Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Paying Money To Tour Slums in Africa

In Kibera Kenya, AfricA touring slums for profit is a normal part of life. Life in Kibera is characterized by extreme poverty and tourism dollars.

Generations have lived in Kenya’s largest slum of Kibera, one of Africa’s largest squatters settlements. Kibera slum is well known for its crime, overcrowding, poverty, lack of proper sanitation and of course tourism. Kibera Slum in Kenya is a little smaller than New York’s Central Park and receives just as many tourists.

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Kibera (Key-bear-a) is a Nubian word meaning Forest or Jungle. Slum tourism is alive and well in Africa and Kenya Kibera is no exception. Selling guided trips through Kibera, a short drive from the luxury hotels that serve most foreign visitors in Nairobi is not unusual.

Generations have lived in Kenya’s largest slum of Kibera, one of Africa’s largest squatters’ settlements.
Paying Money To Tour Slums in Africa

In Kibera Kenya, touring slums in Africa for profit is a normal part of life 

Over 100 years ago, Nubian soldiers and their families who worked for the British colonial army were the original settlers of Kibera. It is situated three miles from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi. Kibera is one of Africa’s largest squatters’ settlements. 

Fifteen densely populated villages make up this slum. Residents of Kibera are officially squatters and do not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use the land, the land belongs to the government of Kenya. However, this does not stop slumlords from charging rent when families move into vacated shacks. 

Life in Kibera is characterized by extreme poverty, high unemployment, lack of access to basic services, and high HIV/AIDS rates. Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi and the second largest urban slum in Africa. The population of Kibera is very young; around 40% of the population is under the age of 20 due to high mortality rates from AIDS. 

The population estimates for Kibera range from 100,000 to 1 million. The discrepancy in population numbers is because Kibera is what is known as a squatters housing settlements meaning most of the houses are temporary, and the population is hard to calculate. 

However, the most recent census places the population around 200,000. Kibera size is 617 acres or 2.5 square kilometers, a little smaller than New York’s Central Park. 

Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity and 10% of the Kiberans have access to clean water, there is currently no sewage system in Kibera. Food, water and basic housing costs money, however, currently there is little to no work for residents, 50% are unemployed.

 
Many Kibera residents resent the fact that so many NGO's in their community but there is little change.
Life in Kibera

Kibera is overrun with NGO’s or Non-Governmental Organizations. It is popularly believed some NGO’s are actually helpful to some degree, but given the sheer number of organizations in Kibera, there are hardly any improvements of the situation making residents wonder or even become cynical is real help available. 

Many Kibera residents resent the fact that so many NGO's in their community and there is little change. In fact, private companies are making a profit from the poverty in Kibera by offering so called friendly slum tours to foreigners visiting Kenya charging 2,500 Kenyan Shillings or $24 US dollars per person.

Time Magazine boasts as number four on its list of the best places to visit in Kenya is the slum of Kibera. On their website, Time Magazine states "A visit to the world's biggest slum might not sound like a good time, but a few hours in Kibera is always educational and its residents' resilience can be inspiring. 

Unescorted visits are not advised, but several agencies run tours of this million-strong township, which might include a visit to an orphanage, a bead factory or even a solar-power project.

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