Mobility of Men and Women in Informal Settlement Related to Seeking Opportunities

How do people navigate the places in which they live? Does gender influence mobility and in what way? How do men and women access opportunities within and outside the slum?

These are some of the questions we wanted to answer during participatory mapping to support Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Project (KISIP) in Soweto Kayole. During the exercise, some 97 participants (52 women and 45 men) responded to a series of questions designed to help understand gender-specific patterns of movements in and out of Soweto, as well as gender-specific perceptions of the safety of movements within the informal settlement.

Participants were asked to first identify locations of their households and locations of work. The aim of this exercise was to understand how much men versus women leave the settlement to seek opportunities outside.

We found that men travel outside the settlement for work more than twice as often as women, in fact, 40% of men indicated that they went to work outside the boundaries of the informal settlement compared with only 20% of women (see the infographic below).

menwomen
Men travel outside the settlement for work more than twice as often as women
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Linking Perceptions of Safety to Infrastructural Upgrading in Informal Settlements

Spatial Collective was hired in the spring of 2016 to develop a Geographic Information Systems-based participatory mapping approach to support Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Project (KISIP) in developing settlement specific designs aimed at linking perceptions of safety to infrastructural upgrading in informal settlements. The project was implemented in Kayole Soweto, in collaboration with The World Bank and the Government of Kenya Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development.

Kayole Soweto is a government-sanctioned settlement located in Savannah location of Embakasi East constituency in Nairobi City County. The settlement is further divided into 10 administrative zones. Soweto is a settlement consisting of permanent and semi-permanent structures which house an estimated population of 90,000 people in approximately 22,400 households.

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Kayole Soweto

As a part of the process, a mapping study took place between May 23 and 30 2016, aimed at linking perceptions of safety and insecurity to infrastructure development in order to inform the future of infrastructural upgrading in informal settlements. Focus group discussions, GPS mapping and participatory map-drawing exercises were conducted with residents of Kayole Soweto. Participants of the focus group discussions included youth, male and female, ages 18-25; reformed youth*, male and female, ages 18-25; and men and women, ages 40 and above. GPS mapping was done by 10 male and 10 female community members representing all ten zones** of the settlement.

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Some of the participants and facilitators

Some of the questions that the study wanted to answer were: How do people navigate the places in which they live? Does gender influence mobility and in what way? How do men and women access opportunities within and outside the slum? How are spaces in informal settlements traversed differently according to gender? Which paths are the most traveled in a community, when and why? Does gender influence perceptions of safety when it comes to movements within the informal settlement? What types of crime are most prevalent in Soweto Kayole and where? Which support systems for victims of crime exist within the settlement?

After about a month of data collection, the following four maps were designed:

  • Men’s and women’s perceptions of safety related to mobility in Kayole Soweto
  • Safe and unsafe areas as perceived by men and women in Kayole Soweto
  • Types of crimes and support systems as perceived by men and women in Kayole Soweto
  • Improvements as proposed by men and women in Kayole Soweto

These represent an overlay of information obtained using a mixed-method approach including a) stakeholder consultations and participatory project planning; b) building extraction by youth using aerial imagery; c) GPS data collection by community members; d) participatory map drawing through focus group discussions with community members; e) and finally, map creation.

We will present each map separately and subsequent blog post.

* Reformed youth’ is a term coined by Kayole citizens and it represents youth whose experiences range from substance abuse and sexual work to homelessness. Participants were identified through a local rehabilitation program.

** Planned and unplanned settlements in Nairobi are usually further divided into ‘Villages’ or ‘Zones’ which represent the smallest administrative areas. Kayole Soweto is divided into 10 zones.

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The Power of Community Mapping and Community Data

In June 2016, ten youth from Mathare digitized more than a thousand structures in Kayole Soweto, creating a building footprint of the area. At the same time, twenty community members from Soweto, mapped several hundreds of amenities including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, schools, security lights, religious institutions, bars, government offices, etc. In just one week, under the mentorship of Spatial Collective, both teams created a base map of Kayole Soweto which was later used during focus group discussions addressing perceptions of safety of people in the area. More about that project coming up soon in the upcoming blogs. This initial mapping showcased the power of community mapping and community data collection and its potential to fill in the gap of missing data in development.

