Public services and useable utilities in Kibera are patchy at best and realistically none existent for most. Africa’s largest ‘informal settlement’ is acknowledged in part as a source of economic labour for the Nairobi metropolis, and as a persistent migraine by the overstretched authorities. Ignore it long enough and it might go away. The recent introduction of formal electricity is offset by rampant single wire syphoning whilst earthing through metal ground stakes or iron shack walls; shocks are common and sometimes lethal to the young and the frail. Flying toilets are still rampant, clean water is precious, the police avoid the narrow allies and accidental fires are dealt with by the residents destroying their own dwellings.
Despite this there is an optimism and determination that is both inspiring and infectious. The cell phone revolution allows contact with families in the remote rural villages, provides a conduit to casual work, and access to ‘electronic banking’ via M Pesa or trading using the transfer of phone credit. The introduction of cheap Chinese smart phones could be a portal to a whole new world and from the comfort of the west it is easy to criticise financial priorities for those that survive on so little. Way ahead of the game free wifi (power permitting) is being offered at our community centre for six hours on a Saturday afternoon without limitation.
To educate, elucidate and communicate; the only requirements is for sobriety and to be weapon free.