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Crisis in Nairobi’s slums

People living in Nairobi’s slums are in real danger right now. High food prices have pushed some 4.1 million people onto a precarious knife edge.

Safety nets are urgently needed to ensure these people do not fall deeper into poverty and starvation. One such way is through cash transfers. By distributing cash to the most vulnerable, money can be spent on what is needed most, be that food, school or hospital fees.

High food prices

Food is one of the most pressing needs for people living in the slums. With no space to plant a few seeds, they are entirely reliant on what they can buy.

The price of maize grain has increased by a staggering 133% from last year, while incomes are down by 21%.

One meal a day

Most families are now only eating one meal a day: ugali (maize porridge) and a small portion of green vegetables. Even though foods such as meat and eggs are available to buy, they are now considered to be a luxury.

Most people can’t remember the last time they ate such “luxury” foods. And just to put this small amount of food on the table, people are having to make very hard decisions.

Disastrous consequences

Parents are having to take children out of school, as the fees are just too expensive for many. People are forgoing essential services such as medical care. For those who live with chronic illness and disease such as HIV, this is really disastrous.

Local health clinics and hospitals are reporting an increase in bed-ridden cases. Six months ago, these people were healthy and active.

Precarious situation

For single parent families, the situation right now is very precarious indeed. Women are increasingly forced into taking new partners into the home, who act as “foster” fathers and husbands, providing income and food.

This practice potentially increases the rates of HIV infections and, more worryingly, child abuse. Possibly one of the worst consequences of this crisis is that women and young girls are increasingly being forced to work on the street as sex workers.