Press on the image below!

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Community Land Mapping – Post Fieldwork Data Management and Map Creation

The final step in community land mapping in Tana River County was to design the maps of the two targeted communities. Previous steps are described here, here and here.

To complete the two maps we used data collected from the field, including GPS files of points and tracks, two drawings made by community members of their community land, notes, and photographs. Additionally, we used DigitalGlobe’s satellite imagery to digitize relevant land features.

Specifically, the final step can be broken down into the following activities:

  • Review of data collected through fieldwork
  • Selection and purchase of relevant satellite imagery: DigitalGlobe
  • Digitization of natural features identified by the communities
  • Design of the two maps using QuantumGIS

These were also the final activities of the training process that we offered to Kenya Land Alliance and Namati on how to collect and manage community land data.

Natural resources and amenities that were either gathered in the field or digitized in post-processing and included on the maps were: rivers, brooks and streams; forests; swamps; ocean; sand dunes; grazing areas; farm lands; village locations; schools; hospitals and dispensaries; mosques and churches; water points; roads; air strip; hotels; bridges; and cattle dips.

Finally, maps that resemble Topo Sheets in Kenya were designed. We chose this style because it offers a sense of familiarity to the citizens and government agencies to whom they will be presented.

To simply indicate the amount of data gathered by our field teams, we compared it to openly available OpenStreetMap data in the area.

Comparison between existing points in OSM and points collected during field work
Comparison between existing points in OSM (left) and points collected during fieldwork (right)

Number of points in OSM: 6

Number of points collected during fieldwork: 126

Comparison between existing rivers in OSM and data generated through and post fieldwork
Comparison between existing rivers in OSM (left) and data generated through and post-fieldwork (right)

Length of rivers in OSM: 91 km

Length of rivers digitized: 381 km

Comparison between existing roads in OSM and data generated through and post fieldwork
Comparison between existing roads in OSM (left) and data generated through and post-fieldwork (right)

Length of roads in OSM: 103 km

Length of roads digitized: 110 km

Comparison between existing data in OSM (left) and data generated through and post fieldwork (right)
Comparison between existing data in OSM (left) and data generated through and post-fieldwork (right)

Areas in OSM: 17 km2

Areas digitized: 590 km2

Images below compare what was first input into the mapping process – community’s drawings of their land – and what was the final output of the process – final georeferenced maps.

Map drawn by the community members
This map was drawn by the community members
Same area as above georeferenced
Same area as above – georeferenced
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Field work in Tana River

After the initial three day hands-on training and a community forum, it was time to hit the field. As noted in the previous blog posts (here and here), the targeted communities were Chana and Handaraku in Tana River County.

We had very little knowledge of the area prior to going to the field, so we relied on our partners – Kenya Land Alliance and their community facilitators and land rights mobilizers – to lead the way. Because these community lands have never before been captured, we didn’t know what to expect. We anticipated the community lands to be large but we didn’t expect them to be quite as large. The territories of the two communities encompass villages, rivers, forests, marshlands, grazing areas or grasslands, catchment areas, and savannah.

Our car in front of a village
Our car in front of a village

In order to capture as many features as possible and to cover greater distances we divided ourselves into four groups, each group consisting of a Spatial Collective member (well, at least three out of four groups), one or two community facilitators and land rights mobilizers, and one or two community members. Two groups covered Chara community and two Handaraku. It soon became apparent that we are dealing with a difficult terrain. Tana River delta is traversed with streams and rivers (Tana River itself is the longest river in Kenya), marshes, bushes, impregnable forests, and dry areas. It has an astonishing array of flora and fauna – in just a couple of days we saw hypos, crocodiles, numerous primates, birds, insects, and even a leopard; we even saw lion and hyena tracks. The roads in the area are few and far in between so the teams often had to leave the vehicles and switch to motorcycles or walk; and let me tell you, walking in 38 and 39 Degrees Celsius is not fun.

