Urbanization Challenges in Poor Slum Areas of Nairobi and the Role of Sustainability Science in Seeking Practical Solutions
Mugenda, Olive M.
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The chapter examines major sustainability challenges faced by people in the poor urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The objective of this study was to specifically examine challenges faced in the city’s slum areas, and application of sustainability science in seeking solutions. The study relied largely on secondary information available in print material. Site visits, discussions and observation were also applied in seeking information. The slum areas in Nairobi can be said to be a consequence of a multiplicity of factors ranging from old colonial policies, to post independence factors of governance which over time have resulted in migrations from rural to urban areas. Further, natural population increase and rise in cost of living for wage earners in the central business areas of the city have equally pushed families to slum, peri-urban or near-slum areas. The existing concentration of people in slum areas is an adaptation to poverty conditions. Slums residents are exposed to many challenges some of which include inadequacies of shelter, food, water and sanitation, infrastructure and other aspects of economic or social deprivations. In order to approach sustainability of livelihoods in poor slum areas, existing challenges and their impacts on livelihood have to be identified and solutions sought. The paper notes that in addressing slum challenges, a critical aspect is to first and foremost lower the cost of living and in effect facilitate provision of food, better shelter, clean water and other essential social amenities. As a way of tackling poverty, there’s need to reflect on governance and democracy, including women empowerment and to tap on the potentials of the slum dwellers by encouraging participation and improving on their innovations. Sustainability science research can help analyse on-going slum dynamics, identification of key drivers or factors that lead to deprivation and seek solutions or adaptive measures that can improve the wellbeing of poor slum dwellers, improve livelihoods and make urban areas attractive and sustainable places to live.