PRESS STATEMENT RELEASED BY THE NUBIAN RIGHTS FORUM REGARDING THE CHALLENGES OF RISK OF STATELESSNESS OF THE COMMUNITY.

Over fifty years since Kenya attained independence, the Nubian Community is still fighting for recognition as citizens in their country. There are multiple challenges the community faces for being treated as an alien while in their own country. Accessing fundamental identification documents in the country has been a primary challenge and there have been a trickle of consequential occurrences as a result. We are therefore, calling on his Excellency, President Kenyatta to use his executive powers to award the Nubian Community the recognition they deserve as citizens.

LACK OF ACCESS TO IDENTIFICATION CARDS

The COVID-19 Pandemic has led to stopping of most governmental processes that involve offering services to citizens including the vetting process of the Nubian Community. Following the measures put in place by the Kenyan Government are unable to apply for National Identity cards. Currently, there is a slow resumption of services, and Kenyans can apply for their ID cards but the Nubian community cannot apply because there are no measures set in place concerning the vetting process within the COVID-19 safety guidelines. ‘There is no vetting process taking place for the Nubian Community.’ While the government is working on requirements to begin the vetting process, it is paramount that they speed up the process to allow the process to resume immediately. The delays in commencement of the process means there is a risk of a majority not receiving their ID cards in time.

Living in Kenya without an Identification card, is as good as a death sentence. For a community that is already threatened by what is justified as ‘unique characteristics’ there is an increase in the risk factors involved. The challenges that affect the community would be reduced if the community members were awarded recognition as Kenyans. The Nubian community are Kenyans, and it should not be a privilege for a chosen few, that costs them their right to citizenship.

CHALLENGES OF THE DELAYED VETTING PROCESS

YOUTH AND EDUCATION

According to Art.43 every person has the right to education. Kenyans have a right to access free basic education. However, when it comes to tertiary education, including TVETs and universities, youth in the Nubian community are disadvantaged. A majority of the Nubian community depend on scholarships and financial aid such as HELB to advance their education. For all governmental transactions, it is mandatory for a person to have an identification card. Youth from the community seeking to further their education have limited access to such opportunities because of lack of identification cards.

YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

Youth unemployment in the community is on the rise because of lack of identification cards. Currently, there is an on-going initiative by the Kenyan Government dubbed ‘Kazi mtaani’ that sees youth earn a living from the government by cleaning the community. During the recruitment process, it was mandatory for youth to present their identification cards. A lot of youth missed opportunities to work on the ‘Kazi Mtaani’ project due to lack of identification cards. This is just one example of the opportunities that our youth miss out on because of lack of identification cards.

CRIME RATE

Lack of education and Youth unemployment is one of the leading reasons of increase in crime in the community. When youth are frustrated due to lack of opportunities and no means of providing for families, they resort to alternative, criminal means of earning a living. It is painful and unfair to lose children to crime over circumstances that can be solved with an access to identification cards.

WAY FORWARD

Following our plea, we as a community drafted a letter (herein attached) to C.S interior Matiang’i and Director Kimotho concerning our plea for a resumption of the vetting process for the community members to access identification cards. We implore all duty bearers within the government to treat matters of citizenship with the urgency they deserve.

As per Article 27 of the constitution: The state shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground… including ethnic or social origin

SHAFFI ALI

Chairperson- Nubian Rights Forum

INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS AND COVID-19

How alarming is COVID-19 if it were to hit informal settlements?

Let us paint a picture

India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, and South Africa are amongst the countries with a number of individuals in informal settlements in their countries. Research carried out by  Habitat for Humanity estimates that at least a quarter of the population live in informal settlements in urban areas. In Kenya, Kibera hosts at least 700, 000 individuals, In India Dharavi, hosts at least one million individuals, Mexico has similar numbers in Neza and the same applies for Khatyelitsha in South Africa. Study shows that informal settlements are characterized by inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, insecure residential areas, poor housing and overcrowding. Due to the economies of scale involved, informal settlements are here to stay- or at least for the time being.

A majority of people living in informal settlements are challenged by these extreme conditions live in, and to add on, employment is often scarce. Manual and casual labor or blue collar jobs are common amongst the people. These jobs, such as the Jua Kali industry, and casual jobs such as washing and cleaning, in Kenya, often dictate the level of sustainability of a person on a daily basis because their nature forces for meager earnings. These meager earnings are not guaranteed, they are also dependent on the availability of clients or people in need of casual laborers. With the increase in prices of local goods and other essential needs such as paraffin, the few earned coins are often divided to buy food, essentials, pay rent amongst other bills, and clearly, the funds are never enough to sustain. The challenge extends to accessing social amenities such as hospitals and schools where one has an option of private expensive education and healthcare that at least guarantees quality, or public facilities that are often understaffed, lack equipment and resources and are often at a threat of workers laying down their tools for lack of pay. Aside from crime, violence, the informal settlements also record high cases of police brutality and extra judicial killings that often go unresolved. In layman terms, the people do not dictate their way of life, their life dictates their living.

