CFK Executive Director, Hillary Omala, and Partnerships and Fundraising Manager, Ann Kungu, discussed CFK’s expansion plans and the importance of community development work in informal settlements during an hour-long NTV Kenya segment on August 31.
Moderated by Gladys Gachanja, the interview focused on the lessons CFK has learned over the past 20 years, the rapid growth of informal settlements, and the importance of collaboration in community development work.
“Ours has been a very natural growth,” said Hillary about CFK. “This has not come with just success stories. We have also made our mistakes and learned from those. We are now developing a plan that expands our work in terms of depth within informal settlements as well as additional numbers of informal settlements.”
CFK’s new five-year strategic plan focuses on improving service delivery in Kibera, Kenya’s largest informal settlement, while expanding services to informal settlements across seven new counties, including Nakuru, Kajiado, Machakos, Kisumu, Kilifi, Mombasa, and Kiambu.
“We know that almost 50% of the world’s population lives in cities,” said Ann, emphasizing the importance of working in urban areas. “The informal settlements within those cities host 25% of the world’s population. With that backdrop, coming down to Kenya itself, we have over 1,000 informal settlements. Mombasa alone has over 50.”
Though Hillary and Ann agreed that no two informal settlements are the same, many face similar challenges and can benefit from CFK’s long-standing partnerships, data-driven services, and 20 years of experience.
“Our number one partner is always the community,” said Hillary, illustrating CFK’s strong commitment to participatory development. “They understand their needs and can take part in developing solutions to those needs.”
Over the last two decades, CFK has led primary healthcare, education and livelihoods, and girls’ empowerment work in Kibera. The organization embeds research in every aspect of its programming to inform project design and ensure that impact can be clearly measured and shared.
Collaboration & Collective Impact
CFK has also developed local and international research partnerships with organizations such as the CDC, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenyatta University, Washington State University (WSU), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to build a network of knowledge and maximize its impact.
Most recently, CFK carried out a seroprevalence study in partnership with the CDC and WSU to determine the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies among residents of Kibera.
Safeguarding The Informal Settlements
“In all this areas we have operated our number one partner is always the community. They understand their needs and they can take part in finding the solutions to those needs” - Hillary Omala#NewNormal @Gladys_Gachanja pic.twitter.com/ApgNmE3zJn
— NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya) August 31, 2021
The study found that 64% had been exposed to COVID-19 and that 87% of households had at least one household member infected with the virus during the pandemic. In addition to informing government responses to COVID-19, CFK plans to use the data to champion vaccine access in informal settlements.
Moving forward, CFK hopes to establish additional partnerships and networks of knowledge as it seeks to reach 2 million more people living in informal settlements by the end of 2025.
“I would consider CFK the place you’d go if you needed information and you were interested in working in informal settlements in terms of data, technical expertise, and experience,” said Hillary.
At the end of the NTV segment, Hillary and Ann called for interested individuals, corporations, or institutions to contact CFK and discuss potential partnership opportunities.
“We want to emphasize long-term partnerships,” said Hillary. “We need to begin to work toward collective impact. We shouldn’t compete but collaborate to realize maximum impact in these communities.”