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Slum residents in Kenya mobilized to fight illegal fresh water contamination by land grabbers

Kenya

Fighting against illegal fresh water contamination

Locatie

JANUARY 2021 || In the Masingo slum, 700 householders are vulnerable to water borne diseases because of illegal trenches dug by land grabbers, directing untreated and polluted water from overflowing sewage systems into the slum’s fresh water sources. The Renewed Hope Group aims to mobilize local residents for a protest walk, pressuring the responsible authorities to take action. 

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In the Masingo slum, 700 householders are vulnerable to water borne diseases because of illegal trenches dug by land grabbers, directing untreated and polluted water from overflowing sewage systems into the slum’s fresh water sources. The Renewed Hope Group aims to mobilize local residents for a protest walk, pressuring the responsible authorities to take action.

Action

Masingo is the largest and densely populated slum around Kakamega townwith 700 poverty-hit householdswho earn an average income of less US$1.25/ household and rely on river Masingo and Masingo open spring well for all water needs and livelihoods. The slum has a market called Masingo that serves as an economic hub for at least 400 low income earners from slum’s 700 poor households, who primarily depend on smallholder enterprises on the market for an income. 

Land grabbers have been digging trenches directing untreated polluted water from sewage systems into the slum’s open water sources, mainly the nearby river. Moreover, many residents with overflowing pit-latrines ask children from the street to empty their latrines at night by carrying their feces to the trenches or the river. This puts the Masingo market at great risk of closure and collapse, not only because of the threat of Covid-19, but because of increased cases of waterborne diseases among Masingo slum’s dwellers affecting at least 77% of its residents yearly. In 2019, three people died of Cholera and left others hospitalized. Attempts to address these issues to the authorities failed.

Mobilization

The Renewed Hope Group (RHG) aims to end the pollution of Masingo’s water sources by advocating for permanent blockage of illegal trenches from sewage systems to open water sources; eviction of land grabbers that are responsible for diffing the illegal trenches. Together with the Masingo market’s governing committe, local businesses-groups, environmentalists, and leaders of key active social groups, among others, the RHG aims to organize a range of mobilization activities over a period of 2,5 months, to engage at least 200 individuals from Masingo slum’s 700 households. Activities will include door to door visits, social media campaigns, and public gatherings. 

Following this period of mobilization, the RHG will organize an official protest walk, during which face masks and colorful protest signs will be distributed. The protesters will walk through the larger town of Kakamega to catch people’s attention, and will head to the offices premises of various governmental authorities. Finally, protesters will sing, shout and walk to grabbed lands where illegal trenches have been dug, blocking them with stone-mud walls.