Maasai Mara

12 11 2009

Last weekend was Maasai Mara weekend. Watch “Out-Of-Africa”:


the slum research challenge

10 11 2009

OK. We will try to explain you what kind of hassle our research in Kibera is. It’s not as easy as asking some guys to show you around and buy them a Coke or lunch. We know a lot more after staying this period in Nairobi and Kibera…

When we arrived approximately five weeks ago we met different people from multiple villages within Kibera. All of them had their own relationship with the Peepoople project which has been introduced almost two years ago. In general a lot of foreign NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations; e.g. AMREF, UNICEF and others) come to Kibera to initiate projects because it is the biggest and most “famous” slum of Africa. All this attention seems to be positive but in fact it has bigger downsides. The majority of Kibera residents see “Muzungus” (white people) simply as their daily bread; not more than an opportunity to get money. They will do anything to please them in order to get some money. And that’s only when the money is able to reach the slum dwellers via the pockets of corrupt politicians. Now, we are five blond Muzungu students working for a European NGO, trying to get information from the lifes of local people in Kibera. That’s a great starting point :).

Enfin, we have met different local residents who have to help us with our research by introducing us to the community. Rule no.1: you shall never walk on your own through Kibera. Only accompagnied by a respected local you lower the risks of any awkward (or even threatening) situations. Rule no.2: you need to give the locals something in return for their time. When escorting you through the villages they lose the opportunity to earn money by doing other work. This is a difficult issue since once you give some money (+- 500 Ksh a day – less than E5,-) people expect you give them this all the time. Buying food and drinks for them is a good alternative and money should not be an agreement on beforehand, but rather a nice surprise at the end of the day. During the progress of our field research we find out that attitudes towards us, Muzungus, differ per person. Some guys only do the minimum we ask them and without shame they claim something extra for “in their pocket”. Others actively think with us about the project and hook us up with many interesting people. One thing is clear, you can’t leave Kibera without giving some token of gratitude.

[photos from the research of today; collaborating with locals on product and product service system design]




Unfortunately the story does not end here. When we hook up with some guys more often than others their mutual relations slowly become poisoned. Hanging out with a Muzungu means money. Other local slum dwellers now turn to this local because they want a share in his revenues! This means that we can’t hang out with the same guys all the time, others will feel like they are skipped and start bothering the guys (yes, the ones who indeed turn out to be the most helpful to us..) whom we contact the most. It really moves us that the guys with the best intentions get into problems just because they are helping us. They ensure us they are able to sort out these quarrels amongst each other, but despite this, the issue is on our mind before we go to sleep…

[lunch at the local “FEBO” in Kibera]


Doing research in order to come to product design and a design for the system is a complicated job  which requires financial resources and a lot of socio-cultural creativity. Next to Peepoople we are sponsored by Students for Sustainability. They support us in making the prototype which will be made the upcoming weeks here in Kibera. Next to the prototype, a part of their sponsorship is allocated to enable us to perform the research at all. Protection and guidance by locals is a necessity and money makes the world go round, especially in Kibera.

[main waste dumping spot in Kibera; a stream which ends up in Nairobi Dam. Mention the toilets at both sides who are directly connected to the eco-system, or what is left of that..]


less than a month to go

9 11 2009

Wednesday the 4th of November we meet three Peepoople representatives and one of our tutors from the university who came over to Kenya to visit the Peepoople project and two other BoP projects. We present the main results of our context research in Kibera and look forward to the deliverables. To make our focus clear this is what we are going to deliver to the company and of course the university:

– a product which supports the Peepoo (the toilet bag concept)
– a proposal for the product service system (PSS) in Kibera. This system decribes each step, involved stakeholders and cash flows. In other words, the PSS will show how the business around the Peepoo is going to be set up.
– communication concerning marketing, as well as communication concerning proper use of the Peepoo

In the meeting we agree with the company that the to-be-designed product has to focus on the after-use stage. The biggest problem seems to be what to do with a full Peepoo and how to bring it out of the slums?

P1020894 1111

Thursday we continue the work with this new input at the university and Friday we visit Kibera to do more research for our product design and to make appointments for focus groups of Tuesday next week. Friday afternoon we leave our work behind in Nairobi and continue the discovery of Kenya: safari in the Masaai Mara! Although we take are sketch books with us for the weekend…

This week we are going to make a lot of progress on the product which we definitely share with you on the blog. Don’t forget to check “Out of Africa” as well for great photos of last weekend. They will be uploaded very soon!

working on the deliverables

2 11 2009

We are working on our deliverables and a presentation for the company at Wednesday. These days we’re busy with conclusions from our research and starting up the design work. More on our precise design focus will be posted at the end of this week!

