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Ghetto Stories

  • Writer's pictureGF Research Collective

Ghetto Foundation 2020 Activities

Dear friends,

We from Ghetto Foundation wish you a happy and healthy new year, and we are inexpressibly grateful for the support from all of you, which helped us to help residents in Mathare and beyond to face one of the most difficult years (in recent times).

The global COVID19 pandemic made existing inequalities more visible and expanding these while also adding new challenges, both worldwide and in ghettos like Mathare.

With your support we were able to initiate many activities, below we highlight three of our main activities, for more we would like to invite you to visit our website:

1. A community-led cash transfer:

As the first responder to the ‘corona crisis’, Ghetto Foundation (GF) was able to start-up a community-led cash transfer which was fully operational by late March when the first devastating effects of the pandemic became tangible to Mathare residents. Between March and September 2020, GF has assisted 654 families in Mathare, Nairobi, who were in dire need of financial support to face the economic downturn that followed the stringent 'corona regulations' by the Kenyan government.

Alongside cash donations to the neediest (who we know because we live in this community as oppose to politicians and NGOs from outside Mathare), we offered hand wash stations to local bazes (groups of youth) and trained them to train residents in hygiene measures to curb the spread of COVID19. In addition, we also regularly distributed food to vulnerable residents and worked together with Mutual Aid KE to ensure that the people who really needed support received food donations and adequate water supply. We also supported the NGO Give Directly in drawing up a list of over 4000 additional residents in dire need to receive regular cash transfer from May 2020 onwards, including the ones we were able to support in the first period of the crisis. We also included a high number of youth residents who had been forgotten by other initiatives by NGOs and the government.

2. Community-led research and action (CLRA)

GF took part in several CLRA projects. To highlight two:

One such project set out to support the situational analysis for the people-driven urban planning project by M-SPARC (Mathare Special Planning Area Research Collective), which GF co-founded together with Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC).

Another CLRA project commenced under the wing of the Right To Life Committee from the Social Justice Movement Working Group which concerns the documentation of police violence against, mainly, young men, in Nairobi ghettos. Police violence has again surged in 2020, which has a lot to do with the abuse of expanded police powers to reinforce the stringent corona measures in place.

3. Youth and education

The closing of schools has had devastating effects on children and youth in Mathare. The majority of them did not have access to online learning or lacked suitable spaces to engage in homeschooling. Many ended up spending days, weeks and months outside, together in groups. The flawed and corrupt work-for youth scheme ‘kazi mtaani’ only exacerbated the problem given that participating youth continued to idle without any meaningful prospects. Crime increased dramatically and so did teen pregnancies. GF invited close to 100 youth (14-22 years) to take part in weekly activities to provide them with guidance and creative and educational activities and with an outlet to channel their frustrations. Alongside the general youth activities, a special group was founded by young girls who felt at risk of becoming pregnant to specifically provide support and mutual (trauma) healing following from the sexual violence these teenagers encounter on a daily basis.

4. UN-Habitat

Ghetto Foundation is incredibly grateful to UN Habitat for its generosity and partnership in supporting another community-led response to COVID-19 in the informal settlements of Mathare, Nairobi Kenya. For a period of 3 months, Ghetto Foundation established 10 hand washing stations in different parts of Mathare. We partnered with 10 youth organizations in Mathare, who helped in tracking of household-level data, educate residents on COVID19 and provide people with water and soap to observe stricti hygiene measure to prevent the spread of this disease.


Ghetto Foundation partnered with MUTUAL AID Kenya organisers to ensure that the relief items (food, medical supplies and so on) they were able to donate reached the people inside Mathare who were most in need of this type of support.


Ushirikiano Mwema Kwa Usalama (UMKU) Project ran from 2017-2020 and was funded by the European Union. UMKU aimed at fostering collaborative approaches by civil society as well as state actors to enhance political and socio-economic justice, non-violent conflict resolution, as well as good governance and rule of law. The partneship was a consortium members within the UMKU project are Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC), Ghetto Foundation, Peace Brigades International (PBI) and Saferworld.

Under the UMKU project, Ghetto Foundation organized and conducted over 34 community dialogues with influential youths in 3 constituencies in Nairobi (Mathare, Kamukunji and Embakassi North) there was also series of Human Right Trainings and documentation of Human Rights Violations in the 3 neighborhoods, and the partnering organisations were able to invite the UN Rapporteur for Extra-Judicial Killings to Kenya: Agnés Callamard.


Ghetto Foundation is part of the Social Justice Centers working group in Nairobi and throughout the year we have engaged in various campaigns, e.g. Form Ni Kureform Campaign where we guide youths to stop crime and start decent income-generating projects. We also helped organise the 7/7 march for our lives and are taking the lead in a community-led research on police killings.

9. M-SPARC: Mathare Special Planning Area Research Collective

Ghetto Foundation teamed up with other community-led to ensure the realization of a Mathare with quality basic services and the provisions stated in Article 43 of the Constitution. Our goal in pursuing a Mathare Special Planning Area, is also to ensure the accessibility of quality publicly owned and sustained collective infrastructures. Informing these objectives is our desire to ensure that rights are dispersed equally in Nairobi, and we realize local and global targets, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, for all. With the majority of the members of the Mathare Special Planning Area Research Collective also born and raised in Mathare, this is a project for “home.”


Ghetto Foundation and Mathare Social Justice Center came together with an idea to form a network of Grassroots Human Right Defenders in Mahare with the aim of strengthening our efforts in fighting rampant police brutality in the informal settlement. The formation of the network is formed by 4 Social Justice Centers operating within Mathare in different wards/ Areas, these centers are:

§ MSJC (Mathare Social Justice Center)

§ GF (Ghetto Foundation)

§ KCJC (KiamaiKo Community Justice Center)

§ RSJC (Ruaraka Social Justice Center)

We close with a picture of an outing organized by and for these girls to Kararu forest, a beautiful forest at walking distance from where they live but which they had never been able to visit before.

In 2021, we look forward to informing you as we continue to build on all this work led by the inspirational young people from Mathare.

We could not have done this without you!

In solidarity,

Samuel Kiriro and Daniel Wainaina

Ghetto Foundation

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