Abraham Mariita

AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

Community Media Forum

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In the recent weeks, albeit months, the country has witnessed a record number of serious corruption related scandals in the country. In nearly all the news channels, corruption has been the major theme. The proceedings, blame games and mysteries reported about corruption have become a norm of what is todays’ Kenyan media coverage. If Kenyans are not angry by now, probably they will never be.

Citizens are critical allies in the fight against corruption. At the heart of communities in Nairobi, lies avenues for citizens to access information that is simple, relevant and beneficial to them.  As a watchdog, the media plays an important role in ensuring that the country’s resources are well utilised.  Community media streams in particular, has an important role in educating their audience about national agendas that affect them. Among these, is the runaway corruption. It is encouraging how the media has sustained the campaign on corruption by consistently highlighting corruption scandals in the country. However, we can do more.

Action for Transparency team held a media forum on 28th June 2018 with journalists and members of community media organisations in Nairobi to discuss and share experiences on how community media can amplify community voices in the fight against corruption in Kenya.

Discussion

  • How can the community media keep the anti-corruption campaign alive?
  • How can we help communities participate in this discourse?
  • What is the role of community media towards amplifying community voices?
  • How can community media break down effects of corruption to the general public?
  • What are the ways in which journalists can represent community voices/interests? (Public Interest

The forum was attended by 32 participants. The panelists included: Tom Mboya – Koch FM, Alex Ikambi – Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET), Kevin Mabonga – TI-Kenya and Abraham Mariita as the moderator.

Amongst the issues raised was that community media should break down the cost of corruption to what is easily relatable or understood by their audience. Tom Mboya agreed with Kevin Mabonga that journalists should breakdown the cost of corruption by equating equivalence of the money lost, vis-a-vis what it could do for the citizen.

Community media should also utilise their intimate relationship with their audience in order to cultivate feedback in regards to expressing their views about transparency and accountability issues.

 

Alex Ikambi asked the participants to ensure that they go down to the community and find out if a reported issue of corruption has been resolved.

Some journalists present, asked for capacity building opportunities for journalists in community media in order to enable them tackle the issues of corruption better. In addition, it was suggested that TI-Kenya and other organisations should partner with the community media to organise public forums.

Michael from Mtaani radio asked participants from other community radios to think of other avenues that can help amplify community voices in unison, like coming up with a newspaper to publish stories.

Notably, two community radio stations have been on the forefront in empowering their audience to fight corruption. Koch Fm held a Community Accountability Forum, that brought together members of Korogocho area, community and political leaders in order to keep an account of the developmental aspects of that area. On the other hand, Ghetto FM has stated a project called Follow The Money in partnership with a Nigerian organisation, to educate and empower their audience to track expenditure of public funds.

The engagements with community media will be on-going, including participating together in forums and fostering synergies that will help empower citizens across the County.

View more photos of this event here.

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Urgent Action Needed to Save Ngunyumu Primary School

Ngunyumu Primary School

As soon as you step into the vicinity of Ngunyumu Primary School, a stench odour hits you, making you doubt if you are in a learning institution. This is Korogocho slum, home to an estimated 150,000 people, according to the 2009 census. It sits next to the popular Dandora dumpsite. Ngunyumu primary school has a population of 850 pupils. It is one of the only two public primary schools in the area the other one being Daniel Komboni primary school.

The 30-year-old Dandora dumpsite has been growing and encroaching the school in the last couple of years. Its effects, clearly visible and “smell-able”. Pupils at the institution play at the crowded playground, unaware of dangers surrounding them. This, the opposite of a favourable environment for learning.

Along the schools dilapidated fence, assorted garbage in form of papers and other light materials, have found refuge after being blown by wind from the dumpsite. In addition, garbage rummagers are camping outside the school’s compound to sort out their collection for re-usable items, which they sell at the spot, and what is invaluable is thrown over the fence into the school’s compound. The iron sheets covering the classrooms are brown and rotting.

Health Hazards

Dahabo Guyo, a member of Ngunyumu’s Board of Management (BOM), fervently expresses her disgust about the foul odour in the school. It has been facing dangerous health hazards from the dumpsite, including being filled with toxic smoke. “The health of the pupils and teachers in the school is affected by this dumpsite and there is no one to help us”, says Dahabo.

The BOM member has been active in advocating for the relocation of a section of the dumpsite near the school in order to provide a conducive environment for pupils to learn. It has been a tall order yet dangerous affair, as we came to learn.

