Britain’s Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs David Miliband was given a grueling tour on foot of Nairobi’s crowded and destitute Kibera slums this week by UN-HABITAT’s Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
Taking time off from the United Nations climate change conference in Nairobi to spend a morning visiting one of Africa's most overcrowded slums, he described what he saw as a “massive challenge” to the whole world. “Kibera is a massive challenge both in terms of the environment and also the lives of the inhabitants. It is a challenge that must be addressed urgently,” he said.
With Mrs. Tibaijuka, the minister ploughed through the muddy alleys meeting and cracking jokes with the residents. He said one of the objectives of his visit was to see rural Kenya and that he was impressed with what he had seen.
“It ws very significant to talk to and hear the needs of the people on the ground because they are the ones affected,” he said.
On her part, Mrs. Tibaijuka reiterated her agency’s commitment to improving the living conditions of the Kibera slum dwellers.
The challenge by the United Kingdom minister comes at a time when it is projected that by 2030 the number figure of people living in cities will rise to two-thirds, Mrs. Tibaijuka said.
“We live in an age of unprecedented, rapid, irreversible urbanisation. The cities growing fastest are those of the developing world, and the fastest growing neighbourhoods are the slums,” she said.