The Kibera slum is home to over one million people. This unauthorized settlement on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya is the densest slum in Africa, and the second largest slum in the world. Since the Kenyan Government does not recognize the residents’ right to live there, they do not provide local infrastructure. There is no sewage system, few schools, and even fewer medical facilities. Crossing Thresholds has been bringing volunteers to work in Kibera since 2008, and leading work trips to assist our school-building projects on the ground.
- Kibera has a population estimated at over one million people living in a space that is about the size of Central Park and is home to every ethnic group in Kenya.
- 75% of the population (approximately 750,000) is under the age of 18, and more than 500,000 under the age of 12. Kibera has more than 150,000 orphaned children.
- Kibera is heavily polluted by human refuse, garbage, soot, dust, and other wastes. The lack of sanitation combined with poor nutrition among residents accounts for many illnesses and diseases.
- Homes are about 8 x 10 in size and provide living space for families as small as 2 people and as large as 8 people.
- More than 50% of the adult population has no steady income, creating instability and desperation; malnutrition is rampant.
- Kibera has a severe lack of public services - clean water, sewage, public schools, health clinics, etc.
- Most schools are non-governmental schools dependent upon charitable and private donations. These schools do not receive aid from the Kenyan government.
- Of the more than 500,000 school age children, nearly 40% of school age children are not in school (a disproportionate percentage are girls).
- Less than 15% of students who graduate from grade 8 have the opportunity to attend high school.
- Young people out of school are infinitely more susceptible to drug use/abuse and criminal activity; young women are more vulnerable to early pregnancy and the cycle of poverty.
- The slum originated in 1918 as a Nubian soldiers’ settlement in a forest outside Nairobi, with plots allotted to soldiers as a reward for service in the First World War and earlier wars.
- The name “Kibera” is derived from a Nubian word (Kibra) meaning “forest.”
- The Kenyan government owns all the land upon which Kibera stands and turns a profit by selling long-term leases to slum landlords. Ironically, however, the government refuses to acknowledge the settlement -- denying funding for basic services, schools, clinics, etc.
- Since the early 1970s, slum landlords have rented out their property to an ever-expanding number of tenants generating even more overcrowding and public health concerns.
- Tenants, many of whom live on the brink of acute poverty, cannot afford rental costs in Nairobi, and find themselves unable to escape life in Kibera.