Background Reading

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Reports and Articles

The Challenge of Slums, UN-Habitat

Planning Sustainable Cities Report, UN-Habitat

"Social and community media in poor and marginalized urban communities: a study of collective action in Kibera," By John Perkins File:John Perkins' ISP.doc

"Situation of Slums in Kenya", Amnesty International, February 2009

Words are a Place to Stand, by: Elizabeth Swart; Affilia: Journal of Womenand Social Work. Volume 24 Number 1; February 2009 19-30.

No Raila, No Peace! BIG MAN POLITICS AND ELECTION VIOLENCE AT THE KIBERA GRASSROOTS, by: Johan De Smedt; African Affairs, 108/433, 581–598.

"Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture, Setha M. Lowe, Denise Lawrence-Zuniga (ed.), Blackwell Publishing, 2003.

"Slum Upgrading in Nairobi withing the Housing and Basic Services Market: A housing Rights Concern." By: Marie Huchzermeyer; Journal of Asian and African Studies 2008; 43; 19.

"Crisis and Creativity: Exploring the Wealth of the African Neighbourhood." Konings, Piet and Dick Foeken (ed.), Brill: 2006.

"Anthropology and Devbelopment: UNderstanding Contemporary Social Change." By: Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, Zed Books, 2005.

Doug Ragan on City Guides, and GPS/OSM File:Bridging the Digital Divide.pdf

Noor et al. 2006. Modelling distances travelled to government health services in Kenya. Tropical Medicine and International Health 11(2), 188-196.

Noor et al. 2004. Creating spatially defined databases for equitable health service planning in low-income countries: the example of Kenya. Acta Tropica 91, 239–251.

"Growing Partnerships for Stability and Development in Kibera", published by Moraa New Hope Foundation, USAID

Nairobi Slum Inventory

In Search of Order. Chapter 6, State systems of property rights enforcement and their failings

Population estimates of Kibera slums in 2009, Nairobi – Kenya, Keyobs File:Keyobs Kibera report 20090709 Final v2.doc

Map Kibera Project, Kianda reports

Participatory GPS/GIS for fence mapping among Massai

"Evidence that volunteered geo-information co-production would lead to more accurate topographic maps" Jan de Leeuw1, Mohammed Said1, Lapezoh Ortegah, Sonal Nagda1, Yola Georgiadou and Mark DeBlois4

What are the challenges of slums and will cities in the developing world ever be without them?

The IFAD adaptive approach to participatory mapping

File:AmyWesolowskiREUFinalPaper.pdf Inferring Human Dynamics in Slums Using Mobile Phone Data

Participatory GIS in Slums

-Analyzing Urban Poverty: GIS for a Developing World

-Mumbai free map:

Ethiopia (longer version):

UN-habitat, slum mapping:

Local Ground report

Crowdsourcing and Neogeo: bibliography by Evangelia

Brabham, D. C. (2008). ‘Crowdsourcing as a Model for Problem Solving.’ Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 14(1): 75-90.

Brito, J. (2008). ‘Hack, Mash & Peer: Crowdsourcing Government Transparency.’ The Columbia Science and Technology Law Review 119(9): 119-57.

Coyle, D., and P. Meier (2009). New Technologies in Emergencies and Conflicts: The Role of Information and Social Networks. Washington, DC and London UK: UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation Partnership.

Goodchild, M. F. (2007). ‘Citizens as Sensors: Web 2.0 and the Volunteering of Geographical Information.’ Geofocus 7:8-10.

Greenough, P. G., Chan, J. L., Meier, P., Bateman, L., and Dutta, S. (2009). ‘Applied Technologies in Humanitarian Assistance: Report on the 2009 Applied Technology Working Group.’ Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 24(4): s206-s209.

Howe, J. (2006). ‘The Rise of Crowdsourcing.’ Wired 14(6), available at:, accessed 2.06.2010).

Hudson-Smith, A., Batty, M., Crooks, A., and Richard, M. (2009). ‘Mapping for the Masses: Assessing Web 2.0 Through Crowdsourcing.’ Social Science Computer Review 27(4): 524-38.

Ki-Moon, B. (2010). ‘Voices of the Vulnerable: Recovery From the Ground Up.’ United Nations Secretariat, Global Pulse Initiative, available at:, accessed 19.06.2010.

