Better living conditions in Mukuru slum, Nairobi

According to Kenya’s constitution, every person has the right to adequate housing, clean and safe water and reasonable standards of sanitation, yet many people in the country live in precarious conditions. This is the case in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, whose inhabitants don’t have enough to eat and are frequently ill, due to the unhygienic living conditions. Upgrading the slum is now being tackled by eight consortiums, with Caritas taking responsibility for water, sanitation and energy.


Country / Region / Place
Kenya, Nairobi

Slum residents in Mukuru (approximately 300,000 people)

Funding requirement
233,204 Swiss francs

Project duration
15.09.2017 to 14.09.2019, 24 months

Project number

Project objectives
The living conditions and resilience of the Mukuru slum residents are improved.

Project coordinator
Kirsten Müller, Tel: 041 419 22 76; kimuellernot shown@caritasto make life hard for spam



The Kenyan constitution states that every person has the right to adequate housing, clean and safe water, and reasonable standards of sanitation.  However, in reality, around 60 per cent of the population of the Kenyan capital Nairobi live in degrading and precarious conditions in slums. Mukuru is one of the largest of the more than 150 slums in Nairobi. The shacks in which the residents live are constructed mostly from corrugated iron, on average 234 families share one water tap, and there is one latrine for an average of 547 households. Sewerage systems and waste disposal do not exist. Waste water is disposed of in open drains or directly in the nearest stream. Waste mountains end up as coating on the alleys that lead through the slums. Most schools in Mukuru are of poor quality, health provision is inadequate, and in most cases, electricity can only be accessed via illegal connections, which poses a great risk of fire and electric shocks. The people in Mukuru live in densely packed spaces, pay above average for services such as rents, water, toilets and schools, and moreover face the constant threat of displacement.  

These precarious living conditions have a detrimental effect on food security, health, schooling, legal security as well as access to the formal labour market for the residents of Mukuru, which severely limits their opportunities for development.

Mukuru slum consists of several settlements: Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Viwandani. It is located immediately adjacent to the capital’s industrial zone, around seven kilometres south-east of the centre. The oldest one of the settlements was established as early as in1958. Thanks to the growing rural exodus and accelerating population growth, Mukuru grew quickly from the 1980s onward. Today, some 300,000 people live in Mukuru slum. It is estimated that, due to population growth, the population will double by the year 2030. This would mean that 260,000 people would live on one square kilometre. The population density of the city of Geneva, which in 2011 had the highest population density in Switzerland with 11,768 inhabitants per square metre, is 22 times smaller.


What are we doing?

The project’s objective is to improve the living conditions and resilience of the 300,000 slum residents in Mukuru. To this end, Caritas Switzerland is involved in preparing the Integrated Development Plan for the Special Planning Area declared by the government. 

To prepare the development plan, eight consortiums have been created, consisting of representatives of the government departments, slum residents, civil-society organisations and research institutes. The eight consortiums were organised along thematic lines and are supported in their work by the responsible ministries and planning experts.

Caritas Switzerland will head the consortium ‘Water, Sanitation and Energy’ and will thus have a significant input into the drawing up of the respective sectoral plan. Through its involvement in the technical forum, Caritas Switzerland ensures the coordination of the work across the consortiums. At the strategic level, it is also engaged in the Leadership Forum. 

The process of drawing up the sectoral plan ‘Water, Sanitation and Energy’ gave due consideration to the following criteria: 

  • The process is goal-oriented. On the basis of the most urgent concerns of the residents of Mukuru, a clear vision for the upgrading of the slum is elaborated. 
  • The process is integrative: The concerns and interests of all actors in Mukuru are taken into account. Moreover, the project integrates seamlessly into the government’s already existing plans.
  • The process is participatory: Great emphasis is placed on the active involvement and participation of all actors in the Special Planning Area. To this end, Caritas Switzerland also supports the consortium which is responsible for mobilising the residents of Mukuru, communication with them, and general coordination.
  • The process is multidisciplinary: Since the development plan will form the basis for the upgrading of the slum, it is essential that it takes account of the complexity and diversity of the present local conditions. Caritas Switzerland will draw on various experts to make sure of this. The consortiums have two years in which to prepare the Integrated Development Plan for the Special Planning Area of Mukuru. The activities of Caritas Switzerland are carried out by Caritas Switzerland employees in the Nairobi country office. 

Caritas Switzerland works closely with the Nairobi City County as well as the Kenyan Alliance of Slum Dwellers in implementing this project. The latter is a community-based, national organisation which brings together the residents of different slums across Kenya. 


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