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pages: 211 words: 69,380

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman


experimental subject, fear of failure, Kibera, Lao Tzu, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, science of happiness, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, World Values Survey

For all these reasons – and also because it is a conveniently short drive from central Nairobi, with its international airport and comfortable business hotels – Kibera has become a world-famous landmark of suffering. Prime ministers and presidents travel there for photo-opportunities; television news crews come regularly to gawp; and the slum has disproportionately become the focus of hundreds of aid groups, many of them religious, mostly from the United States and Europe. Their names reflect the sense of agonised desperation for which the name ‘Kibera’ has come to stand: the Fountain of Hope Initiative; Seeds of Hope; Shining Hope for Communities; the Kibera Hope Centre; Kibera In Need. But ask Norbert Aluku, a lanky young social worker, born and raised in Kibera, if his childhood there was one of misery and suffering, and he will laugh at you in disbelief.

But in the opinion of Frankie Otieno, a twenty-two-year-old resident of Kibera who spent his Sundays not worshipping but attending to his various business interests, these smaller churches were essentially scams. ‘In Kibera, a church is a business,’ he said, his easy smile tinged with cynicism. He was sitting on a tattered sofa in the shady main room of his mother’s house in Kibera, drinking Coke from a glass bottle. ‘A church is the easiest way to get money from the aid organisations. One day, you fill up your church with kids – somebody who’s dirty, somebody who’s not eating – and then the organisation comes and sees the church is full, and they take photos to show their sponsors, and they give you money.’ He chuckled. ‘It’s all about the photos, you know?’ In another part of Kibera, reached by pursuing still narrower paths, deeper into the slum, then rounding a bend past a health clinic, three Kiberan men were starting their work day at the goat-bone recycling facility.

It’s about taking whatever you have, and using it as best you can, together with your neighbours. In Kibera, it’s only with your neighbours that you’re going to get by.’ Or ask Irene Mueni, who lives there too, and who speaks darkly of traumatising events in her childhood, yet who still says: ‘Happiness is subjective. You can be happy in a slum, unhappy in a city. The things you need for happiness aren’t the things you think you need.’ This is the difficult truth that strikes many visitors to Kibera, and they struggle for the words to express it, aware that it is open to misinterpretation. Bluntly, Kiberans just don’t seem as unhappy or as depressed as one might have expected. ‘It’s clear that poverty has crippled Kibera,’ observes Jean-Pierre Larroque, a documentary filmmaker who has spent plenty of time there, ‘but it doesn’t exactly induce the pity-inducing cry for help that NGOs, church missions, and charity groups would have you believe.’


pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend


1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, packet switching, patent troll, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

In 2000 the city began funding the effort and in just two years it had surveyed some two-thirds of Pune’s 450 slum settlements, mapping some 130,000 households. The effort to put Kibera on the map was started by two geeks from the rich world, Erica Hagen and Mikel Maron, who in 2009 joined forces with a trio of Kenyan community-development groups to launch Map Kibera. They recruited a handful of twentysomethings who were active in the community, one from each of the slum’s thirteen villages. With just two days of training in how to use consumer-grade GPS receivers, these volunteer mappers were sent out to traverse Kibera on foot, using their bodies as tools to collect traces of the thousands of streets, alleys, and paths that would form the first-ever digital base map of the thriving community. Results came quickly. “We did the first map in three weeks,” Maron recalls.39 The mapping technique used in Kibera was imported from an unlikely place, which was also the source of the first modern surveys of Kenya—the country’s former colonial ruler, the United Kingdom.

The Indian activists who pioneered slum mapping in the 1990s saw their work as a way to begin integrating poor communities into existing city-planning efforts in the hope of securing a fairer share of government resources. But with the new chart living online in OpenStreetMap, Map Kibera is focused instead on powering new tools that change how the community is represented in the media, and how organizers lobby the government to address local problems. Voice of Kibera, for instance, is a citizen-reporting site built using another open-source tool called Ushahidi. The name means “testimony” in Swahili, and it was developed in 2008 to monitor election violence in Kenya. Voice of Kibera plots media stories about the community onto the open digital map, and allows residents to send in their own reports by SMS. Another Map Kibera effort recruits residents to monitor the progress of infrastructure projects. Government-funded slum upgrades, such as the installation of water pumps and latrines, are hot spots for graft in Kenya.

