Kibera lies on 5 km (250 hactares) of government land and is comprised of 13 villages. Kibera is a Nubian word meaning forest, and the slum was originally part of Jamhuri forest allocated to Nubian solders who fought in the British colonial army (Kings African Rifes – KAR). The Nubian soldiers came from Sudan.
A multi-tribal settlement of Kenyan tribes, the Kibera slum is home to nearly 1million people and has a population destiny of 450 household units/hectares. The average household population is 8 persons.
Housing conditions are poor: The mud-walled and iron roofed structures are built along or across others. Each family occupies a 10 feet by 10 feet structure. Mountain heaps of garbage lie everywhere, blocking drainage channels, forcing water to wash away some houses. Toilet facilities are scarce, communally used as pit latrines (by as many as 100 people per toilet) and poorly maintained/constructed, emitting smelly odors and flowing into narrow paths/streams, creating fault rivers.
Those without access to toilets resort to using “flying toilets” (plastic bags thrown out of houses) bushes, riversides, and garbage heaps. As a result, there are many diseases in the area: Tuberculosis, diarrhea, scabies, vomiting, typhoid, coughing, STDs, HIV/AIDS, Cholera and Malaria. Other minor diseases include Elephantiasis, Measles, Meningitis, Polio, worms (mainly affecting children) mental illness, dental problems, ulcers, and high blood pressure.
Kibera residents seek health services from government hospitals (located 6 Kilometers away for some), NGOs, privately owned health clinics, as well as traditional medicine. However, the majority buy over-the-counter drugs from nearby kiosks. For many, health facilities are considered too far away and the services unaffordable. Therefore, some residents resort to banking their National Identity Cards with the health facilities which they collect on payment of treatment bills. Others prefer to sleep until they get well, and the rest hope and pray for God’s intervention.
Social amenities are almost non-existent. Government policy and neglect, unplanned growth and development, poor infrastructures, and high population growth rates— among other factors—have shaped the current state of Kibera.
Nearly 80% of the population lives on under one dollar a day. A large proportion (71%) is not working but rather depends on the small population (29%) for a living. Of the socio-economically active population, 18% earn a living from employment (as watchmen, domestic workers, load carriers, etc.) in the Nairobi industrial area, town centers, and the surrounding estates of the wealthy. Only 11% are engaged in businesses (barber, hawkers, butchers, charcoal, tailors, shoes menders, paraffin sellers, etc.)
Water supply in this slum is being undertaken by private individuals. Piped tap water is the most common source. Other water services include: abandoned toilet holes, roof catchments, shadow wells, rivers, and the Nairobi Dam. Water from these alternative sources is extremely contaminated, but residents resort to them in order to cope with poverty and the overall scarcity of potable water. The cost of water ranges from Kshs 5 to 20 (during scarcity). Due to the high cost, water is highly economized, forcing residents to wear clothes and eat fruits without washing. A family of 8 will attempt to survive on 60 liters of water per day.
In terms of education, the Kibera community views education as means to personal development, a gate for escaping out of poverty, and a basic determinant of quality of life. However, there is apathy among the population regarding education due to limited opportunities, increasing education costs, and poverty.
Accessibility to quality education is a nightmare for Kibera residents. Out of the population of over 150,000 children below the age of 18, only 25% have access to education—leaving the rest as a sea of innocent humanity roaming the streets of the slum. This is further worsened by the poverty situation. The existing educational facilities are inadequate and do not offer a complete and recommended curriculum, since they are mainly non-formal institutions. Formal institutions are non-existent within the slum, and residents depend almost entirely on non-formal schools provided by churches, NGOs, community-based organizations, and private entrepreneurs. Enrolling in a formal school requires commuting out of the slum. The existing non-formal schools are inadequate in terms of number and size to serve the fast-increasing number of children.
The schools also have myriad weaknesses and deficiencies, including overcrowding, inadequate classrooms, high school fees charged, untrained teachers, lack of education equipment and facilities (e.g., books), and no playgrounds.
This is a brief description of the community in which FAFU is focusing its work. Our slogan is, “Releasing children from the claws of poverty and building a stronger bridge to their future.”