Kibera Case Study Bbc Bitesize

Improving shanty towns

Soweto township in Johannesburg, South Africa

Over time the conditions in shanty towns may improve. In many LEDCs, local communities, charities and government departments are working together to improve conditions in squatter settlements.

Improving conditions in a squatter settlement can lead to improvements in the residents' quality of life [quality of life: The level of well-being and enjoyment of life that people have. ].

Approaches to improvement

Site and service schemesThese give people the chance to rent or buy a piece of land. The land is connected to the city by transport links and has access to essential services (eg water). People build their own homes using money from a low-interest loan.
Self-help schemesThese give people the tools and training to improve their homes. Low-interest loans may be used to help people fund these changes. People may be given legal ownership of the land.
Rural investmentImproving the quality of life and creating greater opportunities in rural areas may prevent people from migrating to urban areas. Investment in rural areas may therefore help to improve conditions in the city as well.

Back to Urban environments index

Low-income countries (LICs) have very different economies to high-income countries (HICs). In HICs many people have formal jobs in which they have set hours, a monthly wage, healthy working conditions and they pay tax.

Street sellers are part of the informal (or grey) economy

In LICs, some people also have formal jobs but large numbers of workers have informal jobs. These jobs are often unskilled and labour intensive, require little money to set up, offer no protection to the workers and they pay no tax. Examples include street sellers, minibus drivers, money changers and market traders. These jobs form part of the informal economy which is also called the grey economy.

Case study: Kenya

Kenya lies along the Equator on the east coast of Africa, next to the Indian Ocean. The capital city is Nairobi. It has a population of over 46 million people. It is a very diverse population with over 40 ethnic groups including the Kikuyu, Luo and Maasai.

Kenya is an example of a low-income country. gross national income (GNI) is $1,290 per person compared to $42,000 per person in the UK. Life expectancy is 62, infant mortality 36 per 1,000, 75% of the population live in rural areas, most are small-scale farmers and most live in poverty.

There is a wide gap in income between people living in the drought-prone north-eastern lowlands, the highlands to the south-west, the coastal strip and the slum dwellers in Nairobi.

Coastal strip

  • Hot and humid climate with cooling sea breezes.
  • Important port of Mombasa with trading links across the Indian Ocean.
  • Many international tourist resorts such as Mombasa and Lamu.
  • Swahili and Mijikenda ethnic groups form the majority of the population.
  • 3 million people live in this region, most in poverty.
  • Fishing industry is important along the coastline in villages such as Kilifi.
  • Maize and cassava are the staple foods grown in the area.
  • Malnutrition is common.
  • Access to the region via international airport.


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