How Technology is Putting Kenya’s Slums on the Map

These days, the Internet makes it possible to travel much of the world with a simple click of a mouse. But not every place where life gets lived is cartographically represented. This leaves entire communities, particularly slums and other “informal settlements,” invisible from state actors who could implement vital infrastructure like electricity and clean water.

“Informal settlements are usually not connected to the formal grids such as water or sanitation or even electricity. So, the maps make communities legible, or visible, to the outside world… A picture tells a thousand words, and with maps, that is more than true. It can attract more investment, more interest. It can help in many different ways once you know what’s there,” notes Primož Kovačič. Using their feet, GPS technology and a lot of dedication, Primož Kovačič, Isaac Motisiamosa and their teams are collaborating to put Mathare, Kenya’s second largest slum, and its people on the map.

Isaac Motisiamosa adds, “Mathare is the second largest slum in Kenya. It’s an area where there is a lot of issues: lack of proper sanitation, there’s insecurity. So, we’ve collected a lot of data, we’ve mapped all the hospitals, mapped all the schools. Mapping empowers me to make sure that we bring services to our people.”

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