Korogocho: The land and the people

Korogocho is the third largest slum area in Nairobi after Kibera and Mathare.

It is also one of the most densely populated and socially volatile slums in Kenya.

It is located in Kasarani Division on land that is partly government and partly private- owned in the proximity of a dumping site at Dandora. Part of the land was originally owned by one individual called Babadogo who later sold the plots to others.

The rest of the adjacent land originally belonged to the City Council but was later allocated to private individuals.

The structures in Korogocho are very congested. The slum has an average of 5-6 persons per room. This is very high compared to the Mathare slums with 4-5 persons per room of 6 square metres (average size). The estimated population of Korogocho in the '90 was 100.000 and rose to 200.000 in 1999.

Although generally regarded as a poor area, there appears to be a hierarchy. There are those who live in Korogocho because they have invested there. The own the butcheries, wholesale shops and bars. They actually live there to carry out business. The second level are those who live in Korogocho because life here is cheap.

Although this category of people cal live in other middle income areas, they prefer to live in Korogocho because of the lower cost of living it entails.

Forming the third category of Korogocho dwellers are the poorest of the poor. Most of them are people who have been evicted severally, moving from slum to another. Overall, however, it is estimated that most of the people who live in Korogocho are tenants.

Those who live in lower “leveled” estates like Grogan, still live under the constant threat though was done in 1994. In this incident, 89 households were displaced when the city council sought to expand the playground for one of their schools. The authorities in the area claimed that the affected residents had been given notice to vacate for the expansion of the school where the children of the “better off” in this area go.

This distinction is underscored by the fact that right accross the field from the school, there is yet another school – the informal school. This kind of schools currently provides access to education for over 2000 children of school going age in Korogocho. The pupils in these schools pay minimum school fees, have no school uniform, and are not burdened with maintenace costs.

This report is an effort to document the struggles and triumphs of the Korogocho dwellers, those who daily struggle to survive although spurned as the untouchable citizens of a “illegal city”.


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