Mathare district on the perimeter of Nairobi is one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa. It is home to more than half a million people of which it is estimated 300,000 are children. Families often live in small one room corrugated iron shacks, sometimes occupied by 8 – 12 people.
There is a high rate of unemployment in Mathare and 80% of people survive on casual jobs. As a result of this many young children are left unattended during the day whilst the parent or guardian is seeking work.
There is an estimated 50% incidence of HIV, which together with Tuberculosis and other diseases, results in early adult death and many orphans and child-headed households. Drug and alcohol abuse has also led to a high number of street children and prostitution.
Lack of schooling
The public schools near Mathare are severely congested and private schools are too expensive, which mean many children from Mathare are unable to enrol. Parents are also unable to afford the cost of school uniforms and stationery which is a prerequisite to attending public schools. Of those children fortunate enough to attend school, many arrive hungry and sometimes go for days without a proper meal.
The majority of people living in Mathare have no access to electricity, clean running water or sanitation facilities.