Τετάρτη 26 Αυγούστου 2015

The shantytowns of Kibera & Mathare in Kenya


From Wikipedia
The Mathare Valley slum
Mathare is a collection of slums in Nairobi, Kenya with a population of approximately 500,000 people;[1] the population of Mathare Valley alone, the oldest of the slums that make up Mathare, is 180,000 people. Mathare is the home of football team Mathare United of the MYSA.[2]

Gang violence

In 2006, Mathare was damaged by violence between rival gangs the Taliban (not to be confused with the Islamist group of the same name), a Luo group, and the Mungiki, a Kikuyu group.[1] Brewers of an illegal alcoholic drink, chang'aa, asked the Taliban for help after the Mungiki tried to raise their taxes on the drink; since then, fighting between the two has led to the burning of hundreds of homes and at least 10 deaths.[1] Police entered the slum on November 7th 2006 and the General Service Unit arrived a day later. However, many residents who fled are still afraid to return.[1]
On June 5, 2007, the Mungiki murdered two police officers in Mathare; the same night, police retaliated by killing 22 people and detaining around 100.[3]
Following the controversial presidential elections that took place on December 27th 2007, gangs of Kikuyu and Luo youth engaged in violent fights and burned more than 100 homes.[4]


  • Gettleman, Jeffrey (2006-11-10). "Chased by Gang Violence, Residents Flee Kenyan Slum". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2006-11-10.
  • "Mathare United". Mathare United Football Club. Retrieved 2006-11-11.
  • "Police in Kenya Kill 22 in Gun Battles Over Sect". The New York Times (Associated Press, republished by The New York Times Company). 2007-06-07.
  • Jeffrey Gettleman, "Disputed Vote Plunges Kenya Into Bloodshed", The New York Times, December 31, 2007.
  • Further reading

    • Rodriguez-Torres, Deyssi. "Public authorities and urban upgrading policies in Eastlands: the example of 'Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project." In: Charton-Bigot, Hélène and Deyssi Rodriguez-Torres (editors). Nairobi Today: The Paradox of a Fragmented City. African Books Collective, 2010. p. 61-96. ISBN 9987080936, 9789987080939. The source edition is an English translation, published by Mkuki na Nyota Publishers Ltd. [1] of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in association with the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) [2] The book was originally published in French as Nairobi contemporain: Les paradoxes d'une ville fragmentée, Karthala Editions (Hommes et sociétés, ISSN 0993-4294). French version article: "Les pouvoirs publics et les politiques de reenovation urbaine aa Eastlands L'exemple du « Mathare 4A Slum Upgrading Project »", p. 101-146.
    • De Lame, Danielle. "Grey Nairobi: Sketches of Urban Socialities." In: Charton-Bigot, Hélène and Deyssi Rodriguez-Torres (editors). Nairobi Today: The Paradox of a Fragmented City. African Books Collective, 2010. p. 167-214. French version article: "Gris Nairobi: Esquisses de sociabilités urbaines." p. 221-284. ISBN 2845867875, 9782845867871.
      • Includes a section on Mathare, titled "??", p. ??? (In French: "Mathare: vallée de sang et de larmes", p. 272-277).
    • "Mathare Valley. A Case Study of Uncontrolled Settlement in Nairobi." University of Nairobi, Housing Research and Development Unit. GITEC Consult (1995).
    • "Mathare 4A Development Programme Feasibility Study Report." Ministry?
    • Reback, Andrew. "Slum Upgrading Case Study: Nairobi’s Mathare 4A." September 2007.

    External links

    Inside Kibera slum, Africa's biggest shanty town

    ITV News

    John Ray Africa Correspondent


    Kibera slum is only three miles from the centre of Nairobi

    Kibera is a shanty town of rusting roofs slung across mud, rocks and a rubbish dump.
    Its half a million inhabitants live in single room mud huts and tin shacks crammed closely together.
    The narrow paths between are often open sewers. There is no proper sanitation and little electricity.
    The main railway to Uganda runs through it. Children play by the track and scatter when the train lumbers through twice a day.
    Nairobi is just three miles down the line. But not much of the wealth of Kenya’s capital - home to more dollar milklionaires than most African cities - makes it this far.
    Nairobi is just three miles down the line. But not much of the wealth of Kenya’s capital - home to more dollar milklionaires than most African cities - makes it this far.
    Reputedly the world's biggest slum is a vivid illustration of the problems of poverty and inequality highlighted at the launch of today’s international campaign.
    It is also a demonstration of the limits of the aid operation so far. Despite all the money and all the effort, many people here tell me life hasn’t got much better.
    Salim Mohammad has worked in the slums for 15 years.
    He’s the co-founder of a local charity called Carolina for Kibera.
    Among its projects is one of few clinics serving tens of thousands of potential patients and a day care centre where we meet Mustafa, a malnourished nine month old baby whose mother, like so many here, is HIV positive.


