26 July 2009

Kibera The Terrible!

(tongue firmly planted into cheek)

For some reason, the Kansas City Star tends to have a higher frequency of Kenya related articles than any other American news source.  I do not really count Reuter and the AP because they provide small reports that do little more than make it easier to read more in a short amount of time.  However, for more in depth news, the Kansas City Star seems to have a thing for Kenya.  To a certain extent it is a good thing.

An Op-Ed from yesterday’s KC Star is an example of how it can be a bad thing.  The author of the article traveled from Kansas City to Nairobi to write an article about Kibera that could have been written from home.  There is a part of me that hopes that the money was saved on taking such a useless trip and she is lying about going to all the way to Nairobi. 

The article, at its best points, is a neat tourist’s trip to the largest slum in Africa.  I opened the article, wasting valuable money on the megabyte to download it, hoping to learn something new about Kibera.  I did learn something, the reporters were given boots to wade through the streets of mud/human waste mixture.  So, to start the article, the ‘journalist’ admits to needing a form of protection against the unsterile slum.

She then talks about how poor the slum is, mentioning the ‘flying toilets’ and aid workers within the slum.  She touches on the fact that the slum is getting worse, but does not seem to mention that it has grown worse as aid has increased.  Her blame resides within the Kenyan government.  Not even close to perfect, the government has done a terrible job with the slum.  NGO’s responded and have flooded Kibera.  It has gotten worse.

So yes, there is a lot of fault with the government, but what about the useless NGO’s?  More people continue to move to Kibera despite it being such a terrible place.  It is irresponsible to travel to Kenya and produce such a waste of an article.  Again, this is an example of catering to the expectations of the readers.  She does no real investigative work.

There is a nice example of the work of one aid worker who checks on the health of slum dwellers.  She has access because respondents will get free healthcare access.  It is mentioned that the people have answers prepared, an opportunity to talk about a real issue!  However it is passed over and the article continues.

I hope that Ms. Pepper is still in Nairobi and will return to Kibera to determine the impact of such actions.  Is it helpful for people to give canned answers?  How does it impact the effectiveness of health work within the slum?  Are the NGO’s native staffed?  Do they improve the slum by teaching people how to treat and recognize disease? how to stay clean?  There are too many more questions to post here, but can she try to work towards answering one?