Despair reigns as hundreds of Nairobi’s slum dwellers go about their daily activities to put bread on the table.
Kibera doesn’t need an introduction. Even some Hollywood stars who fly in private jets can tell you about it.
Take the American pop star Madonna, for example. During her vacation in Kenya in 2016, she spent a day in the slum while visiting Shining Hope for Communities, an organization that connects schools that offer free learning to girls with essential services like clean water and free health care. The slum has its own Get fair share of “fame” until it overshadows other slums in Nairobi when goodies and donations come from well-wishers.
Hundreds of NGOs have been founded to raise funds for different needs from people living in Kibera live.
In order to get funding from the NGOs, extreme poverty and a low standard of living were rightly sold. As in any other slum, the living conditions here were and are quite pathetic.
But with all the attention Kibera has received and the millions of donor aid and funding, why is this not possible? Go beyond extreme poverty?
“When donors came to Kibera, they came with sympathy. This means that they responded quickly to their emotions related to interventions, ”explains Joshua Tembo, a community leader in the slum. But what the donors do is ultimately unsustainable, he adds.
“This has degenerated into a new flyer culture that is currently trending. So you realize that a large or well-respected organization is becoming a farmer who offers handouts, ”he adds.
The dilemma, says Tembo, is when An organization offers skills and empowers locals to be sustainable. This becomes unattractive.
Those most affected by the mindset of the handouts are young people.
“They have been conditioned to believe that they have a problem and their problem Can only be solved by outsiders who come with goodies. If you tell this young person that they can go somewhere and learn some business development skills and start their own business and have financial independence, it seems like a long process and they want more of a microwave process, ”he adds / p >
When donors respond to calls to help the residents of Kibera, it is mostly due to the articles they read or information they receive from other people, which is mostly not factual.
According to Mr. Tembo, many interventions targeting Kibera have been designed to distribute goodies, with few using data to create innovations that bring change.
“There are organizations in Kibera who have received large donations but donors fail to see the impact that is leading to a new way of thinking in which organizations are now working towards sustainable and innovative projects iten. However, there is a change in the donor spirit because the handout module has been carried out long enough, ”explains Tembo.
Read: A walk through Kibera
Also read: Why Nairobi could be uninhabitable in the next 50 years.
Kibera’s population was also a topic of debate. In a 2004 report by UN-Habitat as part of the Kenya Slum Upgrading Program, the population was estimated at 600,000 to 1,000,000.
However, according to the 2019 census, Kibera only has 185,777 inhabitants.
In a previous interview with the Nation , Tom Aosa, director of community-level organizations in Kibera, said there were between 6,000 and 15,000 CBOs working there. That corresponds to one non-profit organization per 15 inhabitants. If you put in an estimated 2,000 government organizations, you will get a rough idea of the billions of shillings pumped into the slum.
Each Kibera community has its own gatekeeper or, as Mr Tembo explains, cartels that are different Carry out controls in areas in the slum.
“With the establishment of many NGOs in Kibera, a lot of money flowed in. This led to the formation of gatekeepers who have since become cartels. For example, if you are looking for youth leaders, they will introduce you to their network. So you realize that most organizations have their community representatives to give them easy access.
“It’s a position of power, when you’re a gatekeeper it’s easy for you to get by first to benefit yourself before passing it on to other people. For lack of a better word, Kibera is like a mafia zone, which means you can’t come here as an outsider and build a project and be successful without going through the gatekeepers. And each area has its own designated head, ”says Tembo.
This could explain why, despite the thousands of donations and goodwill it has received, Kibera is not moving from an informal to a formal settlement can.
According to Mr. Tembo, the cartels playing the middleman have created a separation between the beneficiary and the donor. Sometimes projects are not carried out 100 percent because part of the donated funds only benefit individuals.
In fact, this is the main reason why Kibera has not yet seen any significant changes in the lives of the residents.
“The cartels are beneficiaries, so this is a way for them to make a living and they believe that if they keep it going, they will have to look after their lives. So things should stay as they are. In fact, some of the big name NGOs have some teenagers on their payroll. This ensures that they can maneuver through the slum without anyone resisting them or what they do, ”notes Tembo.
In addition to the high level of poverty, Kibera also lacks sanitation, infrastructure and access to clean water. amongst other things. Unemployment is also a major problem.
Mr. Moses Tito, a resident and community worker in Kibera, agrees that some unscrupulous business people have taken advantage of the slum situation to make commercial profit.
In Kibera there is class as in any society.
“I was one of the first to start slum tourism before it was skewed into commercial tourism. The goal we had for slum tourism was to present people beyond the rusty roofs. Then the idea was stolen and turned into something else, so I decided to withdraw, “says Tito.
The” briefcase “organizations have their roots deep in Kibera. And although in some cases the community does come out to challenge these organizations about their wrongdoing, those same residents easily forget when the organizations dangle another carrot for goodies.
“I realized the mess It is real to Kibera that at times it can even be difficult to get money from donors as there are already organizations that are known to be active here. And it is a fact that there are people who have used Kibera to get rich, “says Tito.
Chairman of the National Council of NGOs, Steven Cheboi, stated that the council has established that Kibera is popular with many organizations. Apply for registration.
“We regulate all NGOs and ask the organizations to select the districts in which they will operate. We never used to go so far as to record the sub-county in which the NGOs settled. However, we have started to follow up and we are working to ensure that NGOs do not flood a certain area, “said Cheboi
The government has also carried out numerous interventions as part of the Kibera slum modernization program, an initiative worth several million shillings, which was carried out in cooperation with UN-Habitat.
However, some houses are active. People built as part of this program should be occupied by people who do not come from Kibera. < / p>
“What happened was that the people the houses were assigned to decided to make money off of them. They decided to sublet the apartments to other tenants at a higher price. These people moved back to Kibera. The government allocated the houses fairly. It’s just that the people who were given the houses were unfairly passing them on to other people, “says Tito.
” There is also what I call slum addiction. You can be addicted to this type of life to the point where you are free to give up on this good cause so that you can keep fighting. You have been used to a hand-to-mouth life to the point that when a better situation arises and you can have some money in the bank, you just want to spend it all, “he continued.