People in Nairobi’s slums face ‘double jeopardy’

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Tenants in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, receive drastically inferior household services and pay more rent compared to those in its formal settlements, a new study shows.

“Around a billion people worldwide currently reside in urban slums under deplorable conditions.”

The study found that households in Nairobi’s slum areas face significant gaps in public services. For example, in the case of water, toilet, and public sewage disposal, the gaps are as high as 40 to 50 percent.

Further, these residents pay about 16 percent more than their formal area counterparts, when adjusted for housing quality conditions.

“Around a billion people worldwide currently reside in urban slums under deplorable conditions,” says Debabrata Talukdar, professor of marketing in the School of Management at the University at Buffalo and author of the paper, which appears in World Development.

“People living in Kenyan slums face depraved living conditions and a rental housing market that is highly exploitative of its tenants.”

Talukdar analyzed nearly 1,200 responses from households in the slums and formal areas of Nairobi to conduct a systematic empirical analysis of the market conditions faced by residents in both areas.

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The double jeopardy situation could be solved with significant public financing to increase the amount of housing and improve infrastructure, Talukdar says, but that solution is impractical based on the current capabilities of a developing country like Kenya.

“The more pragmatic approach relies on combined public and private investments for policy initiatives that would be beneficial to both parties,” he says. “Specific initiatives could include formalizing tenancy rights, slum upgrading or redevelopment, or regulatory liberalizations in the housing sector.”

Source: University at Buffalo