2020 saw us witness the spread of COVID-19, a situation that has now been declared a pandemic. Developed countries with adequate health care have witnessed massive deaths due to the Corona virus. A majority of countries are on lock down and there is no movement. This is an attempt to control and contain the spread of the virus. The main objective of all nations is to flatten the curve of the yet to be well understood virus. However, even with the control measures, countries are still counting deaths, and infections. What at least brings hope is the fact that we have witnessed a higher number of recoveries. To help the situation, countries have put in place response teams that are aiding in giving free food and essentials to the vulnerable, they are providing masks for their citizens and there is a controlled and visible organizational pattern top to bottom. There are clear directives that are inclusive of all groups whether rich or poor. It is an inclusive fight against COVID-19

In Kenya, with a slow but steady rise in infections. We have witnessed deaths, and we have recorded recoveries. The health care system especially for informal settlements and rural areas is still lacking in terms of enough beds, and availability of ICU units. If the infections were to rise rapidly, there would be excessive strain on the healthcare system. It is unclear how priority will be given to infected persons who need ventilators when the country is short of ICU units and functional ventilators. There have been complaints over the absurd charges at the isolation centers with clearly minimal supervision from the government which in turn puts the isolated individuals at risk of exposure. Worse still, people from informal settlements, if put in isolation will not afford the highly priced rooms.

Aside from that, some of the directives include a 7pm curfew, social distancing and wearing of masks. Masks have hiked in prices- the common mwananchi may not be able to afford purchasing masks. Most are opting for cloth masks that are not proven to prevent viruses. Surgical masks and N-95 are simply not affordable for most people who live under a dollar a day. Social distancing in over crowded areas is a challenge because most casual laborers would rather risk Corona virus than risk hunger. Food insecurity is a problem to an extent that during the recently witnessed scrambling for relief food in Kibera, two people lost their lives.

One of the government responses to these issues is to implore. To implore landlords to reduce or waive rent, to implore people selling masks to reduce prices, to implore people selling food to regulate prices and to implore police to use more civil means to implement the curfew directive. But this has not stopped the beating and killing of people who were caught out a few minutes after the curfew, it has not stopped prices from being hiked. With no one directly watching or putting in place measures that are inclusive of all groups, we continue to see people in informal settlements and other areas experiencing a pinch because of mistakes that are not their own.

The picture above is just a sample of how life is in informal settlements with COVID-19 in the country. That picture can easily get ugly if COVID-19 cases were to increase in informal settlements. Let us strive to increase access to justice, food, and healthcare for people in informal settlements. Make it possible for them to respond to the measures given, without having to strain.

 

COMMUNITY AWARENESS AND PROVISION OF PREVENTIVE EQUIPMENT AGAINST COVID-19 FOR KIBERA COMMUNITY

COVID-19 APPEAL TO PARTNER ORGANIZATION

 

 

The Nubian Rights forum has been dedicated to advocating for the rights of minority groups in the country. Our physical location in Kibera allows us to see first-hand the living conditions of slum dwellers in the vicinity. Kibera is home to at least 300,000 people and is one of the most congested slums in the country. The residents of the slum do not have adequate access to basic needs such as water, there is no proper sanitation, and a majority of the labourers are casual labourers and depend on their daily earnings to put a meal on their tables. The level of awareness in the community concerning the global pandemic- COVID-19, which is currently affecting the country, is low and there are a lot of myths being spread especially about how black people are immune to the virus. In recent observations, there is minimal social distancing and the living conditions in the area do not allow for practical social distancing because of congestion.

While developed countries may be ready for a lockdown, the Nubian Rights Forum observes that a majority of towns in developing areas are not capable of sustainable living under lockdown. Settlers in the Kibera community work in the Juakali Industry and therefore, they rely on their daily earnings to make a living. Current happenings on the NEWS show that the settlers prefer to risk getting infected by the virus and continue working instead of staying home with no food or means to earn. Kibera, if hit with a lock down, will witness a challenge access to basic needs including; proper sanitation, adequate food and access to social amenities such as hospitals. It is also an observation that while awareness may increase the knowledge of the community on the virus and in turn motivate them to observe safety, the economic inhibitions in the slums may make it impossible for the community to adequately provide for their basic needs. We request that anyone willing to provide relief in the near future depending on the turn of events, do so.

We as the Nubian Rights Forum believe that small acts of humanity will go a long way in ensuring the community members are protected from the virus. This particular appeal is for purposes of hygiene items that can help keep the spread of the virus in check. These small acts will involve awareness creation on COVID-19, practical dos and don’ts and provision of preventive gears such as sanitizers and masks.

With the above submissions, we as the Nubian Right Forum believe that it would be prudent to try and ensure the community is well educated and adequately prepared for the pandemic in case it is not contained in time. We would like to invite our partners and other organizations that share this plight, to come together, and try aid in the preparedness of the community to handle the spread of the virus in their different capacities.