Kevin (not the real name), a school teacher, who spoke on anonymity, said that efforts to address the effects of the dumpsite have resulted to threats and intimidation from people believed to be beneficiaries of the dumpsite. “One time the school was entirely filled with smoke from the smouldering garbage, it was all over including inside the classes. You could barely see beyond ten meters,” said Kevin. “Together with other teachers, we decided to walk to the dumpsite to see if we could salvage the situation, but we were chased away by some youths who claimed that we were interfering with their livelihoods,” he added.

It is alleged that the youths were allocated a piece of land next to the dumpsite that used to be an abandoned quarry by area Member of County Assembly after the 2013 elections. Currently, each 20-ton dump truck that empties its contents at the site is charged Ksh. 500 on each trip. Every single day, more than 2,000 metric tons of waste is dumped in Dandora.

“Other than the foraging and recycling by individuals and families living in the dump, this is a multi-million shillings business, that is connected to cartels and politicians,” lamented Kevin. “It is a fight we have given up on, because we fear for our lives,” he added.

Threats

In-spite of the threats and perceived fear, Ms. Guyo, has continued to highlight the plight of pupils in Ngunyumo primary school. Pupils and teachers have often been absent due to falling ill out of the effects of the dumpsite. “When I was posted to Ngunyumu, my health was perfect. But since then, I have been in and out of hospital due to the bad air in this area. I have even sought for a transfer from this school,” complained another teacher

“We are glad that since it started raining, there has not been smoke,” said Kevin, “When there is rain, the fires are extinguished and there is no smoke”. Mr. Kevin added that the dumpsite has promoted increase in the number of school dropouts who usually end up in the dump to forage. Drugs and early pregnancy are other unintended consequences of the dumpsite that the school has had to deal with over the years.

Sustainable development goal 4 recommends basic education to be accessible, inclusive, equitable and quality to all including children in urban centers. According to the free primary education programme, every pupil in a public primary school is allocated Ksh. 1,400 per year. This is the total amount for all the needs including learning materials and development cost.

The school lacks a proper perimeter wall and security. Dealing with the effects of the garbage including provision of water and sanitation to the pupils is a cost the school has to grapple with. Even with all these challenges the pupils are still expected to compete with other learners from across the county with favourable conditions.

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Unearthing the sanitation crisis within Nairobi’s public schools

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A4T grantee Sarah Nanjala reveals critical sanitation crisis in Nairobi’s public primary Schools. Sarah is one of the journalists trained in investigative and data journalism at the United States International University (USIU) and later  got an A4T grant and mentorship award.

The bell rings. Break time is over. A Standard Three girl carefully, but quickly, makes her way through the flooded entrance to a toilet. At least 50 other girls are with her.

The girls squeeze into the few toilets, with the older ones jostling the younger ones out of the way. They then wrinkle their noses in disgust and walk away. This is the everyday life of pupils in Nairobi public schRead Sarah’s report published on today’s Star Newspaper here.

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Accountability

TI-KENYA STATEMENT ON THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

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Introduction

The numerous corruption scandals in the recent past have put focus on the effectiveness of anti-corruption agencies and the political leadership in the fight against graft in the country. It has also exposed the weak links between our investigative, prosecutorial and enforcement agencies in the fight against graft.

Transparency International Kenya welcomes the efforts put in response to the numerous corruption scandals. This includes arraigning the accused in court, the vetting of Public Officials and freezing the accounts of the accused among other measures. We hope that this time, unlike what we are used to, there will be serious follow up to ensure that those involved are punished in accordance with the rule of law.

TI-Kenya would like to make the following proposals towards bolstering anti-corruption efforts:

Prosecutions

We note that as far as war on graft is concerned, our problem is not lenient punishment. The problem is a legal system that has failed to deliver justice for Kenyans. There are a number of cases documented by our official agencies about huge amounts of money that has been stolen. There are no commensurate prosecutions to match the loss. Equally important to note, there are few convictions far between. We believe that those accused of corruption should face stringent punishment as provided by the law. This should be followed by recovery of all the money stolen. The law also provides for punitive fines that should be imposed to those found guilty.

Procurement Loopholes

Most of the scandals highlighted involve procurement for goods or services. The special audit report by the Office of Auditor General pointed out loopholes in the IFMIS system that allowed corruption a free hand. The 2015 assessment report by the EACC also indicated weaknesses in the procurement system that predisposed NYS to theft. It recommended measures that were aimed at plugging the gaps in procurement and aligning the processes to the Public Procurement and Disposals Act. Unfortunately, no follow-up seems to have been done. The recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General and EACC on procurement loopholes should be addressed immediately. In particular, the IFMIS system which is used by all government agencies should be reviewed to ensure it serves its purpose – strengthen accountability.

