Posted on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013 at 1:44 pm
By Aoife Ruth, Program Support Officer and Assistant to the Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide
Participants from various Community Conversations groups in Mukuru Slum, Nairobi during a training session.
In these times of financial turmoil, it is natural to question government spending and examine how our limited resources can be best put to use. Overseas aid budgets have come under intense scrutiny from citizens of countries the world over, with some people preferring that we cease all aid in favor of spending on domestic projects during this cash-strapped and difficult period–the ‘charity begins at home’ outlook.
Many others recognize the importance of aid to the world’s poorest, whether for reasons of social justice, compassion, or diplomacy. Amidst all the voices and opinions, I have noted the growing unease and at times, cynicism, people have about aid and its efficacy. “We give and give, but nothing ever changes” is a phrase I have often heard.
Implicit in this unease is the notion that the world’s poor are simply recipients, simply needy, waiting to be led out of poverty. What we do not see represented as often is the tireless commitment and dogged determination of communities and of average community members to improve their lives, to increase their opportunities, their access to jobs, health care, and education.
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Posted on Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 at 8:43 am
By Ivy Ndiewo, Communication and Documentation Officer
Voters queue to cast their ballots in Kajiado, Kenya during the 2007 general elections. Photo by Manaya Kinoti.
With less than 10 days before the first election under Kenya’s new constitution, fear and speculation are at an all-time high that what happened in 2008 could be repeated, even escalated. The results of the last general election in late 2007 were immediately disputed, and soon the nation exploded into weeks of political and ethnic violence, leaving with over 500,000 people displaced and more than 1,500 killed. I remember those grim days like they were yesterday.
The violence that erupted in 2008 caught the whole world off-guard, including the humanitarian community that then had to launch into an emergency response from scratch. Today, humanitarian organizations, including Concern Worldwide, are working with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Kenya’s National Disaster Operations Center to set up contingency plans if civil unrest sweeps across the country as it did in 2008.
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Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 11:53 am
By Ivy Ndiewo, Communication and Documentation Officer, Concern Worldwide
An estimated 1.6 million people are living with HIV in Kenya. While we know that the majority of them are from Nyanza Province, the region in the country’s southwest around Lake Victoria, there is much that we still do not know about HIV and AIDS in Kenya. For example, there are no clear records of the prevalence rate in urban slums, especially when many people likely do not know they are HIV-positive.
A community conversation groups meets in Migori District, Kenya. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Concern Worldwide uses what we call “community conversations” in Nyanza Province as well as Mukuru, a slum east of Nairobi, to break down many of the barriers that keep people from getting tested, and if they are diagnosed, taking antiretroviral (ARV) medications. We first piloted the approach in 2010 as a way for people to talk about their challenges and find solutions. There are now 24 community conversation groups across Nyanza Province and in Nairobi’s urban slums—all of which tackle HIV and AIDS head-on.
I spoke with my colleagues Belinda, Jane, and Julia, who are all community conversation facilitators in different areas of Mukuru. They said that community members see HIV and AIDS as one of their biggest challenges, with orphans and single parenting on the rise due to HIV and AIDS. Many are living in denial of their status, refusing to take ARVs. This is exactly where community conversations come in. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Friday, May 11th, 2012 at 1:01 pm
The Government of Kenya recently launched a cash transfer program that will give 10,000 of the poorest people living in Nairobi’s Mombasa slum 2,000 shillings – roughly $22 – a month for eight months. As a long-time advocate for cash transfers, especially in Kenya, we at Concern Worldwide celebrated the news, largely because we know from our own experience that it works.
Felicitas Wairimu works on her grocery stall in Nairobi's Korogocho slum. She was one of the beneficiaries of Concern's cash transfer program at the height of the 2011 drought crisis. Photo: Phil Moore
Even though $22 may seem small in our context, you have to remember that for the poorest, having this amount every month means, for the first time in their lives, they are receiving predictable and reliable income. For the first time, they are able to plan. We know that by giving people the opportunity to solve their own problems and make decisions about how to best fulfill their needs, families’ educations, health and nutrition standards are all raised.
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Posted on Monday, September 12th, 2011 at 12:37 pm
Beneficiaries of Concern’s emergency livelihoods program in northern Kenya. Photo: Kirk Prichard, Concern Worldwide
By Kirk Prichard, Advocacy Officer for Concern Worldwide US currently based in Nairobi
You see a lot of heartbreaking events unfold working in an emergency: malnourished children lying in “stabilization clinics”; once-proud pastoralists newly dependent on food assistance for their survival; scores of cattle carcasses littering the parched plains of northern Kenya; camels who have survived the harshest desert conditions for millennia uncharacteristically dying.
And though these images continue to upset us, it is the stories of success that move us the most. Stories like those that have emerged from the district of Moyale where Concern launched an early intervention in 2010 in response to the impending crisis it had been tracking for months. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 at 1:05 pm
Children in class in the Future Kids School in Mathare slum, Nairobi. Photo: Kenya, Concern Worldwide
By Sylvia Wong, Education Officer, Concern Worldwide US
Last month, I was in Kenya visiting Concern’s education and nutrition programs with high school students and teachers. The drought crisis in the Horn of Africa still hadn’t hit the headlines, but one week after we left the US that changed and news spread around the globe that “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” was upon us. The most severe drought in 60 years along with record highs in food and fuel costs meant that over 12 million people were facing extreme hunger and potential starvation in East Africa. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010 at 12:19 pm
Anne Warimu in the heart of Korogocho Slums, Nairobi. Photo: Bessie Nikhozi, Kenya , Concern Worldwide
How would you define the word “resilience”? In my role as Advocacy Officer for Concern Kenya, in which I am exposed daily to the life and death struggles of people living in absolute poverty, I realize that for me and the people for whom I am trying to give a voice, this word has a significance that it might not have for others.
An engineer would probably define resilience as “the quality of buoyancy or elasticity.” A psychologist might describe it as “the capacity to cope with stress and catastrophe.” I began considering the different ways people understand this word after seeing it defined on a video game website as “an attribute that reduces a character’s chances of receiving a ‘critical strike’ or ‘spells of critical strikes’.”
In the game, the “characters” must face life-and-death duels with dragons and trolls trying to reach a treasure trove, and the threat of “critical strikes” lies around every corner. To survive, the “heroes” in this game must acquire “resilience” by finding and consuming elixirs and other enchantments secretly hidden along their path. These give them power to recover from “critical strikes.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted on Thursday, October 15th, 2009 at 3:49 pm
The hope is that rain will come. It is now due: if it fails again, it will be devastating. It is no coincidence that the word for rain in the Maasai language is the same as that for God.
Kenya is currently in the grip of a severe drought that has killed crops, crippled the country’s production of food, and caused serious shortages of affordable food in urban areas. But the pastoralist communities in Kenya’s rural areas are being hit hardest and most severely. Read the rest of this entry »