It is the unique feature of this pilot that the environment is a slum area. Mtwapa is located in Kenya's Kilifi County in the vicinity of Mombasa City. Its population was estimated to be about 50,000 people and half of them live in the informal settlements and slums. The pilot in Mtwapa is part of a slum upgrading project managed by UN-HABITAT. The PSUP Mtwapa slum upgrading project aims at improving living standards of slum dwellers in Mtwapa by addressing the five depravations of slums namely the lack of access to safe drinking water, access to improved sanitation, overcrowding, permanency of living structures, and security of tenure.
The reasons for choosing Mtwapa in Kenya as a pilot were:
- An initial evaluation has revealed that Kenya is an ideal testing ground for new technologies, because the mobile penetration is very high. Kenya has 40,7 Mio inhabitants and already 31,3 Mio mobile subscribers.
- High speed internet is available almost everywhere in the country.
- Kenya is well known for very innovative internet and mobile services like M-PESA (mobile payment). M-PESA is currently the most developed mobile payment system in the world with a large share of the Kenyan population actually using it.
The policy domain is slum rehabilitation and includes mainly public infrastructure such as for example roads or sanitation facilities.
The technical environment has been set up featuring a facebook page and a blog as frontend. Likewise a lot of information has been collected from social media and newspapers through the FUPOL core platform to get a better picture of the local challenges.
The local community has been informed about the use of electronic media in the policy modelling and decision making process. Various meetings with the local government and community elders have been held to ensure acceptance. The community was very positive towards the new technology and expects a better communication with decision makers to express their needs.
The most important lessons learned are related to the “social” framework.
- It is required to have “Community Mobilizers” assisting those people, which are not familiar with ICT. This enables also them to express their opinion electronically.
- Postings should be moderated and adequate processes must be in place to respond to questions and concerns of the citizens quickly.
- It is important that both government and citizens are well prepared. It has been realized that this task is quite time consuming. There it is always required to have a local partner able to support the process – technology alone cannot do the job.
It has been proven that FUPOL can work in a multilingual environment (Kisuaheli, English, Italian). It could be shown that it was possible to extract separate hot topics in the above mentioned languages out of the mixed responses
Mtwapa Facebook Page
Mtwapa BLOG with embedded FUPOL Opinion Map