    The shanty town straddles the main Nairobi to Kenya railway line

    He’s is regaining some weight at last,’’ the nurse feeding him a thick porridge tells me.
    Salim believes too much of the help that comes from outside is misdirected.
    The aid agencies need to be much more accountable. Why build a road when it’s clinics we need.
    We need to realize that the solutions to the problems here are for the people here to work out.'
    – Salim Mohammad

    Save the Children, one of the organisations behind today’s campaign, says none of this should obscure the giant strides being made around the developing world.

    Two examples:

    Over the past decade or so, there have been significant falls in the number of children dying needlessly from disease and a dramatic reduction in the numbers living in absolute poverty.
    The new targets they’ve set are ambitious but they warn the world’s governments that if they duck big decisions at UN summits this year, the progress could be thrown into reverse.
    There’s a fear that compassion fatigue might take a toll on a world struggling with austerity and beset by many other pressing problems.

    There is no government provided health care or education in Kibera slum

    Nowhere is that fear more keenly felt than Kibera. 

    Kibera (from Wikipedia)

    From our blog: Orthodox Epitaph in Kibera, Holy Friday 2015 (photo from here). The Orthodox Church operates strongly in this region, where there is today a church, Community Hospital, kindergarten and primary school with 200 children, who daily get free breakfast and lunch. About Orthodox Church in Kenya, please see here.

    Kibera (Nubian: Forest or Jungle[1]) is a division of Nairobi Area, Kenya, and neighbourhood of the city of Nairobi, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the city centre.[2] Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, and the largest urban slum in Africa.[2][3][4] The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census reports Kibera's population as 170,070, contrary to previous estimates of one or two million people.[5] Other sources suggest the total Kibera population may be 500,000 to well over 1,000,000 depending on which slums are included in defining Kibera.[6][7][8][9]
    Most of Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.00 per day. Unemployment rates are high. Persons living with HIV in the slum are many, as are AIDS cases.[10] Cases of assault and rape are common. There are few schools, and most people cannot afford an education for their children. Clean water is scarce and therefore diseases caused by related poor hygiene are prevalent. A great majority of people living in the slum lack access to healthcare.
    The Government is addressing the problem, having initiated a programme to replace the slum with a residential district consisting of high rise apartments, and relocating the residents to these new buildings upon completion. The apartments are being built in phases in line with the Government's budgetary allocations, and a few apartments in phase 1 of the project have already been occupied.
    The neighbourhood is divided into a number of villages, including Kianda, Soweto East, Gatwekera, Kisumu Ndogo, Lindi, Laini Saba, Siranga, Makina and Mashimoni. Conditions in Kibera are extremely poor, and most of its residents lack access to basic services, including electricity and running water.


    Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, the largest slum in Africa[11][12] and third largest in the world.[2]

    Colonial era


    Nairobi, where Kibera is located, is a city that was founded in 1899 when Uganda Railway line was built, thereby creating a need for its headquarters and British colonial offices.[13][14] The colonial administration intended to keep Nairobi a home for Europeans and temporary, migrant workers from Africa and Asia. The migrant workers were brought into Nairobi on short-term contracts, as indentured labor, to work in the service sector, as railway manual labor and to fill lower-level administrative posts in the colonial government.[15][16] Between 1900 and 1940, the colonial government passed a number of laws – such as the 1922 Vagrancy Act – to segregate people, evict, arrest, expel and limit the movement of the natives and indentured workers.[16][17] Within Nairobi, Africans could live in segregated “native reserves” at what was then the edge of the city.[18][19] Permits to live in Nairobi were necessary, and these permits separated living areas of non-Europeans by ethnic group. One such group with official colonial era permits, were soldiers who served the African interests of British colonial army, and the assigned area for them developed into a slum, now known as Kibera.[20][21][22]
    Kibera originated as a settlement in the forests at the outskirts of Nairobi, when Nubian soldiers returning from service with the King's African Rifles (KAR) were allocated plots there in return for their efforts around 1904. Kibera was situated on the KAR military exercise grounds in close proximity to the KAR headquarters along Thika Road.[23] The British colonial government of the time allowed the settlement to grow informally, primarily because of the Nubians' status as former servants of the British crown, which put the colonial regime in their debt. Furthermore the Nubians, being "Detribalized Natives", had no claim on land in "Native Reserves". Over time, other tribes moved into the area to rent land from the Nubian landlords. With increase in railway traffic, Nairobi's economy developed, more rural African migrants moved to urban Nairobi in search of wage labor. Kibera and other slums developed throughout Nairobi.[17][24]

