MCI and Kisumu, Kenya, Renew Partnership for Sustainable Urban Development

MCI and the Millennium City of Kisumu embarked on a new phase of their partnership last week, to focus more intently on accelerating progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Kenya’s third largest city. Kisumu Mayor Samuel Okello, the Town Clerk and City Council technical leadership invited MCI to continue to serve as an MDG Advisor, helping to coordinate the work of Kisumu’s many development partners and to share with a wide array of stakeholders MCI’s research findings and policy recommendations regarding the challenges Kisumu faces in the areas of public health, gender, education, water, sanitation and the environment.

At the same time, MCI plans to continue working with the Municipal Health Office, the Dutch NGO Cordaid and community leaders in several informal settlements to train a cadre of urban Community Health Workers (CHWs) and to expand, in tandem with the Municipal Education Office, MCI’s and partner LitWorld’s Girls’ Clubs program to cover twice as many girls as well as some mothers and boys, enabling all  these constituencies to benefit from the training in literacy, financial literacy, job skills and from the availability of reproductive health services currently made available only to girls.

All of MCI’s activities these last 16 months have been ably led and managed by Public Health Specialist Beldina Opiyo-Omolo, from hosting delegations from all over the world, to facilitating trainings and medical missions, to convening all Kisumu health partners, to launching the urban CHW program. Beldina has been assisted with MCI’s education programs by Kisumu Day School English teacher Lois Owiti, MCI’s Education Coordinator, who has organized MCI’s School2School Partnership Program between Kisumu Day and Silicon Valley’s Los Gatos High School, the training and activities of the four Girls’ Clubs and UNICEF’s Connecting Classrooms program.

Now, for this second phase, Beldina and Lois are joined by MCI’s new Social Sector Specialist, Mr. Shadrack Ngewa, a specialist in environmental protection and monitoring and evaluation. In addition to working to address some of Kisumu’s pressing environmental challenges, including the city’s precarious siting on the polluted, multiply stressed shores of Lake Victoria, Shadrack will assist the city in fulfilling Kenyan Prime Minister Railu Odinga’s vision of a “Green Investment” initiative and will help train City Council staff to carry out their own monitoring and evaluation of each department’s progress toward MDG attainment. Ms. Joy Morabu, MCI’s new Regional Coordinator for East and Southern Africa, will work with the City and the Kisumu office of the national investment authority KenInvest, headed by former MCI Investment Specialist Laban Mburu, to develop a portfolio of tourism product and plans, a top priority of Mayor Okello.

Upcoming activities in the months to come include stakeholders’ workshops to disseminate and discuss MCI’s MDG-based research findings; the formation of Kisumu’s first Boys’ Club, to address some of the needs of the city’s many at-risk boys; and the publication of MCI’s first comprehensive poverty-related household survey, designed to depict more precisely those impediments to escaping the severe urban poverty found in three Kisumu slum neighborhoods.

In subsequent discussions in Nairobi with Columbia Global Center Director Belay Begashaw, MCI Director Susan Blaustein and Regional Coordinator Joy Morabu agreed that MCI will document those proven interventions in Kisumu that can serve as models, both for other Kenyan cities and in municipalities across the region, of smart, scalable strategies for achieving sustainable urban development.

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