Suffering and despair marks halting of NYS project in Kibra

A man unblocking drainage in Makina Estate, Kibra after NYS stopped offering the services. [Picture: Henry Owino]
A man unblocking drainage in Makina Estate, Kibra after NYS stopped offering the services. [Picture: Henry Owino]

The ambitious National Youth Service (NYS) projects in Kibra Constituency are stalled. The project that was lucrative to service men and women including community members in Kibra Constituency is now history.

The NYS project was an initiative of the national government under then Ministry of Planning and Devolution. The activities in the project included slashing, unblocking drainage systems, sweeping and collecting garbage as well as building toilets, renovating tin-structured makeshifts to permanent houses and putting up streets lights among others.

Employment

Members of the community who were involved in the project earned a living from the services they rendered. This used to be an employment opportunity to approximately 2,000 men and women who were initially jobless or any without skills.

Group of women who cooked for the service team also had an income generating activity as they too got paid. However, today all these good initiatives no longer exist after it came to the realization that a lot of scandals were involved.

The alleged scandal is of unaccounted money worth about KSh791 million. As the investigations are going on as to who siphoned off the money, all NYS projects have been suspended countrywide.

In Kibra Constituency where the initiative was first started, things are worse as residents who were absorbed to work along with the NYS team are now turning to criminal activities. The little money they used to earn every Saturday through their mobile phones, is no more.

Mike Oketch who was community team leader in Sarang’ombe Ward says the initiative was very good and benefited several youth who had no jobs. He reveals that even those who opposed it at first, later on came to appreciate the initiative as it put food on the table for their families.

Oketch discloses that every individual working on the project used to earn at least KSh1500 every Saturday for those who worked six days in a week. He further reveals that others earned even more depending on the type of duty they were assigned and its load.

“When the initiative started here in Kibra, some criticized it while others welcomed it but that is the nature of human beings,” says Oketch. He explains: “Qualifications were very simple and they had to be in possession of a national identification document and mobile phone number.”

Criteria

As the man on the ground, Oketch says the criteria he used was to ensure that first opportunities were awarded to locals from Sarang’ombe Ward before considering other wards.

However, Oketch explains Makina, Lindi and Laini Saba wards had their respective community leaders to ensure the same criteria applied.

Currently, all the four wards that NYS team and residents used to work in are pathetic as drainage systems are blocked, litter is scattered all over, toilets not operating and NYS vehicles are grounded at the DC grounds.

The rate of crime has increased in recent days something that is worrying Kibera residents and bad stench from uncollected garbage is back. Business people are a worried lot too as with water shortage, many fear cholera outbreak and customers are cautious of buying foodstuff.

Faridah Khadija sells foodstuff along the road in Makina but cannot make profit the way she used to. She says her customers have run away because of the bad stench emanating from the blocked drainage.

Khadija regrets of the services NYS and community members used to offer them especially business women selling mandazi, chapatti, samosa, fried fish and such like foodstuff which can be eaten directly have gone down.

“It is true that NYS used to help us a lot here in Kibra in terms of cleanliness, security and even our children who worked alongside them benefited greatly,” Khadija laments.

“We are not sure how long it will take them to come back but we are just hoping they will. Recently our children were again registered a fresh by the NYS team and told to wait, so we hope for the best,” she says optimistically.

“Nowadays I am forced to hire somebody to unblock this drainage for me but after three or four hours it is blocked again,” Khadija expresses her regrets. “Something I find very costly for me to maintain on a daily basis hence I end up selling my foodstuff in an unfriendly environment.”

Yusuf Juma used to man toilets at Makina where members of the public paid for the services. Long and short calls of nature cost KSh5 while a shower would cost KSh10. Juma says out of the payments, he managed to secure a second-hand motor bike which he is now operating as boda boda.

Juma used to manage the toilet together with four friends who are in various businesses while one is not clear of what he does.

Juma says the toilet closed down because the support they used to get from NYS team directly was frozen.

“When the construction of toilet was completed, five of us were assigned to manage it and we did well for the first five months. Mismanagement came in among ourselves because we never wanted to save and buy necessary materials for use instead we depended on the NYS,” Juma explains.

However, Juma is grateful that at least he has something to keep him busy and earn a living. He is wondering what he would be doing now had he not have saved and bought the motor bike.

“Surely guys who were used to receiving money every weekend during NYS clean up exercises are now suffering. And those who cannot persevere, I am sure they have turned to crime,” Juma says. He observes: “No wonder crime rate and domestic squabbles have increased here in Kibera.”

Juma is of the opinion that about 2,000 community youth who benefited from NYS do not have alternative sources of income. So, the only solution for them is to looking for quick money and this means stealing, conning, drinking and engaging in immorality.

Regret and loss

Edith Fatie used to cook for both the NYS team and community and regrets having lost such a great opportunity.

Fatie says it was a business without losses since the food she cooked would all be eaten.

“When I was approached to cook for NYS, I hesitated at first but after receiving the first payment, I gained morale and even hired four ladies to assist me,” explains Fatie. She adds: “It was good money because one plate of food cost KSh50 and in my cohort I had roughly 200 people.”

Fatie is looking forward to NYS projects being resurrected as soon as possible so that she can continue with her hotel business. However, she would like the national government to speed up investigations on the scandals and to let justice prevail.

 

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