About Mukuru Area in Nairobi, Kenya

植民地支配時の居住地区図1 植民地支配時の居住地区Fig.1 Residential zoning during British colonization

ナイロビの成り立ち / Creation of Nairobi

Nairobi is named after the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyorobi, meaning cool water. Originally, it was where Maasai nomads went with cattles and goats to seek for cool water from the Nairobi river. The City of Nairobi was born under British colonization. After the East Africa Protectorate was established in 1895, construction of the Uganda Railway started. To develop Uganda, the railway connected from Mombasa, the port on the Indian Ocean, to Kisumu, the lakeside of Lake Victoria. When the railway reached Nairobi, the headquarter of the Uganda Railway was transferred from Mombasa to Machakos, then to Nairobi. Residents at that time were British people, as well as Indian people who brought to Africa as labor for railway construction. African people were not recognized as official residents. British people noticed that the high altitude area is suitable for agriculture and easy to live in, and named the area White Highlands in 1902. By The Crown Lands Ordinance of 1902, the White Highlands was declared as land of the King, which granted land to European settlers for the term of 99 years.1) As a result, many settlers came to Nairobi.

In 1907, Nairobi became the capital of Kenya. As its European population increased, its African population working under Europeans also increased. Nairobi was divided into different residential zones, such as the Central Business District (CBD), the European zone, the Asian (Indian) zone, and the African zone. The racial zoning of the residential area does not exist anymore, but the same boundary often remains between zones for different income levels (Fig.1). The former European residential zone turned out to be the current high-income residential zone, residence of many international citizens. A lot of Indian people still live in the former Asian residential zone, and the former African residential zone is the low-income residential zone now. During the colonization, African people could live in the indigenous settlement, which was only at Pumwani of the Eastland district. 2)

When African male under the age of 16 left the indigenous settlement, they had to carry a card called Kipande.3) However, the government’s plan to force all Africans to live at Pumwani failed. In the 1930s and 40s, many towns for African migrant workers were organized by African people inside the Eastland district, including Pumwani. Due to the situation, the government started construction of public housing for African people, and residential areas such as Shauri Moyo emerged. In 1963, Kenya became independent from British colonial rule, and restrictions on transportation were lifted, which resulted in massive inflow of African population from rural areas to Nairobi. Despite the acute increase of population, affordable rental housing was not developed for low-income migrant workers. As a result, a lot of migrant workers started living in a slum in Nairobi, and many slums had surfaced.

ナイロビ市内のスラムの概要 / Overview of slums in Nairobi City 

Reportedly, there are more than 100 slums in Nairobi now, including the oldest Mathare slum and the largest Kibera slum. In general, slums in Nairobi are informal settlements and very densely populated with low-income people. After the independence of Kenya in 1963, the restriction on the indigenous settlement was lifted, and slums expanded quickly. These slums are usually located around the edge of the former urban area. (Fig.2) Their locations are often lands of higher risk, such as unused riverside land, wet lowland, and land along a train track or an oil pipeline, and in a walking distance from workplace of residents, such as an industrial area.4)

インフォーマル居住地の分布図2 インフォーマル居住地の分布Fig.2 Distribution of informal settlements

Informal settlements can be categorized into two: squatter (illegal occupation) type and illegal redistribution type. Originally, the majority was the squatter type, but the latter type is more common among recent informal settlements. These slums are on land with a legal owner, but the land is redistributed through an informal system.5) Therefore, in some cases, a legal owner claims its right on land for development, and a slum on the land is removed because of that.

  • 4) 
    Most slum dwellers do not use public transportation, but walk to a nearby industrial area or a place with job opportunities.
  • 5) 

ムクル地区について / About Mukuru Area

Mukuru Area is one of the slums in Nairobi, formed in 1979. It is an informal settlement, where dwelling is not allowed, inside the industrial area in the east of Nairobi. About 70 thousand people live in the area of about 5 square kilometers.6) Mukuru Area consists of three smaller districts: Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, and Lunga Lunga. These districts are further divided into 27 smaller villages. Kenya Railway and Kenya PipeLine run through Mukuru Area from the north east to the south west. The Ngong River goes across the northern part of the slum. The north of the Ngong River is Lunga Lunga, the district between the Ngong River and the Kenya Railway is Mukuru Kwa Reuben, and the south of the Kenya Railway is Mukuru Kwa Njenga.

ムクル地区の地図図3 ムクル地区の地図Fig.3 Map of Mukuru Area