Lee Hughes, A., and L. Palen (2009). ‘Twitter Adoption and Use in Mass Convergence and Emergency Events.’ Proceedings of the 6th International ISCRAM Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Levinger, M. (2009). ‘Geographical Information Systems Technology as a Tool for Genocide Prevention: The Case of Darfur.’ Space and Polity 13(1):69-76.

Liu, S. B., and Palen, L. (2010). ‘The New Cartographers: Crisis Map Mashups and the Emergence of Neogeographic Practice.’ Cartography and Geographic Information Science 37(1):69-90.

Liu, S. B., L. Palen, J. Sutton, A. L. Hughes, and S. Vieweg (2008). ‘In Search of the Bigger Picture: The Emergent Role of on-Line Photo Sharing in Times of Disaster.’ Proceedings of the 5th International ISCRAM Conference, Washington, DC.

Okolloh, O. (2009). ‘Ushahidi, Or ‘Testimony’: Web 2.0 Tools for Crowdsourcing Crisis Information.’ Participatory Learning and Action 59(2):65-70.

Palen, L., Hiltz, S. R., and Liu, S. B. (2007). ‘Online Forums Supporting Grassroots Participation in Emergency Preparedness and Response.’ Communications of the ACM 50(3):54-58.

Shankar, K. (2008). ‘Wind, Water and Wi-Fi: New Trends in Community Informatics and Disaster Management.’ The Information Society 24(2):116-20.

Sharma, A. (2010). ‘Crowdsourcing Critical Success Factor Model: Strategies to Harness the Collective Intelligence of the Crowd.’ Working Paper, available at:, last accessed 2.06.2010 .

Steinmueller, W.E. (2010). Presentation at the ‘Participation 2.0: Are new, open innovation models for developing solutions for the poor part of the answer to the development crisis?’ Workshop. IDS, Brighton, 27.05.2010.

Brian Ekdale's Bibliography

Brian Ekdales Kibera of History brief

Literature related to Kibera and mapping

Kibera and Nairobi History

Bodewes, D. (2005). Parish transformation in urban slums: Voices of Kibera, Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Pauline Publications Africa. (recommended)

Burton, A. (2002). The urban experience in eastern Africa, c. 1750-2000. Nairobi: The British Institute in Eastern Africa.

Chege, M. (1981). A Tale of Two Slums: Electoral Politics in Mathare and Dagoretti. Review of African Political Economy, 20, 74-88. (not on Kibera, but some interesting political history of Mathare)

Davis, M. (2006). Planet of slums. New York: Verso.

Furedi, F. (1973). The African crowd in Nairobi: Population movements and elite politics. Journal of African History, 14(2), 275-290.

Gatabaki-Kamau, R. & Karirah-Gitau, S. (2004). Actors and interests: The development of an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. In K. T. Hansen & M. Vaa (Eds.), Reconsidering informality: Perspectives from urban Africa. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute.

Grye, W. (2009). The social and communication networks of a grassroots organization in Kibera, Kenya. Conference paper.

Haugerud, A. (1997). The culture and politics of modern Kenya. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Kimani, S.M. (1972). The structure of land ownership in Nairobi. Journal of East African Research and Development, 2(2), 101-124.

Kitching, G. (1980). Class and economic change in Kenya. The making of an African petite-bourgeoisie. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Kramer, M. (2006). Dispossessed: Life in our world’s urban slums. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.

Lee-Smith, D. & Lamba, D. (2000). Social transformation in a post-colonial city: The case of Nairobi. In M. Polese & R. Stern (Eds.), The social sustainability of cities: Diversity and the management of change. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Macharia, K. (1992). Slum clearance and the informal economy in Nairobi. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 30(2), 221-236. (recommended)

Muraya, P. W. K. (2006). Urban planning and small-scale enterprises in Nairobi, Kenya. Habitat International, 30, 127-143.

Neuwirth, R. (2006). Shadow cities: A billion squatters, a new urban world. New York: Routledge.

Ogot, B. A. & Ochieng, W. R. (1995). Decolonization and independence in Kenya 1940-93. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

Osborn, M. (2008). Fueling the flames: Rumour and politics in Kibera. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 2(2), 315-326.

