Improving Slums

We had a debate in our geography class last year about which issues were most important to resolve when upgrading slums. We were each assigned a particular aspect of the worst-case situation to argue as a priority to resolve, and asked to come up with some means to solve it. That’s why this might come off as very poorly structured (even by my standards). I’m also mentioning that explanation as I’m not sure where my notes on healthcare measures went, and this is likely to be updated once I’ve found (or remade) them.

Physical Infrastructure

  • 84% of houses have no water supply. Illegal water sellers are expensive, and many people take water from rivers.
  • Roads are impermeable (leading to issues with erosion, flooding downstream and others)
  • Illegal electricity (in many slums) can lead to electrical fires
  • 90% of people in slums (worldwide) die of disease
  • Water can be purified using plastic bottles
  • Kenya has projects for community based solar power to help improve the local electrical supply
  • The Green Exchange program (where waste is exchanged for cash or food parcels. The waste is used for various purposes depending on location. In Curitiba, Brazil, it is reused for other purposes. The exact waste can vary with location, too. It helps prevent malnutrition and any issues that could arise from a dirty environment.)

Social Infrastructure (mostly referring to Rio de Janeiro)

  • 880 million people live in slums globally.
  • Complexo de Alemão is trying to reduce crime rates by building 2 primary schools, 2 creches, a technical college and a library
  • Complexo has 70,000 people with insufficient education and healthcare
  • A cable car was built to transport people from the slums to Rio’ center. This has helped unemployment rates. The stations are cheap, and have lead to greater educational, job, and healthcare options.
  • Cidade de Deus healthcare clinic was set up in the slums
  • Olympic values were taught to children; 168 schools, 100,000 children
  • Favela painting is a practice to occupy people’s time productively. The favelas are made to look better by occupying local people to paint buildings in bright colours and patterns. The normal buildings are often bare brick and mud. Very drab environments are bad for people’s emotional health, so painting the favelas in bright shades is improving people’s wellbeing.
  • There has been an 80% drop from 30,000 gun crimes per year once gangs were removed.


  • 40% live in shanty towns
  • People used to just be used to worse areas
  • Now people are provided with material
  • There are housing projects to remove the shanty areas and replace them with proper housing
  • 1/3 of people in poor cities live in self-built houses
  • The Bairro project, in Rociña, Rio de Janeiro, aims to increase the average size of slum homes to 20m^2 and to widen the main streets.
  • Barra de Tijica, Brazil, is a new town located through a mountain from Rio, providing new housing in 10-30 storey blocks, and is now home to 180,000 people.
  • Almost all the houses in Rociña are made out of concrete and brick, contributing to 100s of businesses
  • NGOs are working to improve the situation
  • Oxfam are working to improve the lives of 100 million people living in slums worldwide
  • Some slums still have no provision of basic services.


  • Oxfam provides water tanks for affordable use in many slums
  • Most people use informal water supplies
  • in Hima, Peru, there was a census including types of businesses, which lead to improvements in encouraging foreign businesses to buy goods from slum workers.
  • Does this actually provide them with enough money to escape poverty?
  • People in slums can enter themselves in the yellow pages, which has been quite successful in Brazil and Peru.
  • However, businesses in slums are unregulated by the police, and are unprotected by the police, in many areas


  • 4.3 million cases of cholera worldwide
  • Most people produce about 300g of waste a day
  • 2.4 million people in Nairobi are living in slums
  • Composite farms gather waste in biodegradable bags, which, after 6-8 weeks, can be used as manure, leading to better soil fertility, better farming, and more food and income
  • Bioplants can be made in Kibera. Many people use the same latrine. The methane produced from this can be harvested and then resold as cooking gas, which helps kill off germs in water and food
  • Umende has 57 bio centers, and has collected 60,000 kg of waste
  • Nepal has 2.8 million people living in slums. In Kathmandu. 10,000 of the 31,000 slum dwellers are waste collectors. The informal sector work is often exploited.
  • There is an Umbrella Group which workers can register with t monitor them and give vocational training
  • The Green Exchange program in Nepal has led to 4,000 waste worker jobs, with 50% of the beneficiaries being women.

