It is very sad to see people dying of hunger when proper planning by the government and other stakeholders could have gone a long way to save all those lives that have been lost so far.
I have been busy for the last couple of months going round the country mapping and profiling Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in 15 major towns in Kenya. It is amazing what Non Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations(CBOS) are doing on the ground The database of all the CSOs mapped so far is at over a 1000 and now I am back again to the towns to form Local Urban Forums in all the towns. As I go back I hope that these forums will emerging sectors such as governance, gender and vulnerable groups up the ladder since most of the CSOs seem to concentrate on the other sectors and not the two.
I have noted that people have no clear-cut knowledge on what gender is. Most people know that gender is ensuring that the girl Child’s rights are not violated. There is inadequate involvement of the women in planning. Women still think that governance is a man’s issue to tackle. The youth also lack in civic engagement and most of the governance issues are not gender sensitive. Weak structures of implementation is clear that in most towns the policies do not get implemented fully. The society members on the other hand have experienced societal fatigue, they have lost the zeal to continue working on the pressing issues. Project duplication by the key actors has also caused neglect of the major issues at hand. The stakeholders’ laxity in following up projects has also caused neglect of the governance issues affecting the people of Mombasa. Poor networking has also caused most CSOs and the relevant stakeholders a lot of insight on the key governance issues.
There has been minimal debate on the way forward by and I hope this will act as a catalyst. After all, whose town is it?
As a sociology student back at the University, my discipline included critical analysis of the economic, social and institutional sectors and it was clear that individuals have to help governments in solving both social and economic problems and I was interested in social enterprise. I have worked in a social enterprise for more than two years now and I believe that small and medium social enterprises are playing a major role in development at the bottom of the pyramid. My work experience has exposed me to the field of small and medium enterprises management. I have, over time deliberately shifted focus to social enterprises and I am looking forward to advance my understanding in the same sector.
While experiences accruing from working in a social enterprise dealing with environmental sanitation, have given me significant exposure into the social enterprise management, I appreciate that there is still much more to learn. I am convinced that more knowledge, skills and tools to be an effective global and cross cultural Enterprise development, management and promotion professional.
In Kenya, enterprises are everywhere but faced with a lot of challenges that make them appear invisible. The realities of carrying out a micro business especially in the informal settlements where the service is met by far much more demand than supply is characterized by infrastructure, logistical, financial and social challenges that reinforce the obscurity of the invisible entrepreneur. This points to the need for better enterprise management and promotion that will reorient the focus onto local entrepreneurs especially the ones in sanitation and food security businesses.
Social enterprises are key to solving pressing social needs. I played a key role in solid waste pickers and recyclers mapping and profiling as well as policy analysis and it was impressive to see the role of medium and microenterprises not just in sanitation but in environmental management and other fields like agriculture and health.
It is up to the entrepreneurs to step up and grab every opportunity they can get to make their businesses work and become visible and then the other players will be willing to give them a second look. Even when in groups, SMEs are not able to mount sufficient assets to act as security for loans and they still have low technical and personnel capacity. For example, if you want to start an informal micro-enterprise, it is usually impossible to secure micro-credit. While banks will serve well-established medium-to-large companies, in between lays an entire segment of entrepreneurs who are faced with a terrible problem: virtually no financial, technical and personnel resource services this is especially true of sanitation enterprises.
There has been a shift by entrepreneurs to invest in the less explored sectors like health and sanitation but the entrepreneurs lack the necessary skills and knowledge and given the fact that this is a sector where most of the work should be done, it’s saddening. There is need for enterprises to explore opportunities for local financing, to explore options for boosting sustainable financing mechanisms, to share experiences and lessons learned from local enterprise models and to open new opportunities.
In the urban slums of Kenya, open defecation and flying toilet is still the prime method of human waste disposal. This poses challenge to planners, health and social services providers and development partners. Different communities have tried to solve this problem but the solutions have not gone further than use of what is popularly known as ‘flying toilet’ or the latest ‘walking toilet’. The ‘flying toilet’ got its name from how the human waste filled polythene bags fly over the roofs usually at night while the ‘walking toilets’ got its name from how the user walks with the human waste filled polythene bags and drops it when they get a chance to get rid of it.
To combat this in the urban and periurban areas, a social enterprise by the name Ecotact is using a transformative approach of not only providing affordable public sanitation facilities but also incorporating other social amenities in what is popularly known as the Ikotoilets. They are toilet malls.
Ecotact, a social enterprise, launched the Ikotoilet initiative two years ago. Ecotact has constructed 40 facilities in 12 Municipalities in Kenya and serving an average of 300,000 people daily with safe water and sanitation.
Ikotoilet links space and service thus promoting interactions on the streets with a complete toilet mall within the space, toilets and showers, snacks, shoe shinning services, air time vending, newspaper vending to evolve an image synonymous with convenience quality service.
Ikotoilet sets up high hygienic standards, sanitation hospitality and an ambiance of convenience, through provision of quality loo and shower services in urban, markets, parks and the Informal Settlements.
Ikotoilet intends to make sanitation a beauty, sexy and fashion product.