Mtongwe ward is located in the Likoni Sub-county of Mombasa County, which is situated along the coast of Kenya. It is one of the 30 wards in Mombasa County, and it covers an area of approximately 3.2 square kilometres with a population of 27,251 citizens. Mtongwe ward is home to a diverse population, with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds living in the area. The majority of the population is Muslim, and Swahili is the main language spoken in the ward. The ward faces several challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, high rates of poverty, and youth unemployment. Access to basic services such as healthcare, education, and clean water is limited in some areas, and the ward has also experienced security issues in the past. The ward is also known for its vibrant community organizations, including youth groups, women’s groups, and community-based organizations, which are working to address the challenges facing the area and improve the lives of residents.
Kwacha Afrika organization’s civic educator recently administered civic education to the Mshikamano self-help group in Vijiweni village-Mtongwe ward, Likoni sub-county in Mombasa County. The group, which is dedicated to youth empowerment and most specifically on matters agri-business, was struggling to access county funding in order to support their initiatives from the county government and as well address the issues of insecurity within the area due to lack of streetlights . Through the civic education sessions, the Mshikamano self-help group learned about their rights as citizens and how to engage with the government to address their concerns. They were taught about the importance of citizen participation and the various avenues available for them to voice their concerns.
The chair lady of the Mshikamano Self Help Group, Fatma Ali Juma, had this to say about the impact of the civic education program: “Before the program, we didn’t know how to approach the county government representative , we had no idea of the county government structure and how to engage the ward or sub county administrator on matters development , however , due
to the civic education administered to my group members we have the confidence to engage the designated duty bearers on matters affecting youths within our ward.”
A Section of Mshikamano Self-help group Agro-area.
During the civic education session administered by Kwacha Afrika’s civic educator, the Mshikamano self-help group member were taken through several important topics. One of these topics was within Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya, which covers the Bill of Rights. The group learned about their rights as citizens, including the right to access public information from the mandated public institutions and the right to participate in the development of their ward within their communities. Through the sessions, the Mshikamano self-help group also learned about the importance of participating in the county budget processes. They were taught about the various channels available for engaging with the government on budget-related issues, including public participation forums and budget-making processes. With this knowledge, the Mshikamano self-help group was able to participate in the county budget processes in the month of January as a group. They were able to identify areas of concern in their community, such as the need for better street lighting and access to youth funds, and advocate for these issues to be included in the county budget.
Using the knowledge gained from the civic education sessions, the Mshikamano self-help group took action and engaged with the sub-county government to address the issue of inadequate streetlights in their area. Through their advocacy efforts, they were able to compel the ward administrator to install streetlights in Vijiweni area. Additionally, the group was able to access youth funds within the county to start small businesses and improve their economic status. This was made possible through their increased knowledge of the county’s budgeting process and the various channels available for accessing county government funds. The program administered by Kwacha Afrika organization has therefore not only empowered the Mshikamano self-help group with knowledge and skills but also given them the confidence to participate in the development of their community and engage with the duty bearers, but has had a significant impact on the Mshikamano self-help group in Mtongwe ward. Through the session, the group gained the knowledge and skills necessary to engage with their government
and demand action on issues affecting their community. As Fatma Ali, the chair lady of the group, concludes, “we now feel empowered and know that our voices can be heard.”