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Politics and Slum Upgrading in Kenya

A Case Study on the Influence of Politics on Slum Upgrading in Kibera


George M. Kiyu

Why was the slum upgrading project in Kibera, Kenya, facing resistance? This study uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in data collection to reveal that politics revolving around the interests of local politicians, slum dwellers and business operators as well as external players such as NGOs hamper successful implementation of the slum upgrading project Kenya Slum Upgrading Program in Kibera. The key obstacles include poverty, corruption, tribalism, political interpretation of the project aims, bureaucracy, slum oriented businesses (kadogo economy) as well as NGO activity and youth unemployment.
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2.0 Theoretical Framework


By way of introduction, slums may be viewed within the context of the global politico-economic system with a critical focus on the North-South relations and how these relations influence the socio-political and economic development in the South. Whereas this relationship is neither bad nor good, the systems in the South do not seem keen on poverty reduction thus even the continued development assistance has not produced the expected results. It will be appreciated that this aid is given against a backdrop of poor governance structures that are unresponsive to the citizens especially those that are less economically endowed. On their part, the donors are at times not too eager to interfere with a system that guarantees continued business operations for their Multi-National Enterprises.

This analogy is relevant to the extent that globalization is a reality in Kenya today and that more than half of the KENSUP funding comes from international donors. In explaining the environment within which KENSUP is being implemented, an attempt has been made to look at the politics of slum upgrading in the historical context of the socio-political evolution of the Kenyan society since independence, and how this has shaped the economic thinking especially in terms of poverty reduction in the country in general and among the slum communities in particular.

Viewed from the standpoint of liberalized market in a globalized world, the existence of slums is a manifestation of the exploitative global economic system perpetuated and preserved with the blessings of the...

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