Kenya- Growth of Tourism

In 1958, the Board of Wildlife and Tourism was set up in Kenya to improve and increase tourism within the country. Independence was achieved in 1963, and with foreign investment, the Kenyan economy grew.

Revenue from tourism grew from US$25.2 million to US$40.4 million from 1963 to 1968.

The boom in the 1960’s of package holidays meant long haul flights were cheaper and made Kenya accessible to tourists. Kenya was one of the first LICs to open up to mass tourism. Kenya allows tourists to see any of 19 National Parks, as well as having a long coastline and dramatic scenery.

In 1976, the Board of Wildlife and Tourism made plans to imrpove facilities in new National Park and invest directly into tourist services.

Between 1981 and 1987 Kenya was the most popular African tourist destination, accounting for 30% of East African tourist arrivals. The shilling’s relative value fell, making the trip effectively cheaper for foreign visitors.

In the 1990’s, publicised murders of tourists caused a reduction in growth. Other African tourist destinations were catching up in popularity, growing to major competition. In 1995, South African tourism grew by 25% in revenue. Instability deterred many tourists.

Instability continued into the 2000’s. Terrorist attacks and riots in 2007 caused many governments (largely European) to advise tourists not to visit. This had a major effect as 70% of Kenyan tourist arrivals were European. Kenya is estimated to have lost US$500 million because of this. Increasing taxes also hindered growth as other countries became cheaper destinations.

Kenyan Tourism- Part II

Positives of tourism in Kenya

  • Conservation- tourists have influence the set up of various national parks
  • Employment opportunities
  • Improved infrastructure

Negatives of tourism in Kenya

  • Roads and plants are worn out or damaged by tourists
  • Much of the money earned is leaked out of the economy
  • The way of life for traditional people has been disturbed or outright destroyed, such as with the Endorois and Masai Mara for setting up the Serengeti National Park
  • Water issues as water is diverted for tourists, leaving locals short
  • Pollution

Serengeti National Park

This is the most popular national park in Africa, with lots of predators and animal migrations. Roads and tracks here have caused scarring. Water is channeled down scars and gullies from this which can increase erosion rates. Vehicles have had an impact on the landscape, and can impair animals’ survival chances. Vehicles produce noise pollution which disturbs wildlife.

Tourists need places to stay, eat and sleep so buildings have to be built, and should be built with very careful designs to cause minimal disturbance and be as environmentally friendly as possible. Rubbish disposal can be an issue in parks.

  • The profits are leaked out of the park
  • Foreign workers have been brought in
  • House prices rise when foreign investors buy property for hotels and holiday homes, so locals struggle to buy property
  • Local projects are sidelined for tourist developments


Kibera, Nairobi- Part I

Stat regarding the slum of Kibera, Nairobi

  • 44% of households have regular incomes
  • 80% of regular earners are classified as “poor” or in poverty
  • 70% of those employed are in wage employment
  • Half of all households live on less than US$10.50 per day
  • 50% unemployed
  • 40% cannot afford on a daily basis to buy enough food for their families
  • Population densities can exceed 90,000 people per km^2
  • 60% of Nairobi’s workers live in slums
  • Infant mortality rate is 200/1000
  • 95% of households have inadequate sanitation
  • 83% have a water source within 100m of their homes
  • 75 people can share a single latrine
  • The Nairobi City Council can collect 5% of the solid waste per day
  • 20 million people in Kenya have malaria
  • AIDS leads to 500 deaths daily in Kenya


Kenyan tourism- Part I

Kenya has various issues:

  • Independence in 1963. Since then it has been fairly stable
  • Violence through country in 2007
  • Corruption and urban violence
  • East Africa is heavily affected by drought
  • 35% of the population is below the poverty line

Tourism is Kenya’s largest “export”; adventure tourists have come since the 1800’s.

Game reserves pushed out local people when they were established. In a single day 200 vehicles can bring 700 tourists to a reserve. Vehicle tracks were built and traffic increases to see rarer animals such as leopards (25 vehicles can arrive to see a single leopard). It is dangerous to go close to a leopard, which they do for shots. It is forbidden to go off the roads in the game reserves; doing so can spoil roadside vegetation. Authorities who find someone doing this can fine them on the spot, but the park drivers will do this anyway for visitors. A vehicle getting stuck in the mud roadside also increases erosion.

