Our object is to help people in the poorest communities to have decent homes. We try to improve the lives of people currently living in slums and especially to support community-led housing initiatives.
In keeping with the inspiring values of our founder, Clifford Dann, we aim to help people to be part of the solution to their need for decent housing and never to replace slums with the kind of poor quality dwellings that will themselves become future slums.
After completing the Gilgil project in Kenya (link?) we undertook extensive sponsored research in the Nairobi area to identify a possible small-scale housing project to work with and support. We encouraged the development of a self-help group of 26 families living in the Korogocho slums. See About us page.
This informal settlement is the fourth largest in Nairobi with an estimated of population of 150,000 to 200,000 in an area of 1.5 sq km.
The slum is immediately adjacent to, and in some parts has spread on to, Nairobi's oldest and now vast municipal rubbish heap, the Dandora Municipal Dump. It cover 30 acres like a flat-topped hill, This is the only dumping site Nairobi has ever had. All Nairobi's waste comes here: industrial, chemical, medical, agricultural and, of course, domestic.
Many people pick over the dump for a living, for what they can use themselves or to sell, as one MWAMKO member has done in the past. Constant fires on the dump help to reduce its volume but cast a heavy pall of black toxic smoke over the slum.
In 2001 the Dandora Dumping site was declared full and a health hazard for the neighbouring population. A UNEP report showed long ago that the toxic fumes cause a wide variety of consequences for people's immune, nervous, endocrine and reproductive systems, with more than half the children having lead levels in excess of international norms and with residents suffering a high level of respiratory diseases and cancers.
The area is characterized by overcrowding, limited access to economic and social opportunities, as well as high levels of unemployment and of crime. Most workers are engaged in the informal economy or self-employed and there is great poverty.
Some of the MWAMKO members were born and have had their children here.
Milestones achieved so far:
These photos in our gallery were taken by CHG and are typical of the conditions in which the Mwamko families live. The lack of basic urban services (water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, power and roads), high population densities, high unemployment levels and illiteracy have all resulted in a large percentage of the city of Nairobi’s population living in deplorable conditions, not least in the air they breathe.
You may also like to see a documentary, Choking City, recently on Kenya's Channel Citizen TV, and including scenes of life in Korogocho. To watch, click on this link