Friday, 17th February, 2017
NAIROBI| Half of Nairobi’s city residents live and fend for themselves in the informal settlements, often grappling with the challenges of congestion, and poor access to basic services. It is estimated that more than 2 million live in 158 settlements across the city with minimal access to clean and affordable water, sanitation, healthcare, education facilities and other significant services.
A consortium of partners -Muungano Kenya SDI alliance, Strathmore University, The University of Nairobi(Centre for Urban and Regional Innovation), University of California Berkeley, Katiba Institute, SDI and the people of Mukuru - on Friday released key research findings to an audience comprised of the Canadian government, International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) alumnus, the Nairobi and Kiambu County governments, planners, civil society partners Kiandutu and Mukuru communities and students, on the social, economic and planning dynamics of Mukuru informal settlements.
The research was conducted in Mukuru (comprising of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Ruben and Viwandani) in Nairobi; and Kiandutu slum in Kiambu County both covering 600 acres for the former and of 110 acres respectively. The study is funded by the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC). In 2015, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) provided a two-year multidisciplinary, action research grant to Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University and Katiba Institute. IDRC funds research in developing countries to create lasting change on a large-scale, by providing developing country researchers financial resources, advice and training to help them find solutions to local problems.
In a press statement released by the consortium, the research findings give a clear perspective to the study. “Addressing the issue of informal settlements and urban poverty in a traditional single lens cannot solve the problem. This research is unique at three levels: First – It looked at the issue from multiple angles; as a land and legal problem, as a social problem, as anurban planning problem, as an economic problem as well as a human rights problem.
Mukuru is one of the largest of 150 informal settlements in Nairobi, which covers an area of about 525 acres of land. The settlement is comprised of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Viwandani, which are located in the city’s Industrial zone, 7Km south east of the Central Business District.
The three settlements are separated by the Kenya Railway tracks along the border between Kwa Reuben and Kwa Njenga, and the Ngong River, which separates Kwa Reuben and Viwandani. The land titles were initially transferred to private developers for the construction of light industries in the early 80’s and 90’s. However, these lands remained undeveloped for the period stipulated by land laws that state industries must be put up within two years of being acquired. The lands being vacant families quickly occupied the lands which offered cheap accommodation to industrial workers drawn to jobs in the industrial zones as well as the city centre.
Profiling, enumeration and mapping conducted in Mukuru by Muungano wa Wanavijiji and SDI-Kenya in August of 2016, puts the number of households at 100,561.
The Poverty Penalty matrix
The data analyzed indicate that slum residents pay more for services that are inferior to those provided for formal housing.
This collaborative approach revealed a staggering “poverty penalty” in Mukuru. Slum residents pay more for services that are inferior to those provided in Nairobi’s formal housing estates. For instance a family in the slum pays 172% more for water compared with a family living in a formal estate. Cartels often control these slums, charging extortionate rates for access to essential services and threatening residents with violent evictions and forced demolitions.