Seeing from the South in Manchester and Nairobi
Seven women from Greater Manchester visited the Kenyan Slum Dwellers Federation (Muungano Wa Wanavijiji) in Nairobi in May for a learning exchange about community action against poverty. The women were representing three women’s savings groups from Miles Platting and Benchill in Manchester and Brinnington in Stockport (two of which have emerged out of the processes supported by Mistra-funded action research in Manchester), and a fourth group of residents who are coming together to save green space in their community called Brownley Green Action Group.
The Kenyan activists were very interested to hear about local cooperative groceries that are springing up across Greater Manchester to redistribute food that would otherwise go to landfill and are thinking about whether they can develop a relationship with local supermarkets in Nairobi for the same purpose. They also reflected on some of the challenges facing the welfare state in the UK and how their own future models for public housing must protect principles of community ownership and democratic accountability. The Manchester women’s reflections included the many tools and approaches they had learned about from community surveys providing community owned data about local demographic data and data on local needs and provision, to community-led mapping and neighbourhood profiling – bringing all the stakeholders in an area into a shared space to discuss needs and coalesce around common priorities.