Over time, slowly but surely, the map is helping shift public perception of Kibera away from flying bags of crap and toward a view of a community of real people. As Maron told me, “People like living in Kibera. What they don’t like is having raw sewage running by their house.”41 Map Kibera represents a shift in how we think about using technology to help poor communities. We can ship all of the laptops we want to the world’s slums, but we can’t force anyone to use them, and even if they do we certainly can’t guarantee it will have the intended impact. The United Nations can track all of the weak signals of economic distress from afar through efforts like Global Pulse, but the tools to intervene once a crisis is identified haven’t changed much from yesteryear. Map Kibera demonstrates how open-source tools, put in place on behalf of poor communities, can empower them to create knowledge relevant to the problems they face.


pages: 322 words: 84,752

Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up by Philip N. Howard


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, Brian Krebs, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Edward Snowden,, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Google Earth, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Julian Assange, Kibera, Kickstarter, land reform, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mobile money, Mohammed Bouazizi, national security letter, Network effects, obamacare, Occupy movement, packet switching, pension reform, prediction markets, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, spectrum auction, statistical model, Stuxnet, trade route, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks, zero day

Authoritarian regimes face the digital dilemma repeatedly: once when deciding whether or not to allow internet access, again when people (invariably) start involving their devices in politics, and yet again when citizens demand access to the latest televisions, phones, and other consumer electronics that constitute the internet of things. Finding Kibera The Map Kibera project in Nairobi, Kenya, is one example of how this process has helped a marginalized community figure out its strengths and understand its needs.15 This act of citizen mapping has made invisible communities visible. And it demonstrates how the internet of things is helping people bring stability to the most anarchic of places. Primož Kovačič is a soft-spoken Slovenian who left his country in 2007 to work in Africa. He’s not sure why he chose to settle in Nairobi, much less in one of its toughest slums. Once there he found a community with immense amounts of economic, cultural, and social capital that had no strong institutions. Kibera is a place where hundreds of thousands of people live. For decades it has been politically invisible because no public map recognized the boundaries of the community, and leaders didn’t pay much attention to its needs.

Jason Motlagh, “Protesters Broaden Tactics as Belarus Cracks Down,” Christian Science Monitor, July 12, 2011, 14. Oksana Grytsenko, “Ukrainians Crowdfund to Raise Cash for ‘People’s Drone’ to Help Outgunned Army,” Guardian, June 29, 2014, accessed September 30, 2014, 15. “Map Kibera,” accessed June 20, 2014, 16. Brian Ekdale, “Slum Tourism in Kibera: Education or Exploitation?” Brian Ekdale’s Blog, July 13, 2010, accessed September 30, 2014, 17. Robert Neuwirth, The Hidden World of Shadow Cities, TEDGlobal, 2005, accessed September 30, 2014, 18. “Spatial Collective,” accessed June 20, 2014, 19.

In fact, many government maps still identify Kibera as a forest. Even Google Maps reveals few details for one of the most crowded and impoverished slums on the planet. By itself Nairobi has some two hundred slums, few of which are on government maps. Some poor districts of the world’s megacities, like Nairobi, become what Bob Neuwirth calls “marquee slums”: they attract all the big nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and charity projects.17 Most of them were not on maps, until Primož Kovačič arrived. Kovačič decided to help launch a collective project to, at the very least, map the area.18 Gathering a group of volunteer “trackers” equipped with some basic consumer electronics, including cheap GPS devices and mobile phones, Kovačič and his colleagues “found” Kibera. They identified two hundred schools.


pages: 218 words: 44,364

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman, Rod A. Beckstrom


Atahualpa, barriers to entry, Burning Man, disintermediation, experimental economics, Firefox, Francisco Pizarro, jimmy wales, Kibera, Lao Tzu, Network effects, pez dispenser, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Wisdom of Crowds, union organizing

We went inside several of these homes and for the first time in our lives fully realized what it's like to have absolutely nothing. Although the people of Kibera don't have any of our material comforts, they are starting to see how we live—fancy cars, big houses, fast food. A part of them wants these comforts, but another part of them resents that Western expansion is changing their traditional way of life. In slums like Kibera, the resentment is so strong that at times people turn to extreme measures. If you're living in the slums, you can't start a traditional army, but you can start a circle. Imagine how stunned we were when Joseph, our guide, subtly gestured toward a group of middle-aged men sitting outside a doorway smoking and told us, "Look. Over there. See down that alley? There's an Al Qaeda cell there." Al Qaeda has reached the Kibera slum. Circles can communicate with one another through cell phones and e-mail; a cell in Kibera can now easily and regularly communicate with a cell in Kabul, Munich, or New York.

What a small loan can do is staggering. Beatrice Ngendo was a single grandmother who lived with her twelve grandchildren in Kibera. Her children and their spouses had all died of AIDS. THE STARFISH AND THE SPIDER She said to herself: / now have to work twice as hard as other mothers in Kibera to feed and educate these children. Through her loans, Beatrice started four successful businesses: a grocery store, a butchery, a restaurant, and a stone boardinghouse that she built by hand. Her grandchildren gained access to education; when we met Beatrice, her oldest grandchild had just graduated as a qualified nurse. Another Jamii Bora member was Wilson Maina, a charismatic figure with an infectious smile. Wilson was admired by many in Kibera: he ran a small business selling secondhand clothes. But just a few years earlier, Wilson had been a violent criminal.

