Sanctuary in the city? Urban displacement and vulnerability in Nairobi

Working and discussion papers
September 2011
Victoria Metcalfe and Sara Pavanello, with Prafulla Mishra

In recent decades Kenya has seen rapid urbanisation driven by a complex interplay of factors including chronic under-development, political and ethnic violence, climatic hazards, poor land management and limited economic opportunities. In 1999, one-third of the population was estimated to be living in urban settlements. This is expected to rise to 60% by 2030.

This study is part of a series of studies on urban displacement, which so far has included case studies on Yei (South Sudan)Damascus, Amman, and Kabul.

This Working Paper focuses specifically on urban Internally Displaced People (IDPs), with a view to understanding the challenges they face and how these compare with the general urban poor population in the capital. It argues that the predicament of the growing urban poor population in Nairobi is essentially a development crisis – the vulnerabilities and needs of the wider urban poor, including displaced people, stem from the consistent failure of the Kenyan authorities to invest in basic services, urban infrastructure, housing and livelihoods for the millions living in the slums of the capital. The state has effectively failed to properly address the needs of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

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