Parsons, A. W. (2009). Megaslumming: A journey through sub-Saharan Africa’s largest shantytown. London: Share the World’s Resources. (available in PDF online)

Parsons, T. (1997). “Kibra is our blood”: The Sudanese military legacy in Nairobi’s Kibera location, 1902-1968. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 30(1), 87-122. (highly recommended)

Robertson, C. C. (1997). Trouble showed the way: Women, men, and trade in the Nairobi area, 1890-1990. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

UN Habitat. The challenge of global slums: global report on human settlements. (2003). Sterling, VA: Earthscan.

van Zwanenberg, R. (1972). History and theory of urban poverty in Nairobi: The problem of slum development. Journal of East African Research and Development, 2(2), 163-205.

Wangui, E.E. & Darkoh, M.B.K. (1992). A geographical study of Kibera as an example of an uncontrolled settlement. Journal of East African Research & Development , x(x), 75-91.

White, L. (1990). The comforts of home: Prostitution in colonial Nairobi. University of Chicago Press.

Zamberia, A. M. (2006). State-civil society partnerships and sustainable urban development: Lessons from Kibera, Nairobi. LWATI: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 3, 251-265.

Mapping as Representation and as Site of Contesting Power/Interests

Aitken, S. C. & Zonn, L. E. (1994). Place, power, situation, and spectacle: A geography of film. Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishes, Inc. (“Mapping of Cinematic Places: Icons, Ideology, and the Power of (Mis)representation”)

Blunt, A. & Wills, J. (2000). Dissident geographies: An introduction to radical ideas and practice. New York: Prentice Hall.

Crampton, J. W. (2001). Maps as social constructions: Power, communication and visualization. Progress in Human Geography, 25(2), 235-252.

Duncan, J. & Ley, D. (1993). Place/culture/representation. New York: Routledge. (“Introduction: Representing the Place of Culture” & “Sites of Representation: Place, Time and the Discourse of the Other” & “Representing Space: Space, Scale and Culture in Social Science”)

Fabian. J. (1983). Time and the other: How anthropology makes its object. New York: Columbia University Press

Harley, J.B. (1988). Maps, knowledge, and power. In D. Cosgrove & S. Daniels (Eds.) The iconography of landscape: Essays on the symbolic representation, design and use of past environments (277-312). New York: Cambridge University Press. (recommended)

Harley, J.B. (1989). Deconstructing the map. Cartographica, 26(2), 1-20. (recommended)

Harvey, D. (1996). Justice, nature and the geography of difference. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Neocleous, M. (2003). Off the map: On violence and cartography. European Journal of Social Theory, 6(4), 409-425.

Propen, A. (2007). Visual communication and the map: How maps as visual objects convey meaning in specific contexts. Technical Communication Quarterly, 16(2), 233-254.

Schumacher, M. & Koch, M. (2004). Mapping the unmapped, seeing the unseen. In A. Borsdorf & P. Zembri (Eds.) European cities structures: Insights on outskirts (49-78).


