Growing up in the Mukuru slum, Nairobi: in photos | ActionAid UK

Sarah Murphy

Digital Communications

The Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya is home to over half a million people - many of whom live in extreme poverty. Low wages, insecure employment, limited education opportunities and poor sanitation are just some of the challenges facing local communities. 

Through our Not This Girl appeal, ActionAid is working with local women's groups to help prevent girls being abused and enable them to stay in school. All donations to the appeal before 7th June will be matched by the UK government as part of UK Aid Match. Find out what life is like for girls growing up in the Mukuru slum, and how you can help change their lives for good.


Mary, 3, lives in the Mukuru slum
Mary, 3, lives in the Mukuru slum

“It’s not safe”: at home in Mukuru

Most houses in the Mukuru slum are constructed out of corrugated iron. These are small, only ten-foot by ten-foot, and provide accommodation for the whole family.

Electricity is transmitted into people’s homes through a dangerous network of wires and cables. In this densely populated area, the risk of fire is great

mother and baby, mum, Kenya, Mukuru slum

Many homes have no running water. For cooking and cleaning, women and girls collect water from taps in the street.

 water, Mukuru slum, Wangu Kanja Foundation, taps

These taps are expensive to use and for many families in Mukuru, water is a necessity they can barely afford.

Girl, Mukuru slum, tap, water

With no toilet facilities at home, young girls have to walk through streets of the slum to reach the nearest public toilet. As eleven-year-old Rose describes: 

“I don’t like it here. It’s dirty and there’s no clean water. There’s bad drainage and you have to pay to go to the toilet. The toilet is away from my house and this makes it difficult. It’s a hard life here; it’s not safe.”

Without access to basic amenities, even simple tasks like washing and managing periods are fraught with anxiety.

Girls have limited access to education

Many girls growing up in Mukuru do not have the chance to go to school and get an education. Whilst their parents struggle to make a living doing odd jobs or by working in nearby factories, many spend their time on the streets. 

Mukuru slum, young girl, streets

The Mukuru slum has some of the highest rates of violence against women and girls in Kenya. Girls who spend their time on the streets, rather than in school, are particularly vulnerable and at significant risk of violence, sexual exploitation and abuse. 

girl, Mukuru slum

How a local women’s network helped Kelly go to school

When Kelly was just eleven years old, she started begging for money on the streets as part of a gang. A nun at a nearby school grew concerned about Kelly and introduced her to a local women’s centre, supported by ActionAid. 

Now Kelly is enrolled in a local school where she and her family are supported by the Wangu Kanja Foundation, an ActionAid partner. With the help and guidance of her teacher, she is studying her favourite subject and pursuing her ambitions. As Kelly describes:

“I love mathematics. When I grow up I want to be a doctor and build houses for poor families like mine.”

With access to education, the lives of girls living in the Mukuru slum can be transformed. 

Mukuru slum, school, education

How ActionAid is helping girls like Kelly

Less than half of girls in Kenya attend secondary school and a quarter are married by their 18th birthday. Through the Not This Girl Appeal, ActionAid is working with local women’s groups to help girls stay in school and pursue their ambitions. 

If you give today, your donation will be doubled by the UK government and we’ll be able to support even more girls like Kelly to pursue their dreams. 

Donate today

Photo credits: Sheldon Moultrie/ActionAid

Give to ActionAid’s ‘Not This Girl’ appeal today to help keep girls safe from sexual exploitation and abuse, and your donation will be matched by the UK government pound for pound.

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