Introduction: An emphasis will be placed on the varied



The study aims to
analyse the physicality of the informal settlement of Kibera, Kenya. The region
of Kianda which is situated in the second largest slum in Africa, (Borgen
Project 2015) home to almost one million inhabitants will be the main area of
focus, due to its proximity to the newly constructed government housing scheme.

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Analysing both
formal and informal services, sanitation and infrastructure. An emphasis will
be placed on the varied services available within the region of Kianda. Having
identified a commonality within this environment the study aims to compare
these living conditions with the recently built government housing project
adjacent to Kibera. Evaluating its success in relationship to the response of
the people, and assessing to what extent this development has had on improving
living conditions but also addressing the issue of whether this project should
serve as a precedent for future development or is there an alternative method
to addressing the ever-prevalent matter of informal settlements? and their
presence in the modern world.




The study aims to
primarily scrutinize the recently built government housing project near Soweto
East in comparison to the existing living conditions of the informal settlement
Kibera, Kianda. The initial interest of this topic of study stemmed from the
frequent visits to Kenya, and voluntary work which developed the preliminary
understanding of how informal settlements coexist within the formal city of
Nairobi. These settlements aren’t native to Kenya, or even Africa, yet exist
globally. Understanding the nature of these environments and how its’ inhabitants
operate within in it are key to its development and inevitably its future. The
comparison between these entities was evoked from the recent backlash from the
neighbouring communities of the government project, stating deposit prices
exceeded their disposal income and were unable to attain mortgages, and for
those that did move, had become isolated to their communities and were often
moving back into their existing homes within the settlement, due to the
lucrative returns of sub-letting their new homes.

The study will focus
on the built environment of Kianda, such as sanitation, security, infrastructure
and the comparison between the government project and its improvement on the
way of life of the locals.


Kibera, Kenya, in context with Africa. Plan





Literature Review


Contemplate the idea of a community lacking in basic sanitary
systems, hosting over a million people within an expanse of 2.5 km2.

(Lunchbowl, 2015) That’s equivalent of approximately the entire City of London
(2.9 km2) running without a single source of clean water. The area of Kibera,
Kenya, has seen an exponential growth in its populace over the years, and up
until recently lacked a single consistent water supply (BBC News, 2015). Thus,
“In Kenya 12.8% of children die before reaching five years of age” (POHK)
predominately due to the excess of diseases being spread and water
contamination. For a country that declared its’ GDP in 2014 of $60.94B Dollars,
2014 (Trading Economics, 2015), millions of dollars were spent on developing
infrastructure, expanding tourism and even establishing public healthcare,
however an underlying and fundamental problem persists. The growth of informal


Deprived neighbourhoods have existed since formalised cities formed.

It wasn’t until the 1820s that the concept of informal settlements was
established. This was due to the ability of differentiating between the
affluent and deprived areas. (UN-HABITAT 2003). Informal settlements were common in developed,
western countries during the industrialisation period. When rapid urbanisation
was required. The early capitalism changed the urban planning traditions to
focus less on open spaces and communal grounds. With the industrial revolution,
advanced transportation made it possible for the affluent society to segregate
themselves from the underprivileged. Thus, informal settlements were the only
choice for the deprived populous in cities, where land prices were appreciating
and profitability was high. (UNHABITAT 2003).


For the
first time in history, more than half of the global population reside in
cities. However, urban areas only equate to three percent on Earths land. Over 90%
of urban growth is occuring in developing regions. The increase of people
living in cities can potentially rise to 60 % by 2030 & 66% by 2050.

(Borgen Project, 2017) A rise in
growth of that extent would have serious implications around the world ranging
from access to health care, water, sanitation and affordable housing, which
could prove detrimental. (Dagdeviren & Robertson, 2011). 


settlements appear in many ways, both physically and socially. The appearance
is prerequisite by the local conditions such as; culture, history, politics,
topography and the built environment. Challenges that most informal settlement
have in common are overcrowding, access to sanitation, access to clean water,
poor structural quality of housing and security of tenure. (UN-HABITAT 2003). In
some cases, within Kibera, eviction notices can be as little as only two hours.