    Kibera slum was established in early 20th century, and has grown ever since on public lands, around water streams and railway tracks. Its current residents are people from all major ethnic groups of Kenya.[25]

    Proposals were made in the late 1920s to demolish and relocate Kibera, as it was within the zone of European residential holdings; however, the residents objected to these proposals. The colonial government considered proposals to reorganize Kibera, and the Kenya Land Commission heard a number of cases which referred to the "Kibera problem".[26] By then, Kibera was not the only slum. A 1931 Colonial Report noted the segregated nature of housing in Nairobi and other Kenyan towns, with housing for Europeans reported as good, and widespread prevalence of slum property for Africans and other non-European migrants.[27]




    After Kenya became independent in 1963, a number of forms of housing were made illegal by the government. The new ruling affected Kibera on the basis of land tenure, rendering it an unauthorized settlement. Despite this, people continued to live there, and by the early 1970s landlords were renting out their properties in Kibera to significantly greater numbers of tenants than were permitted by law. The tenants, who are highly impoverished, cannot afford to rent legal housing, finding the rates offered in Kibera to be comparatively affordable. The number of residents in Kibera has increased accordingly despite its unauthorized nature. By 1974, members of the Kikuyu tribe predominated the population of Kibera, and had gained control over administrative positions, which were kept through political patronage.[28]
    However a shift in Kenyan demographics has taken place since then, the Luo and Luhya tribes from the West of Kenya being the primary areas of internal emigration. By the year 1995, Kibera had become a predominantly Luo slum and Mathare Valley nearby the predominantly Kikuyu slum area.[citation needed] The coincident rise of multi party politics in Kenya has caused the Luo leader and MP for much of Kibera, the parliamentary seat of Langata, Raila Odinga to be known for his ability to bring out a formidable demonstration force instantly. Meanwhile Mathare Valley has become a hotbed of gang warfare. Political tensions in the nation between the ethnic tribes escalated after the re-election of President Kibaki in 2007.

    The relative location of Kibera in Nairobi

    The Nubian community has a Council of Elders who are also the Trustees of its Trust. This Trust now claims all of Kibera. It claims that the extent of their land is over 1,100 acres (4.5 km2). It claims that owing to State sanctioned allotments the land area is now reduced to 780 acres (3.2 km2). The Government does not accept their claims but its rehousing program envisions a land extent around 300 acres (1.2 km2) for the claimed Nubian settlement. Neither side has left any room for negotiation from this position.
    Presently, Kibera's residents represent all the major Kenyan ethnic backgrounds, with some areas being specifically dominated by peoples of one ethno-linguistic group. Many new residents come from rural areas with chronic underdevelopment and overpopulation issues. The multi-ethnic nature of Kibera's populism combined with the tribalism that pervades Kenyan politics has led to Kibera hosting a number of small ethnic conflicts throughout its century-long history. The Kenyan government owns all the land upon which Kibera stands, though it continues to not officially acknowledge the settlement; no basic services, schools, clinics, running water or lavatories are publicly provided, and the services that do exist are privately owned.[29]


    Kibera is in southwest Nairobi, roughly 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the city centre. Much of its southern border is bounded by the Nairobi river and the Nairobi Dam, an artificial lake that used to provide drinking water to the residents of the city, but now there are two main pipes going into Kibera.
    Kibera is divided into 13 villages, including Kianda, Soweto East, Gatwekera, Kisumu Ndogo, Lindi, Laini Saba, Siranga, Makina and Mashimoni.


