- Alyssa Idusuyi
The Story of Kibera: The Lasting Governmental Impact of Kibera’s Poverty
Extreme poverty is often believed to be an issue of the past, and while poverty rates are declining globally, millions still live in conditions without food, water, shelter, and live on less than $1.9 a day. About 9.2% of the world, about 689 million people, live in extreme poverty. Kibera, Kenya makes up over 250,000 people living in poverty. Kibera is the largest slum in Africa and ranks the third largest slum in the entire world. Using this information, we should ask ourselves how Kibera has reached this extremity. Now, there is not a single root cause for the existence of poverty; rather, poverty is a systemic issue that impacts people through lack of access to proper education, the high costs of healthcare and food, wage gaps and much more. The government has contributed to the increasing poverty in Kibera and has amplified the result of poverty in this slum.
After the First World War, the British allowed Nubians to settle in present day Kibera as a reward for their service. However, as stated in The East African Review, when Kenya gained independence, the government claimed Kibera as their land and refused to return it to the Nubian people. In today’s day and age, Kibera is surrounded by rich industrial areas in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. Currently, just 10% of Kibera’s land is owned by the people living there. The other 90% of Kibera’s land is owned by tenants whose housing rights belong to the government. According to The New Humanitarian: “The Kenyan government owns the land on which Kibera stands but for many years did not officially recognise the settlement. Kibera always seemed on the cusp of demolition, and as a result was deliberately and systematically denied public services like a permanent water supply.” The government had intentions of creating these Kiberan shanties as a temporary measure, but they seem to have neglected to work towards a solution and now view the slum as a permanent fix. This problem has become one of the major contributing factors for Kibera’s poverty as people use their shacks as both their sole source of housing and income. So long as the government continues to control Kibera’s land and deny them the basic essentials for life, Kibera’s poverty will increase drastically as time goes on.
Although the Kenyan government has turned a blind eye to their people, there are some organizations that have decided to help Kibera in their need. The names of various organizations that support Kibera are included but not limited to Kibera in Need, Carolina for Kibera, and Polycom Development Projects. Support these organizations. Be a part of the change you want to see and make a lasting and positive impact on Kibera.
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