Broken bridge
Broken bridge

Apart from a punctured tire and one of the team’s car stuck in the mud, most of field work went without any major incidences. During the exercise we collected approximately 150 points and more than two hundred kilometers of tracks. The points consisted of boundary points of the two communities, their amenities and natural resources, and other points with which the communities identified themselves with.

Some of the points representing the two communities
Some of the points representing the two communities

All in all, the field work was relatively successful. We collected around half of the points required to adequately capture the area (a generous estimate) in just two days, which for the areas this size is pretty good. Since this project revolved around testing some of the technologies – GPS, satellite imagery, BRCK etc. – for the purpose of community land mapping, and KLA staff training, we didn’t focus on capturing every single point, but mostly on lessons learnt.

The next blog will describe some of the lessons and questions put forth by the community members in regards to mapping community lands. More pictures from the field work can be found below.

One of the field teams
One of the field teams
Elders testing the GPS
Elders testing the GPS
Marshlands
Marshlands
Savannah
Savannah
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Start of Community Land Mapping in Tana River: Forum

This is a follow up on the previous post.

We began our field work on mapping community land by holding a large forum with the representatives of Chana and Handaraku communities, the two communities in Tana River County targeted in this mapping exercise. Community Land Rights Mobilizers and other selected community representatives were invited to participate in the forum to receive updates on the activities completed by Kenya Land Alliance thus far, learn about the GPS and mapping technology and how it relates to land rights, and help us with logistics of subsequent field work.

Participants of the forum were community lands mobilizers and other community representatives
Participants of the forum were community land mobilizers and other community representatives

After introductions and updates we used sketch maps that were drawn by the community members to help us plan the mapping activities in the two communities. These maps helped us select areas and points of interest which were to be mapped such as roads, rivers, forests, grazing fields, catchment areas, water sources, schools, administrative infrastructure, cultural monuments, and any other areas with which the communities identify with.

Drawing sketch maps to identify community boundary and resources and to plan mapping activities
Drawing sketch maps to identify community boundary and resources and to plan mapping activities

After the workshop we walked away with a detailed plan of mapping activities for the next two days. More photographs of the forum can be found below.

Active participation
Active participation
Drawing a sketch map
Drawing a sketch map
Community elder participating in the forum
Community elder participating in the forum
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Mapping Community Land in Tana River

We are currently in Tana River supporting the work of Kenya Land Alliance (KLA) and their partners Namati and Oxfam in using mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools in their efforts to help communities protect their customary and indigenous land.

We are building on the work that these organizations have already completed in Tana River, namely, laying the ground work, capacity building, boundary harmonization between communities, and sketch mapping.

Training session with Kenya Land Alliance, Namati and Oxfam in Malindi
Training session with Kenya Land Alliance, Namati and Oxfam in Malindi

Concern, as put forth by Namati and partners, is that sketch mapping, as conducted in the past exercises, does not create sufficiently strong evidence for use in negotiations and legal proceedings by the government officials dealing with land-rights. One of the important lessons learnt by Namati in their previous projects was that a low-cost, yet more accurate solution, to capturing geographic data is required. The mapping should be accurate enough to satisfy legal requirements as posed by individual countries.

Sketch map
Sketch map

We were hired to do just that: develop a scalable and replicable community mapping model for capturing community land. We started our training by conducting a three day workshop in Malindi where we covered topics such as:

  • What is community land and how can we use mapping tools to capture it?
  • How to plan a mapping project?
  • Practical exercises in GPS data collection and basic GIS training.
  • How to turn a sketch map into a geo-referenced map?
  • Basic data management.

After the training we left for Tana River where we conducted hands on field work. This is the first post describing the training and subsequent mapping of community land in Tana River written during field work. More will follow.

