Developing risk or resilience? Effects of slum upgrading on the social contract and social cohesion in Kibera, Nairobi

Environment and Urbanization, 29(1)

Summary:

In Kibera, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, major development efforts are underway – namely, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (Kibera Pilot), the Nairobi Railway Relocation Action Plan, and the National Youth Service-led Kibera Slum Upgrade Initiative.

This paper assesses how such interventions affect the social contract and social cohesion, and hence the resilience of Kibera residents. We examine the extent to which different types of slum upgrading efforts address risks in Kibera, particularly around conflict and flooding.

Our findings show that these interventions can reduce conflict, crime, insecurity and flood risks, and subsequently strengthen resilience in highly dense and complex urban environments, if they do three things: first, include processes that build the social contract; second, build bridging social capital between ethnic groups and avoid reducing bonding capital within groups; and third, integrate different sectoral interventions.

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