Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nairobi Slums

Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi with a 2009 estimated 170,000 people living there (although many estimates were as high as 1 million). The slum is about the same size as New York City’s Central Park, a place through which I’ve walked many times. No electricity, clean water, trash or sewage disposal can be found in this area. BBC did a report on the slum’s “flying toilets” that’s definitely worth reading.

Women and children are particularly vulnerable to the rampant diseases found there – cholera, typhoid, malaria – but there are few to no other options for these families. Several stories about men and women working in Nairobi reveal that these families seldom earn more than 3,000 KES ($40 USD) each month, which may be enough to put their child in school but is definitely not enough to pay for shelter. Which comes first? What would you chose?

Large organizations such as governments or corporations fail to wholly solve the problem. No one universal solution exists. What does seem to help, at least marginally, are the NGOs (nonprofit organizations) who take one bite at a time. They focus on one small project to improve one aspect of life, one issue, or one family at a time. Taken together, these NGOs are making a difference to the people trapped in the life of a slum. I think I hear Kibera calling?