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Nairobi, 14 Apr 11

A project jointly implemented by UN-HABITAT and the government of Kenya to help inhabitants of Soweto East, a settlement within Nairobi’s Kibera’s slums, upgrade their living conditions is having an unexpected spin-off- that benefit children with disabilities to better integrate into  society.

Under the Kenya Slum Upgrading Project (KENSUP), UN-HABITAT and the government of Kenya help residents move from their shacks to modern buildings, an exercise being carried out in phases.

However, participants at an event on the sidelines of the ongoing Twenty-third Session of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT heard that some parents with children with disabilities were hiding them from the public while others saw an opportunity to live off such misfortune by making  their children beg on the streets.

Ms. Rael Ondieki told participants that it has been her duty to sensitise parents on the need to take their children off the streets and try to give them a better life.

With the help of a donor, the BASF Foundation, a new component was introduced- the building of a resource centre which will include a  medical centre focusing on disabled children that will offer physiotherapy and medical care for such children.

“It is my duty to go out and tell the mothers that they stand to gain more by taking their children to the resource centre because there they will receive training in skills which they will use for the rest of their lives as opposed to the short term gains from begging,” said Ms. Rael Ondieki.

Giving an update of the project in Soweto East, Mr. Daniel Adom of UN-HABITAT said some seven waterborne sanitation facilities had also been completed and commissioned and seven facility management groups formed, trained and registered. “We have also witnessed an improvement in water distribution to the community,” he said.

On lessons learnt, Mr. Adom said that community dynamics must be well understood and that project ownership was crucial in ensuring long term sustainability.

The chairman of the Settlement Executive Committee of Soweto East, Bishop Raphael Handa thanked UN-HABITAT saying the agency’s intervention was timely and provided additional benefits. “We have seen improved sanitation which has resulted in improved health for the residents because of the clean water we are now accessing,” he said.

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