Recently we visited the Multi-vision Self-Help Group’s biocenter in the Gatwikira area of Kibera and spoke with one of the community members running the biocenter. The Muvi group partnered with Umande in 2006, and the biocenter has been fully operational since 2008. They are able to serve 250-300 people daily, including men, women, children, and the disabled; they offer toilets, cold showers, hot showers, biogas for cooking, and a community center on the upper floor of the building. Gatwikira has been able to put in place the Beba cashless payment system, which has increased transparency and accountability for the group, and has increased security for the caretakers and the biocenter’s users, who do not need to carry cash in order to use the biocenter.
Gatwikira is a heavily populated area in Kibera; it is mostly filled with homes, as well as one school. The addition of the biocenter has increased sanitation in the area and decreased related health issues. The affordability of the biocenter has translated to widespread use by members of the community. Muvi has become a place for the community to meet—the upper level of the building is used to view football games, to hold Church services, and to hold community meetings. They additionally provide hygiene promotion, sanitary kits for women, condom dispensers, and educational materials on sanitation and health.
Even with the successes the biocenter has already had, there are still improvements the group leaders would like to implement. Muvi hopes to tile both floors of the biocenter completely, as well as plaster the walls fully. They also hope to expand the biogas kitchen to a separate area outside the biocenter in order to expand its use and usefulness for the community. Finally, there is a need to install a reedbed, which will protect the surrounding area from overflows of sewage from the biocenter, especially during the rainy seasons. We are certainly optimistic about Muvi’s future and the impact they will continue to have on their community.
Written by Rachel Powers