    The population density in the Kianda village in western Kibera

    The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census reported Kibera's population as 170,070.[5] The Kibera slum was previously thought to be one of the biggest informal urban settlements in the world. Several actors had provided and published over the years growing estimations of the size of its population, most of them stating that it was the largest slum in Africa with the number of people there reaching over 1 million. According to Mike Davis, a well known expert on urban slums, Kibera had a population of about 800,000 people.[30] International Housing Coalition (IHC) talked about more than half a million people.[31] UN-Habitat had released several estimations ranging between 350,000 and 1 million people.[3][32][33] These statistics mainly come out of analysis of aerial pictures of the area. IRIN estimated a population density of 2000 residents per hectare.[34]
    In 2008 an independent team of researchers began a door-by-door survey named “Map Kibera Project”[35] with the aim to map physical and socio-demographic features of the slum. A trained team of locals, after having developed an ad-hoc surveying methodology, has so far gathered census data of over 15,000 people and completed the mapping of 5000 structures, services (public toilets, schools), and infrastructures (drainage system, water and electricity supply) in the village of Kianda. On the basis of data collected in Kianda, the Map Kibera Project team estimated that the whole Kibera slum could be inhabited by a total population ranging from 235,000 to a maximum of 270,000 people, dramatically scaling down all previous figures.[36][37]
    The breakdown of ethnic groups inhabiting Kibera and their gender-specific representation is[38] Luo: 34.9% (male), 35.4% (female); Luyia: 26.5% (male), 32.5% (female); Nubian: 11.6% (male), 9.1% (female); Kikuyu: 7.9% (male), 6.4% (female); Kamba: 7.5% (male), 10.3% (female); Kisii: 6.4% (male), 2.2% (female); Other: 5.2% (male), 4.1% (female)

    Railway Tracks in Kibera, Nairobi Kenya. Uganda Railway line linking Mombasa, Nairobi and Kisumu on Lake Victoria began about 1901 under the British colonial empire. The British government gave Kenyan soldiers in its regional army in early 20th century, the right to live on public land near the railway tracks, which created Kibera.[39][40]


    The Uganda Railway Line passes through the centre of the neighbourhood, providing passengers aboard the train a firsthand view of the slum. Kibera has a railway station, but most residents use buses and matatus to reach the city centre; carjacking, irresponsible driving, and poor traffic law enforcement are chronic issues.
    Kibera is heavily polluted by human refuse, garbage, soot, dust, and other wastes. The slum is contaminated with human and animal faeces, due to the open sewage system and the frequent use of "flying toilets". The lack of sanitation combined with poor nutrition among residents accounts for many illnesses and diseases. The Umande Trust, a local NGO, is building communal toilets that generate methane gas (biogas) for local residents.[41]
    A community radio station, Pamoja FM, has been a pivotal tool towards not only upgrading Kibera slum but also all the slums in Nairobi.
    Kibera Journal has existed since November 2006. The paper covers issues affecting the people of Kibera, and it has played an important role in training the youth in basic journalism skills that they use to cover issues in their communities.


    Most education centres in Kibera are classified as informal, but various initiatives have been underway to add schools.[42] Some start as babycare centres, which later develop into schools. Most are not regulated by the government. Some of the notable schools are Olympic Primary School, one of the leading government schools in the country, Kibera Primary School (also called Old Kibera), Facing the Future School (FaFu), as well as several church-owned and privately owned schools. Notable Secondary schools include PCEA Silanga High School, owned by the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Raila Educational centre, and Olympic secondary School among others. There is the vocational PCEA Emmanuel Technical Training Centre, offering self-employment skills to the residents. Several other local youth organisations, like the football (soccer) team the Kibera Black stars,[43] are also concerned and involved in educational projects.

    Slum upgrading

    The ground in much of Kibera is composed of refuse and rubbish

    Kibera is one of the most studied slums in Africa, not only because it sits in the centre of the modern city, but also because UN-HABITAT, the United Nations' agency for human settlements, is headquartered close by. Ban Ki-moon visited the settlement within a month of his selection as UN secretary-general.[29]
    Kibera, as one of the most pronounced slums within Kenya, is undergoing an intensive slum upgrading process. The government, UN-HABITAT and a contingent of NGOs, notably Maji na Ufanisi, are making inroads into the settlements in an attempt to facelift the housing and sanitary conditions.
    There are three significant complicating factors to construction or upgrade within Kibera. The first is the rate of petty and serious crime. Building materials cannot be left unattended for long at any time because there is a very high chance of them being stolen. It is not uncommon for owners of storm-damaged dwellings to have to camp on top of the remnants of their homes until repairs can be made, to protect the raw materials from would-be thieves.
    The second is the lack of building foundations. The ground in much of Kibera is literally composed of refuse and rubbish. Dwellings are often constructed atop this unstable ground, and therefore many structures collapse whenever the slum experiences flooding, which it does regularly. This means that even well-constructed buildings are often damaged by the collapse of nearby poorly constructed ones.
    The third complicating factor is the unyielding topography and cramped sprawl of the area. Few houses have vehicle access, and many are at the bottoms of steep inclines (which heightens the flooding risk). This means that any construction efforts are made more difficult and costly by the fact that all materials must be brought in by hand.