Al Qaeda headquarters doesn't conceive each attack; rather, members adopt the ideology and copy what has worked in the past. Many unaffiliated groups simply take the brand and use it. We saw this proliferation of circles firsthand when we visited TAKING ON DECENTRALIZATION Kenya. Just outside of downtown Nairobi, the Kibera slum is the worst in Africa. Joseph, a warm man in his late fifties, was our guide as we walked unpaved streets where a million people live on six hundred crowded acres with no running water, no electricity, and no sewage service. The streets were muddy (at least we told ourselves it was mud), and there was garbage everywhere. The living conditions in Kibera are so harsh that the average life span is thirty-eight years—and dropping. A typical home in the slum is a nine-by-ninefoot tin shack where a family of eight to ten people is crowded together. What could be called the "living room" is typically separated from the "bedroom" by a torn bed-sheet.


pages: 537 words: 99,778

Dreaming in Public: Building the Occupy Movement by Amy Lang, Daniel Lang/levitsky


Bay Area Rapid Transit, bonus culture, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, facts on the ground, glass ceiling, housing crisis, Kibera, late capitalism, Naomi Klein, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Port of Oakland, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Slavoj Žižek, structural adjustment programs, the medium is the message, too big to fail, trade liberalization, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, white flight, working poor

. ♦ Also published in My Soul Looks Back: Life After Incarceration, by Yusef Shakur ONE DAY THE POOR WILL HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO EAT BUT THE RICH Occupy DC (Hasty Notes) Keguro Macharia 16 October 2011 I walk to McPherson Square, one of the main arteries of Occupy DC. On a first pass, I am reluctant to walk through the park. A few earnest people are talking to some of the DC homeless who stay around the park. I recognize a certain ‘I have come to help Kibera1’ look. And feel ashamed for thinking this. A few cellphones are out, documenting occupation, documenting the homeless. DC is a tourist town. The Kibera-ness of it will not leave me. It is the first time I have felt so close to Kibera while in the States. A man is yelling about Jesus – later in the day, he will yell, ‘Mitt Romney will not save us, Rick Perry will not save us.’ He never says Barack Obama will not save us. * * * I return to McPherson Square with a friend who is bold enough to walk through the park.

What he says seems unimportant – too familiar, something already known – but the making too-familiar of others’ narratives is ideological and material violence at its most quotidian. Listening matters. Seeing matters. ‘I speak for the bush’ flashes through my mind. Perhaps the quotidian violence it maps might become less quotidian, less a part of urban modernity. Kibera-ness still nags. * * * I tell my friend I am feeling ungenerous. This is why I see Kibera-ness. But this might not be quite right. Still. I like to pay attention to these moments of unease. We make our way to the Lincoln Memorial, from where a march will ensue to the newly constructed MLK memorial. * * * On our way there, we encounter several joggers – DC is a jogging city – almost all white, almost all male, with a certain busy-ness to them.

‘Too many people’ takes on greater significance as we approach the crowds massing around the Lincoln Memorial – mostly black, many with union t-shirts, others sporting t-shirts featuring MLK, Jr. ‘Too many people.’ Kibera-ness beckons. There’s a sense of kinship in the air – groups cluster, families come out together, one seeks inter-generational cohorts. I have been reading Christina Sharpe on Corregidora, about the work of ‘making generations’. I am thinking, now, of the generation-making work taking place through a shared commitment to labor. ‘Workers’ Rights are Human Rights.’ * * * Kibera-ness recedes, as does the US, for a moment, and I think about the courageous Kenyans who occupied the Ministry of Education.2 My frames kaleidoscope: Egypt, Wisconsin, Nairobi, Wangari Maathai. More joggers


pages: 202 words: 8,448

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic, Matthew Miller


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, British Empire, corporate governance, desegregation, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Jane Jacobs, Kibera, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Occupy movement, Rosa Parks, urban planning, urban sprawl

If you still have doubts about the power of ordinary hobbits like our good friend Kathy, consider the residents of Kibera. The biggest slum in Nairobi, Kenya—and by some accounts the largest slum in the world, with as many as ve million people huddling together in squalor—Kibera presented its residents with all the threats you’d expect to nd in one of the world’s worst hellholes. The landscape was terrifying. There was Jamhuri Park, where the bushes were thick and the trees cast a perpetual shadow, making it a favorite spot for local rapists. Then you had the Nairobi dam, which served as a Holiday Inn for bandits, and if you walked down the central Karanja Road on payday, you were almost certain to be robbed. And then there were the ying toilets. Since there wasn’t a widespread or e cient sewer system in the Kibera slum, many residents were forced to do their business in ditches along the streets.