Planet of Slums, Mike Davis

  • 14 Third World urbanization , moreover, continued to breakneck pace (3.8 percent per annum from 1960 to 1993) throughout the locust years of the 1980s and early 1990s, in spite of falling real wages, soaring prices and skyrocking unemployment.
  • 15 As local safety nets disappeared, poor farmers became increasingly vulnerable to any exogenous shock: drought, inflation, rising interest rates or falling commodity prices. (Or illnesss: an estimated 60 percent of Cambodian small peasents who sell their land and move to the city are forced to do so by medical debts.
  • 18 Africa’s slums are growing at twice the speed of the continent’s exploding cities. Indeed, an incredible 85 percent of Kenya’s population growth between 1989 and 1999 was absorbed in the fetid, densely packed slums of Nairobi and Mombasa.
  • 19 Indeed, the one billion city-dwellers who inhabit postmodern slums might well look back with envy at the ruins of the sturdy mud homes of Catal Huyuk in Anatolia, erected at the very dawn of life nine thousand years ago.
  • 23 Indeed, neoliberal capitalism since 1970 has multiplied Dicken’s notorious slums of Tom-all-Alone’s in Bleak House by exponential powers. Residents of slums, while only 6 percent of the city population in the developed countries, constitutes a staggering 78.2 percent of urbanites in the least-developed countries; this equals fully a third of the global urban population
  • 23 According to UN-Habitat, the world’s highest percentages of slum-dwellers are in Ethiopia (an astonishing 99.4 percent of the urban population), Chad (also 99.4 percent), Afghanistan (98.5 percent), and Nepal (92 percent). Bombay, with 10 to 12 million squatters and tenement dwellers, is the global capital of slum dwelling, followed by Mexico City and Dhaka (9 to 10 million each), and then Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Kinsasha-Brazzaville, Sao Paulo, Shanghai and Delhi (6 to 9 million each).
  • 25 If UN data are accurate, the household per-capita income differential between a rich city like Seattle and a very poor city like Ibadan is as great as 739 to 1 – an incredible inequality.
  • 33 The most unusual example of an inherited housing supply is undoubtedly Cairo’s City of the Dead, where one million poor people use Mameluke tombs as prefabricated housing components.
  • 72 Mid 1970s, a strange partnership between Robert McNamara and anarchist writer John Turner, resulted in a program to “make housing affordable to the low income households without the payment of subsidies, in contrast to the heavily subsidizes public-housing approach.” Chief propogandist of the creativity of slums as the solution not the proble,. This becom “a smokescreen for reneging upon historic state commitments to poverty and housing problems. They legalized the slums, but failed because of slum lords
  • 78 NGOs as a new class of middlemen usurping the voices of the poor.
  • 87 Nairobi’s slums are the vast rent plantations owned by politicians and the upper middle class. Although most of the private rental development “has no formal legal basis…property relations and ownership [thanks to the corrupt political sysmte] exist in a de facto sense.” In Mathare 4A, where 28,000 people – the poorest of the poor- rent 9= 12 meter mud-and-wattle hovels, the absentee landlords, according to research from the Ministries of Roads, are “powerful, forceful hehind the scenes and are often prominent public figures, those connected to them or their wealthy individuals or firms.” “Fifty-seven percent of the dwellings in one Nairobi slum, are owned by politicians and civil servants, and the shacks are the most profitable housing in the city. A slumlord who pays $160 for a 100 square foot shack can recoup the entire investment in months.
  • 93 Modern mega-slums like Kibera and Cite-Soleil (PaP) have achieved densities comparable to cattle feed lots; crowding more residents per acre into low-rise housing than there were in famous congested tenement districts in the Lower East Side in the 1900s or in contemporary highrise cores such as Central Tokyo and Manhattan.
  • 93 “Dantesque degredation” referring to picking through burning trash
  • 94 Slum dwellers are cauht in the vise of soaring rents (for chicken coop like shacks) and rising transport costs. Rasna Warah, writing for UN-Habitat, cites the case of a typical Kibera resident, a vegtable hawker, who spends half her monthly income of $21 on transportation to and from the city market.
  • 95 In the leafy suburb of Karen there are fewer than 360 inhabitants per square kilometer, according to the 1999 census; parts of Kibera have more than 80,000 people in the same sized area. G SARTORI, G NEMBRINI AND F STAUFFER, “Monitoring Urban Growth of Informal Settlements and Population Estimation from Aerial Photography and Satellite Imagining, Occasional Paper #6, Geneva Foundation, June 2002
  • 117 Alphavulle, a walled and Americanized Brazilian neighborhood, is named after the dark new world in Godar’s dystopian 1965 film.
  • 124 remarkable documentary film maker Hiroshi Shinomiya
  • 135 sprawling refuge dumps in Accra, full of plastic bags full of aborted human fetuses
  • 138 Engel’s Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844 side by side with modern African urban novel, such as Mega Mwengi’s Going Down River Road (1976), the existential continuities are remarkable. Engels: “In one of the courts, right at the entrance where the covered passage ends in a privy without a door. The privy is so dirty that the inhabitants can only enter or leave the court by wading through puddles of stake urine and excrement.” Mwengi: “Most of the paths criss-crossing the dewy grasslands were scattered wit human excrement…The cold wet wind that blew across it carried, in the same medium with the smell of urine and shit, the occasional murmber, the rare expression of misery, uncertainty and resignation.”
  • 139 The megacity of Kinsasha, with a population fast approaching 10 million, has no waterborn sweage system to all. Across the continent in Nairobi, the Laini Saba slum in Kibera in 1998 had exactly ten working pit latrine for 40,000 people, while in Mathare 4A there were two public toilets for 28,000. MAPPING LATRINES VS. POPULATION, PRIVATE TOILET USAGE IN GHANA, FOR FAMILY ONCE PER DAY, COSTS 10 PERCENT OF BASIC WAGE. SO MANY VISUALIZATIONS!!!! COMPARE TO AVERAGE US MIDDLE INCOME PERSON IF WITH PERCENTAGES OF $$ SPEND ON HOUSING. TRANSPORT AND POOPING, WATER
  • 145 Nairobi Mayor Joe Aketch said “the population of Kibera slum pays up to five times for litre of water more than averae American citizens.
  • 151 Slums have a brilliant future. The majority of the world’s poor will pass from countryside to cities no later than 2035. Two billion slum dwellers by 2030 or 2040 is a monstrous, almost incomprehensible prospect. By 2020, “urban poverty could reach 45 to 50 percent of the total population o living in the cities.”
  • 175 The informal woring class, without legal recognition or rights, has important historical antecedents. In modern European history, Naples, even more than Dublin or London’s East End, was the exemplar of an urban informal economy.
  • 180 9 Arguments against De Soto

