The challenges of the Nairobi slums are not going away. Sending in good money after bad will not solve any of the problems there. As the estimated population in these slums grows to well over 2 million there will be more mouths to feed, more trash piled up, more sewage, more disease and less water. Currently the growth is exponential, although HIV/AIDS is taking a serious dent out of the total number, somewhat slowing the growth.
Is it really that bad? Indeed, it is worse than that. What is being done? Well, there have been many “total plans” floated, but none have worked because they do not address the real issues. Low income housing multi-story buildings have been built but the people of the slums do not want to live there. There are people working with the slum communities from the inside, but they are overwhelmed with the HIV/AIDS, orphan children, disease, starvation and sanitation issues.
If we really look at the slums of the World in places like Africa, Haiti, Palestine, India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Central America much of the problems are indeed similar in nature. Is there a solution or is the solution so horrific to consider that no one will talk about it, such as;
- Sterilizing humans
- Eliminating people
- Bulldozing the slums
- Paving over the slums
- Burning the slums down
- Kicking all the people out
- Moving them to another location
- Allowing HIV/AIDS to Kill the People
The aid that the first world citizens send is more about allowing donors to satisfy themselves so they can feel that they are doing something, yet in reality often they are making the problems worse. Many times the money and aid never even makes it to the people that really need the help. Of course you cannot tell them that or they get hostile and even accuse you of having no empathy. Throwing good money after bad is a silly waste and although the cause and calling are noble the ends fall short. People do not like to hear these things, but this is the reality. Removing someone’s suffering for or month or a year might be nice, but in the end they go back to the same old life. It’s often crueler to show someone something they can never have than to help them in their own chosen environment or the slums where they live?
To fix these issues responsibility must be placed back onto those slum communities to solve their own problems for themselves from within. These slums need basic infrastructure;
- Paved roads
- Trash pick-up
- Health Centers
- Local Government
These are the very basics, as a starting place. But how can you fix an area that has 2 million plus (estimated) and growing, where HIV/AIDS is running ramped? It will take some brave people to make the challenges which must met. It appears that once the basic infrastructures are completed most of the major challenges will be met and then the HIV/AIDS issues can be tackled. In considering all this there seems to be 150 different slums outside Nairobi and it makes sense to put a deadline on the project to revitalize the area; less than a decade and that will mean 15 slums per year. Now then, such a project is obviously easier said than done because each of these slums consists of 10s of thousands, if not 100s of thousands of people.
Where do We Start
To start such a massive undertaking we need to consider a grid plan of attack and it must be done in sections. Although slums of Nairobi are every where throughout, they do not engulf the city, they do not completely surround it, as they are sprawling. Nevertheless to visualize this action plan concept think of a clock and each phase will be a slice of the pie. These areas must be bulldozed and people will have to leave temporarily and indeed also employed to work to build their section or other sections. Indeed, the slums and shanty towns in Nairobi are somewhat spread out and actually this makes it easier to deal with them as components of the larger total project.
Obviously the first step is to build a massive sewer treatment plant at the lowest point of the area and it will need its own power plant. this is because the additional 2 million people would overwhelm the current systems. Sub-sewer treatment plants or pre-treatment plants will be needed at the lowest point of each sector. This will take huge funding and industrial talent and should not be compromised by political corruption.
The second step that must take place is the cleanup and the trash removed to four new separate landfills which will be built as the project progresses. People will be employed to remove trash and work 3 to 4 hour shifts with push carts and this operation will go on 24-hours a day in each section which is planned to be next. Others slums can also remove trash if they set up teams to do this on their own; the project will also fund the labor as part of the project. By paying them for each load delivered they will find the trash and bring it to the land fill in bulk.
The Caterpillar Bulldozing efforts for the section in progress will be 24 hours a day until completed. The goal is to bulldoze one of “4-sectors” of each “section” or slice of the pie. Visualize a tall pyramid-like triangle with horizontal lines. The pyramid is the section and the areas inside the sectors. By doing the bulldozing quickly, there will not be time for protests, riots or attacks on the bulldozer crews. This has to be done, there is no easy way.
Ring Roads need to be scheduled to be put into place along with direct roads to the city and out of the city. The lowest elevations must be done first so the sewer infrastructure can be built along with large scale pipes so that more flow can be added as other sections are built. Trenches will be dug by hand using the massive labor force available, after pipes are laid proper grading will be done to shape any potential future storm water run-off.
