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Kenyan slum activists build climate change resilience from the bottom up

Flooded streets in Mukuru slum. PHOTO/LOU DEL BELLO
IRIN–Living in the Kenyan slum of Mukuru is hard enough, but when it rains it’s downright miserable. Streets flood, sewage overflows, homes are inundated.
After each bout of torrential rain, Nairobi’s largest informal settlement is left a little shabbier, a little poorer, the community more insecure.
Climate projections for East Africa suggests parts of the region will receive heavier rains in the future, which will impact the most vulnerable. In the case of the Kenyan capital, that means the 60 percent of its residents currently living in informal settlements.
A walk through Mukuru is enough to appreciate the magnitude of the challenges. A courtyard turned into a pond by recent flash floods reflects the metal shacks surrounding it, now inaccessible until the water dries up. That could take weeks.
Residents cross, tiptoeing on the rocks just visible above the water to reach the main street. A short walk ahead, a bridge over the nearby river leads to the other side of the slum, where the local school is. When the river bursts its banks, the bridge becomes inaccessible, sometimes for months, and kids miss their classes.


Finding solutions in Mukuru is especially difficult because it is built partially on private land, which traps residents in chronic land tenure insecurity: they could be evicted and lose what little they have at any time. This doesn’t encourage them to plan for the long-term.
When the river floods it get a lot worse. PJOTO/LOU DEL BELLO
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