Training session
Training session
Hands on training using satellite imagery
Hands on training using satellite imagery
Training in GPS data collection
Training in GPS data collection
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#HarlemFirst Community Mapping Workshop

In late January, I was invited by Leetha Filderman of PopTech and Cheryl Heller of the School of Visual Arts, MFA Design for Social Innovation (DSI) program, to run a masterclass on community mapping for Harlem First initiative. The initiative is a collaboration between DSI, PopTech, Arnhold Institute for Global Health, and Strive, and its aim is to

“bring together designers, community leaders, data scientists and health care professionals to conceive a new future of wellness care.”

The initiative is a mixed method approach consisting of student-designed maps of selected Harlem neighborhoods, an interactive project room to share ideas, and a symposium on state of health care in Harlem and broader USA.

My role was to run two workshops on community mapping, one at the School of Visual Arts and one in Harlem. The first workshop was with the students from the Design for Social Innovation master program, at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It covered topics of network mapping, spatial interpretation of issues such as security, access to healthy food and health services, gentrification, gender equality, and also, participatory map drawing. The class was designed to prompt students into thinking spatially about social problems, specifically, in this instance, public health.

Worskhop at the School of Visual Arts, New York
Worskhop at the School of Visual Arts, New York

The second workshop, held in East Harlem at the Strive offices, was with community members and community health workers from Harlem. At the beginning of the workshop I presented community mapping done by Spatial Collective in Kenya and talked about governance, service delivery and community data. The rest of the workshop consisted of hands on network mapping and participatory map drawing/urban planning exercises. By juxtaposing actors and issues, the network map gave us an insight into the potential gaps between health issues, as identified by the community members, and health services provided by health workers and other institutions. Participatory map drawing defined some of the spatial locations within Harlem that were important to the participants, as well as spatial relations between issues ranging from community’s perceptions of their neighborhoods, gentrification, security, and potential solutions to health problems of Harlem.

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Workshop in East Harlem at Strive office, New York

The main purpose of these workshops was to introduce the methodologies that were developed through the years in the informal settlements in Kenya and test their applicability in an area such as Harlem. In my opinion, the methods are easily transferable between places due to the universality of the problems at hand – in this case the health of a marginalized community. I’m excited to see where we can go from here.

Here’s more pictures from the workshop (all of the pictures were taken by Aubrey Hays of the DSI):

Network map of issues and service providers
Network map of issues and service providers in public health in Harlem, New York
Workshop in East Harlem
Workshop in East Harlem
Workshop in East Harlem
Workshop in East Harlem
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PopTech Talk

I was recently honored by being selected as a 2015 PopTech Social-Innovation Fellow. I had the pleasure to participate in a week long training program with eight other amazing fellows, organized on the beautiful island of North Haven, in Maine. The training program was led by a variety of astonishing faculty and it consisted of issues as diverse as communication, branding, business, organizational development, and networking. Our gathering culminated at an annual three day PopTech conference, held in Camden, Maine, where each of the fellows gave a talk about their respected work. My talk was titled “Development is Personal” and it focused on the importance of community and small data for development and how community knowledge can be utilized in development initiatives. You can find my talk below.

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Documenting potential impact of development projects on communities in Lamu County

The “World is coming,” said the deputy secretary of Kililana Farmers Association during our LAPSSET conflict risk mapping exercise in old Lamu Town on Kenya’s coast. The secretary was referring to the massive infrastructural development project which will traverse most of northern Kenya. It is called the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor. The aim of the corridor is to incorporate the north of Kenya – which is synonymous with the lack of development – into the country’s national economy and to deepen East African economic integration.

Spatial Collective is working with the Danish Demining Group to map potential conflict and public security risks stemming from the construction of the LAPSSET corridor, with specific focus on Lamu County, and particularly on Lamu Port. Lamu Port is one of the components of the LAPSSET corridor. The port will be built in Manda Bay, close to old Lamu Town, and will consist of an oil refinery, transport system, resort cities, airport, coal plant, the port itself and other infrastructure. Due to the development of the port, the population of Lamu County is predicted to swell five to ten times its current size, according to some estimation. This is what the secretary of Kililana Farmers Association meant when he said that “The world is coming.” The construction of the port is bound to have major impact on a relatively unspoiled environment of Lamu County, and on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site – Lamu Old Town.

