Kenya: Advocacy promotes access to displacement risk reduction information and tools

Kisumu lies on Lake Victoria and is Kenya’s fourth largest city. Unregulated development has a negative impact on resilience, leading to reduced livelihood opportunities, low quality services, and increased disaster risk, including displacement. In this recipe, GNDR member Winam Grassroots utilises data collection and monitoring to inform CSO interventions and partnerships in service delivery.

  • Partner on service and programme delivery
  • Promote access to displacement risk reduction information and tools
  • Tailor support to access services
  • Promote data collection and monitoring for advocacy, accountability and evidence-based programming
  • Support advocacy to access rights

Unregulated development has exposed communities living along the banks of Lake Victoria to great risk. Floods destroy houses and businesses and decimate agriculture and livelihoods. People are left to stay in temporary camps or with their neighbours and families for months.

Winam Grassroots conducted surveys, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with displaced people to understand how many people are affected and the support required. The data provided an indication of the actions local government and other stakeholders should prioritise and to inform resource allocation to support the community. People needed help with farm inputs, food and other basic needs, as well support for women to obtain national healthcare cards. Winam Grassroots also held a stakeholder review meeting and shared the report with various agencies to provide insight into the main challenges faced by the displaced community.

Photo by Erick Kiarie on Unsplash

Winam Grassroots worked with leaders of various community structures to rally citizens and come up with a plan on how to share information, communally cook food, clean their environment, and provide their own camp security. Together they co-developed a plan that attributed responsibilities for sharing information and decision making during a flood event. In a presentation describing their work, a member of Winam Grassroots said:  “We all need to scale-up networking. CSOs should work together more and not be silent.” By utilising local-to-local dialogues and grassroots assemblies to engage various community associations and organisations, they were able to form action groups and conduct capacity strengthening and awareness raising. The community was introduced to early warning signs and worked together to clean up shared spaces, clear drainages and manage waste.

“Imagine a woman who goes to bed only to be woken up by screams. Water is quickly coming in. Her children are asleep on the floor. She is scared, unsure whether to pick up her children and move out quickly or try to salvage a few of their much needed belongings before she escapes the fierce and raging waters of a river that has broken its bank. They have nowhere to go, no information on who they can go to for help other than their neighbours who are in the same situation. They have to sleep out in the cold, and as the day breaks, they are hungry, dirty and cold. All their belongings – including those for their livelihoods – are turned upside down. The future seems bleak.”

Dorothy Midimo, Winam Grassroots, Kenya, describing the situation that many community members faced when flooding struck Kisumu

As part of their work in the makeshift camps, Winam Grassroots advocates for the provision of security by the national government, swift provision of food, access to healthcare, shelter, water and sanitation, and ultimately, for a planned and well-managed relocation. Winam Grassroots is working onThe City We Need Nowcampaign, in support of the New Urban Agenda for sustainable cities and communities. It runs a platform for local communities to advocate, innovate, and act on climate change. And aims to influence policy implementation, especially on budget provision and allocation, in the annual development plans.

“Imagine a woman who gets woken up by an alarm sound and bells. She goes out and sees her neighbours have already gathered outside. The community mobilizer/responders who she remembers speaking to weeks before is explaining the situation. The river levels are rising and the risk of flooding is high. There is a school that is a seven minute drive away and is deemed safe. Every family has one hour to pack its things and go to the school. There will be food, shelter and more information there. The woman grabs her few valuables and leaves in the car with her children. She knows the route and there is no water logging on the route. In the school there are community responders at work with the evacuation plan and neighbourhood leaders counting numbers. The children have a safe play area and there are mats for sleeping and warm food. She goes to sleep knowing that the risk is not over but they have a community team that will work together and know how to tackle it. They are safe.”

Dorothy Midimo describing the vision that Winam Grassroots is working toward in Kisumu, Kenya

Winam Grassroots works to empower communities in the Lake Region of Kenya by creating awareness about the environment and climate change, conservation agriculture, gender equality, and empowerment and community development. Winam Grassroots is a member-led organisation that puts the needs of its community at the centre of development by amplifying voices of the community to bring change.

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This case study was produced as part of our Making Displacement Safer Cookbook – a resource on addressing DRR challenges faced by displaced communities in urban areas.

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Project funded by

United States Agency for International Development

Our Making Displacement Safer project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the USAID. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

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