Taking note of the project, the United Nation Children’s Fund got involved and doled out some cash. Soon every resident of Kibera could receive maprelated alerts via text messages sent directly to their cell phones, a service that helped people stay clear of everyday crime and outbreaks of violence in the neighborhood. Block by block, district by district, the Kiberans were reclaiming their community. The young men and women in Kibera are prime examples of people power harnessed to great use. Unlike many of the other examples in this book, these guys didn’t seek out corrupt enemies to overthrow or freedoms to win. They simply worked with one another to bring a sense of safety to their friends and families. That’s always a strong vision of tomorrow. Although the residents of the Kibera slum were disappointed in their government and disillusioned by their institutions, they still believed that they had the ability to make positive changes on their own.

But at night, when it was too dangerous for people to dart out of their homes even for a minute in order to relieve themselves, Kiberans simply went to the bathroom in a plastic bag, tied it up, and tossed it out the window: a ying toilet. Needless to say, there were plastic bags everywhere. Kibera, as you could imagine, was not an easy place to live in. In order to survive, you needed to really know your way around. Sadly, the NGOs who set out to help the slum’s residents did not. They had the best intentions in the world, but they comprised mainly foreigners or more fortunate Kenyans. The help these outsiders provided was well received, but it didn’t solve any real problems. Sure, they could set up some latrines and reduce the number of ying toilets. But the fundamentals of the slum weren’t e ectively addressed. Things started to change only when the community decided to work together. Kibera’s residents united themselves and began with simple tasks. The rst was to map out their neighborhoods.


pages: 232

Planet of Slums by Mike Davis


barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Brownian motion, centre right, clean water, conceptual framework, crony capitalism, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, edge city, European colonialism, failed state, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, jitney, Kibera, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low-wage service sector, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, megacity, microcredit, New Urbanism, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, rent control, structural adjustment programs, surplus humans, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, working poor

In 1972, Ajegunle contained 90,000 people on 8 square kilometers of swampy land; today 1.5 million people reside on an only slightly larger surface area, and 81 Sharma, Rediscovering Dbaravi, pp. xx, xxvii, 18. 82 James Drummond, "Providing Collateral for a Better Future," Financial Times, 18 October 2001. 83 Suzana Taschner, "Squatter Settlements and Slums in Brazil," pp. 196, 219. 84 Urban Planning Studio, Disaster Resistant Caracas, p. 27. 85 Mohan, Understandingthe DevelopingMetropolis, p. 55. they spend a hellish average of three hours each day commuting to their workplaces.86 Likewise in supercrowded Kibera in Nairobi, where more than 800,000 people struggle for dignity amidst mud and sewage, slum-dwellers are caught in the vise of soaring rents (for chicken-cooplike shacks) and rising transport costs. Rasna Warah, writing for UN-Habitat, cites the case of a typical Kibera resident, a vegetable hawker, who spends almost half her monthly income of $21 on transportation to and from the city market.87 The commodification of housing and next-generation urban land in a demographically dynamic but job-poor metropolis is a theoretical recipe for exactly the vicious circles of spiraling rents and overcrowding that were previously described in late-Victorian London and Naples.

The diarrhea associated with AIDS is a grim addition to the problem.80 The ubiquitous contamination of drinking water and food by sewage and waste defeats the most desperate efforts of slum residents to practice protective hygiene. In Nairobi's vast Kibera slum, UNHABITAT's Rasna Warah studied the daily life of a vegetable hawker named Mberita Katela, who walks a quarter mile every morning to buy water. She uses a communal pit latrine just outside her door. It is shared with 100 of her neighbors and her house reeks of the sewage overflow. She constantly frets about contamination of her cooking or washing water — Kibera has been devastated in recent years by cholera and other excrement-associated diseases.81 In Calcutta likewise, there is little that mothers can do about the infamous service privies they are forced to use. These small brick sheds sit above earthware bowls that are almost never cleaned on a regular schedule, thus ensuring that "the stinking mess around the bustee's privy is washed straight into the ponds and tanks of water in which the people clean themselves and their clothes and their cooking utensils."82 Examples of poor people's powerlessness in the face of the sanitation crisis are legion.

The constriction or closure of opportunities for non-market setdement at the edge, in turn, has immense repercussions for the stability of poor cities. In lockstep with the increasing percentage of renters, the most dramatic consequence in the short run has been soaring population density in Third World slums — land inflation in the context of stagnant or declining formal employment has been the piston driving this compression of people. Modern mega-slums like Kibera (Nairobi) and Cite-Soleil (Portau-Prince) have achieved densities comparable to cattle feedlots: crowding more residents per acre into low-rise housing than there were in famous congested tenement districts such as the Lower East Side in the 1900s or in contemporary highrise cores such as central Tokyo and Manhattan. Indeed, Asia's largest contemporary slum, Dharavi in Mumbai, has a maximum density more than twice that of the nineteenthcentury New York and Bombay streets that Roy Lubove believed were the "most crowded spots on earth" in late-Victorian times.80 79 Greg Bankoff, " Constructing Vulnerability: The Historical, Natural and Social Generation of Flooding in Metropolitan Manila," Disasters 27:3 (2003), p. 232. 80 "A certain district of the eleventh ward had 243,641 people per square kilometer, and Koombarwara in Bombay, 187,722."


