Mapping Nairobi’s Informal Transit System

Researchers and students at the University of Nairobi, the Center for Sustainable Urban Development at Columbia University, and the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT produced the map below – and the underlying data behind it – after carrying cell phones and GPS devices along every route in the network. Result? There is order to Nairobi’s seemingly chaotic matatu industry.

Pretty cool stuff. 


 More here.

H/T Amanda R.

slum politics

The just released results of the 2009 population census dethrones Kibera from the dubious status of Africa’s largest slum. The figures are much lower than most analysts believe. Only 170,070 people live in the slum. This compared to the oftentimes cited figure of close to a million. The total population of the immediate Nairobi area is 3.1 million.The Nation adds:

“Erasing the Kibera lie from history will need one enormous eraser. The lie has been fed to all, from poor residents of the slum who have since grown accustomed to flashing camera lights from tourists taking shots of “the biggest slum in Africa,” to schoolchildren who cram the lie everyday in geography classes.”

More interestingly…

“According to a UN report, over 90 per cent of Kibera residents pay an estimated Sh4.5 billion every year to the real owners of Kibera. This makes the Kibera a sociological paradox-a slum to the poor, a gold mine to the rich.”

And it is not just slum lords who are benefiting from Kibera’s title of biggest slum in Africa. Aid workers Easterly where are you? are also having a field day:

“there are between 6,000 and 15,000 community-based organisations working in Kibera. That is one charitable organisation for every 15 residents of Kibera. Throw in an estimated 2,000 governmental organisations, and you get a rough idea exactly how the billions of shillings pumped into “the biggest slum in the world” are spent.”