App primed to fight fraud, enhance service delivery

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022 00:55 | By
Kiambu landlords discharging raw sewers risk Ksh4m fine, jail time
A burst sewer in Nairobi. PHOTO/File

An application has been developed that is bound to improve service delivery in Nairobi. Majority of beneficiaries of the ‘Hatua’ app are residents of the city’s densely populated estates currently targeted for demolition by the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS).

Through the app, City residents with environmental justice delays will now receive it in a digital way. Its development has been necessitated by the wanting levels of service delivery in Nairobi, hence the need for urgent and well thoughtout approach to addressing the emerging problems, such as garbage collection, mugging and traffic congestion.

“Sadly, the reaction from the county government to these challenges appear to be knee-jerk without any indication of intention to identify the root cause and come up with sustainable solutions,” says the Kenya Alliance of Residents Associations (Kara) CEO Henry Ochieng.

Worst performing

A survey conducted by Trade and Insights For Africa (Tifa) ranked Nairobi county as the worst in performance in a poll that rated service delivery in the three cities others being Mombasa and Kisumu. Nairobi scored a 44 per cent, Mombasa at 53 per cent and Kisumu as the best performing at 56 per cent.

Poor sewerage management, at 31 per cent, was cited as the main challenge facing Nairobi, compared to Kisumu and at 44 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.

“Nairobi residents were dissatisfied with the sewerage system because a majority of the sewer lines were blocked, lacked proper planning or maintenance and were polluted,” Tifa CEO Maggie Ireri says in the report.

From their comfort zones, thousands of residents in the 10 estates (Jericho Lumumba, Jericho, Shauri Moyo, Bahati, Maringo, Makongeni, Jerusalem, Uhuru, Ziwani, and Kariobangi South) will be in a position to raise a complaint once Kara trains them on how to use the new technology. It is in these estates where broken sewers, heaps of garbage, insecurity and water shortages are a nightmare.

A complainant, with the help of the ‘Hatua’ app, will be better placed to make follow ups using the technology and progress made by the person in a state agency assigned to take action. With a single touch of a button, excuses of delays such as a missing file will be a thing of the past. 

Operation ease 

Kara developed the app through Niko Green organisation with funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), facilitated by Evelyne Koech.

“Technology record will not be possible to delete. The technology keeps various stakeholders responsible for service delivery as it brings together all service providers in a single platform,” says architect Nickson Otieno, the brains behind the the app’s development.

Ochieng says, “Physical visits to state agencies premises to report complaints will be a thing of the past. A tenant will be better placed to a take a photo of a burst sewer then upload it on ‘Hatua’ on the Kara platform. Kara will then pass the complaints to the relevant agency that will in turn assign someone to take action.”

He adds that the platform at Kara will be up-scaled to include all other aspects residents have been subjected to such as grabbing of public land, licenses payments and vandalism. “We will continue improving the platform to ensure it adds value to the citizenry it is meant to add value to. By digitising the complaints, there will be more interactions between residents’ associations and state agencies such as NMS, National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and the county government,” says Ochieng.

Civic education

Evelyn Koech, the programme specialist and environment and resilience team leader at UNDP says to avoid the app becoming a white elephant, Kara should take steps to ensure the population is aware of it. For the technology to attain optimum use, there will be need to upscale to diversify the nature of complaints residents could raise.

‘Hatua’ was launched recently by the Environment Complaints Committee CEO Dr John Chumo at the Kariokor Social Hall, Nairobi, in the presence of Nema director Isack Elmi, who blamed corrupt individuals for denying residents the service and pollution of rivers by factories, who later blame Nema.

“This app will make work easier, as the platform will be able to share complaints raised in real time,” observed Elmi.

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