Abby Higgins – Why Residents Of Kibera Slum Are Rejecting New Housing Plans

No comments yet – This guest post is by journalist Abby Higgins, in partnership with The Seattle Globalist. It’s the fourth in a five-part series which reveals the economically complex and culturally rich life of urban slums, and challenges our perceptions of what life is like for the one billion people around the world that live in them.

Mildred Lunani knew that if she stayed in her village in Western Kenya she could pretty much count on a life of poverty.  So, like the 200,000 people around the world who move to cities from rural areas every day, she came to the capital in search of opportunity. She found that opportunity in Kibera, the slum that her and her family now call home.

She opened up The District Commissioner’s Restaurant, a small place named after the police station next door. Equipped with a window for take away food and a few rickety wooden tables, she offers donuts, samosas and sodas to the flood of people passing by on their way in and out of Kibera each day.  Lunani was also trained as a community health worker by an NGO in Kibera and spends several days a week working to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS.

“Kibera is a good place. The community, the people, my neighbours, they mean a lot to me, I love that part of Kibera.  But the housing, some of the housing isn’t fit for humans. The toilets, the water?” She shook her head in disgust.

In 2009, Mildred learned of an opportunity to move her family out of Kibera’s substandard housing: The Kenya Slum Upgrading Project (KENSUP) launched by the Kenyan Ministry of Housing with the support of UN-Habitat and several other donor organisations.

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