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Lamu Old Town

Spatial Collective was asked to produce a set of visualizations to depict how the development of Lamu Port will impact the population and the environment. A number of stakeholders and groups have concerns that, if not handled properly, the project will lead to conflict among already marginalized communities in the area, or between the communities and the authorities. The ultimate aim of our work is to create and inform multi-stakeholder dialogue and to strengthen efforts to prevent, mitigate, and manage conflict and public security risks associated with the LAPSSET corridor.

As one can imagine, this is by no means a small task. To explore the interactions between the proposed development project and its impact on the livelihoods of communities, we had to start almost from scratch. First, we identified and geographically located all of the communities living in Lamu County. Second, we visualized their livelihoods, migratory patterns, and inspected their relationships to natural resources and heritage sites. And, third, we collected information on how their lives will be affected by the construction of the port.

To draft maps of communities in areas that lie in the periphery of the country’s development initiatives, we had to first determine what data were already available. Working with a DDG consultant, we plunged immediately into a lengthy search for secondary datasets, only to discover a lack of relevant geographic data. It is important to note that the type of data that we required was somewhat different from the datasets which can be found in the government departments and on open data portals. We were interested in more than just knowing spatial locations of amenities or understanding county wide indicators. Our aim was to depict the often-invisible societal relationships and community specific patterns, such as, migratory movement patterns of pastoralists, main market sites, transport routes, fishing routes, relationship to natural resource, and personal opinions. The data that were available often didn’t fit our needs. Another problem we faced was that many of the datasets that do exist, especially government data, are sometimes hard to acquire, old, and inaccurate. For example, even something as straight forward as the locations of the settlements in the county were hard to come by, and the data that were available were not particularly accurate. Many villages featured in the Shapefiles – available for free online and on old topographic maps – were already deserted, and locations of some of them were highly inaccurate.

All of this called for considerable improvisation. The challenge was made greater by significant political challenges. The majority of the county was still under curfew due to recent security concerns. This meant that any in-depth on-the-ground data collection was pretty much out of the question.

To complete this project – which is still ongoing at the time of this writing – we used a series of methodologies. The central piece of our methodological approach was participatory mapping, supported by focus group discussions, interviews, and a mobile household survey. Each of these deserves a blog post on its own but, for now, we want to talk about the initial steps we undertook in order to prepare a series of base maps which were later used as base layers in the interviews with stakeholders.

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Ngala during a meeting

We designed a plan that would help us generate as much relevant information as possible prior going to the field. First, we gather-up what we could, including Shapefiles, old topographic maps, surveys, publications, and other studies. Second, we crosschecked various geographic datasets – Shapefiles, old topographic maps and satellite imagery – to determine the relative locational accuracy of some of these datasets. Third, we read through hundreds of pages of reports, publications and studies, in order to extract any geographic reference concerning Lamu County and its inhabitants. Fourth, we then digitized all of the geographic references that we could pinpoint with certainty. Locations which we couldn’t identify we stored in a list for further inspection through consultations with stakeholders on Lamu. Finally, these initial steps helped us to prepare a series of drafted maps which we then used as a base layer for further on-site data collection through interviews, focus group discussions, and participatory mapping. We used these final, more qualitative methods to add additional data to the maps in order to produce the final products: a series of maps depicting communities in Lamu County, their livelihoods, resources, land use, migratory paths and transport routes, as well as their opinions, impressions, and assessments of the potential benefits and hazards surrounding the port.

Our experience in working on this project was significant in showing us that no matter how remote an area is, with little imagination and problem-solving skills, there’s always a way to acquire geographic data. By using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods we were able to produce a comprehensive geographic dataset about the communities of Lamu County. We are currently in the process of finalizing the maps so more about this project is coming up in the future blog posts.

Bellow are some of the screenshots of initial visualizations.

fishingSmall
Fishing
MapmapSmall
Interactions
Land Use
Land Use

 

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