The labor for digging the trenches for the pipes will be 3 to 4 hour shifts with a maximum of six hours to employ the most number of people and this operation will go on 24-hours per day with regional considerations. Workers will get a meal and paid each day they work. The catering efforts will need to be robust and anyone may work if they wish.
Community water fountains in a grid plan will also be built and the pipes must be buried. Next roads will be built and paved with compacted dirt paths as sidewalks along both sides of street, so people can walk barefooted. Again, running 24-hours a day in order to prevent any equipment, materials or hand tools from being stolen.
The homes which will be built will be concrete box like or honeycomb shaped with small rooms and toilets all single story or double story with lofts in some places for families. We are building basic shells nothing more. These small structures will be made in a “tilt-up” fashion. Concrete will be re-enforced with recycled materials.
Houses can be built in a courtyard configuration or other configuration between walk-ways and/or roads as needed. Those who are temporarily displaced will be surveyed and the learn-as-you-go strategy will be employed here, with a goal of speed to completion. They can point to the picture of the type of home or surroundings they wish. A popular vote using this method will prevail and everyone will be notified.
Schools will also be built (solar powered) and town center squares will also be made for celebration. Each area will be divided into town-cities, with councils to run their communities. Buildings for local government (town-councils) will be located next to the town squares and schools. Healthcare drop in centers will also be near this area. These areas recreation areas and town-center locations will be built no further than four miles apart to insure no one is too far away from the resources that they will need.
After this is done the people can move back in provided they meet criteria of the local council such as;
- No Prostitution
- Drug Sales
- Known Rapes
- Crime Gangs
The accepted people and their families can sign up for local jobs, as teachers, trash collectors, council, healthcare people if qualified or for education re-training or school. Volunteer groups, clubs and community organization plans will be available for town-center representatives to help organize. Local representation offices for NGOs will also be built near the town centers provided they are staffed, if not they will be converted into add-on health-care centers or other use deemed by the local town councils.
Small businesses can be set up outlining the streets near the town centers. At first they will be cargo container based businesses, eventually with the town council permission they may build permanently. To visualize this concept think of booths similar at World-wide fairs or rodeo in cargo containers (able to be secured and locked up). This will also attract micro-loan funding for new business start-up enterprises. With the roads built products can be brought in and out easily, without theft. Roads will be built wide in anticipation of future use.
This project will employ tens of thousands of people and they can make enough money to live for a year working their 3-4 hours a day if they wish too. As each phase is built the sewer lines will be added to existing lines. As the project grows and the details are learned and challenges met, additional sections can start on opposite ends of the city and run simultaneously, while the original section is completed.
This model will undergo constant evaluation of each phase and should be studied by academics, construction personnel and taken to other slum areas throughout the world such as;
- New Delhi
This model will be considered a “Franchise-able Model” which can be duplicated and available for any large slum area anywhere in the world and the UN, World Bank and other large NGOs will make it possible that a large city or nation-state can apply under strict a franchise agreement terms to participate, with funding and stipulations such as;
- Acceptable Constitution
- Human Rights Guarantees
- Return of Costs over 50 years
- Self-Governance Clauses – Voting
- Non-Tolerance of Political Corruption
- Good Standing in International Community
This particular “Module” can also be part of a larger package or part of a “Total Franchise Program” for a Nation-State’s re-vitalization plan or Complete Make-Over. Team Partners may include the World bank, NGOs, International Corporate Sponsors and/or UN (or other future World Franchise Group of Human Civilizations). Regional Variations of this “Franchise Module for Slum Re-vitalization” are paramount, although the basic plan will be cut from the same mold there are vast differences in culture, weather, customs, economies and neighbors to be considered. It must be noted that a one-size fits all, will fit no slum revitalization challenge.
Other Franchise Modules will have similar “turn-key” models established for various stress situations in human civilizations or societies. A nation-state can choose; A La Carte or a Comprehensive Complete Make-over. Either way a preliminary feasibility a study will be quickly completed (1-2 weeks) for review and a full-feasibility study within 1-2 months. This will allow for new leadership coming into power to quickly get the ball rolling.
The Shanty-Town type Slums of Nairobi or anywhere for that matter need a comprehensive and well thought out plan to succeed. If not all the Band-Aids and aid money sent in will only prolong and worsen the problem. A systematic plan must be incorporated and launched without years and years of discussion and committees. Just get it done and do it right.