Considered one of the biggest slums in the world, Kenya is home to Nairobi’s–and East Africa’s–largest urban settlement. Over one million people struggle daily to meet basic needs such as access to water, nutrition and sanitation. In this community lacking education and opportunities, women and girls are most affected by poverty.
In Nairobi alone, an estimated two million people (half of the city’s population) live in slums. Housing in such communities is inadequate, and the small percentage of slum dwellers who work in the formal labour market earn an average of one U.S. dollar per day.
The price of maize, the staple diet of most in the slums, has risen by more than 133 percent in the last year, forcing families to survive on just one meal a day, if they can even afford that. At the same time, people are earning less money--incomes have decreased by 20 percent. In just two "neighorhoods" of the slums, more than 5,000 children under five years old are currently suffering from malnutrition, with one-fifth of these suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Food shortages have been exacerbated by drought and poor harvests. Cooking fuel prices have risen by 30-50 percent, and the cost of water has more than doubled.
The crisis is becoming more and more serious, with visible signs of families resorting to desperate and risky measures such as: begging on the streets, combing rubbish dumps for food or scraps to sell, and pulling an increasing number of children out of school because parents cannot afford both food and education costs.
It is estimated that one of every three adults in the slums is HIV positive. The average life expectancy for a person who is HIV positive there is five years or less. Many parents die of AIDS and leave their children to fend for themselves. Common health problems for children in the slums include dysentery, malnutrition, malaria, typhoid, cholera, infections, tetanus, and polio. Juvenile heads-of-household are common. This is when a child or teen, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age, is left to care for younger siblings due to the death of or abandonment by both parents.
The Slums have no police or fire protection, and no paved roads. The police in Nairobi are not allowed to enter the slum. There are hundreds of thousands of children in the slums, with few schools to educate them. Many children do not attend school and, without a school education and without some change, children in the slums face a nearly certain future of crime, prostitution, drug abuse and diseases.
While some may think it too simple, we beleive the solution is just that, simple. If we can introduce these children and their families to Jesus, we know in that, in His hands, they will have what they are lacking.
It is this foundational truth that guides our process and decisions, and it is why we focus on empowering indigenous ministries to carry out the work. We do not wish to offer solutions to hunger and needs without the most important fact of a relationship with Jesus.