Kibera is one of the largest slum in Kenya.


Kibera Kenya

It would be hard for one concerned with social affairs, not to come across Kibera slum as it is to date the most studied slum in the world. The Kibera slum is documented as being the second largest slum on the African continent second only to Soweto slums in South Africa and is located in Nairobi; Kenya’s capital city.

Originating in1918, Kibera is a Nubian word meaning jungle or forest. It began as a Nubian soldiers' settlement in a forest outside Nairobi, with plots allotted to soldiers as a reward for their service in the First World War by the then British colonial government.

The British Government however allowed the Kibera settlement to mushroom and as a result, today the Kibera slum has around a million inhabitants most of whom are individuals who come from the Kenyan countryside looking for jobs in the city and who also are incapable of affording anywhere else due to the meager wages offered them.

In recent years several programs have been set up in order to upgrade the slum however, several factors have come into play hindering the upgrading plans.

One factor is that few people living there actually own the land and therefore have no land rights. Secondly. The nature of the land is such that houses are built on top of refuse thus causing the ground underneath the makeshift houses. And thirdly, there are hardly any roads going through the slum thus construction work is complicated greatly by the lack of routes with which to transport construction material.

Some 20% of children die before their fifth birthday and close to 60% of people living in the Kibera have HIV/AIDS. Few have jobs. Lives are short and high in misery, yet many people retain a sense of dignity and a desire to make something of their lives thus reflecting the characteristic resilient nature of Kenya’s people.

The great sense of need existent in Kibera has given rise to several non-governmental organizations that have sought to raise the livelihoods of Kibera’s inhabitants. In addition, several people have and still are acting as volunteers in these organizations.

One such organization is Carolina For Kibera.named a TIME Magazine and Gates Foundation “Hero of Global Health,” fights abject poverty and helps prevent violence through community-based development in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya and beyond.

Run by Kenyans and advised by American and Kenyan volunteers, CFK's primary mission is to promote youth leadership and ethnic and gender cooperation in Kibera through sports, young women's empowerment, and community development. Additionally, CFK works to improve basic healthcare, sanitation, and education in Kibera. The organization was also featured in MTV’s documentary 4Real; a documentary about making positive change in the communities people live in.

Despite the abject poverty in Kibera, there is still a great sense of hope that drives its people towards unity, hard work, education and enterprise. This need to break from the cycle of poverty may be exemplified in the words of Senator Barack Obama himself who said upon his visit there:

You start seeing projects like Carolina For Kibera expand, and over time you see more pathways out of Kibera. More people are able to grow businesses. More young people are able to take advantage of education.

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