I leave for Nairobi in a little less than two weeks, and it feels like the prep work is just beginning! There is so much to absorb…the culture, the organizations, the issues, and what my role will be within that matrix. I am thrilled for the opportunity to serve as an AP Peace Fellow and follow in the footsteps of Christy Gillmore and Louis Rezac. The relationship forged between the Advocacy Project and Hakijamii is strong, and I am excited to become a part of it.
Hakijamii, the Economic and Social Rights Centre, was founded in 2004 and has grown to support around 120 organizations in and around Kenya. By addressing some of the major disparities in the community, Hakijamii aims at empowering and supporting local communities, and it is now an integral part of the advocacy effort to acquire basic rights for those communities. Hakijamii is actively involved in education, water and sanitation, and land and housing. Kenya just recently drafted and promulgated a new Constitution in late 2010, which is meant to address some of the major inequalities rampant in the current system. Whether or not it will work is still up in the air, as there has been marked debate about whether or not the new Constitution is even being followed. Among the changes is a new National Land Policy, which is designed to provide more security for the community and require more accountability on the part of the government. But so far, not much reform has been noticed. Eminent domain without compensation seems to remain a favorite power of the government, as people are forcibly evicted regularly.
Estimates are that around 60% of Nairobi’s population live in slums, namely in one of Africa’s largest, Kibera. A recent proposed project of the Kenyan government is the widening of a railroad that runs through various slums. The enlargement of the railroad corridor would mean clearing out the thousands of homes adjacent to the railroad. This project, funded by World Bank, would mean utter loss for thousands of families.
My role within this organization is still in its formulation period. I am going to Kenya fresh off my first year of law school at Georgetown, and I am excited to put the beginnings of my legal education to use, supporting Hakijamii however they need, particularly in advocacy. I am working with Hakijamii and AP to formulate a work plan that will make the best use of my ten weeks. I am really excited for this opportunity and really believe that with Hakijamii’s strengths and practices, I can be instrumental to supporting their mission.
I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with Hakijamii through this blog. Support for their efforts is necessary and welcome, particularly through knowledge and awareness. For more information, here are links to the Hakijamii website, Louis’s blog, and Christy’s blog (from their experiences last year).
Posted By Kristen Maryn
Posted May 16th, 2011