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The Hidden Crisis In Nairobi Slums

In Mathare, a sprawling slum in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, children in tattered clothes play with raw waste flowing from a burst sewage pipe. In the alley, crowded with tin-and-wood shanties, a food kiosk filled with people feasting on smoked fish stands on the burst pipe. Close by, a woman fries chopped potatoes on an open fire.

Paul Odero, a 27-year-old father of two and a resident of Mathare, told IRIN, "Here we share everything because nobody can afford anything of his own. We share latrines, and these people selling food near the latrine have no space to put their kiosks. It must be near there because that is where you can find space."

Mary Muiruri, a community health worker, told IRIN that the open dumpsites and the fumes emanating from them have meant respiratory infections are rampant.

"The running noses among small children you see do not mean their mothers don't care. They do, but the health risks associated with poor waste disposal means their children are constantly suffering from respiratory infections. It is that bad," she said.

Lack of jobs for many of the young inhabitants in the slums has meant they often turn to crime to make ends meet.

"Organized gangs and criminal elements within slums have rendered many people in slums homeless. There are people who are marked by these gangs who can hardly access their homes. Maybe they refused to pay protection fees. It is a sad situation that needs to be dealt with," said Nyange.

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IRIN Mathare Nairobi Nairobi Slums Paul Odero

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