Jane Weru, Executive Director of Akiba Mashinani Trust, in her lecture “Too Pressed To Wait” discusses the water and sanitation hygiene systems in informal settlements in Nairobi, and how they are causing a strain on both the physical and psychological health of people who live and work in these settlements, in particular women and girls.
Jane Weru in this lecture highlights the plight of women and girls living in informal settlements in Nairobi, with special regard to the poor sanitation conditions prevalent in informal settlements in the city.
The lecture is based on the realization that the water and sanitation hygiene systems in informal settlements in Nairobi are greatly lacking or inadequate, and that this state of affairs is causing a strain on both the physical and psychological health of people who live and work in these settlements, in particular women and girls. This situation is compounded by other challenges facing informal settlements such as land tenure insecurity, poverty and gender-based violence.Analysis of the evidence presented yields a practical approach to urban planning in the face of rapid urbanization.
The Too Pressed To Wait lecture uses information obtained from two major informal settlements in Nairobi, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Mukuru Kwa Reuben, and is based on the fact that basic human rights to life, to health and to dignity are all obstructed by inadequate water and sanitation systems.
Propositions for addressing the issue
- The Land Tenure Proposition: the water and sanitation needs of dwellers in informal settlements cannot be met without first addressing the land tenure insecurity issues.
- The Right to Dignity Proposition: people face a loss of dignity when sanitation facilities are not available in the near vicinity. As the saying goes, water is life, sanitation is dignity.
- The Gender Violence Proposition: Any effort to improve sanitation in Nairobi’s slums must include efforts to reduce the culture of violence as well as the structural factors that enable violence against women to continue.
- The Affordable Housing Proposition: Akiba Mashinani Trust believes in the building of affordable housing units equipped with water and sanitation systems for slum dwellers as a way of tackling the persistent inadequacy of water and sanitation systems in informal settlements.[/su_tab][su_tab title="Biography"]Jane Weru is a lawyer and holds a Master’s Degree in NGO Management from the London School of Economics. Her early work focused on public interest litigation on behalf of poor communities threatened with forceful evictions and violent demolitions. She helped found Pamoja Trust, a nonprofit organization that mobilized and supported grassroots movements of the urban poor by providing technical, legal and financial support. She is currently the Executive Director of Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), a nonprofit organization working on developing innovative community led solutions to housing and land tenure problems for the urban poor in Kenya. Jane has served as Team Leader for the Kenya Railway Relocation Action Plan for the Ministry of Transport supported by the World Bank. She is a Board Member of the Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), an Ashoka Fellow and is also serving as a member of the National Task Force for the preparation of the Community Land Bill and the Evictions and Resettlement Bill.
UC Berkeley | Dept. of City & Regional Planning University of Nairobi | Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning And Pamoja Trust (2009) Collaborative Slum Planning and Upgrading Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Kenya.