Children growing up in disadvantaged conditions face threats to their physical and psychological development as well as their prospects for the future.
SOS Children’s Villages began its support of the people of Nairobi in 1973 and today it continues to expand its services to help the most vulnerable segments of the population.
Wealth and extreme poverty coexist in Nairobi
Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and its largest city, with a population of more than 3.1 million people. It is a prominent political and financial centre and an established business hub, home to the regional centres of over 100 major international companies, including Google and Coca Cola. The Nairobi Stock Exchange is one of the largest in Africa.
Nairobi has its own national park inside the city, which is a major tourist attraction for visitors wanting to see animals including lions, giraffes and black rhinos on foot, via the Nairobi Safari Walk. The city also has a number of museums, historical site and monuments.
Most wealthy Kenyans choose to live in Nairobi, but in contrast to this, the living conditions of the vast majority of the population are extremely poor. It is thought that up to 50% of the city’s population live in slums, with little or no infrastructure, overcrowding, a lack of basic sanitation and clean water, and unsafe conditions. People living in the slums have no land rights and no access to formal employment, rendering them helpless to improve their situations.
Growing up in slums
The Kenyan government has begun implementing initiatives to improve conditions experienced by the city’s poorest populations. The Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme has made progress as the slum buildings are slowly replaced by high-rise accommodation, but there is still a long way to go. It is estimated that around 170,000 people are living in Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum.
The unemployment rate in Nairobi is high, and many occupations have low incomes. The city’s few schools have problems of overcrowding, leading to a less effective education system. Rising food prices and food insecurity have led to a high number of children suffering malnutrition.
Clean drinking water is also in short supply and life-threatening waterborne diseases are common. Diarrhoeal disease is responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million children worldwide each year, and the majority of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
SOS Children's work in Nairobi
We started working with the people of Nairobi in 1973 in response to the increasing number of families forced to live in slums. The SOS Social Centre in Nairobi supports families affected by HIV/AIDS and is focused on raising awareness about the epidemic.
Around 2,400 people benefit from the work of the social centre, which provides bursaries to children for nutrition and education, and also works with street children, helping to integrate them into school and to reunite them with their families where possible. The SOS Medical Centre provides basic health services and has an HIV/AIDS clinic, which offers counselling and anti-retroviral therapy to those affected.
A loving home for lone children
SOS Children’s Village Nairobi is home to up to over 150 children who are no longer able to live with their parents. These children experience a happy childhood in an SOS family, under the care of an affectionate SOS mother. The SOS Children’s Village is working towards being more self-sufficient and each of our family homes has its own garden where the children can grow their own fruits and vegetables and learn to keep goats, cows and geese.
Education and training
The SOS Nursery is attended by young SOS children and children from families living in the area. The SOS School in Nairobi offers primary education to more than 240 students from the SOS Village and the surrounding neighbourhood. When children are ready to leave the SOS family home, they are supported through our Youth Programme as they continue their education or vocational training. They live in semi-independent shared accommodation under the guidance of a professional counsellor.
SOS Children has two vocational training centres in Nairobi, with places for up to 176 students. One offers courses in carpentry and joinery, metal work, electrical installation, food and beverage, fashion and design and tailoring and dressmaking. The second is a training facility for SOS staff and SOS mothers, educating them and preparing them for the important work they will be doing in the SOS family homes.
In many ways, Kenya's capital is booming. Yet behind this optimism are thousands of lives lived in slums and limiting poverty. You can help Nairobi's vulnerable children and families by becoming child sponsor today.