Urbanization is a by-product of many factors – natural increases in population, inward migration from the rural areas and displacement of people due to conflict. Africa is the fastest-urbanizing continent and the pace of urbanization is accelerating. It is estimated that 32% of Kenya’s growing population currently lives in urban areas, with 60-80% of Kenya’s urban populations living in informal settlements. There are numerous challenges in informal settlements; preventable diseases are rampant due to overcrowding, lack of access to water and poor sanitation.
The Keeping the Slums Safe and Clean project, supported by the Waterloo Foundation, began in August 2009. The goal of the project is to work with and through urban slum communities to empower them to improve their livelihoods, while also improving their environment. Some of the key achievements under the project:
- Engage youth – including reformed criminals- in regular clean-up exercises where community members pay a small price to sustain the services
- Establishment of “Eco Saturdays” as monthly community events with village committees established to monitor clean-up activities and give reports during the monthly clean-ups.
- Hold meetings to bring all available resources to the table; promote leverage and avoid duplication of effort. Meetings are led by elected officials with active participation from the District Health Management Teams, community leaders, the Nairobi City Council department of environment, Jhpiego and other non-governmental organizations working in Korogocho and Viwandani.