Kibera for many years when first conceived was often thought
that it would dissolve almost immediately and not become a prevalent part of
Nairobi culture. However, over a century later, cultures have formed and the
idea of the settlement disappearing within the next 10-15 years has almost
certainly vanished. These communities have derived from rudimentary structures
that envelope their existence. Corrugated iron sheets and mud walls depict the
vernacular of this space and yet, a complex network of illicit infrastructure,
creating this delicate ecosystem entirely dependent on tapping into the main
Nairobi network. 


An aerial view of this area will denote a vast blanket of sheet
metal littered with plastic waste. It is only upon closer inspection does the
settlement hold details of delicate space planning and a clear urban fabric.

With over ground, electrical cables and water pipes masquerading as their
services and pathways leading to the communal courtyards forged from the red
earth. The government housing project over shadows in the background and is
known by the locals as “the promised land”.





Aerial view of Kibera, overlooking the government housing scheme

The increasing
growth of Kenya’s informal settlements in urban centers host over 34% of the
total Kenyan population in urban areas and 71% in confined informal settlements
(UN Habitat, 2009). Informal settlements are positioned at a 5% growth rate,
making it the highest in the world. Research indicates that this figure will
double if measures are not in place to intervene (UNDP, 2007).

Due to a lack of social
support, inhabitants in informal settlements are often secluded from the rest
of society. As a result, the innate nature of democracy and its philosophy
prevent them from making any imperative decisions to improve their condition. (UN
Habitat 2003; United Nations Population Division, 1998; World Economic and
Social Survey 2008)

The lack of a
formalized water infrastructure creates a risk in the settlement. Third party
water vendors tap into the formal water network which pass through the
settlement from neighboring areas. These are then sold to the residents in 20
litre jerry cans. (KWAHO 2008). The pipes are often of a
sub-standard quality and do not meet minimum standards. They are also of a much
smaller diameter than traditional water pipes and thus reduce the volume of
water to cope with demand. These pipes are also generally positioned near the
make shift sewage canals which leads to a higher risk of waterborne diseases.

Steel pipes of better quality have larger diameters and allow better water flow,
these however are seen to have a higher intrinsic value and are prone to theft
from the locals and resold. (KWAHO 2008).

Solid waste in Kibera ranges between 150 to 200 tonnes daily.

(Umande Trust 2007).

A recent BBC report has found government interventions are being
put in place to rejuvenate the area by providing permanent structures and
sewage systems, (Fihlani, P) Architects from around the world have also
reciprocated this all over the world, the latest SelgasCano, who most recently
announced their pavilion is to be dismantled and will be repurposed to house a
school in Kibera. (Dezeen Magazine). With the growing media
attention, NGOs such as Umande Trust have intervened and invested in upgrading
the sanitation facilities. One example has been the implementation of Biogas
toilets. This helps provide energy through methane and biogas. It utilises the
human waste which is in abundance around the settlement and produces fertiliser
and gas which is then suitable for heating, lighting and cooking. (Umande Trust


Currently, 70% of informal settlements are deprived
of electricity. In Kenya, the supply of electricity is controlled by the GoK,
this poses a challenge to the inhabitants of Kibera as the land which they
occupy is not officially declared and therefore does not validate the need for
electricity. Locals have therefore adapted and resorted to other medieval
techniques such as charcoal, firewood but also Kerosene, due to its abundance. (KWAHO
2008). Other NGOs have addressed this problem such as; Adopt-A-Light and the
UN-Habitat’s Slum Lighting Project, which have been responsible for improving
the safety of residents by introducing lighting masts, which in turn reduce the
risk of crime at night but also allow for ease of access for commuters and
improving internal accessibility.


