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EXCLUSIVE: Kibera residents share the challenges of living in a slum

Living in the vibrant city of Nairobi is an aspiration for many, especially those who’ve grown up in rural areas.

Every year, a significant number of people relocate to Nairobi in search of better job opportunities and a brighter future.

However, for the majority, this dream doesn’t translate into a better life, as they often end up in overcrowded slums such as Kibra, living in undignified shacks.

According to the United Nations Habitat, Kibra is home to nearly 1 million people who reside in cramped shacks made of old iron sheets and mud.

Speaking to Nairobi News, Millicent Auma, a resident of Sarangombe in Kibra, says, “Life in Kibra demands resilience because disaster can strike at any moment. During the rainy season, things get particularly challenging as the old iron sheets leak causing water to erode our houses.”

“When heavy rains come, we’re forced to stay awake at night, worried that the leaking roofs will flood our homes. It’s incredibly difficult to concentrate on work, especially when you have children whose well-being you’re constantly concerned about,” she added.

The living conditions in these shacks are unsafe, and they are susceptible to fires, which have left many residents homeless.

The close proximity of the shacks made of either iron sheets or mud hinders the movement of firefighters in case of a fire outbreak.

Rose Akisa, a Makina resident in Kibera, painfully narrates how she lost everything in a fire in 2023.

“I couldn’t salvage anything as I was away at the market. My neighbors called me to inform me that our area was on fire. Despite their efforts to put out the fire, it spread rapidly. The lack of readily available water also contributed to the tragedy,” Akisa told Nairobi News.

Starting from scratch after such incidents is a dreadful prospect that many fear, but it becomes inevitable.

“Despite promises from various leaders to improve our lives, we have yet to witness any significant changes,” lamented Akisa.

The situation in Kibra calls for urgent attention and sustainable solutions to provide safe and dignified housing for its residents.

On the other hand, poor drainage is still a problem in various slums within the city. Majority are also forced to use flying toilets because of the few latrines available.

Only through concerted efforts and genuine commitment from leaders and stakeholders can we bring about positive change and uplift the lives of those living in these vulnerable conditions.

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