In the past week, the Open Institute has completed its first set of four-day marathon meetings in four locations in Nakuru North sub-county, as part of the Global Goals for Local Impact scale up process. We held these meetings in Bahati, Kirima, Mereroni and Githioro under the leadership of their respective chiefs, Paul Ndungata, Charles Wakahiu, James Karanja and Mary Muthoni.
In these initial meetings, we engaged the community leaders to prepare them on the work ahead. We explained the value of having facts as an instrument to engage with each other and with other stakeholders. We explained the process of data collection and the subsequent analysis that they will conduct on the data. We painted a picture of the benefits that would accrue the community when they have facts in hand.
It was easier to communicate with these various community leaders because they all had been watching the activities in Lanet Umoja and many of them had expressed the desire to go through the process in their own locations. Working with Chief Francis Kariuki of Lanet Umoja, we had great success going through a process where citizens collected data on themselves in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals that they felt were most relevant to them. This data was then uploaded to the Chief’s dashboard as a means to enabling them to analyse their priorities and needs. In addition the dashboard is useful for the Chief to better administer the location. Based on that analysis, the citizens of Lanet Umoja have been able to engage with government and other stakeholders on finding solutions for their needs.
Going forward, we shall in the coming weeks be holding a more detailed series of trainings – first on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and then on data, its value and data collection techniques. In these meetings we expect to review and develop the survey questions that will go into their data collection exercises.
We were excited to see the responses given by the community leaders in the course of the meeting. Mzee Duncan Njogu of Kirima location talked about how he wished he had a better appreciation of data before. He has nursed his wife over the past 14 years as she battled with Breast cancer and has often felt helpless because he did not know how he could engage with the government to provide better care locally for patients such as her.
“This information is long overdue because we would be so happy if we can use data to assist the community with security,” said Peter A. Amayi adding the biblical quote that was often mentioned throughout the meeting “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
As we prepared them for the training we sought commitment from them on two fronts: that they will ensure that all other community leaders who missed these meetings, come for the next ones and that they will also bring young people with them.