According to a ‘report of the Nairobi Cross-sectional Slums Survey 2012’2 by African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC) and another of ‘Kibera Facts & Information’ by the ‘KIBERA UK,’ the Kibera slum “has approximately 2.5 million slum dwellers in about 200 settlements in Nairobi representing 60% of the Nairobi population and occupying just 6% of the land. Kibera houses about 250,000 of these people. Kibera is the biggest slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.”
As a freelance writer currently focusing on community development, environment and sustainability, after living at Olympics Kibera for over a month and also working with the Ministry of Health at Langata Health Centre as part of the mobilizing team for the Polio 2 immunization campaign, I had my fair stay within, mingling, and interacting directly with the residents of Kibera – Soweto and Katokera slums and I have to admit that things are really going bad down there. I, therefore, went on a mission to discover what the problems are, their effects and what can be done about it and this is what I came up with.
PROBLEMS AND EFFECTS
- Over Population
As indicated in the Nairobi Slum Survey 2012,
“From a population of 350,000 in the 1962 census to 3,375,000 in the 2009 census, Nairobi typifies the rapid urbanization and population explosion in sub-Saharan Africa. As the capital and largest city of Kenya, Nairobi has always been the major attraction of various segments of the Kenyan population—from rural and other urban areas—in search of better livelihood opportunities. The consequence of the rapid and uncontrolled population explosion is the proliferation of informal
Settlements in Nairobi, with between 60 and 70 % of Nairobi residents estimated to be living in slums. For example, Kibera, a slum in Nairobi, has grown from a population of 3,000 in 1960 to 287,000 in 1999. Similarly, Korogocho went from a population of 2000 in 1970 to 44,000 in 1999. Meeting the increasing demand of this new population is a daunting challenge for policymakers and, specifically, for Nairobi authorities.”
The effect of overpopulation is further land fragmentation or degradation, a factor that cannot be ignored as a form of pollution. Anyone who knows Kibera also knows that for its being the largest slum in Africa, it must be congested really and yes it is. The shacks are squeezed up together against each other and in places like Katwekera and Soweto. It is that bad as little streams of either urine, dirty water, animal waste or other forms of waste, in general, can be seen popping out the insides of numerous individuals’ shacks.
- Poor Sanitation And Hygiene
A certain gentleman I was discussing with of recent informed me that personal hygiene and sanitation is a matter of knowledge. As I went out and About, this is in regards to the Soweto area, also part of High-rise and Kibera in general; I noticed that human waste in form of feces was in open gutters and by the door-steps. On one of my escapades, a little girl of about three years came out with a potty early morning and poured its content, ‘her poop’, in the trench by the road. I was dumb-founded. My colleague then asked me if once this child grew up, she would be able to know that such mannerisms endanger human health, hers inclusive. I had no idea what to conclude and what not to as at even her age, I suspected she must have seen her parent or guardian do this on one of the mornings, the reason it probably came off as easily.
Who is to blame? I wondered if it is the government or the people. Another colleague informed me that the situation must have become too normal for some of the residents of Soweto they no longer frowned at waste in front of their doorsteps.
- Plastic waste disposal
- Environmental degradation ( From land fragmentation and plastic waste disposal
Unemployment is partly because there are barely opportunities in this part of Nairobi, there is a lack of innovative ways by and for the youth, and a little bit more guidance and mentoring would work. From my experience, a group of youths, age 16 to about 26, would be seen sitting by, and opposite the resource center in Soweto High-rise doing nothing but a little bit of chit chat over and over, watching time pass them by. They would also be seen loitering, but most of them would be sitting in groups by the bridge, in the same positions we left them at the start of our mobilization at 10 am, to the finish at 3 or 4 pm. Question is: Are the youth really to blame? Or should the blame be put on the high population, lack of a decent education, high competition in the job market, or negligence of the government? This idleness has resulted in high rates of crime in this place, as smartphones are barely the thing to use once in this location. Other negative effects of this idleness include insecurity, drunkenness, depression, sexual immorality, rape and other forms of sexual crime, which have also yielded more health problems.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT
- Massive sensitization of the people through posters; Like those at health centers – These rallies should be funded by the government as NGOs seem to be doing a lot already.
- Health Campaigns within the regions ( On dangers of poor sanitation, hygiene, and improper waste disposal)
- Organising workshops
- Re-settlement programs for the residents
- The government should put up a council to clean these places just like people are paid to clean the streets of uptown Nairobi; someone should be paid to clean these places too.
- Emphasis on sustainability and use of reusable, renewable products.
The government should put a ban on the use of these products as it is endangering the livelihoods of its residents in general and most importantly, makes the planet unbearable for future generations. I was once excited when I read about ECO-POST Kenya, a company that uses plastic waste to make durable products like fences that can neither rust nor be eaten by termites, but was disappointed when I set foot in Kibera. This made me realize that one company, however good and passionate about sustainability, cannot be the savior of the entire nation. This means that more companies that perform a similar role should be started, and allowed to make use of this plastic waste and save our environment.
- Educating the Youth and sensitizing them about waste disposal and why a green planet is a necessity.
A man sitting in Matatu next to me threw his used water bottle onto the road out through the window. Later when we got into a discussion, I was shocked to discover that he was pursuing Law at one of the major universities in Kenya. Now excuse me, it may not be a matter of Nairobi alone as I am aware that people do this all over Africa. But what if we instilled a little bit of ethics in our various institutions and reminded these adults that it is better if you carry your used bottle home and into your bin, than out on the road? What if we revealed to them how embarrassing and uncomfortable it should be for anyone especially us adults, to litter?
- We need Bins on the streets, the parks, all over the city.
- Having a major place where the public knows all plastic waste is disposed of. Say like the Ogbogbloshie in Ghana. Doing this may not be the best option, but certainly will help young innovators know where to get such resources from for new innovate projects, instead of picking one by one in the Kibera gutters. Two innovations of this sort have happened in the world’s largest and Ghana’s Electronic Waste Disposal Centre of Ogbogbloshie. Check them out here. Okuntakinte’s Ogbogblo Shine Initiative and Fabrice Monteiro’s ‘The prophecy.’ , both projects achieved by usage of this waste.
Please Leave a comment below in case you have ideas or other concerns regarding this!
Some facts and stats about Kibera, Kenya. (2015, June 21). Kibera UK. Retrieved July 21, 2018, from https://www.kibera.org.uk/facts-info/
Location Of Kibera Slum In Kenya- The Largest Urban Slum In Africa And The World – ZaKenya. (n.d.). Retrieved July 21, 2018, from http://www.zakenya.com/housing-estates/location-of-kibera-slum-in-kenya-the-largest-urban-slum-in-africa-and-the-world.html