By John Ken Opiyo

Across the Nairobi City Informal Settlements, live people with different diverse interests. Most of them   rated amongst the most poor in the modern world. These people live below one dollar within twenty four hours i.e. one day. The challenging thing to note about them is that the majority are women and children. Of these, some are widows and orphans who are left to fend for themselves against the very notable problems of the informal settlements (slums) like; insecurity, bad environment etc.

The life style of these people circle within the informal settlement challenges mentioned above. It  is noticed always that insecurity, lack of essential commodities, bad infrastructure, neglect by the duty bearers are common livelihoods lived. In these settlements, human beings live in shanties and sacks of which they call houses or homes. Most of them feed on leftovers or expired food stuffs from places like industries, airports, hotels, etc. These commodities are collected from the dumpsites where they are disposed by the mentioned firms as unfit for human consumption. They purchase the items from the dumpsite workers who normally use the collected goods as means of trade. The notable thing is that these people use as little as ksh 20(a quarter dollar) to buy one meal for a person. Diseases caused by lack of proper sanitation, improper housing planning are common in such areas.

Lack of employment is among the problems facing these members of the society. Some of the young people especially women turn to prostitution as a way of employment. Young men are idle and embrace drugs and crime. Most of muggings, killings and other sorts of problems are caused by the younger generation. The elderly engage in brewing of illicit brews which also add to problems of these people. The scarcity of learning institutions is a major let down to these people since illiteracy in the slums take a big percentage in the country.

The cause of these peoples’ plight is purely blamed on `the duty bearer’ or the government in power. The government has an obligation to protect and take care of its citizens whatsoever and regardless of where they stay or reside. It has been a routine of those elected in the offices to forget these people immediately the electioneering is concluded. The slum dwellers are said to be important only during elections because of the majority they are. In their opinion, the politicians regard these places as vote rich areas where votes are got without much to be done. Since these people require much to do with social issues, the elected members take advantage over them and exploit them to the worst of their knowledge.

Among these people, we have those in the program of Kutoka Network called; The Alternative Livelihood for the Urban poor. With the partnership of the Network and other organisations, the program was started as a pilot project to help these people realize their importance in the society as human beings who are equal before God. So far the program which started with a hundred people who were formerly working at the Dandora Municipal Dumpsite has attracted about three hundred slum dwellers. Slowly by slowly, these people are regaining their noble dignity and identity courtesy of the same network. The Network wish to extend its program to other slums in Nairobi, cities and towns in Kenya rather than Korogocho and Dandora as it is right now.

This project is ongoing and requires funds to continue recruiting and engaging the remaining people. The Network is looking forward to engage many partners in this, since the population of those residing in the informal settlements and of those working in the dumpsites are adding up day by day.

It has been noticed that the problems of these people which are prescribed as insecurity, drug abuse,  sex  work, child labor, use of illicit brews are so rife that these places are sometime volatile. Without proper security, visitors are not secure in visiting the same places.

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