I’m betting that most people reading this blog have not heard of Kibera before. It’s one of the largest slums in the world, located right next to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Kibera is a little smaller than Central Park in New York City, but it’s home to about 1.5 million people. Most homes in Kibera do not have electricity or running water. Several families might share one bathroom.
In the map below, the green area in the upper right is a nice golf course that people from downtown Nairobi use often. Kibera is the sprawling brown area below and to the left of the golf course. It’s about two miles long and an average of a half mile wide.
Space is at a premium in Kibera — a family of five or six might live, for example, in a 10-foot by 10-foot room. And the rooms are right next to one another.
There are a few main roads that are paved, but the interior of Kibera is not paved and the roads are quite narrow. A typical side road looks like this:
I will write more about Kibera, but this should give a little flavor of what life is like there.
Coincidentally, the New York Times just ran a column by a woman from Kibera who is now a junior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. The column is titled Slumdog Tourism and it explores how and whether western tourists should visit places like Kibera. I learned about the colunm from my friend Ken, who is from Kibera also. Ken commented about the column on his Facebook page: