The Korogocho slum is the fourth largest informal settlement in Nairobi, after Kibera, Mathare Valley, and Mukuru Kwa Njenga. It is located in the Kasarani Division, in eastern Nairobi, approximately 11 kilometers from the central business district. It is estimated to house between 100,000 and 120,000 people on 1.5 square kilometers of land owned by the Government of Kenya. It borders the largest dumping site in Nairobi – the Dandora dumping site – posing environmental health and security risk for the residents and surrounding settlements.
Conditions in Korogocho are typical of slum settlements in Nairobi. The total number of households has been enumerated at 18,537, with the largest of the seven villages consisting of 3,481 households. Like any of the other slum settlements in Nairobi, it has a large poor population with no access to minimum services, living largely in structures made out of temporary and recycled building materials - or made out of timber, mud walling, and roofing made up of substandard materials such as sacks, carton paper and polythene. There is no Proper sanitation and waste management. Water reticulation is limited and the road network is inadequate.
It is believed that most of the structure owners in Korogocho have paid a fee for permission to occupy the land. As in other slum settlements, there is a struggle between structure owners and tenants over land and tenure rights. The tenants have no tenure security as the structure owners enjoy the right to evict for non-payment of rents or any other reason. While there are two City Council schools, with over 4000 children, many children in Korogocho do not have access to primary education. Open spaces in Korogocho, like in other informal settlements, are few thus limiting recreation and other forms of leisure opportunities for young people.
Poor hygiene prevalent in the slum has resulted to the rapid spread of cholera, malaria, typhoid, dysentery, and water and air borne diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS are also wide spread. In addition, increasing violence and crime in Korogocho, which are often met only with a repressive response, create insecurity, reinforcing social and ethnic tensions, and undermine social cohesion in the slum.
Unemployment rates are high in Korogocho; a majority of the unemployed are youth who lack the necessary skills and education for formal employment. As in other slum settlements, many are employed as casual workers in the formal sector industries in Babadogo and Ruaraka area, in construction especially in the production of building materials including stone cutting. The rest of the population is employed in the informal businesses, with most women operating road-side business units offering goods at cheaper rates. Men on the other hand, prefer more manual based income generating activities such as carpentry, welding, and construction.
Korogocho has a history of presence of established Faith Based Organizations (FBO) and enjoys good relations between the two major faiths – the Christians and Muslims and many other churches under the umbrella of the Korogocho Spiritual Leaders Association (KOSLA. “People United for New Korogocho” is a coalition of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) which projects under the leadership of the St. Johns Catholic Church involved in a variety of community projects in Korogocho.. At the heart of this coalition is attitudinal change – a focus on a new Korogocho, offering new rays of hope and determination to improved quality of life for residents in the foreseeable future. It is believed that there are other authentic organizations which can contribute to the improvement of living conditions in Korogocho. The organizations outside Korogocho have also played an active role, specifically at international level the Viva Nairobi Viva, a campaign led by the civil society and missionaries and at the country level, Kutoka networks, and a network of Catholic Parishes working in slums. Both these organizations lobbied for the Debt Campaign three years ago and now have transformed themselves into support organizations.