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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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5.0 Background of the Study Area


This study primarily focuses on that area of Kibera that is under slum settlement (see figure 5.2) and the decanting site in Langata. The growth of Kibera as a residence of choice for low income earners may mainly be attributed to its close proximity to Nairobi’s Central Business District and the industrial area. The residents, mainly constituting casual laborers and small scale retail traders, find it advantageous in that they can walk to the city center and the industrial area in search of waged labor and cheap merchandise. Kibera also has a huge population of vibrant youths who while away their days for lack of gainful employment. Although a good number of youths have come up with waste management formulae as a means of employment creation, a lot needs to be done to effectively create a successful and sustainable cycle that would guarantee appropriate environmental management. For this reason, KENSUP may be seen as a welcome move towards achieving a holistic environmental management system.

Kibera is located about 7 kilometers to the South West of Nairobi’s Central Business District. On the world map, Kibera is located at latitude -1.3167 and longitude 36.7833.35 According to the Kibera land committee, the total land area of Kibera is seven thousand acres. However, only about on three hundred acres are under slum settlement, according a member of the Kibera Land Committee. The slum borders Ngong Forest and Ngong River to the South, Ngong Golf Course to the East, Jamhuri Park to the...

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