In line with this, we would like to welcome any group that can contribute to the objectives listed below to reach out and work together to save the Kibera community.

  • sensitize the community on COVID-19
  • Supply the community in kind with items such as water buckets and water tanks, sanitizers, tissue papers, soaps, gloves masks and handkerchiefs
  • Supply the community with menstrual hygiene equipment and any other in kind donations.

 

FEBRUARY IN A GLANCE

The Nubian Rights Forum is a community based organization based in Makina in Kibera. Our organization deals with matters citizenship and Sexual Gender Based Violence in the community. We are engaged in multiple programs including creating awareness on the Huduma Bill and Huduma Number and accelerating justice for SGBV victims and survivors. Our work is dynamic and diverse in a manner that favors the community, creates an understanding on the topics of discussion and leaves a sustainable impact that can act as a drive for change.

Have you been keeping up with our activities?

Below are some of the events we held in our February calendar:

PRESS RELEASE

On 30th January, the high court released a ruling on the Huduma Namba- National Integrated Management System NIIMS case. The High court judged that the government should stop implementation of NIIMS until an appropriate and comprehensive regulatory framework on the implementation of NIIMS that is compliant with the applicable constitutional requirements identified in the judgement is first enacted.

On 19th February 2020, we held a press conference at our offices in Kibera, to release a statement in response to the judgement ruling made on 30th January. We filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal to ask the court through an urgent application to stay the implementation of any aspects of the Huduma Namba based on the design developed or proposed by the Kenyan government based on grounds of the initial press statement released by the government that expressed it did not intend to comply with the high court orders. It also appealed because of the need for the government to ensure inclusive procedures that will not discriminate some ethnic groups who do not have necessary.

We also questioned the aspect of data privacy because initially, during the process of registration, no clear regulations were in place that would assure citizens of the safety of their data. The aspect of data access by unauthorized third parties had not been discussed. There were unclear procedures that would be followed to ensure data would be safely kept and used only for the right reasons. As an organization we felt there was need for the aspect of data privacy to be critically engaged, regulations put in place and tested safety measures to be put in place before the process proceeds.

COMMUNITY FORUMS

We have had continuous community forums across the month in Wajir, Garissa, Malindi, and Nairobi. In our community forums, we have been engaging the community on matters citizenship; where we addressed the concept of Huduma Number, the process of registration, and tried to find out the level of knowledge about huduma number amongst the attendees. The objective of the community forums was to create awareness on the huduma bill and huduma namba amongst community members and get their views on the process.

Other concepts we have addressed in the community forums include SGBV in the community. There was a noticeable trend in rampant SGBV cases with most perpetrators being well known people in the community while most survivors were children. This caused for need for an attention to be given to making sure children get access to justice especially in the community where such crimes go unpunished for fear of shame and stigmatization. We are supporting CREAW, SHOFCO, Plan International, Kibera South Medical Center, National Gender and Equality commission to ensure justice is served in the community.

COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING

Social media is drastically becoming one of the most employed means of communication amongst various public. There is evidence-based significance of social media in engaging stakeholders, passing information and advocating for change. On 25th February, we began an engagement with youth in the community on how to effectively use social media to communicate, be informed and share accurate information on issues of interest in the community. The youth involved were eager to continue learning and be social media champions for the community. We will continue engaging them in effectively using  Social Media to amplify the messages being championed in the community.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

 

The Nubian Community attended the public participation forum held at Kenyatta International Conference Center on 26th and 27th February 2020 to discuss the registrations of persons’ regulations and the civil registration regulations. The community amongst other members from different communities were able to present their views and recommendations to the Huduma Namba secretariat

ENGAGEMENT WITH STUDENT LEADERS

The highlight of the month was the forum with student leaders where we presented our views on Huduma number and got responses from them on their views on Huduma Number. The forum was held on 28th February 2020, and witnessed an attendance from at least five universities with student  representatives coming from; USIU, Mount Kenya university, JKUAT, Daystar, Kenya School of Law, Multi Media University, Riara University and Pioneer International University. The meeting revealed there is a lot of information and knowledge lying within our educational institutions that can be employed to educate the greater majority of youth in grass root areas on the regulations around the registration of persons. Students were enthusiastic about the conversation and promised to come on board if called in for engagement with the community.

Also

Find attached a link on a write up shared by fox glove on their insights about our work.  https://www.foxglove.org.uk/news/inspiration-from-kenya-the-nubian-rights-forum

 

Mobile Birth Registration and School Outreach Program

The mobile birth campaign is a five-day registration process where the Nubian Rights Forum invites and facilitates the civil registration department officials in Kibera to register births on the ground.  This project is in line with the Global Action Plan to End Statelessness Action 7: Download the complete document

The Nubians (History and Evidence of Marginalization)

The Nubians are one of the oldest communities in the country having entered Kenya as early as 1884. They were brought by the British from the Sudan to secure the British imperial colonial rule in Kenya from being taken away by the Germans.They settled into El-dama Ravine, Kibra,Machakos, Kibigori,

Read more