Elaborate Vetting Process

While we acknowledge that it is a good move to vet all Procurement Heads, it is important to note that they are not solely liable for corruption in public institutions. Thus, there is need for a more elaborate vetting framework which targets all public officers in procurement, accounting and the approval chain. It is also important that the vetting exercise has practical timelines for it to achieve its objectives.  We need to get a schedule of the vetting process and most importantly ensure that the vetting exercise is carried out within the provisions of the law in which the rights of public workers are respected.

Lifestyle Audits

Lifestyle audits should be conducted on all public officers. This should be complemented with a robust wealth declaration system for routine asset disclosures. Under Sec. 26(1) of the Public Officers Ethics Act, each state or public officer is required to annually, submit to their relevant responsible commission a declaration of income, assets and liabilities of him/herself, spouse(s) and dependent children under the age of 18 years. It is time to enforce compliance with the law and to put in place mechanisms, aided by technology, for easy processing and follow up of wealth declarations. In addition, we need to re-think the opacity that we have created around wealth declarations. There is no shame in legally acquired wealth. Opacity only helps the corrupt.

National values and Principles of Governance

The Constitution of Kenya gives prominence to national values and principles of governance as enshrined under Article 10 of the Constitution. Among these principles include patriotism, good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability. Further, Article 232 of the Constitution provides for the principles that inform public service which include; high standards of professional ethics; effective and economic use of resources, accountability for administrative acts and transparency among others.

We hold the view that it is the patriotic duty of any state or public officer to resign once the aforementioned values and principles have been questioned. Leadership is required to help rebuild the values and ethics of our nation.

Watchdog Role of Media

We thank the media for their sustained campaign on corruption by not only highlighting corruption scandals in the country but also breaking down for the public to understand its burden. As a watchdog, the media plays an important role in ensuring that the country’s resources are well managed and utilised. We therefore urge the media to keep the anti-corruption campaign alive by highlighting the loopholes used by the corrupt and the damage caused to our society.

Finally, the war against graft will only succeed if it is carried out within the law. All Kenyans must stand up play a part in emancipating our nation from the shackles of greed and theft.

Samuel Kimeu,

Executive Director,

Transparency International Kenya

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AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

#STOPtheseThieves – Demo against Corruption

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In recent days, the media informed by audit reports uncovered cases of blatant corruption within government departments and agencies including the National Youth Service where up to Kshs. 9 Billion is reported to have been illegally paid out to fictitious suppliers; the National Cereals and Produce Board paid huge sums of money to suppliers not accredited; Reports from the Office of the Auditor General indicating mismanagement of public funds within various government departments including the Health and Education departments.

Transparency International Kenya through Actin for Transparency in partnership with Kenya Human Rights Commission, Buyer Beware and other organisations planned a demonstration against the blatant runaway corruption in government to raise the voice of citizens in demanding for action.

The demonstration was dubbed #STOPtheseThieves and was held on 31st of May 2018, at the Uhuru Park grounds, with a demonstration through Kenyatta Avenue, Kimathi Street, Moi avenue, City Hall way, Parliament road and to Haile Selassie rd.

The demo attracted participants in hundreds, who were involved in displaying placards that displayed different messages in detest of the recent corruption scandals and inept by government authorities to take any action. Protestors walked, danced, sang and others chose to scream, while cameras from local and international journalists clicked away in the over 3 hours activity. Organisations represented gave speeches periodically and made calls to other onlookers to participate in the picketing. A petition was read when the crowd arrived at the judiciary, asking the courts to ensure prosecution of the corruption suspects, with hefty fines and punishment.

When TI-Kenya organised an inaugural Integrity Walk in December 2017, a contingent of policemen armed with clubs, tear gas canisters and guns, surrounded the Freedom Corner Park (start venue) with an order to stop us from proceeding with the walk. It was shock and awe, that a peaceful walk, a symbol of citizens stand on accountability and transparency issues, was invaded and stopped with such impunity. A year earlier, a demo against the loss of 5 billion shillings at the Ministry of health, was thwarted with violence and brutality to the participants and without any mercy to the journalists covering it.
It was therefore a great achievement to have had many participants in this peaceful demo with escort from policemen. Perhaps an indication that the police and their authorities are appreciating the right of citizens according to the constitution of Kenya, Chapter 3 Article 37, to peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to demonstrate petitions to public authority.

During the celebration and commemoration of the Madaraka (Independence) day on June 1 2018, president Uhuru Kenyatta gave a rather tough and firm statement about non-tolerance to corruption in his government. He declared that corruption in all its forms will be diminished from our country, adding that his governments’ raft of measures to tackle corruption, include an initial step for all Heads of Procurement and Accounts in Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and Parastatals to undergo fresh vetting, including polygraph testing, to determine their integrity and suitability by beginning of July 2018 and those who shall fail the vetting will stand suspended. Unlike his previous speeches, during previous national events – where he once asked Kenyans, “Mnataka nifanye nini?” (What do you want me to do?) – president Uhuru had never talked this tough on fighting corruption. We hope that this will translate to action.

