Kenyan Poverty Tourism
Posted on Sep 26, 2009
Poverty has apparently become a kind of spectacle: Places such as Brazil’s favela slums and India’s shantytowns have become part of a “poverty tour” industry. Now Kenya has jumped on the bandwagon, with several organizations selling guided trips through the wretched Kibera slum in Nairobi. —JCL
The Dutch tourists came well prepared for the walking safari: strong shoes and sunscreen, backpacks and bottled water. Ahead lay an afternoon visiting one of Kenya’s most recognisable sights – but one that rarely features in tourist brochures.
“It might seem a bit strange to come here,” said Eric Schlangen, as the guide led him towards the sea of tin-roofed shacks that constitute Kibera, often described as one of the world’s largest slums. “But I wanted to see how people live in this country, not just the animals.”
Slum tourism is taking off in Kenya. Several local organisations have started selling guided trips through Kibera, a short drive from the luxury hotels that serve most foreign visitors in Nairobi.
EPA / Stephen Morrison
An estimated 1 million people are crammed into Nairobi’s sprawling Kibera slum, divided by open sewers.