1. distinguish within informal sector between dynamic entpreurs and the community of the poor which is large body of residual or under-employed labor. De Soto’s heroic microentprenuers are often laid off public-sector employment 2. most participants in the informal economies work directly or indirectly for someone else 3. informal networks means more exploitation since unregulated 4. informality means abuse of women and children 5. the informal sector generarates jobs not by elaborating new divisions of labor but by fragmenting existing work, and thus subdividing incomes: sitting in veg markets or selling hankerchiefs, shining 3 shoes per day

  • Recalls Darwin’s famous analogy of tropical nature: “ten thousiand sharp wedges [urban survival strategies] packed close together and driven inwards by incessant blows, sometimes one wedge being struck, and then another with greater force.”
  • Giving everyone something provides dimuation of per capita income and intensification despite decline marginal returns. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! In 1870s, mass emigration to the settler socities resulted in the dynamic safety valve that prevented the rise of mega-Dublin and mega-Na[les

6. por turn with fanati hope to third economy, gambling, pyramid scheme, lottiries and other quasi-magical forms of wealth appropriation. In Bnagkok, 20 percent of incime was redistribute through gambling and share games. 7. Micro-credit has little impact of reduction of poverty; these are survival tactics with little or no prospect of accumulation. 8. Increasing competition with the informal sector depletes social capital and dissolves self-help networks and solidiarities essential to the survival of the urban poor. The tradition of mutual giving is being lost. 9. De Sotan slogans simply grease the skids to a Hobbesian Hell. Those engaged in informal-sector competition us under conditionos of infinite labor supply usually shop short of a total war of all against all; conflict, instead, is usually transmuted into ethnoreligious or racial violence. The godgathers and landlords of the informal sector intelligently use coercion, even chronic violence to regulation competition and potect their investments. The neoliberal prescription of extreme competition (as layed out in 1995 World Bank Development Report) is catastrophic in this sense. 198 A perverse, literal belief in Harry Potter has gripped Kinsasha, leading to the mass-hysterical denouciation of thousands of child witches and their expulsions to the streets, even their murder. The chidren, some barely more than infats, have been accused of every misdeed and are believed, in the Ndjili slum at least, to fly about at night in swarms on broomsticks.”

  • 198 The child witches of Kinsasha, like the organ-exporting slums of India and Egypt, seem to take us to an existential ground zero beyond which there is only death camps, famine, and Kurtzian horror. Indeed, an authentic Kinois, Thierry Mayamba Nlandu, in a poignant but Whitmanesque (“the shanties, too, sing Kinsasha…”) The Kinoir, like the inhabitants of the MArtinican slum called Texaco in Patrick Chamoiseau’s famed novel of the same name, hold on to the city “by its thousand survival cracks” and stubbornly refuse to let go.
  • 201 Aren’t the greatest slums – as Disraeli worried in 1971 or Kennedy fretted in 1961 – just volcanoes waiting to erupt? Or does ruthless Darwinian competition – as increasing number of poor people compete for the same informal scraps – generate , instead, self-annihiliating communal violence as yet the highest form of “urban involution”? To what extent does an informal proletariet possess that most potent of Marxist talismans: “historical agency”
  • 202 Most of the deep thinkers in the big American and European policy think tanks and international relations institutes have yet to wrap their minds around the geopolitical implications of “a planet of slums”. More successful – perhaps because thy don’t have to reconcile neoliberal dogma with neoliberal reality – have been the strategists and tactical planners at the Air Force Academy, the Army’s RAND Arroyo Center, and the Marine’s Quantico Warfighting Laboratory. Indeed, in the absensce of other paradigms, the Pentagon has evolved its own distinctive perspective on global urban poverty.
  • 203 Mogadishu 1993 where slum armies inflicted 60 percent causultie rates on army rangers resulted in Pentagonese MOUT: military operations of urbanized terrain—1990s RAND study on how demographic changes will affect future conflict
  • 204 The Pentagon’s best minds have dared to venture where most UN, World Bank and State types far to go: down the road that logically follows from the abdication of urban reform…With coldblooded lucidity, they now assert that the “feral, failed cities” of the Third World – especially the slum outskirts, - will be th disctinctive battlespace of the 21st century. Pentagon doctribe is being reshaped accordingly to support a low intensity world war of unlimited duration against crimilatized segmants of the urban poor. This is the true clash of civilizations.
  • This delusionary dialectic of securitized versus demonic urabn places in turn dictates a sinister and unceasing duet: Night after night, hornet like helicopter gunships stalk enigmatic enemies in the narrow street of the slum districts, pouring hellfire into shanties of fleeing cars. Every morning the slums reply with suicide bombers and eloquent explosions. If the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression, its outcasts have the gods of chaos on their side.


