Launched in April of 2020 our work mostly during the COVID19 pandemic has been focused on the most vulnerable children and families living in slums in Nairobi Kenya. We only work with those who are the poorest of the poor and at the lowest levels of the community.
Why Korogocho and Maili Saba Slums? This slum is home to around 150,000 people over a space of about 1.5km² and is situated close to the city’s main rubbish dump site. The people living here face many challenges, including extreme poverty, hunger and security issues. Unemployment rates are high with around 32% of people receiving no income or living below the poverty line . Poor hygiene and sanitation mean that cholera, typhoid and dysentery are widespread. There is also a high HIV+ prevalence rate at around 14%.
When you walk around Korogocho you can’t help but notice that there are lots of children. At 3.7, the total fertility rate in Korogocho is lower than the national average of 4.6 but higher that the average of Nairobi, which is at around 2.7 children per woman. With life expectancy at around 39 years, the youth dependency ratio is high, which means that there is a higher proportion of young dependents to those of working age.
Living standards in Korogocho are very poor, with most families living in small, one room mud huts. Rent is usually unaffordable with houses susceptible to leaking roofs and flooding when it rains. Basic services like electricity, roads, street lighting and proper rubbish disposal are virtually non-existent.
Families regularly number over six people and in most households, all family members live, sleep and eat in the same room together. Families rely on cheap foodstuffs (such as Ugali, Sukuma wiki and githeri) with meat, fish, eggs and fruit being too expensive. Often families only have 1 meal a day and skip others to be able to pay their rent or buy other essential items.
Korogocho has very limited access to clean and safe drinking water, with all water fetched from a nearby spring or communal taps. Between houses are open muddy channels where waste water is flowing, rubbish is often discarded, and mosquitoes and rats live and breed. There is also no effective sewerage system meaning that every time when there are heavy rains, sewage flows through the streets of the slum.
Poor sanitation, drainage systems and management of rubbish leads to frequent outbreaks of typhoid and cholera, adding to the already high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, other STDs, malaria, malnutrition and tuberculosis. As health care is expensive and often inadequate, simple medical conditions often go untreated and residents often only seek medical help for the most serious health problems.
Despite the enormous benefits of being able to attend school and receive an education, the costs involved in sending children to school in this are are prohibitive for the majority of slum residents.
The cost of school fees, uniforms, pens, paper, pencils, shoes and transport means that a large number of children have no hope of attending school. Poverty levels make it extremely difficult to develop any savings and often money for school fees is instead spent on greater needs such as food.
Children not attending school are often left to occupy themselves roaming around the slum, picking scraps or playing in the streets and rubbish piles.
A large proportion of the slum’s community is illiterate and lacks professional skills. Most jobs available are in the informal sector which means casual or unreliable work, no job security and low pay.