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World Social Forum: Day Three

Jan 31, 2007 08:33 PM
 
World Social Forum: Day Three - image 0

We're visiting Kibira today. It is Nairobi's largest slum and known to be the 2nd largest in the world. Many people of different economic status live here. Most homes have pirated electricity as cops cannot come in to enforce laws or they'd be killed. There is a vibrant informal economy here and a strong sense of community among residents. Some leave for office jobs, others struggle for cash, but this is affordable housing and where families are so this is where folks live. Most union members live here.

Women in particular work extremely hard to survive and feed their many kids. Toxic fumes from burning wood and garbage mingle with the smell of raw sewage that runs along the muddy walkways.

Life is ok here, but for the struggles around water and waste. Drinking water is delivered by truck and purchased by those who are able. Some latrines are dug and rented out for use but most people go in paper or plastic bags or straight into the open sewers that run right in front of peoples homes and along the narrow pathways between houses. health issues such as disentry, malaria and HIV are huge issues here. The smell from the open sewers lingers as I write this.

Part of our delegation was hosted at Kibira by the community's pastor -- there are 15 neighbourhoods in Kibira -- and the church is working on expanding with churches in each community. The church room that we visited is used as a place for children to do homework in the evenings. Those who use the space have a much higher success rate in school than do most. But secondary school is pricey and far away and most do not go on after primary.