KorogochoÂ is one of the largest slum neighbourhoods of Nairobi, Kenya.Â Home to 150,000 to 200,000 people pressed into 1.5 square kilometres, northeast of the city centre, Korogocho was founded as a shanty town on the then outskirts of the city.Â In 2009 it was estimated to be the fourth largest slum in Nairobi, afterÂ Kibera,Â Mathare ValleyÂ andÂ Mukuru kwa Njenga.Â The name Korogocho is aÂ SwahiliÂ term meaning crowded shoulder to shoulder.
There is little formal infrastructure serving Korogocho’s residents, and most housing was built by families living there, and is made of found or recycled materials. Despite this, many of the residents pay land rent for the right to live there. Others pay rent to those who have constructed their habitations.Â There is no central sewer system, piped fresh water, and crime rates are high.Â An informal council of elders and chieftaincy, like that found in much of Kenya, also provides land and housing for some widows and others in greater need.Â Small scale farming is commonly practiced, despite the crowded conditions.Â There is no system of street lighting, resulting in increased insecurity and the construction of special lighted safe areas by government and NGOs.Â There is anÂ Kenyan PoliceÂ station, along with the chieftaincy at the very centre of Korogocho village.Â Crime is endemic, and law enforcement in the shanty towns are poor. Organised crime groups are said to operate here. In 2004 theÂ ZambianÂ diplomatÂ Osward BandaÂ was murdered and his five year old son, tied to his dead father, was left in his car in a Korogocho street.
Slums, covering only 5% of Nairobi, provide homes for 2.5 million Kenyans, well over half the city’s entire population.Â Several large Italian development projects are based in Korogocho, including those funded by Italian Government andÂ World BankÂ debt swaps,Â and a coalition of Catholic Church charities, Bega Kwa Bega, founded in 1991 and based on an earlier project by the Italian Comboni Missionary society, begun in 1973.
The Government of Kenya has created a development body focused solely upon improving the lives of Korogocho residents, theÂ Korogocho Slum Upgrading Programme (KSUP)Â .The KSUP is funded through the Italian Government as part of a debt swaps scheme and involves representatives from UNHabitat, local government and federal government. Local representation for the people of Korogocho was to be guaranteed through the establishment of a Koch Resident’s Committee consisting of 6 residents from each of the 8 ‘villages’ in Koch, totaling 48 people and headed by a Chairman (Peter Kinyanjui), Secretary (John Okello) and Treasurer (Nyaga, a former enforcer and gangster). Membership of the KRC is supposed to be through democratic election every two years. However, an election was due in November 2010 but the current members refused to stand down and have turned themselves into a Community Based Organization (CBO), unlawfully, since the money they control is not for their personal use.
Although the KRC was set up to be a representative body for Koch residents, the Committee has, over the last two years, turned into a corrupt organization headed by self-interested individuals who wield significant power because of the large amounts of money and resources they have access to.
Korogocho came to popular attention in some parts of the west following the marketing of several export based craft and clothing companies which were founded there,Â while the 2007 SeventhÂ World Social ForumÂ ended its Nairobi summit with aÂ half marathonÂ which was begun, symbolically, in Korogocho slum.