A New Outlook on Urban Living in Developing Countries

For the first time in history more people are living in urban environments relying on degraded rural lands to grow enough food and ship it to us. It is time to start a global conversation about how to handle this paramount issue of our time.

This is why Can YA Love is launching our first interactive community using Facebook. Facebook is a medium that people in communities around the world are familiar with, and our team in Kenya is no different. Using the Can YA Love Facebook page our team in Kenya, our US projects and people internationally can all be shared consistently and instantaneously. Right now our team in Kenya working with the KenYA Love Project, are sending photographs of some of the farming practices of the people in Kibera slum in Nairobi as well as the challenges the people face. So far the images that they are sending are encouraging, but have left us with no doubt that the Growing Pillars are needed immediately. To view our continuous feed of images from around the world, please visit the Can YA Love Facebook page.

I will share some photographs with you here, to show exactly why CYL is needed and show you how fast information can travel. Most of these pictures were taken earlier this week.


Problem one. Population density.

It is estimated that the population of this community is greater than one million in an area approximately slightly larger than one square mile. This is made more difficult with single story housing leaving very little space. Walking through narrow corridors is the only form of transportation within Kibera. With population being so large, finding formal work is very difficult. Average income in Kibera is estimated at $10-13 per week ($520-$675 per year). This does not include the thousands of orphans living without any parental support.

Problem two. A lack of sanitation and sanitary systems.

Because of the narrow passages (corridors) and lack of underground sewage, piles of waste continue to cause much of the diseases we see in the community.

With one toilet per 300-1000 people in the community, raw sewage runs above ground in the corridor trenches, small rivers and trash heaps. I do not feel the need to explain what happens when the rains come and trenches overflow. To this point rainwater capture systems are few and far between.

Problem three. A lack of clean water and nutritious foods.

People are trying to grow food. This is a good sign, but as you can see from these photos there is much work to be done. There are three main crops: corn, kale and spinach. People are growing wherever they can. With the income that most families have, it's grow or starve.

These pictures show how people are using sewage water as irrigation and fertilizers. The pathogens that exist in this water are countless.This space is also limited to the people living on the exterior rim of the slums, not people living in the dense center.

Their solution.

These sack gardens are taking over much of the space people used to grow food in the ground. The dirt in the sack is kept independent of the ground and can be elevated as to keep out of the toxic runoff. The sacks are inspiring.

They have changed people’s lives and many in the community say they saved thousands of lives during the massive food shortages in 2007 and 2008.