Nairobi’s Mathare is Kenya’s most densely populated area, with 68,941 persons living within a square kilometre in contrast to the national average of a paltry 82 persons per square kilometre.
The low-income settlement, which has a population of 206,564 has had a number of social and health challenges, ranging from cholera outbreaks to gang violence and collapsed buildings attributed to unplanned developments that have denied residents access to essential amenities.
Most parts of Mathare are not connected to clean drinking water lines, and a lack of sewer lines has seen the highrise buildings emptying their wastewater into Nairobi river.
Land officials have also colluded with individuals to sell off public spaces in Mathare, including land reserved for road expansion, riverbanks and public amenities.
Meanwhile the continued influx of jobseekers that has largely contributed to its population growth currently standing at 4.4 million persons.
Kamukunji, 10.5 square kilometres, comes second after Mathare, with 25,455 persons per kilometre. A majority of the 268,276 Kamukunji residents live in unapproved highrise buildings in Uhuru, Muthurwa, Bahati, Eastleigh North and South as well as Kimathi areas. Makadara comes in third, with its 11.7 kilometre square area hosting 189,536 persons or 16,150 persons per square kilometre.
Dagoretti, fourth, also has low-income housing estates where 434,208 persons live mostly in single-room rental houses on its 29.1 square kilometres or 14,908 persons per square kilometre.
It is followed by the 86.2 square kilometre Embakasi, which has Nairobi’s highest population at 988,808, with 11,460 persons living per kilometre in closely clustered rental units.
Kibra, which has witnessed implementation of several pro-poor residential developments, accommodates 185,777 persons within 12.1 square kilometres or 15,311 persons per square kilometre. Similar scenarios have also been witnessed in major urban areas of Mombasa and Kisumu where residents live in close residential clusters that were built without council approval and investment in social infrastructure.
Mvita and Nyali hosting hospitality outlets in Mombasa attract migrants; 10,543 persons live within a kilometre in Mvita compared to Nyali’s 9,610.