Efforts to improve the training and resources available to childminders in Nairobi’s Kibera settlement are bearing fruit – to the benefit of all concerned
Three-year-old Joy and her sister Lavine, four, are surrounded by kitchen pots, soft toys and an old wellington boot. It’s mid-morning at Kidogo’s nursery and preschool, and the sisters are playing in the dramatic centre, a place set aside for children to invent their own games. Each corner of the room is dedicated to a different activity: music, stories, art or a quiet space for reading.
The centre is one of the few quality childcare facilities in Kibera, an overcrowded informal settlement in Nairobi that houses 170,070 people, according to a 2009 national census (although other estimates have put the number significantly higher). Most centres are found in cramped rooms or homes, with one woman responsible for 20 or so children. Ventilation is poor and there are reports of babies being given sleeping pills to knock them out for the day, or children being locked in dark rooms. There’s rarely space to play.