pages: 366 words: 117,875

Arrival City by Doug Saunders


agricultural Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Branko Milanovic, call centre, credit crunch, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, ghettoisation, Gini coefficient, guest worker program, Hernando de Soto, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kibera, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, megacity, microcredit, new economy, pensions crisis, place-making, price mechanism, rent control, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban sprawl, white flight, working poor, working-age population

This wattle-and-daub shack is perched amid a lake of similar houses jammed close together across a two-kilometer expanse, separated by narrow alleyways of mud, garbage, and slurries of human waste, a labyrinthine, pungent cluster of almost unimaginably high population density built on hillocks of refuse near the heart of Nairobi. This is the Kianda neighborhood in the Kibera slum, whose inhabitants, numbering close to a million, are perhaps the largest and most infamous slum community in sub-Saharan Africa, subject to disease infestations and bursts of political and gang violence on a terrifying scale. At the end of 2007, Kibera exploded into months of murderous political violence, in which members of the Luo tribe drove Kikuyus out of their neighborhoods, making this an even more ethnically segregated, and dangerous, place. Kibera, like most African slums, is a true arrival city. Though it has existed here for 90 years, created when Kenya’s colonial administration granted some parkland to the homeless Nubian veterans of the First World War, in the post-colonial decades it has become a vital instrument of urbanization, propelling entire villages and districts into the city.

This lack of secure tenure, more than anything, has contributed to the failure of places like Kibera: If you can’t own your house, it is very hard to rise above your circumstances.20 The solution, in theory at least, is just over the hill. Within sight of Eunice’s shack, rising along the horizon, is a growing cluster of neat, gray, high-rise buildings, with red roofs and small concrete balconies, the site of an expansive slum-redevelopment project, to which Kibera’s residents are, theoretically, to be moved into stable, sanitary, fully-owned apartment housing. It is a project initiated by UN-HABITAT, the United Nations human-settlements agency, whose world headquarters happen to be within walking distance of Kibera. That such a redevelopment project could only be launched three decades after the U.N. set up shop here is telling.

She also pays 150 shillings ($2) a month for the privilege of lining up for half an hour to use crude municipal toilets, 50 meters away; the only alternative is the alarmingly popular “flying toilet,” in which a plastic bag filled with waste is flung out the window at night, contributing to Kibera’s mountain of stench. Getting into the proper city, less than a kilometer away, is damningly difficult, an odyssey of perilous and unhygienic lanes leading to a shortage of bridges and trains. There are almost no spaces in which someone like Eunice could open a small business (and she very much wants to do so), and most of these spaces are controlled by criminal gangs or ethnic mafias. There are very few free schools here, and the fees can be prohibitive: Eunice had to pull her youngest son out of school because she couldn’t afford the fee. This, and the lack of decent employment opportunities for males, leads to thousands of idle young men on the street who turn to theft, drug dealing, or the brewing and selling of homemade liquor to get by, a social stew that prevents Kibera from developing into a successful arrival city.


pages: 262 words: 66,800

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future by Johan Norberg


agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, availability heuristic, Bartolomé de las Casas, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business climate, clean water, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, demographic transition, desegregation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Island, Hans Rosling, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, more computing power than Apollo, moveable type in China, Naomi Klein, open economy, place-making, Rosa Parks, special economic zone, Steven Pinker, telerobotics, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transatlantic slave trade, very high income, working poor, Xiaogang Anhui farmers

Another important reason given is that schools do not have suitable hygiene facilities.15 The greatest proportion without water and sanitation lives in sub-Saharan Africa. When I walk around Kibera, in Nairobi, Kenya, one of Africa’s largest urban slums, I meet people who have to take an hour or more per day just to locate a water vendor and wait in line to be served. Some pay as much as a tenth or even a fifth of their income to get water. The inhabitants of Kibera were never granted deeds to land, so the buildings are outside the law, with little access to infrastructure and without the security in their possessions that would make investments in these areas possible. Everywhere in Kibera I notice open sewers. When it is raining, the waste flows through the streets. Instead of toilets, there are latrines, not much more than holes in the ground with planks across for people to put their feet on.

Women are afraid to go, especially at night, and children fear falling inside, which sadly they often do. For all these reasons, Kibera has its own version of ‘Gardyloo!’, called ‘flying toilets’. Kiberans relieve themselves in black polythene bags and at night they throw them away as far from their home as possible. The neighbour in turn sometimes throws it further away, and so on, until it is out of sight. The rain often washes them down into the river. When you walk around in the mornings you see piles of flying toilets in alleyways and on rooftops, from which people also harvest rainwater. Children play with these wrapped bags as balls during leisure time. The flying toilet contributes to disease and early death in Kibera and many other slums around the world. The most common diseases in Kibera are all environment-related. Infant mortality is three times higher than in the rest of Nairobi.