Built without any proper infrastructure, houses in
Kibera consist of thatched corrugated iron sheets and mud walls, usually a 12ft
by 12ft non-permanent structure (Amnesty International 2009). A typical
household in the slums costs US $15 per month and accommodates up to seven
members, in some cases even eleven. These structures are mostly rented out as
only 10% of Kibera residents own the structure. Though the owners are
recognized by tenants, they have no legal ownership (UN Habitat 2003).


Despite many efforts through various strategies such as; forced
evictions, resettlements, site and services schemes, the GoK has acknowledged
the existence and expansion of informal settlements throughout the country and
has committed to address this issue via slum upgrading. (KENSUP). One of the
ways it aims to address the dire situation in the slums is by incorporating the
KENSUP financial strategies.  (GoK,
KENSUP Implementation Strategy 2005, Financing Strategy, 2005).


The GoK in collaboration with two other stakeholders,
introduced two programmes, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP) in 2002
and the Kenya Informal Settlement Project (KISIP) in June 2011. The main role
of these initiatives was to acknowledge the problems faced within the informal
settlements and improve the livelihoods of its inhabitants. It also includes
assisting in housing improvements, income generation and physical and social
infrastructure. The estimated target to improve 1.6 million households within
informal settlements (5.3million dwellers) by 2020 at a total cost of around
KShs 883.76 billion or USD 11.05 billion.


Both Turner (1972) and de Soto (1986; 2000), propose there may be another argument which suggests that residents
aren’t lacking in resource, skilled labour or networking but are deficient in
secure tenure and land rights to occupy these residencies. To unlock this
resource would require assurance that the investments made into their
settlements will not be confiscated or demolished. By providing security of
tenure, it will act as a catalyst for growth as residents may be more inclined
to cumulate their resource and invest into housing, local services &
sanitation, which in turn will drastically improve the physicality of the
settlement. (Gulyani
& Bassett, 2007: 492) 


The conditions within Kibera have proved to be
difficult for the GoK to address the housing deficit and the implementation of
land policy within the settlement but also providing a framework for urban
governance to ensure community participation and cumulative decision making
have aggravated these conditions. Additionally, life within the settlement
holds further constraints such as restricted mobility within the community due
to a lack of formalised public transportation, leading to lengthy commutes
often by foot creating isolating parts of the settlement, causing even further
deprivation expanses. Locals rely on the informal transportation system known
as “Matatus.” They are an inexpensive, chaotic and most often the only choice
of means of transport within these areas. However due to rising concerns for
public safety, measures by the GoK are being put in place to potentially ban
these, which may prove to be detrimental to locals, but also business all over
Kenya. (Citylab, 2017)


The existence of slums in Nairobi and other towns
of Kenya is a matter of serious concern. During the past years, a fraction of
slum dwellers has been moved out of their habitations because of the
demolitions. There have also been attempts of slum upgrading (provision of
services) but the same have only resulted in permanent slums. Overall, the slum
problem continues much as it was. Unless steps are taken to make it impossible
for new slums to come into existence, the problem of slums will become even


Informal settlements can also be a free market’s
provision of low-cost housing (Olima 2001). They can essentially act as
lucrative businesses, whereby housing which does not conventionally adhere to
building codes or regulations and formalised infrastructure can be developed.

Without any maintenance costs these “permanent” structures become inexpensive,
invaluable assets with high ROI’s. Kibera is said to generate in excessive of
600,000 Euros a month. (Marras 2009). Informal settlements are generally seen
as dilapidated sites home to densely populated communities, however they are
also home to business, schools, health care sites, even hair salons, these all
generate income that contribute to the informal economy. (Olima 2001).


“In reality, these deterministic paradigms are dwarfed by the
scale and complexity of our cities. Urban centers are evolving organisms, not
engineering problems. Although we are able to control parts of a city — central
business districts, mass-transit systems, water distribution — we will never
hold and understand the whole. Cities are dynamic, complex-adaptive systems
composed of millions of relatively freewilled individuals who each day make
hundreds of individual decisions that set in motion consequences leading to a
million other decisions. This stochastic chain of choices adds up to an
emergent whole.” (Citylab, 2017)