Most of the world’s population will have migrated to cities by the end of the century, according to predictions. One place where rapid urbanisation is occurring is Africa. In Kenya, people move from villages and rural locations to Nairobi in search of work and improved quality of life, and many of the economic migrants end up living in the Kibera slums. Kibera is one of the Arrival Cities described in Doug Saunders’s book Arrival City.
Conditions in Kibera are not particularly appetising, and the tiny slum dwellings are crowded, with very limited ability to accommodate more people. According to Saunders, Arrival Cities of this type are effective in slowing down population growth because inhabitants elect to have fewer children. However, the government is left with the problem of unsightly substandard housing and concentrated areas of unemployment and crime.
Efforts have been made to replace the slums. The Nyayo Highrise Estate was meant to replace the Kibera slums, but the buildings were soon filled by middle-class residents, leaving the poor in Kibera. The UN-Habitat Kenya Slum Upgrading Project is another attempt to replace the slums, but it appears that slum-dwellers granted residency are likely to barter away their new homes, spend the money gained, and continue to live in Kibera, turning the project into another middle class housing estate.