25,000 PEOPLE

Kibarani slum dwellers decry neglect in Covid-19 war

Say they are yet to receive sanitiser, face masks, handwashing facilities and food

In Summary

• Village elder says he registered 1,640 households with an average of five people per household in his area but none has received any food so far. 

• Mikindani ward administrator, however, tells residents food being distributed will reach them.

Haki Yetu executive director Father Gabriel Dolan, Kibarani Tulieni vilage elder Alex Omwega and Kwa punda village elder John Omondi at Kibarani on Friday.
DONATIONS: Haki Yetu executive director Father Gabriel Dolan, Kibarani Tulieni vilage elder Alex Omwega and Kwa punda village elder John Omondi at Kibarani on Friday.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Residents of Kibarani slums in Mombasa have said they have not benefited from interventions to cushion wananchi from the effects of coronavirus.

The government last month said it had started a food distribution programme for slum residents to cushion vulnerable families.

But Kibarani residents said they are yet to receive water tanks to encourage handwashing in efforts to keep the virus at bay by maintaining hygiene.

 

Speaking on Friday during a sensitisation meeting with lobby group Haki Yetu, they said they feel neglected adding that they have not received face masks.

The group donated masks, sanitiser and water tanks.

Haki Yetu executive director Gabriel Dolan said Kibarani is a special-need area that must not be forgotten in any government programme.

“Other areas have received food. But this one is seen as less important. Even the National Hygiene Programme was not rolled out here,” the Catholic priest said.

Speaking at the meeting, the youth said they have been forced to become proactive as their wait for government interventions has ‘borne little fruit’.

“We see the county and national government donate masks, water tanks and food in other areas. But nothing of that sort here. We are left all alone,” Okoa Kibarani Youth spokesperson Michael Okeyo said.

Okoa Kibarani Youth is a community-based organisation formed by the youth to push for and find solutions for the myriad problems facing the slums.

 

Kibarani slums are estimated to have at least 25,000 people.

It has been divided into smaller areas including Kibarani Tulieni, which is the biggest and most populated and whose village elder is Alex Omwega; Kibarani Bogobogo Centre under Alex Wafula; Kibarani Bogobogo ya Chini under Kiti Mwazuma; and Kibarani Baharini under Margaret Nyagasi.

Speaking to the Star on phone on Sunday, Omwega said Kibarani is left out of many programmes because people do not know about it.

“Not many people know of this slum area. They just hear Kibarani but do not know where it is. This area is very big. It might be easily the biggest slum in Mombasa,” Omwega said.

The village elder said he registered 1,640 households with an average of five people per household in his area but none has received any food so far.

Mikindani ward administrator Gideon Musyoka, however, told the residents on Friday that the county food being distributed will reach them.

He said they started with Bangladesh slums, then went to Miritini after which they will go to Kibarani.

However, Okoa Kibarani Youth chair Wycliffe Owuor said they see only certain individuals getting food.

“When we ask, we are told those are donated by individuals and not the county government yet they are branded county government,” Owuor said.

He also questioned the criteria used to pick the 2,000 youth for the National Hygiene Programme rolled out by President Uhuru on April 25.

He said all the 2,000 youth in Jomvu subcounty were picked from Bangladesh.              

“What criteria did they use to choose the 2,000 people to work under that programme?” Owuor asked.

Kibarani assistant chief Sudi Hamisi, however, said the National Hygiene Programme in Mombasa was designated for Bangladesh slums in Jomvu; Tudor Moroto slums in Mvita and Ziwa la Ng’ombe slums in Nyali subcounties only.

“In Bangladesh, we picked 75 per cent of the youth from Bangladesh so that we fill the remaining 25 per cent from other areas including Kibarani,” Hamisi said.

He said the programme has been expanded in Mombasa to include Old Town area of Mvita subcounty because it was under the cessation of movement orders.

“Recruitment is still being done there. It is yet to start,” the assistant chief said.

The NHP pays the 2,000 per subcounty Sh653 per day for five days a week.

A section of Kibarani slums in Mombasa.
LEFT OUT A section of Kibarani slums in Mombasa.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

The programme will be expanded gradually.

Owuor and Okoa Kibarani Youth patron Benta Auma said Kibarani slums has only one water point where all residents fetch water.

“Social distancing is hard to achieve in that area because people scramble for the precious commodity,” Owuor said.

They called for more interventions.

Edited by R.Wamochie