Does the urban disadvantage still hold? Have the lives of Nairobi’s urban poor improved?
The Nairobi Cross-sectional Slums Survey of 2000 brought to light for the very first time, the plight of slum residents highlighting: their limited access to education, health care, reproductive health and family planning services; the debilitating environment including inadequate access to water and sanitation, poor housing conditions and poor livelihood opportunities. However, a second Nairobi Cross-sectional Slums Survey conducted in 2012 takes stock of the changes since 2000 and highlights marked improvements in environmental, health, and educational indicators among the urban poor due to substantial attention and resources invested by local and national governments and development partners as well as the global push for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The current report suggests that improvements are not uniform, with slum residents remaining generally disadvantaged in comparison to the rest of Nairobi and Kenya. The authors provides valuable perspective on existing and new areas of focus in education and employment, water and sanitation, sexual reproductive health, maternal and child health, so that we might improve the wellbeing of the urban poor.
This report offers the following recommendations:
- steering Government employment policies towards the urban poor to alleviate poverty
- addressing the twin issues of water supply and drainage system for improved health conditions
- Increase family planning programs focusing on women living in slum settlements, especially those with little or no formal education and or from certain religious groups
- scaling up mobile prevention campaigns undertaken by various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), availability of cheaper treatment, and government policies raising awareness about the consequences of the disease that have resulted in HIV/AIDS
- discouraging multiple sexual partnerships which is the key driver of HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya
- devise ways to maximize coverage by introducing mobile units to bring the services to the communities and the need for more targeted design, implementation and monitoring of interventions aimed at improving child survival in informal settlements
- provide free primary education resources to informal schools in slums to increase access to quality education for young slum residents
- sustain programs to provide young people with sexual and reproductive health information and positively cope with adverse events
In conclusion, the authors suggest that the absolute number of urban poor will continue to grow. Therefore, sustained investments in improving the lives of urban dwellers, particularly the most vulnerable, are critical to meeting local national development goals.