The action came as part of the Agents of Change pilot in Mbeere diocese, Kenya, which also gained eight new recruits to take part in the distance learning programme in community development skills.
Mbeere is one of Agents of Change pilot programmes taking place around the world. The pilots will be evaluated before the global roll-out of the innovative programme developed by the Anglican Alliance in partnership with the UK’s Open University. The programme consists of six modules on Consultation, Inclusion, Protection of vulnerable people, Governance, Work programming and Financial planning.
The community census exercise was part of the Inclusion module, looking at how to ensure that the whole community is included when planning a project.
Armed with census forms, the Agents of Change group in Mbeere went out to do a community census in two poor quality housing areas in Siakago town in Mbeere. The census forms contained a grid enabling the students to identify all the people in a household, children, adults, and elders, and what kind of work they did. There were codings for the age groups of the children – whether pre-school, primary, secondary or post-school, and also for the occupation of the main income earner, and the other occupations in the household. The grid also contained a column for recording whether any household members had a disability.
Importantly the grid asked the students to identify the main concern of people in the household. Most people said that poor infrastructure was the biggest problem, especially the lack of a water supply. This outstripped even concerns about poverty and livelihoods.
The students reported back that the community census exercise had changed their views, persuading them of the importance of going out to the people to find out their views, and the composition of the community.
Of the eight new Agents of Change students in Mbeere, four will be developing projects to meet the needs of alienated young people, one will be working on meeting the needs of people with mental health challenges, one will be working with single mothers, and two want to develop projects to support married couples.
In the picture: Agents of Change Mrs Lucy Muthoni Masamba and Mrs Mary Wanjiku Muuti, of the Mothers Union, set out on their community census in Siakago, Mbeere.
Mrs Mary Wanjiku Muuti shares her experience of the census in this video: