Developing a Community Centered Approach in Public Health Advocacy: Utilizing Existing Community Social Groups ‘Chamas’ in Nairobi Urban Informal Settlements in Kenya


  • Daniel Waruingi Towards Unity For Health


Community participation, Social groups, Health advocacy, Urban Informal Settlements


Poverty not only alienates people from the benefits of the health care system but also prevents them from participating in decision making which contributes to their overall health. People living in the urban informal settlements are prone to more health inequalities due to the provision of poor health and social services[i]. Most of the solutions developed are spearheaded by people outside of the community and have inadequate community participation. Despite their disadvantaged economic situation, many community members have the potential to develop and implement development-conscious initiatives[ii]. This can be manifested by the existence of social groups initiated by the local residents. These groups operate as savings' structures, pooled investment platforms, and offer credit facilities to their members[iii]. They are locally known as "chamas."  These "chamas" can be united under one umbrella body to advocate for better health and social services in the slums with the assistance of "influencers" and mainstream media.


[i] Chege, Ezekiel N. "Challenges of Slum Upgrading for Urban Informal Settlements; Case of Soweto East Village in Kibera Informal Settlements, City of Nairobi." PhD diss., University of Nairobi, 2013

[ii] Satterthwaite, David, Diana Mitlin, and Sheela Patel. "Engaging with the urban poor and their organizations for poverty reduction and urban governance." New York, US: UNDP (2011).

[iii] Mwiti, F., & Goulding, C. (2018). Strategies for community improvement to tackle poverty and gender issues: An ethnography of community based organizations (‘Chamas’) and women's interventions in the Nairobi slums. European Journal of Operational Research268(3), 875-886.


Author Biography

Daniel Waruingi, Towards Unity For Health

Daniel Waruingi is the co-founder of Students Against Superbugs Africa (SAS Africa). Currently, he serves as the Head of Programs in the organization. Daniel supports planning and coordination of programs. He also ensures implementation of policies and practices as well as overseeing the activities of the executive council.

Daniel has a vast experience in leadership having served in leadership positions across different health platforms and students’ organizations. He is a founding member and serves as the Corporate Relations Director of Ryculture Health and Social Innovation, a youth social enterprise focused on health. He is also the outgoing vice-chairperson of JKUAT Pharmacy Students Association (JPSA) and has been privileged to serve in the national organizing committee of Pharmacy Students Association (KePHSA) for 2 consecutive years (2017 – 2019).

An avid supporter of community service, he has also served as the Finance Secretary of Kenya Red Cross Society, JKUAT Chapter, initiating effective fiscal strategies and sustainable ventures to propel the chapter’s activities. He is also privileged to be one of the founding members of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) campus initiative, My Little Big Thing Club, where he served as the Secretary General. 

As a resulting of his tremendous work in Antimicrobial Resistance, Daniel was selected as one of the 8 global finalists and winners of the TUFH Students Project for Health Award on behalf of SAS Africa.. Daniel is skilled in project management, result-based data management, qualitative and quantitative data analysis and report writing.

Currently, Daniel pursues a Bachelors of Pharmacy at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Kenya.  He also holds certifications on Antimicrobial Resistance courses from John Hopkins University, Bloomberg as well as Goethe University, Frankfurt. 




How to Cite

Waruingi, D. . (2020). Developing a Community Centered Approach in Public Health Advocacy: Utilizing Existing Community Social Groups ‘Chamas’ in Nairobi Urban Informal Settlements in Kenya. Social Innovations Journal, 3. Retrieved from