Kibera Slum

The capital city of Kenya, Nairobi, is home to Africa's largest slum some three miles from the city centre at Kibera.

With a population of just over 850,000 (though some claim as high as a million) the slum has no services such as schools, clinics, just two main water points, no toilet facilities (one hole in the ground is shared on average between fifty of the shacks which are normally ocupied by eight people) and only 20% of the population has electricity.

In fact the Kenyan government does not even officially acknowledge the settlement exists.

Residents of Kibera live in homes made from mud and metal that are normally about 12ft by 12ft costing about six pounds a month to rent. Conditions are appalling with garbage and raw sewage spewing from every location making daily life hazardous especially for children who use these places as playgrounds. The stench from this rubbish and sewage is overwhelming and ever present.

Without healthcare facilities many of these children die from diseases caught from the sewage, malaria and HIV/AIDS are also rampant with 60% of Kibera's population infected in addition to typhoid. Kibera is hardly the place to bring up children, where one in five is dead before their fifth birthday, however as there are no contraception programs, it is estimated that at any given time half the women aged between 16-25yrs are pregnant and one in three children is an orphan. Many of these children inevitably end up on the streets. These children in Kibera are particularly vulnerable to abuse, having to either live alone or with other youths. Its a sad fact that solvent abuse, mainly glue, is rampant in the slum and often the children will walk into Nairobi to steal and pick pocket on the streets both to buy glue and have enough to buy the food that's available from small market stalls in Kibera.

Okay, now for the controversial bit. In recent months the Kenyan government has sent in the bulldozers in what is called an 'upgrade' of the slum. Hundreds of shanty homes have been razed to the ground faster than the often angry onlookers could scavenge through the rubble in search of salvageable goods.


Kibera Slum

Kibera Slum

Kibera Slum

Kibera Slum


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Kibera Slum: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Kibera Slum

Kibera Slum

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Whilst any move to upgrade parts of the slum would seem to be a welcome development, there does not appear to have been any planning for the displaced former house occupiers who are now homeless and having lost what few worldly goods they had.

History records that when similar 'improvements' were instigated in April 2004 and a new road constructed on the site of former Kibera homes, the one square metre per person of space in Kiberia was put under further pressure and the so called improvements weren't sustained. The other aspect of concern about the Kibera slum is the lack of progress despite the literally hundreds of charitable organisations that operate within the one square kilometre slum, and who have done so for years, without, seemingly worked together effectively to turn the slum around.

Yes there have been some very minor improvements in exchange for the vast sums of donations that have been forwarded to Kibera charities including the provision of low cost roofing tiles made from sand and clay; the provision of affordable electricity to some parts of the slum at 300 Kenyan shillings per home, and the installation of a couple of water pipes selling water at three shillings for each 20 litres. Other water standing pipes have been set up serving approximately forty families each.

Despite this there have been concerns expressed that Kiberia is seen as a great charitable money raising project that certain charities don't want to see resolved as an issue less funds dry up. Yes, the problems are overwhelming, but they are local, focussed and hundreds of workers are engaged and working in situ. In the twenty first century it should be expected that such resources achieve better outcome for the residents, and particularly the children of Kibera, 100,000 of whom are orphans with the bleakest future.


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