MDP Chisholm, Field & Traaseth Field Exp in Kenya

Located approximately 3.1 miles from the bustling city center of Nairobi, Kenya, there is a low income, crowded settlement known as Kibra (formerly Kibera).  Kibra is believed to be the largest “slum” in Africa, with upwards of 250,000 living in approximately 2.5 square kilometers, or 630 acres[i].    Hundreds of NGOs have flocked to Kibra due to the extreme level of poverty and lack of access to basic needs including water and a functioning sanitation system.  Yes, it is true that unemployment is high and life expectancy is low. According to Inter Press Service the HIV prevalence rate in Kibra is as high as 20%, and tens of thousands of children have been left orphaned by AIDS.  In our experience during the last several weeks, it is clear that Kibra faces many challenges.  However, it is also our experience that Kibra is a busy, vibrant community with a complex history and strong identity.  

Let us introduce ourselves.  We are the Kenya MDP Team - John Chisholm, Christina Field, and Amanda Traaseth.    This summer, our team has engaged in a project involving the design, preparation, and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation plan for a tuition-free girls secondary school known as the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy, or KGSA (  Our project partner, KGSA, is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk and disadvantaged young women by providing free secondary education, artistic programming, and athletic opportunities in Kibra.  The organization firmly believes that through active participation in education, arts, and athletics, young women will have the opportunity to develop a stronger confidence in their minds, bodies, and spirits – empowering them to become inspiring leaders of their own lives, communities, and nation.  

Abdul Kassim, a Kibra native, started the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy (KGSA) in 2006 with land donated by his grandmother. The school began with 11 students and unpaid teachers; it now has over 130 students, a small staff of paid teachers, and ambitious plans to construct a dormitory building next-door to house vulnerable girls and provide a safe space for other students to study and relax.   The school offers a variety of extracurricular activities including soccer teams, journalism club, science club, scouting club, drama club, and so on.  The clubs and activities are meant to teach girls valuable skills and instill confidence to help them in the future.

Our project has two objectives: the primary objective is to develop, recommend, and implement a pilot monitoring and evaluation plan (M&E) to be initiated this summer, and annually by KGSA thereafter; the secondary objective is to begin gathering and organizing qualitative data regarding potential positive youth development indicators for long-term, future analysis of KGSA’s effects on girls and community.  

For the last nine weeks, our team has conducted numerous interviews with the current students, school administration, teaching staff, and former graduates; administered a school-wide student survey; and facilitated focus groups with current students.  We used the data and information we collected to create a variety of documents including an electronic student recordkeeping system, organizational charts, and all of the tools needed for a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system.  Some of the tools created included an annual survey for students, exit survey for the graduating class, teacher orientation packet, teacher satisfaction survey, attendance sheets, school compound inspection sheets, admission forms, and the list continues.  In addition, we provided the school with a list of potential donors/foundations and packets of information for the girls that included resources and services available in the area (including women and family health, family planning, gender based violence recovery, micro-credit, and so on).  The purpose of these documents is to help the school formalize their processes and procedures to maintain their credibility, constantly improve their activities and programming, and to increase their appeal to both local and international donors. 

The monitoring and evaluation plan comes at a crucial time for the school and organization.  KGSA is about to enter into a year of transitions, including changes in their funding structure, partnerships, the role of the foundation, as well as the building of two new classrooms and a boarding facility.  The M&E plan will enable the school to oversee these transitions and accurately determine how the new developments are impacting the students, staff, and school facility.  We were honored to be a part of this process.

The final product is over 200 pages and was presented to project partners on Thursday, July 30.   It was well received and team members will remain in country to answer questions over the next week or so.

This project has been a perfect fit for the three of us.  There have been challenges along the way, a few difficult conversations and observations.  However, every experience has been a great learning opportunity and we will come away from this fieldwork better prepared for our future careers in development. 

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