will take a life of its own as specific zones and sections refine the implementation to suit their specific needs. attached is a suggested pilot test implementation program which gives some idea of the steps to be taken.
8. Does this idea bring a new and fresh approach to the city or region in which it is set?
Unfortunately, the only projects that deal with sanitation within the slums focus more on construction of toilets facilities that CHARGE fees for use. Thousands of women would rather buy food than pay for use of a toilet. This project will unite women across the generational, political, ethnic, creed and religious divide to work together for a cause that will bring security, liberty and dignity to all women.
9. How scalable is this across regions and cultures?
Once the community adopts the fundamental principles of unity, it is envisaged that the project will be quickly adopted across other slums and informal settlements, which will adapt and refine it to suit their specific needs and challenges.
10. Overall, how do you feel about this concept
Excitement is an understatement. The fulfillment that comes with providing an idea and basic tools that will protect girls and women in informal settlements is exhilarating. The social cohesion, inclusion of boys and men will lead to a collaborative community which, in turn has the potential to increase the dignity, safety, security and liberty of all women in slums and informal settlements everywhere.