Flying toilets, mobile banking and the stress-free mini hotel: Kibera in photos

January 13, 2012 6 By admin

Kibera is Africa’s most iconic slum, a warren of steeply sloping paths and tin shacks in the heart of Nairobi, home to anywhere between 250,000 (latest dodgy census) and a million (local estimates) people. It is a magnet for politicians (President Obama visited as a senator), celebs (Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen spent hours there the day before I went) and do-gooders like me. I was given the door by our partners there, Umande Trust, who are doing some fascinating work trying to sort out appalling sanitation ‘challenges’ (Kibera is infamous for its ‘flying toilets’) and helping small traders organize to defend themselves against arbitrary arrests, demands for bribes and the general hassle of trying to do business in Kenya. What the photos don’t capture is the buzz – Kibera is full to bursting, its informal economy full of tin shack cybercafés, car washes, hair salons and small shops. More invisibly, it’s full of organization – ‘merry-go-round’ savings and loans groups, Pentecostal churches and mosques, youth groups, formal politics, gangs. Anyway, over to the photos.

kibera streets2

the train to Kampala

the train to Kampala

community-run 'biocentre' - public toilet that produces biogas and doubles as community centre

community-run 'biocentre' - public toilet that produces biogas and doubles as community centre

transparency at the biocentre

transparency at the biocentre

Mobile banking, Kibera style

Mobile banking, Kibera style

The Oxfam guesthouse

The Oxfam guesthouse (not really)