So far, over 40 suspects have been arraigned in court and held without bail, with more expected to be charged according to the Directorate of the Criminal Investigations.  The recovery of assets from those accused of corruption must also be given priority. See more photos here.

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AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

Media Forum on Access to Information Act

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We recently organised a Media Forum to discuss how the Access to Information Act can benefit journalists and citizens. The forum that was held at a local hotel, was attended by 29 journalists who participated in discussing Freedom of expression, where the media is grounded, as an important aspect for journalists to be involved in.

The panelists who led the great discussion included:

  • Erick Mugendi – Managing Editor PesaCheck, an initiative of code for Africa/ Builds tools for citizens to help citizens track budgets. Try to connect the big numbers with the people.
  • Christine Nguku – Vice Chairperson Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), Secretary Kenya Editors Guild.
  • Winnie Tallam – Senior Legal Officer – Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) The body that is also mandated to ensure implementation of the Access to Information law.
  • Sheila Masinde – Programmes Manager Transparency International Kenya.
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AccountabilityActivitiesEducationHealthTechnology

A4T Twitterthon at Kenyatta University Parklands Campus

Kenyatta University Twitterthon

We recently held a Twitterthon on 18th April 2018, at Kenyatta University, Parklands Campus, in partnership with Kenyatta University Students Association – thank you guys!

The exciting and informative 2 hours at the KU campus hall was aimed at involving the youth in the fight against corruption and creating awareness among them on issues of accountability within the Education and Health Sectors.

Thanks to the students who were present, over 2,500! tweets were posted about the A4T App, its features, usability and usefulness in advancing transparency and tracking budgetary expenditure and to report corruption through the App.

View more photos here.
You can download the App on Google Play Store and on Apple App Store.

 

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AccountabilityEducationHealthTechnology

Action For Transparency Media Training – CLOSED

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Exciting opportunity for journalists aspiring to gain skills investigative and data journalism.

A 3 month Grant and mentorship program will be offered for the 10 best journalists after the training

Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya) through the Action for Transparency(A4T) Project has partnered with USIU-Africa, to conduct training for journalists in Nairobi. The training aims to empower journalists with skills to investigate cases of suspected corruption or mismanagement of public funds and analyse financial/budgetary information to reveal gaps affecting the health and education sectors.
Journalists will undergo training from 28th to 30th November 2017 at United States International University (USIU-Africa), in Nairobi.

TI-Kenya in partnership with Swedish based Fojo Media Institute, is implementing the Nairobi based A4T project that uses technology, aided by an empowered citizenry, to strengthen democratic accountability and transparency in Kenya through citizen monitoring of government expenditure.

Journalists wishing to take part in this training (free of charge) should Apply Here, by providing all required information and a story idea that they wish to pursue.

10 best investigative ideas will be awarded grants and mentorship for 3 months after the training.

Deadline for application is 11:59pm, 17th November 2017.

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TI Kenya Hosts Media Practitioners, Calls for Collaboration

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Transparency International Kenya hosted journalists, bloggers and media trainers on Tuesday 10th October, 2017 in Nairobi. The meeting was aimed to discuss the role of media in political accountability. Victor Bwire from the Media Council of Kenya, William Janak from Kenya Correspondents Association and Sheila Masinde from TI Kenya led the discussions.

Sheila Masinde, the Head of Programmes at TI Kenya, urged journalists to continue playing their watchdog role effectively noting that the society trusted on them with the responsibility. “Mass media has always played a key role in ensuring that citizens monitor the actions of leaders by providing essential information to citizens,” she observed.   While pointing out the need for more engagement between media and civil society organisations, she said that TI-Kenya has been supportive of media through capacity building initiatives such as the Action for transparency project and Reporting on Good Governance in Kenya (RoGGKenya).

Journalists were urged to be true to their profession. Victor Bwire bemoaned the level of investigative journalism and called the need for mentorship of upcoming journalists. “If we want to ensure accountability in service delivery, then we must publish quality articles,” he advised. He called on journalists to explore alternative platforms to publish their stories.

William Janak, the chairman of the Kenya Correspondents Association challenged journalists to follow up on corruption related stories. He said that while journalists faced challenges, they have a responsibility of following up stories so that leaders are held accountable. This, he also said, will ensure public resources are well managed.

The forum was held by the  Action for Transparency Project which is aimed at enabling parents and other stakeholders have access to information on how much money the government has disbursed and how it is utilized in public primary schools and health centers in Nairobi.

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