January 11, 2011


Bangladesh slum is found in Changamwe District, 5.5KM West of Mombasa Island (Latitude (DMS): 40 1’ 0S, and Longitude (DMS): 390 37’ 60E). It has an approximate population of 18,000 people (with an average of seven people per household) although its size (KM2) is not well documented. It consists of 6 villages namely: Nairobi area, Mkupe, Kichimbeni, Majengo Mapya, Giriamani and Bangladesh centre. The population is made up of a multi-ethnic community with the majority of residents being Luos, followed by Luhyas and then Kambas. Other tribes commonly found include: Giriamas, Kikuyus, Kisiis and Taitas. Majority of the population are women, which is unusual for an urban settlement (it is mostly men who usually relocate to cities and towns in search of jobs). Increased numbers of widows and single mothers may have contributed to the high number of women. Age-wise, youths represent a larger group of residents as ageing parents prefer to relocate back to their native homes (upcountry).

The poor within Bangla face ascetic living conditions, as basic living needs are obtainable in limited quantities. For example, electricity connection is poorly done (illegal connections) within the slum, therefore posing a significant risk to the residents. Residents draw water from water kiosks (and pay exorbitant prices in the process), latrines are poorly developed, there are no designated dumping sites or rubbish collection bins. Although there is diverse land ownership patterns in the slum areas tenure is often insecure, thereby leaving residents with little incentive to invest in their dwellings. Walking from one village to another within the slums, one crosses dozens of open sewer, littered with not only greenish colored dirty water but also evidently floating polythene papers and both used and unused condoms. This is just a taste of how public health is adversely compromised within these living settings. But the most unwelcoming thing is a strong stench of local liquor commonly referred to as “chang’aa”, an environmental fiddle.

Within Bangla, there is only one public school (St. Mary) although there are seven private schools that range from offering pre-unit education to complete primary education. However, there is no secondary school within the slum area. Residents utilize secondary schools in Mikindani and Changamwe which are approximately 2.5 KMs away. The majority of residents have a minimum of primary level education; hence communication (especially in Kiswahili) is not a challenge. Bangla slum has a total of two privately owned hospitals (Jadi Clinic and Bangladesh community medical and laboratory). Also within the area are two clinics (Bamako and St. Patrick) which assist in dispensation of Anti-retroviral and TB drugs. There are 3 chemists that are poorly stocked within the slum area, hence insufficient to serve the populace. But most evident are 33 churches within the area, with larger population consisting of Catholics, followed by Legio maria (sect), then other protestant churches.
One thing interesting thing about Bangladesh slum is its strategic location along the Mombasa- Nairobi highway, a fact that has both positive and negative impacts. To delve on the positive aspect, common transport from upcountry passes by the slum area hence most upcountry produces (upcountry also known as “Bara”) and foodstuffs which include dried cassava, millet, sorghum, fresh water fish and indigenous vegetables, find their way to the Coastal town market. Bangladesh slum provides a market point for distribution of these foodstuffs not only to its residents but to Mombasa Town in general, although space available for market establishment is limited. The foodstuffs are purchased by the majority of residents who have relocated from upcountry in search of jobs. One resident and a Village elder, Mr. Toberius Oduori strongly indicated that Bangla (as it’s commonly referred to) is a largest distributer of these sorts of foodstuffs within the Coastal town and its sorroundings.
One project characteristic of Bangladesh is an HIV-AIDS, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program dubbed “The Bamako Initiative Community Based Healthcare Program” funded by the Department of International Development (DFID), whose aim was to achieve a participatory approach to meeting the needs of the poor. Although the project closed its door several years ago, it is still freshly evident and more so because of a community centre that was named Bamako after the project. This centre is found right at the heart of the slum, and the offices are currently used as a referral point for distribution of TB medicines by a government medical staff member permanently stationed at this centre. After the closure of the Bamako initiative, Catholic Relief Service (CRS) through a local Diocese launched a HIV and AIDS program aimed at assisting orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), widows and others impacted by HIV and AIDS blight. Their activities include: palliative care to those living with AIDS and distribution of relief food to families affected by the scourge.

As far as livestock projects are concerned, reportedly, no organization has previously ventured into the same. Although within this area are found various animals which include but are not limited to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry (indigenous chicken, layers, broilers and ducks) and fish farming. Despite existing challenges of space availability for practice, the community has been persistent in practicing farming, choosing animals whose produce are consumed locally. Pigs, goats, sheep and poultry (indigenous chicken and ducks) are left to loiter within slum boundaries in search for food (free range).

Recently, Samaritan’s purse Livestock program ventured into the area reaching out to the population with God’s love through a Broiler keeping project which has made tremendous strides in uplifting the living standards of the slum dwellers through income generation. In this project that has lasted barely 9 months, eight (8) beneficiaries among them four women and 4 men have been assisted with day old chicks, drugs and vaccines, poultry feeds, feeding and watering equipments, and, construction materials for the poultry houses. Since its inception, the Broiler project has so far attracted a large number of interested individuals willing to be included into the project. Among the current beneficiaries are: 2 widows, 2 physically challenged men, and the other beneficiaries support orphans (20 orphans) who are victims of HIV scourge.

In Bangladesh, men, women and youth engage in various economic activities. To start with, women engage in business and livestock keeping (broiler and layers chicken keeping). Business opportunities that they participate in include: selling vegetables, mandazi, Githeri (cooked mixture of beans and maize), porridge and local liquor, chang’aa (they are the majority in this business compared to men, especially single mothers). Most women have formed investment/ financial groups through which they use to access external funding from microfinance institutions (Faulu and Yehu). Youth on the other hand can be divided into two groups: those physically able and those incapable. The able youth work outside Bangla in the nearby Godowns, the work that is usually manual. While those physically disadvantaged either loiter around the slums drinking chang’aa or if lucky, pull carts to ferry less bulky commodities in order to earn a living. Others engage in the entertainment business (video shops and local theatre), selling clothes, shops and butcheries. Men on the other side, like youth, work outside the slum (either in Godowns or at the port of Mombasa). Others work as local administrators, business owners, landlords & land owners and as livestock keepers. Most of the businesses are owner by the locals. There is only one youth group within the area called Alpha and Omega, which is involved in entertainment business- acting and drama. There are no established men’s investment groups as men have chosen to walk alone financially, as it is said within Bangladesh that, “Every man for himself and God for us all!”

This is just but a brief overview of Bangladesh slum, currently a working station for the Samaritan’s Purse, Livestock program. It gives an outline of the area in terms of: Geographical location, living conditions, education, healthcare, economic activities and NGO activities in the area.



  1. thanks for the good work . i needed information about the area and your blog gave enough. would u know if there is any other organization that has implemented any project in the area of late

  2. hi, thanks for the thumb ups. Le mi reply you via e-mail. I guess you are the one who had wrote before. You are most welcome.

  3. thanks these facts and statistics were the backbone of my geography essay . with this in mind i could a great level .. thank you

  4. Thank you for the information you've shared on your blog pertaining Bangladesh though would like to know more information on the population of women within the area

  5. This blog is very interesting and important information

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  7. Yes, great job, great breif, we'll try to get there some solar energy, if possible.

  8. Thank you all for your comments. I am glad somebody read this. My work is not in vain. Thank you all!

  9. Thank you so much it has been of great help to me.

  10. Personally, I am very much interested to know the history of the Bangladesh slum. Particularly want to know about the person in details who left the place in 1950 and how the slum was named as Bangladesh.