  • Philip Amis, “Commercialized Rental Housing in Nairobi” in Patton, Spontaneous Shelter,
  • Diana Lee-Smith, Squatter Landlords in Nairob: A Cas Study of Korongocho” in Amis and Llyod Housing Africa’s Poor
  • Ellen Brennan, Urban Land and Housing Issues Facing the Third World, in Kasarda and Parnell, Third World Cities
  • Guardian Nairobi Slum Life October 2002
  • Manual Castells, The City and the Grassroots: A Cross-Cultural Theory of Urban Social Movements, New York 1983, p. 191
  • Rasna Warah “Nairobi’s Slums: Where Life for Women is Nasty, Brutish and Short” Habitat Debate Sept 2002, np
  • See ariel photography piece above
  • Chris Abani’s deliciously wonderful novel Graceland
  • Peter Muteva “Project Proposal on Health and Hygience Education to Promote Safe Handling of Drinking Water and Appropriate Use of Snaitlation Facilities in Formal Settlements, brief Nairobi April 2001
  • Patrick Chamoiseau, Texaco, April 1997
  • Mike Davis the Urbanizatio of Empire: Megacitiesand the Laws of Chas, Social Text 81 (Winter 2004)
  • The Urbanization of Insurgency: The Potential Challenge to US army ops, EAND

Shadow Cities

Quote, p81-82

A few years ago, the Water and Sanitation Program, a nonprofit affiliated with the United Nations and the World Bank, became interested in the water supply question in Kibera. The group issued a report on Kibera's water kiosks. By reading the fine print, you can determine how much Kibera people -- and by extension, residents of all the mud hut communities of Nairobi -- are being ripped off by the kiosk system. At 3 shillings per jerry can, Kibera residents pay 10 times more for water than the average person in a wealthy neighborhood with municipally supplied, metered water service. And that's when water is plentiful. When there's a shortage, metered rates don't go up, but the prices in Kibera do. So at those times people in Kibera pay 30 or 40 times the official price of water.

The group published a brochure about the study. They presented it to local and national politicians. There was only one bunch of people who never saw the study: the residents of Kibera.

Japeth Mbuvi, Operations Analyst for the program, explained why. "Our audience for this was not the people of Kibera, but the political structure," he told me. Then he added, "Anyway, maybe it's better not to publicize this: there could be riots."

I applaud Mbuvi for his frankness. He is one of the few people I have met at any of the large nonprofit agencies who was willing to be candid about his agency's shortcomings as well as its achievements.

Still, there's something sad about his concern.

Perhaps it's true that people in Kibera could riot over water. After all, Kibera has been the scenes of riots in the past -- most of them involving landlord tenant issue -- and scores of people have been murdered in the melees. Still, Kibera's people deserve to know the facts about their lives. What's the point of studying the water kiosks of Kibera if, when the study is done, the information is not shared with the people who most at stake?


Anthropology of Space and Place: Locating Culture

Lhasa - Streets with Memories by: Robert Barnett

Raw hope, New Life : Decency, Housing and Everyday life in A post-apartheid community, by Fiona C. Ross

Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software, by Christopher M. Kelty - Duke University Press.

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