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Economy

Youth group puts their Kibera neighbourhood on digital map

Nairobi’s Kibera slums. Non-governmental organisations,  private and public companies can ascertain  what  services are  required in the informal settlement  through a new digital map created  with the help of youths in the area.  Anthony Kamau
Nairobi’s Kibera slums. Non-governmental organisations, private and public companies can ascertain what services are required in the informal settlement through a new digital map created with the help of youths in the area. Anthony Kamau 

In early November, a group of explorers set out to map a blank space in Africa’s map. Twelve youths armed with global positioning system (GPS) devices made the rounds of the Nairobi slum of Kibera.

The teens are working with an organisation called OpenStreetMap to create a public map of their neighbourhood, seven kilometres southwest of the city centre. It is the second-largest informal settlement in Africa, after South Africa’s Soweto township.

UN-HABITAT estimates its population at 500,000 to 700,000, with a density of more than 2,000 people per hectare. The settlement is divided into 10 villages, Lindi, Soweto (East and West), Makina, Kianda, Mashimoni, Gatuikira, Kisumu Ndogo, Laini Saba and Siranga.

Despite being home to about one million in a densely populated area, Kibera remains a blank spot in Kenya’s map. The area lacks basic services like toilets and running water.