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Kenya – Urban poverty and vulnerabilty

Urban Poverty and Vulnerability In Kenya: Background analysis for the preparation of an Oxfam GB Urban Programme focused on Nairobi. Sept. 2009. OXFAM. (pdf, full-text)

This urban poverty analysis by Oxfam GB was informed by the fact that urban poverty emerged as a key challenge in the OGB Kenya 2007 National Change Strategy review. A range of international actors as well as the government of Kenya now acknowledge the urbanisation of poverty in the country and the scale of the challenges presented by rapid urbanisation. From an Oxfam perspective, this means recognising the need to invest further resources in urban work in a country where, until recently, the programme has focused principally on emergency response and the arid lands in the North in recent years.

Urban poverty and inequality in Kenya
This report brings together the growing evidence about the scale and nature of poverty in Kenya’s urban areas. Between a third and half of the country’s urban population live in poverty, and given the pace of urbanisation, urban poverty will represent almost half of the total poverty in Kenya by 2020. Moreover, while urban poverty has been decreasing according to some measures, statistics indicate that the proportion of the urban population that are poorest of all (the ‘food poor’ and ‘hardcore poor’) has been on the rise.

In Nairobi, the capital city, 60% of the population live in slums and levels of inequality are dangerously high, with negative implications for both human security and economic development. Feelings of insecurity in many of the city’s informal settlements have heightened considerably since the violence following the contested election results of December 2007. Poverty in the city is worst amongst those with low levels of education, another cause for concern given that considerably fewer children attend the later stages of school in Nairobi than in Kenya’s rural areas, and many slum areas have few or no public schools. Meanwhile gender inequalities remain severe, with female slum-dwellers being 5 times more likely to be unemployed than males.

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