Welcome to Nina's Squatter Settlement Page!
A squatter settlement is a slum settlement where impoverished people live. Their homes are made from scrap materials such as plywood or corrugated metal. Most Squatter Settlemants are found in developing nations which have an unequal distribution of wealth.

Characteristics of squatter settlements:

  • It is a simple and dense layout of homes with a very high population.
  • Large families inhabit each small shack in an overcrowded area
  • The homes are made from scrap materials.
  • They rarely have any source of piped water, toilets, electricity or telephone services.
  • The sanitation is very poor - the rubbish is not collected which makes the area common to disease.
  • The inhabitants tend to create poorly paid jobs where income is unreliable.
  • Most families cannot afford to send their children to school and therefore are vey uneducated


  • Kibera is in Nairobi, Kenya and is Nairobi's largest squatter settlement.
  • 60% of Nairobi's population live in squatter settlements, half of which in Kibera.
  • The government owns all the land. 10% of people are shack owners, most of these own many other shacks which they sub-let. All the rest are tennants with no rights.
  • 800 000 - 1 million people live in Kibera in an area of 255ha, giving the inhabitants only 1m squared of floor space each.
  • As a result to HIV/Aids, 100 000 children in Kibera are orphans.
Housing Provision-
  • The average size of a shack in this area is 12ft x 12ft.
  • The homes are made of mud, plastered-over boards, wood or corrugates iron sheeting.
  • The pathways between the homes are narrow and often have a ditch in the middle with sewage.
  • A sandpipe may supply water for up to 40 families.
  • Overcrowding in Kibera is a huge problem - the average population density is 110 000 per km spuared with 4-5 people living in each room.
  • Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity.
Service Provision-
  • The Nairobi City Autority does not provide roads, sewerage, drainage, water or electricity in Kibera. Therefore most people have to buy water from tanks and some take water from the Nairobi Dam. This dam is very polluted, which makes diseases very common in Kibera.
  • Sanitation consists of pit latrines that may be used by 500 people.
  • Human waste litters the settlement. This is a major health issue.
  • Due to all these factors, the mortality rate is very high.
  • There are 20 clinics and 5 primary schools in Kibera.
  • The average class consists of 50-60 students.
  • One third of the children living in Kibera get no education after primary school.
  • About 2 in 5 poeple have paid emplyment mainly as casual labourers, watchmen, servants, cleaners etc...
  • There is no unemplyment benefit. Therfore people without paid jobs have to rely on self-help.
  • About one third of the self-employed inhabitants cultivate small plots of land. The rest have small business activities, such as, trading food, cigarettes, fuel and water.
  • Earnings are usually very low and most households rely on children earning too.
Health and sanitation-
  • The Nairobi City Authority does not provide sewerage or drainage.
  • Some people draw water from the polluted Nairobi Dam. The water taken from this dam commonly causes typhoid and cholera.
  • Sanitation consists of pit latrines which are shared between 500 people. Once full, young boys are emplyed to empty them by taking the sludge to the river.
  • Human waste litters the settlement.
  • All of these are major health hazards and lead to high mortality rates.
  • Diarrhoea due to poor sanitation and contaminated water are major causes of death amoung children.



Improvement by residents involves the residents seeking to 'do up' their original shelters. This means replacing their scrap materials with more permanenrs brick and concrete, catching rainwater in a tank on the roof and obtaining an electricity supply. However, some problems of poor living conditions cannot be solved and the ones that can be improved are very slow and individual.
Self-help occurs when local authorities in the area support the residents of the squatter settlement in improving their homes. There is cooperation between residents to work together to remove rubbish. The local authority can offer grants, cheap loans and possibly materials to encourage improvements to occur. Sandpipes are likely to be supplied to provide access to water supplies and sanitation. If the residents work together with the local authorities, they may begin to build health centres and schools.
In Kibera, there are signs that things are improving. Practical Action, a British charity, has been responsible for developing low-cost roofing tiles made from sand, clay, and soil with added lime and natural fibre to create blocks for building which are cheaper than concrete. These allow the Self-help schemes to progress.
UN-Habitat (The United Nation's Human Settlement Programme) has provided affordable electricity in some places at 300 Kenyan shillings per shack. There are 2 main water pipes - one provided by the council and the other by the World Bank, at a cost of 3 Kenyan shillings for 20 litres. Improving sanitation is much more difficult and the improvements are slow, however, medical facilities have been provided by charities.
There are more schemes, on a larger scale. In a 15-year project that started in 2003, plans have been made to re-house thousands of residents of Kibera. This is a joint effort between the Kenyan Government and UN-Habitat. In the first year of this programme, 770 families were rehoused in new blocks of flats with running water, toilets, showers and electricity. Residents have been involved in plans and funding of 650 million Kenyan Shillings which have been set aside for the first year. They hope that funding will be provided by charities and by setting up private loans.

When it comes to upgrading Kibera, several initatives sponsored by the Kenyan government, the United Nations (UN), the Worls Bank and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been developed. The Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme aims to replace the slums with modern low-cost housing. So far, just a few five-storey blocks have been completed. However, many worry if the residents will be able to afford to rent a new apartment as the most that they currently pay in Kibera is $US 10 a month. The problem of sanitation has been well publicised by the issue of 'flying toilets'. As there are few public toilets, residents have begun to defecate into plastic bags at night and dispose of them on the street or onto the roofs of neighbouring homes. In response, several toilet blocks and shower cubicles have been built. Water supply has also been improved. A slum lighting project, comprising several sports stadia-like floodlights, was launched in 2005 to combat street crime. Due to the absense of government health clinics and hospitals, charities help to provide residents with health care and fund refuges for Kibera's 100,000 chilren orphaned by AIDS.

Gap Year students are encouraged to go to Kibera and oversee the spending and to help coordinate efforts.
If you are interested in helping Kibera go to