Mathare Valley

Mathare valley slums are located in an old quarry 2km long and 300m wide. This shanty village is 5 km (3.2 miles) from Nairobi city centre, the capital of Kenya. 600,000 people live in this area in very poor conditions.The oldest slum in Nairobi, the slum is divided under three administrative areas namely Mabatini, Mathare and Roy Sambu Locations. It has further been divided in small units called areas e.g. Area 1(Kiamotesia) Area 2(Kiandururu), 3C (Bondeni) 4B (Gitathuru) and 4A (Koria/Mradi). Being cosmopolitan area different ethnic groups would be found more in one particular area.


Mathare valley slum is more associated with bad things and the area will only be on news for the wrong things. Many criminals use it as a hide out and crime is also too rampant in the areas. Cases of mugging, house breakage, attacks are the order of the day. The slum is prone to fire outbreaks occurs frequently and with no clear access road to manage such outbreaks remains a challenge. Fire outbreaks emanate from illegal electricity connections and infighting among ethnic groups. Sale and use of drugs like cocain, marijuana, Heroin, Canabis sativa among the youth is very common. Brewing of illicit drinks like Changaa is done openly with little intervention by the local administration.


There is little law & order in the slum. In some areas police completely rarely venture to maintain law and order. Broken families, single parents, widows and child headed families are a common feature. These are mainly as a result of lack of employment, abuse of drugs and the escalating HIV/AIDS scourge. The environment is never conducive with piles of uncollected garbage.Only three government maintained elementary Schools exist with the rest private or informal schools. While Mathare valley is often associated with a community rife with violent crime, prostitution, illegal alcohol and drugs, it is also a community of people struggling to improve their lives, educates their children, and lives with dignity.


Like minded organizations like MCO have ventured to bring the much needed change to the people of Mathare valley.

Challenges We Face

  • MCO as a change agent faces various challenges in its programme activities implementation.
    The major area is inadequate finances to effectively run its various programme. Unmet budgets in areas of feeding, educational sponsorship for poor children in the community support of children in the children's center, and low staff remuneration.
  • Infrastructure: Some of the institutions building are in poor state requiring repairs, some to be demolished and new ones put up.
  • Insecurity within Mathare slums remains a concern. Some staff members had been attacked by thugs
  • Relocation of parents from Mathare to other areas compromising continuity of support to effected beneficiaries .
  • Low support and participation in programme activities by parents derailing smooth running of programme.
  • Staff retention has been a challenge due to low remuneration. Staff turnover has been high. Trained Teachers have also been joining government employment.
  • Duplication and competition in services from other NGOs, CBOs in the same locality.
  • Donor apathy compounded together with dependency/control curtails growth
  • Mathare valley is a collection of 3 villages – No. 10, Mathare 4A and Mathare 4B – with an estimated population of 600,000

  • HIV/AIDS is amajor issue with high infection rates in the area.

  • majority of the household are headed by single women, many of whom have been in abusive relationships.