Rural traditions in Urban Settlements

Tags: ROLA, wagur, Nyluoro, Mwerya, Chikola, Urban, Nairobi, Mukuru, mutual-aid, Kenya, testimonials


Fig 1.1: Margaret Kalondu selling her soap in reused bottles to a community member using CICs.

Rural traditional rotational labor (Mwerya) has found a foothold in urban settlements through Community Inclusion Currencies (CICs). This method has a significant impact on the lives of residents, as demonstrated by the story of Margaret Kalondu, a resident of Mukuru Kayaba.

Mukuru Kayaba is an informal settlement located in Nairobi, Kenya, where many residents face high levels of poverty and unemployment. However, through the use of CICs and traditional rotational labor, residents like Margaret are able to create a more sustainable and equitable system of work.

Margaret has been using CICs since they were introduced by the Kenya Red Cross during the 2020 COVID crisis and is a member of the Progressive disaster Response group in Mukuru Kayaba. The group is made up of individuals who come together to help each other in rotational labor, which they call Mwerya. All the members of the groups take turns contributing Community Asset Vouchers redeemable for their time and skills to each member of their group called the Mwerya host. The host then calls a Mwerya asking the members to come do some communal work such as various projects and tasks, and in return, they earn the Vouchers back, which can also be used to purchase goods and services from local markets.

Margaret is skilled in soap making and has adopted this as part of her work in Mwerya. Before joining the group, she would produce about 40 liters of soap on her own. However, with the help of the group, Margaret was able to produce 100 liters of soap in a single day.

Through her involvement in Mwerya, Margaret has been able to earn income, build social connections, and contribute to the local economy. The use of CICs has provided her with a means to access goods and services within her community, reducing her reliance on external sources of income.

Margaret's story is just one example of how introducing traditional rotational labor in urban settlements through Community Inclusion Currencies can have a positive impact on the lives of residents. By providing a means for individuals to collectively build their assets, earn income, access goods and services, and build social connections, CICs can help to create a more sustainable and equitable system of work.

By promoting community involvement and social cohesion, CICs can contribute to the overall development and well-being of urban settlements. The case of Margaret Kalondu and the Progressive disaster Response group in Mukuru Kayaba demonstrates the power of collective action and community-driven initiatives in creating positive change.

Margaret Kalondu advertises her soap and vouchers as a straightforward product. “Kununua sabuni kwa voucher imarisha usafi kwa nyumba na weka jamii yako salama.” (Buy soap with our voucher to improve cleanliness at home and keep your community safe.)