Kenya’s slum population is growing by almost 6 per cent each year. The situation in the capital, Nairobi, is typical of the challenges facing poor people throughout Kenya’s urban areas. Demand for land means that over half of Nairobi’s population is crammed onto just 1.5 per cent of the total land area. The threat of eviction places many people in constant fear of having their home destroyed.
Housing for Nairobi’s slum dwellers typically consists of shanties made of mud, wattle and iron sheets. There are as many as 250 shanties per hectare – in comparison, housing density in the UK reaches around 100 units per hectare in cities and 30 elsewhere.
There is little or no access to water, electricity, basic services and infrastructure in Nairobi’s slums; around 94% of slum dwellers lack access to adequate sanitation. Most structures are let on a room-by-room basis with many families (on average 6 people) living in just one room. These factors have serious repercussions on the health and wellbeing of slum dwellers, demonstrated by the child mortality rate: for every 1,000 children born in Nairobi’s slums, 151 will die before the age of five. This is significantly higher than the average of 62 for Nairobi as a whole.
Homeless International has worked in Kenya since 1990 and we now work with two partners there. Our oldest partner organisation is Pamoja Trust. Pamoja Trust supports the Kenyan Federation – Muungano wa Wanavijiji – a network of community savings groups made up of more than 300,000 people living in more than 400 slum settlements across the country. Pamoja Trust’s achievements include publishing an inventory of Nairobi’s slums, flagship in-situ housing projects in Huruma and developing innovative water supply delivery models in Mathare.
In late 2010, we also began working with the National Cooperative Housing Union (NACHU). Founded in 1979, NACHU helps improve shelter and quality of life for poor communities throughout Kenya. It now supports over 250,000 people who are members of 300 housing cooperatives. NACHU is an 'implementing partner' of our CLIFF programme and is also the first organisation to which we issued a loan through our Bond facility.