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Nairobi Informal Settlement

Nairobi covers an area of 69.1km2 with a population of 3,138,369 and 985,016 households according to (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 2010). Informal settlements occupy 5% of Nairobi and Over 60% of Nairobi’s population lives in informal settlements (UN-Habitat, 2006). This implies over 1,980,000 people in less than 42km2 (47,143persons per Km2).

Economic Situation: 70 – 75% of slum dwellers are poor (World Bank, 2006), living on an income of fewer than 1.25 dollars per day. Economically, the slum community people are involved in small businesses such as selling food, second-hand merchandise, hawking, washing clothes, and pulling carts. Some also go to the surrounding factories in search of casual jobs which give meager income that is barely enough to take care of the basics such as paying rent, accessing healthcare especially nutrition, and even school fees.

Social Situation: Housing comprises clusters of shanties made of mud walls and, iron sheets or tin roofs. There is poor access to basic services of sanitation, water, health services, and infrastructure. Due to a cosmopolitan base of the slum dwellers, there is diversity in culture with each ethnic group being influenced by their respective cultures especially among the people above 35 years of age (non-youths). The youths have developed their own subculture manifested in a creole of Swahili, English and native languages referred to as ‘Sheng’. Slum demolitions are a common phenomenon necessitated by the government intervention of slum upgrading.

Religion/spiritual: There are two main religions in the informal settlements; these being Christianity and Islam, the former being the majority. The Christians are split between mainstream churches and Pentecostals. The mainstream churches include the Anglican Church of Kenya, Presbyterian Church of East Africa, and the Catholic church among others.

Environment: The environment in the slums is not conducive to human habitation. There is no planning and the houses are congested with no through ways/roads making it very hard for movement within, especially in times of emergencies such as fire outbreaks which are common. The sewage and garbage system is either lacking or very poor in all the targeted areas, so there is continuous overflow or heaping of waste. The situation is made worse by a lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities. The communities are extremely vulnerable to disasters such as fire outbreaks, epidemics, and flooding because of the congestion, poor quality housing, and unhygienic conditions.

Mathare Slum

Mathare Slum: Informal Settlement in Nairobi.