Some lodges, such as Leawa, have been built on game reserves for richer tourists; these are very luxurious and expensive; their money pays for the wildlife sanctuary. The game wardens are like an army, armed with firearms.

The horns of 1 rhino can sell for about US$7,000 on the black market. Rangers are allowed to shoot out poachers, and will shoot before they ask questions. Leawa visitors are funding a school for 500 pupils fed and educated for free with plentiful water

Conflicts with ex-locals

Masai Mara

The Masai previously lived on the land cleared for the Game Reserve. 400,000 Masai Mara were pushed out to make way for tourists by the government. The Masai trinket sales people are very aggressive. They were once a proud warrior tribe but drought and lost land has made them rely on food aid and selling trinkets. They have had to sell their culture for tourist money. A welcoming committee comes to ask tourists for money; they have a fake village and fake traditional dances for tourists.

They also sell illegal lion teeth and claws, which airport security doesn’t check for.

An hour away from the game parks is a real village. Someone entering the village should greet the women and touch the children’s heads when entering the homes as a sign of respect.They gain teeth and claws from predators in real battles, using spears to defend their town.

Deprived of their homelands, they were pushed onto barren land. The Masai think it is a blessing to have tourists come to help their issues. They have to make trinkets for tourists who are hours away for little money.

Their huts are made from cow dung which leads to swarms of flies nearby. They have no furniture. Fires are inside homes for heating and bedding is made of cow hide.

The Masai were promised that they would share profits from tourism by the government in exchange for their land, but they have not.


The Endorois were also pushed off of their land to the North of the Masai Mara. The land is used for tourism too. They were told they had 24 hours and if they didn’t leave, their stuff would be destroyed. They were lied to in a similar manner about payment for their lands. They were forced to live on semi-arid land and mostly live on food aid. The Endorois have been evicted from their homelands nigh systematically for many years.

Houses were built from sheet metal which means that the rooms inside were uncomfortably hot. Water was kms away from the homes. From December to May there is no water in the river. Some mothers were too poor to look after their children.

The African Union has said that the Kenyan government has to compensate them. A Canadian Lawyer has been helping them to reclaim their lands, and a large celebration occurred when she managed to regain them one of their lakes. The Endorois thanked her by claiming her as one of them.

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Nairobi Functional Zones

In 1899  a railway was built between Mombasa, on the coast, and Lake Victoria in Kenya, reaching a river which the Massai called enairobi. The surrounding land was swampy, uninhabited and infested with malaria. Despite these seemingly unfavourable conditions, a railway station was built and, less than a century later, the settlement at Nairobi had grown to 1.5 million people. The current functional zones reflect Nairobi’s legacy.

  • Immediately North West of the CBD are several large areas of open space. This includes several parks, a sports ground and a golf course. The Nairobi National Park is in the South and the Karura forest is in the North.
  • The main industries are formal engineering, chemicals, clothing and food processing. A modern industrial area extends along the airport road and contains many TNCs. The industrial zone grew up bordering the railway line.
  • Wealthy European colonists and later Asian immigrants lived in the ridges of the higher land to the North and West above the malarial swamps. The Westlands forms a secondary core. Many large properties have security guards.
  • The middle-income houses to the South are mostly occupied by those locals in full time employ.
  • Shanty settlements have grown up away from the CBD on otherwise unused land, which means, in Nairobi, along the Ngong river and Mathare river. The largest are along the Mathare and Kibera; it’s estimated 100,000 people live in each.
  • Low income residential borders the shanty settlements; much of it is former shanty settlements to which the council ha added water, sewers and an electricity supply.
  • Self help housing is found in the North East of the city. The council provides basic amenities and cheap building materials. In Dandora, which has 120,000 residents, relatively wealthy people bought plots of land and build houses around courtyards. A tap and toilet is installed in each courtyard and the wealthy owners can sell or rent the unneeded properties.

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