10 October, 2010

Kibera's Population is not One Million!

What a surprise! What a shock! The most talked and most researched slum in the world: Kibera, does not have a population of 1 million as always suggested and believed. In fact, Kibera does not have half of that many people; and not even a quarter of that. The 2009 Kenyan census puts Kibera’s population at only 170,070.

A few quotes on what has been said about Kibera's incredible population census results:
  • It is now official: Kibera is not the biggest slum in Africa. The 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census shows that one of the world's most famous slums houses just 170,070 residents, not one million, as previously believed.......While many may dispute these figures, I find it highly unlikely that the margin of error in the census was so huge that the population of a settlement dropped dramatically to one-fifth of its previous estimate in just a few years - unless the drop can be explained by a natural disaster or epidemic.......The more likely scenario is that, in the absence of authoritative statistics, the population figure for Kibera was entirely made up to suit the interests of particular groups. And because no one publicly challenged the figures, a lie became the truth. AllAfrica
  • Something is wrong when international organisations like the United Nations inflate their estimates of Kibera’s population by hundreds of thousands of people.......Since the Kenya government’s September census report showed that Kibera boasts just about 170,000 inhabitants — not the 800,000 figure so often cited — I wondered what other myths about Kibera had morphed into truths over the years. The East African
  • It is also possible that some folks in Kibera too felt cheated when they learnt that they were about 16 per cent of the population they thought they were. Why? Because if you are in a terrible situation, you get some comfort from thinking that you are not suffering alone, and so you exaggerate the number of people who are in a similar position. The Daily Nation
  • The truth is that we still don’t know how many people live in Kibera. It’s a different number today than yesterday. The definition of “living” in Kibera varies, it’s quite a transient place. Whether it’s 170000 or 1.5 million, the truth of that number is intertwined with the understanding of where it’s coming from. And questioning authority in Kenya doesn’t come easy. One chink in the armor is exploited to cast doubt on the entire enterprise. Authority means knowing all. MapKibera
I agree with Onyango-Obbo when he says that: One senses that not too many other people are happy either that there are only 160,000, not one million wretched souls, in Kibera. Still, having even thousands or hundreds of people living in such 'wretched' conditions is dehumanizing and very saddening.

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