21 September 2009

Drop in Tourism Can Be Good

The Daily Nation has an op-ed piece that discusses the move of people out of Kibera slum and into new housing.  Basically, a project has been set up outside that will offer cheaper rooms (500 KSH a month per room) and better facilities.  The amount of people that it will house is much lower than the hundreds of thousands who live in Kibera, but it is a start. 

What is most notable is the fact that the rise in reasonable housing will kill the ‘poverty tourism’ industry.  In my opinion, it is a great thing for tourism to come to an end in Kibera.  People traveling around the slum and taking pictures of poor people so that they can feel good by making a donation as they leave must stop.  If we do not want people to invade our own homes and document us at our worst, why should we feel it ok to do it to a stranger in slum?

Some will argue that it is beneficial for people to learn and see the conditions.  Plus the additional benefit of donation makes it a bit easier to justify when an NGO.  Those small goods do not outweigh the insensitivity and lack of respect for human dignity.  Not wanting to get too far into the issue, it will be a good thing if tourism drops because there are less slums in Kenya (and the rest of the world too).