03. Research methodology

This chapter describes the methodology used for this thesis. It can be split into two major parts, a literature review and field research. This chapter provides a detailed overview of how each part was conducted.

3.1        Literature review

To gain a better understanding of the theoretical part of the slum upgrading and participatory process, an extensive literature review was conducted that looked at the following areas:

  • Principles in public participation
  • Principles of slum upgrades
  • Principles of geo-spatial information systems
  • Principles of mobile systems

To gain a better understanding of the current state of affairs in public participation and the use of technology, an extensive literature review was conducted that looked at the following areas:

  • Current level of participation in two of the slums in Kenya, Mathare and Kibera
  • Current use of technology in the public participation process, such as GIS, mobile phones, smartphones, etc.

The results of the literature review on participation are presented in chapter 4 – Public participation (Literature review) while the results of the technology-related literature review are summarized in chapter 5 – GIS and ICT (Literature review).

3.2        Field survey

The field survey consisted of the following:

  • Preparing a field survey
  • Field surveys done in the Mathare and Kibera slums of Nairobi
  • Analysis of the field survey

For the field survey part, six different groups were targeted with different sets of questions. The different groups were identified in order to get a more thorough understanding of the research topic. These groups are:

  • Geo-spatial organizations

Find out what type of mapping technologies are currently being used in slums and how they are being applied towards slum upgrades and community participation, if at all. Look at whether there are opportunities for improved use of mapping technologies within slum upgrade programs.

Target organizations



Google Maps

Bing Maps

Open StreetMap

Map Kibera

  • Mobile operators and manufacturers

Find out how mobile-phone usage in slums compares to other urban areas, especially looking at usage within Kibera and Mathare. Look at whether there are examples of mobile technologies being used for community involvement. Identify potential opportunities for further use of mobile technologies in the slum upgrade programs.

Target organizations




Nokia Research

Microsoft Research

  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)

Find out how non-governmental organizations are involved in the slum upgrade process and identify the role they play in community involvement. Look at whether their voice is being heard in the upgrading process and if they get any say in the development of the surroundings they work in.

Target organizations


Amnesty International

ABC Children’s Aid International


LEPTA Community

Plan International

Project Chance Africa Inc.

Save the Children

The Turning Point Trust

Kibera Girls’ Soccer Academy

Kibera UK

  • Governmental and inter-governmental organizations

The key players in the slum upgrading process are the government of Kenya and UN-HABITAT. The purpose of the field survey towards these organizations is to identify what the actual state of the upgrade process is and how much community participation and physical mapping has occurred. In particular, the survey will look at how the information gathered is being utilized to influence the upgrade process.

Target organizations


Government of Kenya – Ministry of Land and Housing – KENSUP


  • Local community leaders

According to the KENSUP strategy, the main form of community participation is through community leaders. In the field survey community leaders in Mathare and Kibera will be interviewed to determine how large a role they have played and how their input has been included in the upgrading process. Attempts will be made to identify at which level in the “ladder of participation” (Arnstein, 1969) their involvement currently is.

Target community leaders


George Sigar Dima (Mathare)

Javin Ochieng (Mathare)

Wiltah Nyabate (Kibera)

Douglas Namale (Kibera)

  • Citizen focus groups

To gain insight into the citizen’s view of the participation process, a focus group from each community was identified. The focus group included representatives from citizens involved in the upgrade programs. The aim was to have an equal representation of gender and to include both the younger and older generations. When interviewed, the focus groups were divided by gender and interviewed separately.

Target groups: Ten citizens from Mathare, ten citizens from Kibera

When trying to get a group of ten citizens who are participating in the Kibera upgrade project for a focus group, some citizens were reluctant to participate. One community leader from Kibera who was interviewed explained that this was due to restrictions from the government of Kenya (W. Ombese, personal communication, November 25, 2011). A group of 11 citizens (four women, seven men) from the Mathare slum upgrade was selected by community leaders based on the requirements defined above.

Target groups located in Kenya were visited during the field trip and interviews conducted. For those located outside of Kenya, the interviews were conducted via Skype. The interviews were conducted through informal conversations with representatives of the target organizations. The informal conversations were guided through a base set of questions developed for each group. These can be found in Appendix B.

The interviews were recorded and summarized and the main findings are described in chapter 6 – Results.

3.3        Strategy

Interviews were conducted both before and during a research trip to Nairobi, Kenya in November 2011. A list of questions was prepared for each target group.

The aims were set high for the research trip in order to try and get a better result, as things tend to work slowly in Nairobi, and it can be hard to reach out and get a response from many of the organizations. By doing this, the hope was to still get a good number of participants in each group.

A survey was also put online for the NGOs, IGOs, geo-spatial organizations and mobile operators/manufacturers that could not be visited during the research trip. This was also done in the hope of getting more organizations involved and to get more information from the local players.

3.4        Interviews

A few interviews were conducted in early November, before the research trip. Experts in geo-spatial information and mobile technology were interviewed to gain a better knowledge of the work that is being done in developing countries around the world. Questions related to technology and its use in developing countries were brought up to better understand how technology might be utilized as part of citizen participation.

Figure 3‑1. Interviews conducted in Nairobi, Kenya

A number of interviews were conducted in Nairobi in late November with experts in GIS and mobile technology, with local NGOs as well as community leaders and citizens of the slums (see Figure 3-1.). Through these interviews, the level of participation and the use of technology were explored.

The community leaders were all very willing to speak, most likely since most of them are activists in the community and therefore willing to express their views. The focus group was interviewed with the help of a translator to enable the group to more easily express themselves in their own language. Before any of the interviews started, a short overview of the research and its objectives was given. It was emphasized that the research might not influence their situation, but by expressing their views, their opinion would be made public.

3.5        Online gathering of information

For those who could not be reached via Skype or by direct interviews, an online tool (SurveyMonkey) was used to ask the same set of questions as if the organization had been interviewed in person. Local NGOs were more willing to share information, mainly due to their frustration with the slum upgrading program in Nairobi, Kenya. The results from SurveyMonkey were then combined with those from the direct interviews completed during the field trip.

A small experimental Facebook project was created where questions were targeted towards the citizens of Mathare and Kibera. As Facebook provides a simple questionnaire that can be targeted to a certain area (i.e., only people living in and having their names registered in Mathare or Kibera on Facebook). This experiment did not provide any valuable insight as the number of responses was too low.


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