    The new apartments being built adjacent to Kibera

    On 16 September 2009 the Kenyan government, which claims ownership of the land on which Kibera stands, began a long-term movement scheme which will rehouse the people who live in slums in Nairobi.[44]
    The clearance of Kibera was expected to take between two and five years to complete. The entire project was planned to take nine years and to rehouse all the slum residents in the city.[45] The project had the backing of the United Nations and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who was the area MP, and was expected to cost $1.2 billion.[44][45] The new communities were planned to include schools, markets, playgrounds and other facilities.[44] The first batch of around 1,500 people to leave the slum were taken away by truck on 16 September 2009 from 6:30 am local time and were rehoused in 300 newly constructed apartments with a monthly rent of around $10.[44][45]
    The project start was postponed several times when Prime Minister Odinga was unavailable to oversee the first day.[46] He was joined on the first day by Housing Minister Soita Shitanda and his assistant Margaret Wanjiru, with all three helping residents to load their belongings onto the trucks.[46] Also present were several dozen armed police officers to oversee the arrangements and to deter any resistance.[46]
    The process has been legally challenged by more than 80 people, and the Kenyan High Court has stated that the government cannot begin demolition works until the case is heard in October but will be able to demolish the homes of people who leave voluntarily before then.[44][45] The 80 plaintiffs are a mixture of middle-class landlords and Kibera residents, and they claim that the land in Kibera is theirs and hence the government has no right to demolish the shacks. The Nubian community, who have lived on the land for nearly 100 years, are also disappointed with the scheme, and one elder has said that the present housing should be improved instead.[44]
    The project has also come under fire from urban planners who say that it risks repeating the mistakes of previous schemes, when poor families either shared two-room apartments with one or two other families to pay the rent, or sublet them to middle-class families and moved back into the slums.[44] Workers earning a minimum wage in Kenya make less than US$2 per day.[47] There is also controversy over the timing of the project, with the first phase, rehousing 7,500 people, being delayed by five years and one government official stating that if the project continues at the current pace it will take 1,178 years to complete.[45]

    References in popular culture

    Shooting feature film Togetherness Supreme in Kibera and with the collaboration with Kibera youth trainees

    Kibera is featured in Fernando Meirelles's film The Constant Gardener, which is based on the book of the same name by John le Carré. It is mentioned in the music video "World on Fire" by Sarah McLachlan, which profiled the work of Carolina for Kibera, a grassroots organization named a Hero of Global Health in 2005 by Time magazine.[48]
    Robert Neuwirth devotes a chapter of his book Shadow Cities to Kibera and calls it a squatter community, predicting that places like Kibera, Sultanbeyli in Istanbul, Turkey, and Dharavi in Mumbai, India, are the prototypes of the cities of tomorrow. Among other things, Neuwirth points out that such cities should be reconsidered and not viewed merely as slums, because many locals were drawn to them while escaping far worse conditions in rural areas. Michael Holman's 2005 novel Last Orders at Harrods is based on a fictional version of the slum, called Kireba. Bill Bryson visited Africa for CARE and wrote a companion book called "Bill Bryson's African Diary", which includes a description of his visit to Kibera.
    Kibera is the backdrop for the award-winning short film Kibera Kid, which featured a cast entirely drawn from residents. It has played in film festivals worldwide including the Berlin Film Festival and won a Student Emmy from Hollywood. Recently, Hot Sun Foundation and Hot Sun Films started the first film school in the slum, the Kibera Film School. The school teaches the youth from the slum how to make films and tell their stories. In 2009 through 2010, the Kibera Film School and Hot Sun Foundation collaborated on the feature follow-up to Kibera Kid, which is titled Togetherness Supreme.
    In his documentary Living with Corruption, Sorious Samura stayed with a family in Kibera to film the corruption that occurs even at the lowest levels of Kenyan society. Furthermore, Kibera is portrayed in the Austrian 2007 documentary Über Wasser: Menschen und gelbe Kanister.
    The Economist published an article in 2012 suggesting that Kibera "may be the most entrepreneurial place on the planet" and that "to equate slums with idleness and misery is to misunderstand them".[49]
    The Netflix 2015 series Sense8 features a character named Capheus based in Kibera, showing the hardships of a fictional matatu driver there.

    See also

    Note of our blog
    Shanty Town Themed Resort for the Rich in South Africa (!!!)


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    1. "Upwardly mobile Africa: Boomtown slum". The Economist. 22 December 2012. p. 59. Retrieved 29 December 2012.

    Further reading

    External links

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