This means we temporarily exchange the field work in Kibera for our “office” at the university. However, working there is never dull with alle the people who drop by for a chat. Even making some prints becomes an adventure with computers like this! Let’s hope our laptops stay up and running for another month…

























just one day after we left Kibera…

1 11 2009

After coming back Friday with a positive feeling about Kibera and its peaceful and wise residents we received the following message today: in the village Makina – less than 1 km from were we slept – 3 people were killed yesterday in tribal riots. This shows the thin line between life and death for people living in these settlements.

For a better overview we present you the map of Kibera: we slept in the East, in a village called Soweto East, near the borders with the village Laini Saba. The riots were in Makina near the railroad located in the north, next to Mashimoni village. Don’t forget to mention the scale of the map; being “two villages” away from the riots is just 1 km.

Carolina for Kibera

sit back and let us take you to Kibera

31 10 2009

Watch the video of our sleep over in Kibera: Sleeping in Kibera

this is experience

30 10 2009

Back from a night at Kibera! It truly is one of the most exceptional experiences of our lives. For all of you who worried about our well-being; we are safe and sound, back in our apartment, without any bad things on our mind about last night.

Sacha, Julie and Willem stay with Asha (28) and Wilson (begin 30’s) and their two kids. Via local contacts of Peepoople in Soweto East this family was arranged to take care for us. Marieke and Bastiaan stay at another house one small alley further up the street. We arrive in the afternoon and split up to live with the two different families. We wash, shop and prepare dinner (pilao – very nice and tasteful meal we are definitely going to make back in NL) together with Asha and the small kids. This includes the kids of the neighbours for whom Asha takes care very often as well.




Their house – one big bedroom and one living room – is situated in a small plot with two other houses. The plot can be locked at night to keep strangers out. The plot is not more than a small alley with one drainage canal in the middle. The three households share this place to do their laundry and for using the bathroom: a small wooden shed in which you can wash yourself with a bucket of water and go for pee. The used water flows in the drainage canal. The drainage canal ends up in a bigger river around the corner, which subsequently flows to Nairobi Dam (a field at the border of Kibera with a slightly bigger river around it, which used to be a nice lake…) where all the shit literally piles up. This river near their plot also functions as garbage disposal system; they just throw everything in there.


The plot with drainage canal in the middle and the bathroom in the back on the left.


Storage in the bedroom. Notice the heating element from a washing machine (?) customized with plug. Now they just hang it in a bucket to boil water.


The small river for any kind of garbage disposal nearby..

Despite this dirty but normal habits the family can’t be seen as poor, they are rather middleclass and do not necessarily have to live Kibera. Wilson is a barber and earns approximately 20.000 Ksh per month (109 Ksh = 1 euro). To get an idea of their expenses: rent 1500 Ksh, school fee for two kids 3000 Ksh (primary education is free for everybody in Kenya, but these free schools can’t provide quality of education), vegetable family meal 150 Ksh, 80L water 12 Ksh (enough for 1-2 days). They live a good life, although they live in the slums. Hygiene and the well-being of their kids and themselves is very important. They look good, dress well and their interior is far more clean than the average student house in the Netherlands. When sitting in this house you completely forget the extreme situation outside the plot. Inside and outside are two different worlds in Kibera.


They have their own toilet (latrine which directly dumps into the small river) outside the plot for the “long call”. The short call is always done inside the plot in the bathroom. In the evening when it’s dark already we visit this latrine andalso a public toilet which is even closer to their home. This toilet costs 5 Ksh; the costs for their own toilet are included in their rent and they share it with the two neighbours from the plot. Cleaning they have to do themselves. When it is night they take the risk to go to this toilet outside the plot. When Asha needs to go, Wilson accompagnies her. The kids use a potty when they have to go for a number 2 at night.


Community pay-toilet: very clean for Kibera standards.


Early in the morning: potty of the neighbours in front of the door. Ready to be dumped around the corner.

More impressions of walking in the dark through Kibera, sleeping amongst rats and other aspects of the bizarre life in can be seen in the following movie. Please sit down, relaxed and enjoy our adventure. [to be uploaded very soon!!!]