Improved infrastructure betters lives, creates new opportunities in Kenyan slums

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, August 8, 2019
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NAIROBI, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- A recently built tarmac road stretches through New Embakasi, an informal settlement on the east of Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

Months ago, at the place where the tarmac sits, there was an earth road, full of potholes and covered with filth and dirty water.

Residents had to "hop, skip and jump" as they used the key road, with children being the worst affected, especially when it rained.

Now, however, the tarmac road constructed in a project by the World Bank and the Kenyan government and other partners, has transformed the slum, improving the general welfare of the residents and economic activities.

Lining both sides of the road are floodlights that have improved security in the slum.

"This road has brought new opportunities in our community," said John Ondiek, a resident. "Women can now sell vegetables and other merchandise until 10 p.m. because of the lights that are also in other parts of the slum."

Similar scenarios are replicated in Mathare, Kibera and Korogocho slums in Nairobi, Obunga and Nyalenda in Kisumu, western Kenya, and in Mkomani, Jomvu Kuu, Mikanjuni and Ziwa la Ng'ombe slums at the Coast as new roads, better lighting, improved water supply and recycling of waste, components of the initiative dubbed Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Project (KISIP), better lives in the settlements.

"As a small businessperson, the building of roads and other infrastructure in this areas has improved lives," said Beatrice Awino, a resident of Obunga slum in Kisumu.

"Initially, it was really hard to transport goods from the market to my place of work, but right now vehicles and motorbikes carry our produce to the destination," added the fish monger.

Thanks to better roads and improved security, Awino said, she is now able to sell her fish at better prices to more customers.

Edwin Otieno, a motorbike taxi driver, said he is now able to ferry more customers in Kasarani slum in Kisumu due to better roads, earning him more income.

Since inception in June 2011, KISP, which costs 16.8 billion shillings (165 million U.S. dollars) and ends this year, has positively transformed the lives of 1.2 million people, according to the World Bank and the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development.

This has been through upgrading of 100 km of roads, construction of drainage systems, installation of high-mast security floodlights and ablution blocks.

In addition, water supply systems and biogas digesters for recycling waste have also been installed.

Ernest Manuyo, a business lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, said improving infrastructure in slums is one of the easiest ways to significantly reduce poverty in urban areas.

"Once you build roads, install lights and create a system of waste management, residents can live quality lives, which means less diseases, thus they can remain healthy and work to better boost their lives," he said.

KISIP National Coordinator Peris Mangira said that the infrastructure upgrade has transformed the face of the informal settlements, improved the housing and living conditions of the beneficiaries and increased opportunities to lift more people out of poverty.

"This has given people back their dignity so that they can actively contribute to the country's social and economic growth," she said.

According to the World Bank, Kenya is home to hundreds of slums, with close to 56 percent of the population in urban areas living in informal settlements. Enditem

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