Urban poverty poses one of our world’s greatest challenges and opportunities. Of today’s urban population of about 3.5 billion people, nearly 1 billion urban poor live in informal settlements. By 2030, the urban population is projected to reach 5 billion, meaning two-thirds of the global population will reside in cities. Emerging economies, like Kenya, will bear the brunt of this rapid growth. In this time frame, their urban populations are expected to double, adding 2 billion more people.1 This makes urban poverty a critical challenge. In Nairobi, the focal point of SHOFCO’s work, 60%-70% of it's roughly 3.5 million population lives in informal settlements that comprise just 5% of the city's footprint.2
Those living in urban poverty are deeply vulnerable. Daily challenges of urban poverty include:
limited access to employment and education opportunities
inadequate and insecure housing
violent and unhealthy environments
little or no social protection mechanisms
limited access to adequate health care, sanitation, clean, affordable water
Much of urban poverty is rooted in resource and capacity constraints, and, importantly, a lack of government support. The Kenyan government does not acknowledge the existence of the nation’s informal settlements. Residents are considered to be squatting on government land, and, as such, are not provided with basic social services like education, healthcare, clean water and sanitation. SHOFCO steps in to fill this gap in public service provision through grassroots leadership.