Bikes for the World

Monday, November 16, 2015

Spotlight on Kenya: Kibera and Mathare

Mathare Valley slum
Nairobi is the capital of Kenya and its largest city. It is the hub of activity for much of Kenya and is sadly surrounded by some of the world's largest slums.

To the northeast is Mathare Valley, one of the country's oldest and worst slums. To the southwest is Kibera, the largest urban slum in all of Africa.

Lack of activities and alcoholism create dangers among residents
Over the past decade, conditions in both areas have improved but residents continue to struggle. Unemployment, lack of education, unsanitary living conditions, drugs and violence and health issues plague this community daily.

In Kibera, for example, until recent years, there was very little electric, no source of clean water, and no sanitary facilities located within the community. This is also common in Mathare Valley. In both slum communities the unemployment rate is upwards of 50% with the majority of actual workers earning less than $1 a day.

Many young students are forced to drop out of school because they cannot afford school fees or manage the long commutes to their classrooms. Many are called upon to help care for their families.

Youth as young as 8 years-old often become the head of household when parents die of AIDS. One out of three adults is living with HIV/AIDS and has a life expectancy after contracting the disease of five years.

Water source contaminated with waste and garbage
There are no hospitals or government clinics within the boundaries of the slums. Much of the health care is offered through charitable organizations or churches who struggle to inform the community of safe health care practices. Many residents are afflicted by dysentery, malnutrition, malaria, typhoid, cholera, infections, tetanus, or polio. Many of the health issues are due to the unsanitary conditions rampant throughout the slum.

It is not uncommon to find one public toilet available to 50-100 people. In Mathare Valley this shared toilet facility is not free and therefore many people are still not using it. Much of the human waste, even from the pit toilets, ends up in the Nairobi river, which serves as a main water source for both slums.

Garbage litters the streets and surrounding areas causing many unsanitary living conditions. Garbage collection and clearing storm drains are two of the main jobs within slum boundaries. Many people head to the city of Nairobi looking for work but with no education, long commutes, and little pay, many end up back at the slum unemployed.

 Providing strong sustainable programs remains a priority for many groups working in this area. Others, like Maji Mazuri are focused on educating and taking care of the youth, many orphaned from AIDS.
Over the past decade, infrastructure is slowly coming to both Kibera and Mathare, bringing roads, pipes with clean water, and slowly, more stable homes.

Bikes for the World supports projects in both Kibera and Mathare through Kenyan partner Wheels of Africa. Our bikes supplied by Wheels of Africa and Maji Mazuri are helping to build a better community within these overcrowded slums.

Youth project beneficiaries with Maji Mazuri
Wheels of Africa supplies a local bike shop within the boundary of Kibera with bikes and parts to bring affordable transportation to this community. Read more about Francis Owino and how he is bringing change to Kibera through a successful sustainable business.

Wheels of Africa also donated many bikes to Maji Mazuri, a Nairobi based non-profit focused on serving individuals living in the surrounding slums. Our donated bikes are helping students who participate in Maji Mazuri's youth program in Mathare attend school. The bikes provide affordable transportation to students allowing them to stay in school where they learn valuable life and professional skills that will impact them and help bring about positive change to their families and the community.

Photo Courtesy: Mazi Mazuri
 

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