Just over 3 months ago, the bulldozers moved in to clear the route of a new link road. The demolition resulted in many thousands of Kibera’s residents being made homeless, and schools, clinics, and children’s centres being displaced. Now that the dust has settled (literally, and definitely not metaphorically), how have things changed?
What has happened following the demolition?
The short answer: very little.
The longer answer involves several elements:
- Compensation – the Kenyan government promised compensation to landlords whose properties were demolished, and to schools, children’s homes and clinics that were also flattened. This compensation has yet to materialise and most believe it never will.
- Relocation – no official assistance has been offered to anyone displaced by the demolition. This includes schools and children’s homes, who have been forced to seek whatever accommodation they could find. Many residents have left Kibera altogether and moved to rural parts of Kenya where living costs are low and where infrastructure and education/employment opportunities are minimal.
- Construction – the road for which all of this happened is indeed under construction and is hoped to improve traffic flow around the outskirts of Nairobi.
In this video clip, from Kibera News Network, some of those who were displaced by the demolition are interviewed with particular emphasis on remuneration and the impact on schools and a children’s centre.
What’s the impact on Future Stars?
Following the demolition, the number of residential children at Future Stars increased by four. You can read more about each of them by clicking the links below:
- Shadrack and Obel – twin brothers left in the care of the centre after they were displaced and their mother left for a rural village whilst assessing if she could rebuild a life for the family in Kibera. She now seems unlikely to return and the boys remain at Future Stars.
- Emmanuel – also displaced by the demolition and left in the care of Future Stars. His parents still hope to return to Kibera and there is hope that the family will be reunited.
- Grace – rescued from exploitation after being left in the care of a neighbour. Her home with her grandmother was demolished and her grandmother couldn’t contemplate beginning again in Kibera.
Whilst only a small number of the children in school at Future Stars were directly affected by the demolition work, the effects were dramatic.
It is difficult to imagine how it feels when you see your neighbours’ homes demolished with just a few days’ notice. With the threat of further extensive demolition in Kibera, many families decided that life in the slum was no longer an option. Because of this, the last three months have seen something of an exodus.
In total, almost 40 children have left the school at Future Stars since the day the bulldozers moved into Kibera.
So the school is empty?
There are always more children in need of both the free education and the nutritious food provided at Future Stars. This means that, despite so many departures, numbers have only dropped slightly. There are plenty of new faces to get to know!
And how about Kibera?
The population of Kibera has always been very fluid. Kibera is home to those who come to Nairobi with dreams of making it big in the city, or simply those looking for a different life to that available in the rural villages. There are always new men, women, and children arriving in the slum. Additionally, with the extensive demolition, there is even less space for everyone to live and this leads to increasingly cramped conditions in a place where space is already extremely limited.
The future is uncertain. The only thing we know for sure is that further demolition work will be undertaken, whether as part of the government’s programme of slum clearance/upgrading or for other projects like the road.
There is significant anxiety about the likelihood that the Future Stars Development Centre will not be safe for long. Unless we can find land and build a new centre, the future of so many children will be at risk. It is a worrying time and we can only hope that the bulldozers stay away until a plan can be made for the future of the centre.