Infant mortality is three times higher than in the rest of Nairobi. But even a local health worker admits to using the flying toilet all the time: ‘At night, it is so dark in Kibera that you cannot dare to get out of your room since you are not sure if you will fall in one of the abandoned toilets and, as a woman, you can never be sure that you will not be raped.’16 But things are changing even here. Two water pipes have been constructed, so Kiberans do not have to rely entirely on the unsafe water from the dam and from the rain. Several modern sanitation blocs have been built by entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), where Kiberans can go to a clean toilet and get a hot shower at a low cost, and hand-washing facilities have been introduced in several schools. Cases of typhoid, dysentery and hookworm infestations are on the decline, and at last, so is child and infant mortality.


pages: 403 words: 125,659

It's Our Turn to Eat by Michela Wrong


Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, Doha Development Round, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, Kibera, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shock, out of africa, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, structural adjustment programs, upwardly mobile, young professional, éminence grise

Those slum-dwellers know what they're missing, they're educated now. I tell my wife: “There's no way, long term, those guys are going to accept to die of hunger when the smell of your chapattis is wafting over the wall.”’ The biggest slum is Kibera, virtually an obligatory stop these days on visiting VIPs' itineraries. Kibera, bizarrely, lies within a tee shot's distance of Nairobi's golf club. Aerial photographs show the neat green medallion that is the club abutting what looks like a brown sea of broken matchsticks, in fact the corrugated-iron mabati roofs of between 800,000 and 1.2 million residents, prompting the immediate mental query: ‘Why don't they just invade?’ Kibera is where the phrase ‘flying toilets’ was added to the English language, a description of the method used to dispose of faeces – dump it in a plastic bag and throw it out of the window – by residents who couldn't be bothered walking to the public latrine.

Yet while the slum does not boast regular electricity, tarred roads or clean water, it offers hope of a different kind. If your children miraculously survive to the age of five in Kibera, they will go on to receive a far better education than their rural equivalents, and in that education lie untold possibilities. By the late 1990s, many analysts were confidently predicting that population trends alone would accomplish what Kenya's presidents had failed to achieve with their national anthems, independence days and flag salutes: a true sense of nationhood. Nairobi's first slums were mono-ethnic, the result of colonial attempts to corral Africans into distinct, controllable areas during the Emergency years. The newer ones started out that way, but the phenomenon didn't last long. Often dubbed a Luo settlement, Kibera itself actually contains forty-two separate tribes, ‘all doing their jig together’, as an official from the UN's Habitat told me.

Kenyan writer BINYAVANGA WAINANA A brown clod of earth, trailing tufts of grass like a green scalp, suddenly soared through the air and landed on the stage, thrown by someone high on the surrounding slopes. Then another one sailed overhead, this time falling short and hitting the journalists packed against the podium. Then came some sticks, a hail of small stones. The first rows of the crowd hunched their shoulders and hoped it would get no worse: there were plenty of kids up there from Kibera slum, the sprawl of rusty shacks that stretched like an itchy brown sore across the modern city landscape, and they had a nasty habit of using their own excrement as missiles. The mood in the open-air stadium in Uhuru Park on 30 December 2002, a year and a half before that strange meeting in the finance ministry, was on the brink of turning ugly. Mostly male, mostly young, the audience was getting bored with waiting.


pages: 265 words: 69,310

What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee


4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, don't be evil, gig economy, Hacker Ethic, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, ultimatum game, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Zipcar

More encouragingly, Donovan looks at how some “data geeks” recognized their own myopia in the Map Kibera project, which started as a community-mapping project to trace the massive Nairobi slum. Some questioned the need for the project as “locals [already] knew their surroundings intimately.” Making mapping information available would more likely benefit external parties than the residents themselves. The problems the project seeks to address are what Donovan calls “wicked problems: ill-defined, tangled, and resistant to technological fixes.” However, Although it began as an example of misdiagnosing a wicked problem (Kibera’s poverty and marginalization) as a tame one (insufficient information availability), Map Kibera has admirably grown beyond a reductionist approach; it has expanded to include other forms of activity such as citizen reporting, and has taken steps to ensure local ownership of the project.

