Tag Archives: Nairobi

One week down

15 Jul

 So back inNairobi. It’s crazy that my time inKenyais almost up. I’ve had a varied and interesting week. It started in the city. I visited John Cheburet, who produces the organic farmer radio programme on Monday. He uses FrontlineSMS to communicate with farmers. Straight from there, I went back to Jomo Kenyatta international and flew to Kisumu, a city in the western province on the shores of lake Victoria. I think flying low over the lake as we came into land was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Perfect timing, the sun was setting. I was whisked off in a taxi towards Mumias where I spent the next three nights, actually living within the huge Mumias sugar factory. Bright lights, steaming chimneys, noisy engines, all amid miles and miles of sugarcane. Quite a sight. The main purpose of my trip was to conduct interviews with small scale farmers which involved a lot of travelling down narrow uneven roads- fortunately I wasn’t driving. I’ve made some enlightening discoveries and interviewed some fascinating people. very excited about getting back and putting the documentary together. Get ready for a photo overload on here too! In terms of my planning, so far so good. I’ve been lucky enough to meet great people every step of the way who have been a massive help to logistics! But I’m scared about speaking too soon when I’m only half way through. I’ll be back in the countryside on Monday. So until then I’ll be soaking upNairobiandAddis Ababa…

Day One

10 Jul

I arrived in Nairobi after an eight and a half hour flight and a two and half hour queue for a visa. It was an interesting place journey. Big groups of teenagers heading out to take part in development projects and a noticeably large contingent of journalists, spending the night in Nairobi before heading out to the east to report from the refugee camps. Fascinating. Although after a day of exploring the city today, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad that it takes such a tragedy, such a disaster for the world media to descend. Yet again it makes me question the picture of Kenya and east Africa which we have painted for us in the UK.

Anyway, I’ve seen some of the sights- parliament, the national museam, Victory park. And some less conventional- ambulances dodging the traffic by crossing the middle of the highway and driving toward ongoing traffic, riding in a bus which mounted the pavement for 200 metres to dodge yet more traffic, and a group of men pushing a huge bus to get it jumpstarted…

Tomorrow I have an appointment to meet with the producer of a leading Agricultural radio programme to find out how he uses SMS technologies to communicate with his listeners. My first interview… lots of things to remember currently going round and round in my head. Then I head back to Jomo Kenyatta International to head to the west of the country. It’s all go!

More soon!..

Africa Gathering

20 Jun

Image by Africa Gathering

As I plugged away with emails and enquiries for my forthcoming trip (less than three weeks now!) I whiled away my afternoon reading the ferevent stream of tweets coming from the Africa Gathering in London. #AgLondon for anyone who wants a refresh.

In their own words, Africa Gathering…

“provides a space to bring technophiles, thinkers, entrepreneurs, innovators and everybody else together to talk about positive change in sustainable development, technology, social networking, health, education, environment and good governance in Africa.”

Now I know that I only scraped the very surface of the gathering by reading the tweets. It sounds like a fascinating day, packed with important and insightful presentations which following online I wasn’t fortunate enough to see. But it felt rather apt to be part of the event via twitter. Scrolling down the stream of tweets from today’s gathering I found another place to bring ideas, thoughts, questions and information together.  

When I travel to Nairobi I will visit the iHub and I’ve been learning more about it today. Another centre, another space to share ideas enrich, engage and enable.

It’s strength in numbers I suppose.

The plan…

19 Jun

So. I have a plan.

Come July, I will be flying from Heathrow

to Jomo Kenyatta airport, Nairobi. 

(I Google Map-ped it and it would take me six days and twenty one hours to go by car. So it’s a good job I’m flying.)

From Nairobi I’ll be travelling to Kisumu…

and on to Mumias…

…and Kakamega.

Then it’s back to Nairobi and onward to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. (more on the next leg soon.)

All maps from lovely Google

Mobile phones for building the bigger picture.

1 May

Image: Denaldi Photography

Kibera in Nairobi is Africa’s biggest slum. It’s home to 60% of the whole population of Nairobi and takes up just 6% of city’s area. About one million people live in about 200 settlements here.

At least that’s what we think. Heaving, thriving Kibera was only recognised by the Kenyan government as an area of housing in 2003. The figures that we have are generally based on estimates by non-governmental organisations.

One thing we can be sure of is that many many people call Kibera home, and no matter how many Kenyan settlements there are in the slum, if they were to look at a map of the area in 2009, they’d find a blank space where their homes should be. Unrecognised. Unmapped.

Of course Kibera is not just made up of homes. There are roads, shops, cafes, hairdressers, bars and many other facilities. Where there are people there are also sports clubs, meetings being held and churches.

So out of this blank space came Map Kibera. A project which has resulted in an interactive map of the area, showing all available facilities. Here’s a snippet…

Image: Map Kibera

Initially it was created with simple GPS mapping methods as explained here  by William Underhill. Now though it has reached a new phase and is one dimension of an interactive community project, Voice of Kibera. This is where the phone come in.

Based around this wonderfully up-to-date map, Voice of Kibera is a citizen reporting project. Residents with news of a meeting or an incident can text or submit a report online and using information about the location. The incident is then verified and plotted on the map using the Ushahidi platform where anyone logging onto the website can see it. An incident can also be investigated further if needs be. This is a video of Samson Ochieng Ooko detailing a forced eviction on the 27th February 2011.

Witnessryan: Railway Communities Facing Eviction

It’s another example of people using mobile phones to go the extra mile, important for communities and interesting for humanitarians, anthropologists and statisticians.

This multi-dimensional project has filled what was an empty space. But is it an accurate picture? Can we rely on adequate, widespread mobile use in Kibera for creating a service which is useful for all?

Follow Voice of Kibera on Twitter

And get updates via the Map Kibera Blog