Community members of the Mtwapa informal settlements met on the 23rdJanuary to launch a pioneering e-participation tool for participatory slum upgrading.
There are 11 informal settlements in Mtwapa township - a lively emerging urban centre situated on the Kenyan Coast, north of Mombasa - which have major challenges of water, sanitation, durable housing, and security of tenure.
The workshop was initiated by UN-Habitat's Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) and the Local Government and Decentralized Unit, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government (MoLG) of Kenya and the County Council of Kilifi (CCK), as well as Future Policy Modeling (FUPOL) Consortium coordinator Cellent AG that is providing the technical backstopping. FUPOL is a partnership of 17 organisations from 9 countries that has the aim of developing innovative social-media tools for policy modeling and citizen participation.
It has already been appreciated by various actors that engaging slum dwellers in the decision making process is essential for participatory, human rights-based slum upgrading and its sustainability. The e-Participation offers the opportunity for slum dwellers to voice their opinions of upgrading plans, prioritise interventions, and monitor and evaluate projects. These processes are expected to increase transparency and accountability of upgrading activities and enhance social inclusion.
Over 30 representatives of the Mtwapa community, community-based organizations (CBOs), non-governmental organization (NGOs), County Council of Kilifi and the Ministry of Local Government attended this event. Participants were trained on social media tools, primarily Facebook, weblogs and email. For many of them it was their first time using a computer and their response was overwhelmingly positive towards the e-participation tool and its potentialities.
At the close of the workshop, the PSUP Project Leader, Kerstin Sommer noted "we are developing e-participation to create space for dialogue between stakeholders, in particular the residents of Mtwapa, to ensure upgrading projects are inclusive, gender sensitive, and meet the needs of residents - while at the same time building residents' e-literacy".
It is anticipated that the e-participation approach will be scaled-up to other PSUP participating countries over the next three years to build on the experiences from Mtwapa and ensure slum upgrading is truly participatory and inclusive.
The Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP) is an initiative of the Secretariat of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, funded by the European Commission (EC) and executed by the UN-Habitat. The programme targets to reduce by half the number of slum dwellers come the year 2020, in targeted cities and countries.