However, Although it began as an example of misdiagnosing a wicked problem (Kibera’s poverty and marginalization) as a tame one (insufficient information availability), Map Kibera has admirably grown beyond a reductionist approach; it has expanded to include other forms of activity such as citizen reporting, and has taken steps to ensure local ownership of the project. The project has moved beyond a technological goal to a set of social goals. Its list of sponsors, interestingly, includes only non-commercial organizations. Donovan contrasts Map Kibera’s evolution with that of more narrowly technological mapping projects, such as Google’s Map Maker initiatives, which have been accused of unethical “exploitation of open communities.” 49 The danger of such projects is that, by eliminating the illegibility that privileges local knowledge over outsider knowledge, they may allow the already powerful to gain access to community knowledge that was previously hidden from them: to “see like a slum.” When it comes to development programs, Donovan concludes, open data is not enough and should not be the primary focus.


pages: 414 words: 119,116

The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World by Michael Marmot


active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, Bonfire of the Vanities, Broken windows theory, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, centre right, clean water, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Doha Development Round, epigenetics, financial independence, future of work, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, illegal immigration, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, Kenneth Rogoff, Kibera, labour market flexibility, lump of labour, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, New Urbanism, obamacare, paradox of thrift, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, RAND corporation, road to serfdom, Simon Kuznets, Socratic dialogue, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, The Spirit Level, trickle-down economics, urban planning, Washington Consensus, Winter of Discontent, working poor

A key part of having the will is getting the players aligned: governments, funders and people. There are many ways to do it wrong. An academic in Kenya, for example, wanted to raze to the ground the slum of Kibera, close to the centre of Nairobi, and transfer to new-build housing, out of town, the half-million people who currently live in Kibera. He had no idea if that was what the people of Kibera wanted, but he knew that the land thus liberated was potentially valuable real estate that, in his view, could be put to ‘better’ use than housing poor people. And the poor people? They should be grateful for what they ended up with. I wish I were caricaturing. To put it in context, Kibera, reportedly the biggest urban slum in Africa, has a lot wrong with it. It is a makeshift settlement, with makeshift housing and substandard or no services. People pay more for a litre of water, collected in a jerrycan, than a litre of water would cost in London.

It is a makeshift settlement, with makeshift housing and substandard or no services. People pay more for a litre of water, collected in a jerrycan, than a litre of water would cost in London. That said, ‘high streets’ have developed. Shops with advertisements for mobile phones are next to food shops and convenience stores, medical clinics and pharmacies. Kibera is a hotbed of crime, to be sure, but it has aspects of community, too, that would take great effort to reproduce elsewhere, in rows of breeze-block new housing, for example. One way to do it better is shown by what the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA – we met it earlier) has done in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. SEWA members, living in shanties, gathered together and said what they wanted to improve their housing. The first thing they said was: we do not want to be moved! We want to stay right where we are, but we would like a place to cook, a bathroom and running water.

