NGO Numbers in Kibera, and the tweet that was meant not to be!!!

Ok, yesterday i made some statement on twitter which has landed me on hot soup, with some of my great followers.  I was invited to attend and record Wireless Wednesday talk by Kentaro Toyama  themed “Mobiles for Development”.

During the talks, there were tense debates about the bottom of the pyramid, and the role of NGOs. Are they really helping these people or it is just something else?  Simeon Oriko the convenor of the  meeting  mentioned that he read somewhere that there are 11 NGOs for every person in Kibera!! It came out with some good humor that reduced the tension and everyone on the table laughed about it. But me here, with the phone on my hand, tweeted

… and then oooooooooh the hell broke loose on twitter..

@Larrymadowo : No kidding! The aid industry is obscene! RT @kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday

@bekdale Brian Ekdale :

@kachwanya Be careful what u tweet. Perhaps, you inverted the already dubious claim there is 1 NGO for every 11 residents? cc @nathancollett


@kanjiimbugua Kanjii Mbugua

@kachwanya: @LarryMadowo dude when do we start publihing tht #Kibera is NOT the 2nd largest slum in the world?U could get killed for that


@RichardTrillo Richard Trillo

@kachwanya Please retract to your followers. With respect, this statement is mathematical nonsense, would mean more than 2 million NGOs


@lkaaria Lawrence Kaaria

@LarryMadowo @kachwanya To develop, a country must move beyond AID & Activism! i.e. Giving Aid & being an Activist SHOULD NOT b a Career!


@sasyrae Cherae Robinson

@kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday“<— and yet there is still #Kibera


@Okwaroh Ja’ Paprombe

@LarryMadowo @kachwanya much as there are loads of NGOs in Kibera – this is plain falsehood.


@kanaosh k’a’n’a’o’s”h :

What???? RT @kachwanya There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday


@nathancollett Nathan Collett :

@aLiciAsuLLy @seblindstrom @kachwanya “fact” has no documentation to back it up. Came from op-Ed. Social media spreads dis-info #Kibera


@Erickogweno Erick Ogweno:

@kachwanya 11 persons for every NGO ama 11 NGOs for every person? that’s VERY many NGOs.

@nathancollett Nathan Collett

@Samooner @kahenya @kidmealem @kachwanya @LarryMadowo all NGO info here as per law nothing like 10,000 plus NGOs #kibera

@bzscan Benson Okello

@LarryMadowo @kachwanya just how many people are in Kibera?

@_philippayoung_ Philippa Young :

RT can this be true?! @aLiciAsuLLy thinks it’s a joke…@kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday

@Yasadams Yasmin adams

???RT @kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday


@emrys_s Emrys Schoemaker :

@kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday#developmenttruths


@rimbui rimbui :

RT @kachwanya: There are 11 NGOs for every person in #Kibera #WirelessWednesday < wapi link? >


I am sorry because i could not engage people on twitter after the Wireless Wednesday due to some deadlines i had to meet, although i was aware of the fire….

Anyway here are  some of my response to some of the questions:


Are there 11 NGOs for every person in Kibera?

Nope.. I talked to Simeon later on to confirm if it is true and he said it should be the other way round like 1 NGO for every 11 people in Kibera. Actually the number should be 1 NGO for every 15 people in Kibera.


If go with that and the accurate population size of Kibera according the last census then we  have something like 170070/11= 15460 NGOs or 170070/15=11338 NGOs.


On this article Playing the Numbers Game to Discredit the Numbers Game,  Brian Ekdale try to get you the right numbers:

In my opinion, these numbers about NGOs and CBOs in Kibera are just as suspect as the old population figures of Kibera. So let’s be careful before those numbers become the accepted talking point. Otherwise, we’ve just gone from overestimating the population of Kibera to overestimating the response.

To say the truth nobody has the right number of NGOs operating in Kibera, so ssssssshhhhhhhh… Relax


How Many people Live in Kibera?

According the last census 170070…

According numbers by NGOs before that, from 800,000 to 2 million

Where is link for my tweet? , i was covering live discussion and i think that everyone on the table recognized that it is not  possible to have 11 NGOs for every person in Kibera. That would be 11 X170070= 1,870,770 NGOs. Crazy.


Was it a joke?

Not at all. Listening Simeon on that table,  i could feel some frustration with NGOs , but i am not sure whether most  Kenyans feel the same. Personally i think there is a problem.  What are some of  the achievements of NGOs?  Are NGOs really helping in places like Kibera. Before we go on, let put emotion aside and critically look at this issue. I hear a lot about voices of Kibera but how does that help them get some food on the table. Could voices be a way of raising more money?

If you live in Kibera, you know you are  flooded with this short code, that short code..yeah the mobile thing. Seriously what are those short codes for? Do those short codes take any kid to school?

In Kenya back in 1990’s the donor community lost faith with the corrupt regime of President Moi and started giving the money directly to the NGOs. That is 90s remember, almost 20 years later i can’t tell the difference. . Yeah people are still living in shanties with nothing to eat, Turkanas are still starving. Yeah 20 years later. Could we say the output of NGOs is basically sentimental and patronizing TV programs for western consumption that provides a feel good factor.  On top of that NGOs have created lucrative industry for the imports of 4X4s .

Are all NGOs Bad?

Not really .  There are people doing great work out there. Let me  give an example of  good result oriented Charitable institution which i know very well, Starehe Boys Centre. Starehe is not just a school, it is a public school within a charity institution. Up to date you can count the number of guys in high places who got helped through the institution. The question is Starehe have many high flying graduates including Peter Keneth, probably the next President of Kenya after 2012 , can NGOs of Kibera talk of the same?

Final Word?

A country can’t develop through Aid and NGOs and blah blah blah blah… Get people to work ,period.

Kennedy Kachwanya1080 Posts

--- Kennedy Kachwanya is a technology blogger interested in mobile phones both smart and dumb, mobile apps, mobile money, social media, startups ecosystem and digital Savannah. New media must not forget the strength of old tech.


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password