Sheria Mashinani Graduates First Cohort

On 2nd November 2019, the graduation for the first Sheria Mashinani training cohort took place. This came as no surprise; given 2019 has been quite a zestful year for the program. The program stemmed from a partnership between Crime Si Poa and Strathmore Law Clinic that aimed at extending legal empowerment to informal settlements of Kenya. The goal was to combat crime within the communities by equipping the youth with necessary knowledge on criminal and business laws. To this end, a manual addressing different areas of the law; like criminal Procedure, basic human rights, labor laws and the law on business associations was created. This was meant to assist in conducting the weekly sessions, where the beneficiaries were to be enlightened on the law.

The first informal settlement that the program reached out to was Kibra. Seeing as it is the biggest urban slum in Africa, a sense of urgency prompted its prioritization. As a result, 40 youth leaders from all the 13 villages were selected as the first cohort. This process was followed by interactive sessions conducted at Strathmore Law Clinic every week, for a span of three months.

By the end of these sessions, the Sheria Mashinani organizing team had identified the most devoted leaders, who proceeded onto the next stage that involved community outreach sessions within Kibra. Here, the beneficiaries spearheaded the discussions with members of community at the SHOFCO halls, and answered crucial questions that were posed regarding the law. This stage was an important measure of success for the program, as the Sheria Mashinani organizing team was able to gauge the beneficiaries’ ability to relay the information they had been taught. Once it was determined that the beneficiaries no longer required supervision during the outreach sessions, a graduation was in order. The 26 finalists who successfully completed the program were then honored with a completion certificate at the Strathmore Grounds on 2nd November.

The next stage will be to actively involve the graduates in paralegal services to the community with the help of Crime Si Poa, the Strathmore Law Clinic and SHOFCO. A revolution is calling, and Kibra just answered. We congratulate our graduates and wish them all the best moving forward.


Strathmore Law Clinic graduates first Cohort of Paralegals

Conceived as an idea by student-clinicians of the Strathmore Law Clinic, Sheria Mashinani was officially launched on 8th February 2019. The conception of the initiative was anchored and motivated by the Law Clinic’s longstanding objective of maximizing its impact in Kibra through the provision of accurate legal information.

Sheria Mashinani was envisioned as a “training for trainers” culminating in the graduation of paralegals. In conjunction with CrimeSiPoa, the Strathmore Law Clinic recruited 40 youth leaders from all 13 villages in Kibra. Over a 14 week period, they were equipped with knowledge from various areas of law including criminal procedure, human rights, labour laws and business law. The curriculum of the program was enshrined in the Sheria Mashinani manual, authored by members of the clinic.

The first Sheria Mashinani cohort is the product of a partnership between Strathmore Law Clinic, CrimeSiPoa, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Nairobi Law Monthly under the vision: Access to Legal Information for all.

Training Program
The program was divided into two phases: a training program and an outreach program. The first phase entailed interactive learning class sessions so as to equip the trainees with legal information. Having successfully completed the first phase, Strathmore Law Clinic and CrimeSiPoa, along with the trainees and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), embarked on the outreach program. In these sessions, they addressed legal issues facing their communities and offered free legal information to their fellow residents.

Graduation Day
On Saturday, 2nd November 2019, the families and friends of the 26 graduands who made up the first Sheria Mashinani cohort assembled at the Microsoft Auditorium to celebrate with their loved ones. What stood out in the trainees was the joy, passion and resilience they exuded. some of who, by their own attestation, was their first time in a graduation gown. In spite of the passing on of one of the leaders, Yasmin Yusuf Ali, they vowed to forge a path honouring her legacy. One by one, as the names of the graduands were called out to receive their credentials, the excitement in the auditorium was palpable as they cheered each other on.

In his welcoming remarks, Ag. Dean, Strathmore Law School, Prof. Borja Lopez Jurardo, drew reference from the works of St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Strathmore University, on service to humanity. He prayed for the trainees.

