Saturday, June 04, 2005

$9 million for Kibera from Sweden

The Embassy of Sweden is putting 67 million krona (approximately $9 million) into the upgrading of Kibera. Almost one-third of the money (or $3 million) has been allocated to non-profits, the rest to the Government of Kenya for construction.

Though the Swedish government argues for "participatory and pro-poor methods" and for "residents of informal settlements to actively participate in upgrading processes," I've been told that so far most people in Soweto Village (the area of Kibera slated for new construction) have not been clued in to what's going on for fear that any news will spark violent tribal confrontations over who will get the newly built apartments.

So the government and the NGOs get the money. I'm not against harnessing outside investment for Kibera, but I wonder whether an 'upgrading' project could be fashioned that would work with existing residents to figure out how they want to improve their homes rather than imposing a building plan from outside. True empowerment would be a wonderful thing.

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