Kibera is located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Nairobi city centre.Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, and the second largest urban slum in Africa.The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census reports Kibera’s population as 170,070, contrary to previous estimates of one or two million people.
The neighbourhood is divided into a number of villages, including:
Conditions in Kibera are extremely poor, and most of its residents lack access to basic services, including electricity and running water.
History of Kibera
Kibera originated as a settlement in the forests outside Nairobi, when Nubian soldiers returning from service in the First World War were awarded with plots there in return for their efforts. The British colonial government of the time allowed the settlement to grow informally, primarily because of the Nubians’ status as former servants of the British crown, which put the colonial regime in their debt. Furthermore the Nubians, being “Detribalized Natives” had no claim on land in “Native Reserves”. Over time, other tribes moved into the area to rent land from the Nubian landlords.
After Kenya became independent in 1963, a number of forms of housing were made illegal by the government. The new ruling affected Kibera on the basis of land tenure, rendering it an unauthorized settlement. Despite this, people continued to live there, and by the early 1970s landlords were renting out their properties in Kibera to significantly greater numbers of tenants than were permitted by law. The tenants, who are highly impoverished, cannot afford to rent legal housing, finding the rates offered in Kibera to be comparatively affordable.
The number of residents in Kibera has increased accordingly despite its unauthorized nature. By 1974, members of the Kikuyu tribe predominated the population of Kibera, and had gained control over administrative positions, which were kept through political patronage.
The Nubian community has a Council of Elders who are also the Trustees of its Trust. This Trust now claims all of Kibera. It claims that the extent of their land is over 1100 acres. It claims that owing to State sanctioned allotments the land area is now reduced to 780 acres. The Government does not accept their claims but its rehousing program envisions a land extent around 300 acres for the claimed Nubian settlement. Neither side has left any room for negotiation from this position.
Presently, Kibera’s residents represent all the major Kenyan ethnic backgrounds, with some areas being specifically dominated by peoples of one ethno-linguistic group. Many new residents come from rural areas with chronic underdevelopment and overpopulation issues. The multi-ethnic nature of Kibera’s populism combined with the tribalism that pervades Kenyan politics has led to Kibera hosting a number of small ethnic conflicts throughout its century-long history. The Kenyan government owns all the land upon which Kibera stands, though it continues to not officially acknowledge the settlement; no basic services, schools, clinics, running water or lavatories are publicly provided, and what services do exist are privately owned.
Housing in Kibera
The average size of shack in this area is 12ft x 12ft built with mud walls, screened with concrete, a corrugated tin roof, dirt or concrete floor. The cost is about Ksh 700 per Month (£6). These shacks often house up to 8 or more, many sleeping on the floor.
Sewage System in Kibera
In most of Kibera there are no toilet facilities. One latrine (hole in the ground) is shared by up to 50 shacks. Once full, young boys are employed to empty – they take the contents to the river. To use a toilet, some residents must pay 4 shillings (about 6 cents US) to use a filthy private latrine. Those without other means use a plastic bag which “disappears” over the roof tops at night.
Water in Kibera
There is no running water to most homes in Kibera. To obtain water, residents pay two to ten times what is paid by a Nairobi resident outside the slums. The water is carried back to their houses in jerry cans. However, water flows inconsistently throughout all of Nairobi, even in the plumbed neighborhoods.
Map of Kibera