The chief guest, KNCHR commissioner, Jedidah Waruhiu, congratulated the trainees for answering the call to service. In her address, she urged them to uphold high standards of courage, integrity and wisdom noting the deficit in the number of paralegals in Kenya today. She congratulated Strathmore Law School for the initiative noting that it was history in the making. Her sentiments were echoed by the founder and director of CrimeSiPoa, Pete Ouko, whose visionary leadership and guidance made Sheria Mashinani a success. Strathmore Law Clinic Faculty Director, Emmah Senge, Clinic President, Abdulmalik Adan; and clinician Daphine Lekipaika were honoured by the trainees for the key roles they played during the program.

The future of Sheria Mashinani
With the graduation of the first cohort, plans are already underway for the next cohort as new partners join Sheria Mashinani. The growth of the initiative and clinic in general is central to its vision. The law firm, Anjarwalla & Khanna (Africa Legal Network) will be joining Sheria Mashinani even as the clinic builds on capacity. To this end, the clinic is open to partners who share the vision as contemplated in its founding documents.

This article was written by Agage Benjamin, a student at the Strathmore Law School.


Waste Management and Climate Change in Kenya – The Nexus(By Richard Ondimu and Tasneem Pirbhai)

Garbage. We all have it and in one way or another, we all dispose of it. 

Unfortunately, in Kenya, waste management isn’t our strongest fete. We live in a filthy environment both in rural and urban settlements. People dispose of waste either by burning it – which ends up releasing poisonous and harmful gases into the atmosphere, or by dumping it into rivers. Even for those who dispose of it into dustbins, they relieve themselves of all liability for it once it is out of sight. After all, out of sight, out of mind, right? However, where exactly does this garbage end up even when disposed in dustbins and picked up by garbage trucks? Should we even care? Truth is we have a lot of collected waste dumped into landfills and rivers and this accounts for at least 4% of greenhouse gas emissions and also causes respiratory illnesses. This form of waste management is a threat to human and animal health. It also affects our biodiversity, tourism and economic development.

Do we want to live in a clean and healthy environment? Then we need to care about how we manage waste as a country, especially as a developing country whose economy is highly dependent on the natural resources available, and consequently vulnerable to climate change. Climate change is real and the evidence of it can be seen in the change of weather patterns, severe and extreme weather events, melting icecaps and mudslides. Kenya may not rank as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, but the world is a global village and it requires the efforts of everyone to reduce emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. 

The constitution provides that everyone has the right to a clean and healthy environment which includes the right to protect the environment and its benefits for the current and future generations. Kenya is party to a number of International Conventions which form part of the laws of Kenya on climate change and environmental law. In compliance with her international obligations to the UNFCCC Kenya has set out an ambitious target of lowering her emissions by 30% by 2030.  This is subject to international support in the form of finance, investment, technology, development and building capacity. The situation is very dire and across many counties, we still dump all collected waste into landfills. 

So why is it that we have a poor waste management system in Kenya? Firstly, it could be because of failure in land use and planning.  There is a need for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) on all landfills in the country, aimed at finding solutions that will reduce waste and cause minimal environmental damage. Secondly we have improper land use, especially in urban settlements evidenced by the congestion of industries, markets and residential areas which makes it difficult to control waste. We also don’t have adequate sewer systems to collect sewage water. There is also a lack of public education and awareness. The public is not aware of the long-term impact of improper waste management on the environment and the climate. Not only does it lead to pollution of water bodies, but also in the lack of clean water and sanitary living spaces, working areas and environments. Just by reducing the amount of waste we produce we can help save the planet from a harsh climate.

The future of waste management in Kenya is therefore twofold: Educate and Recycle. Through education, Kenyans will be taught and learn how to dispose of garbage in a more effective manner so as to reduce pollution for the well-being of the greater community. Through recycling, garbage can be repurposed and reused and therefore, kept in a more sustainable manner. It is also imperative to remember that the government should be held accountable for their actions at all instances. The future of waste management in Kenya lies in the accountability of our leaders, which means that we need to see the implementation of the land use planning laws by the national, county government and urban areas and cities boards. NEMA should also do proper EIAs not just as a formality but as a discharge of their constitutional mandate. There should also be environmental audits done by NEMA to monitor compliance. We further need modern water treatment plants to improve sanitation and water treatment across our counties and also invest on recycling plants. We need to limit the use of landfills as much as possible. 

Improper waste management affects not only our countries but also our world. Thus, as we focus on civil and political rights let us consider the environment and the climate because we are very vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation.