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A new paradigm in understanding slums & urbanization of growing cities in Kenya.

Friday, 17th February, 2017

Venue: Strathmore Business School 



Research Dissemination Breakfast:


Every day slums grow at a staggering rate with an estimated 2 million Nairobi residents (more than 50%) living in slum villages.  Addressing the issue of slums and urban poverty in a traditional single lens cannot solve the problem.


This research is unique at three levels: First – It looks at the issue from multiple angles; as a land and legal problem, as a social problem, as an urban planning problem, as an economic problem as well as a human rights problem.


Secondly: It puts the slum dwellers at the centre of information gathering and reporting. This generates richer information and helps the researchers frame the true questions better.


Thirdly: the close working relationships with the County governments of Nairobi and Kiambu has potential to shape Nairobi and Kiambu’s urban planning policies, at settlement and hopefully county – wide scale.


The research was conducted in Mukuru (comprising of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Ruben and Viwandani) in Nairobi; and Kiandutu slum in Kiambu County both covering 600 acres for the former and of 110 acres for the latter.


This collaborative approach revealed a staggering “poverty penalty” in Mukuru. Slum residents pay more for services that are inferior to those provided in Nairobi’s formal housing estates. For instance a family in the slum pays water 172% more for water compared with a family living in a formal estate.  Cartels often control these slums, charging extortionate rates for access to essential services and threatening residents with violent evictions and forced demolitions.

Our research estimates an annual informal economy in the Mukuru area of 7 billion Shillings controlled by cartels. This is 25% of the total kshs.32 billion Nairobi County Budget.


Today’s research dissemination session brings together key stakeholders to discuss strategies for discuss strategies for unlocking poverty penalty and up-scaling the respect for human rights in informal settlements.


The Governor of Nairobi, Hon. Dr. Evans Kidero said, ‘The research findings dissemination is a great step, it helps us gain insights and appreciate the living conditions of people in the informal settlements. The findings will also guide our interventions from not only a policy formulation perspective but also help us to come up with practical and affordable solutions that will improve the housing and infrastructure services and general wellbeing of the residents. This will impact the livability index in this areas as we will be able to: improve housing quality, improve infrastructure services and assure tenure security.


Hon. Kabogo – Governor Kiambu County said, ‘Informal settlement in Kenya highly support the economy of our country, yet experience great social deprivation. In Kiambu we focus on developing people and places. This entails capacity building and revitalizing places through physical upgrading. It is to this end that we greatly embrace the collaboration with IDRC and other development partners to plan Kiandutu, create new economic opportunities, explore environmental action and build a sustainable community.


Even more striking is the fact that despite this, 92% of all informal settlements’ inhabitants pay rent to structure owners.

In 2015, the International Development Research Center (IDRC) provided a two-year multidisciplinary, action research grant to Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), the University of Nairobi, Strathmore University and Katiba Institute.


IDRC funds research in developing countries to create lasting change on a largescale, by providing developing country researchers financial resources, advice and training to help them find solutions to local problems.




Contacts: Angela Baiya – abaiya@idrc.ca 0721 839 121

              Miriam Gichomo – mgichomo@strathmore.edu  0723 886 782