., here Gandhi, Mahatma, here, here gangs, here, here Gawande, Atul, here GDP, measurement of, here gender equity, move to, here General Motors, here Georgia, here Gershwin, George, here Glasgow, here, here, here, here, here, here, here combating gang violence, here life expectancy, here, here, here mortality rates, here Glass, Norman, here Gleneagles Summit, here Global Burden of Disease, here global warming, see climate change global wealth, increasing, here Gnarr, Jon, here Goldblatt, Peter, here golf, here Gordon, David, here, here, here, here Gornall, Jonathan, here Göteborg, here Great Gatsby Curve, here Greece, here, here financial crisis and austerity, here, here, here, here green space, here grooming, in apes, here, here Guardian, here Guinea-Bissau, here, here Gunbalanya, here, here, here Hacker, Jacob, here, here Haiti earthquake, here Hampshire, Stuart, here, here HAPIEE studies, here ul Haq, Mahbub, here Hayek, Friedrich von, here health advice, here health and safety regulations, here, here health and well-being boards, here health care systems, here health inequities (definition), here heart disease, here, here, here, here, here, here, here abolition of, here and adverse childhood experience, here, here in Australian aboriginals, here and civil servants, here, here, here and exercise, here and high status, here, here and Japanese migrants, here and job strain, here Hertzman, Clyde, here, here Heymann, Jody, here high blood pressure, here, here, here HIV/AIDS, here, here, here, here homicide, here, here, here Hong Kong, here, here HPA axis, here Human Development Index (HDI), here, here, here, here Hungary, here, here, here Hutton, Will, here Huxley, Aldous, here Hyder, Shaina, here Iceland, here, here, here, here, here ideology, here, here income inequalities, here, here, here, here, here, here India, here, here, here, here average BMI, here caste system and education, here child mortality, here, here, here cotton farmers, here distrust of education system, here income inequalities, here life expectancy, here, here, here, here, here literacy, here scavengers, here, here, here, here see also Kerala infant mortality, here inherited wealth, here Institute of Economic Affairs, here intergenerational earnings elasticity, here International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations, here International Labour Office (ILO), here, here, here, here International Monetary Fund (IMF), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and impact of structural adjustments, here Ireland, here, here, here, here Israel, here Italy, here, here fertility rate, here maternal mortality, here Jakab, Zsuzsana, here Japan, here, here, here, here life expectancy, here, here, here and team commitment, here, here Japanese-Americans, here, here Jordan, here Judt, Tony, here, here, here Kahneman, Danny, here Kalache, Alex, here, here Karasek, Robert, here Kelly, Yvonne, here Kennedy, Robert, here, here, here Kenya, here, here Kerala, here, here Keynes, John Maynard, here Keynesian economics, here, here, here, here Kibera slum, here King’s Fund, here Kivimaki, Mika, here Kokiri Marae, here, here Krueger, Alan, here Krugman, Paul, here, here Kuznets, Simon, here Labonté, Ron, here labour market flexibility, here Lalonde, Christopher, here Laos, here latency effect, here Lativa, here Lee, J. W., here Lewis, Michael, here Lexington, Kentucky, here libertarians, here, here life expectancy, here, here, here, here among Australian aboriginals, here disability-free, here, here and education, here, here, here, here in former communist states, here and mental health, here and national income, here US compared with Cuba, here Lithuania, here, here, here Liverpool, here, here, here ‘living wage’, here loans, low-interest, here lobbying, here Los Angeles, here ‘lump of labour’ hypothesis, here Lundberg, Ole, here lung cancer, here, here lung disease, here, here, here, here luxury travel, here Macao, here, here McDonald’s, here McMunn, Anne, here Macoumbi, Pascoual, here Madrid, indignados protests, here, here Maimonides, here malaria, here, here, here, here, here Malawi, here male adult mortality, here, here Mali, here, here Malmö, here, here Malta, here Manchester, here, here, here Maoris, here, here, here, here Marmot Review, see Fair Society, Healthy Lives marriage, here Marx, Karl, here maternal mortality, here, here, here maternity leave, paid, here Matsumoto, Scott, here Meaney, Michael, here Medicaid, here Mediterranean diet, here Mengele, Joseph, here mental health, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and access to green space, here and adverse childhood experience, here and austerity, here and fear of crime, here and job insecurity, here and unemployment, here meritocracy, here Mexico, here, here, here, here, here education and cash transfers, here, here Millennium Birth Cohort Study, here, here Minimum Income for Healthy Living, here, here, here Mitchell, Richard, here Modern Times, here Morris, Jerry, here, here Moser, Kath, here Mozambique, infant mortality, here Mullainathan, Sendhil, here Murphy, Kevin, here, here Muscatelli, Anton, here Mustard, Fraser, here Mwana Mwende project, here Nathanson, Vivienne, here Native Americans, here Navarro, Vicente, here NEETs, here, here neoliberalism, here, here, here, here, here Nepal, here, here Neruda, Pablo, here Netherlands, here, here New Guinea, here, here NEWS group, here, here Nietzsche, Friedrich, here, here Niger, here nitrogen dioxide, here, here non-human primates, here Nordic countries and commission report, here and social protection, here, here, here, here, here see also individual countries Norway, here, here, here, here, here, here life expectancy and education, here, here Nottingham, here Nozick, Robert, here obesity, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here in children, here, here and diabetes, here and disincentives, here food corporations and, here genetic and environmental factors in, here and migrant studies, here and rational choice theory, here social gradient in, here, here, here, here in women, here, here Office of Budget Responsibility, here Olympic Games, here opera, here Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), here, here, here, here, here, here, here organisational justice, here Orwell, George, here Osler, Sir William, here Panorama, here Papua New Guinea, here ‘paradox of thrift’, here Paraguay, here, here, here parenting, here, here, here, here and work–life balance, here pay, low, here pensions, here, here, here, here Perkins, Charlie, here Peru, here, here, here physical activity and cognitive function, here green space and, here Pickett, Kate, here Pierson, Paul, here, here Piketty, Thomas, here, here, here, here Pinker, Steven, here Pinochet, General Augusto, here PISA scores, here, here, here, here, here Poland, here, here, here, here Popham, Frank, here Porgy and Bess, here poverty, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and aboriginal populations, here, here absolute and relative, here, here child poverty, here, here, here, here, here and choice, here and early childhood development, here, here effect on cognitive function, here and urban unrest, here and work, here Power, Chris, here pregnancy, here preventive health care, here ‘proportionate universalism’, here puberty, and smoking here public transport, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here Ramazzini, Bernardino, here RAND Corporation, here, here, here rational choice theory, here, here, here rats, and brain development, here Rawls, John, here, here Reid, Donald, here Reinhart, Carmen, here, here reproduction, control over, here retirement, here reverse causation, here Reykjavik Zoo, here Rio de Janeiro, here, here Rogoff, Kenneth, here, here Rolling Stones, here Romania, here Romney, Mitt, here Rose, Geoffrey, here Roth, Philip, here Royal College of Physicians, here Royal Swedish Academy of Science, here Russia, here, here, here and alcohol use, here life expectancy, here, here, here, here Sachs, Jeffrey, here, here St Andrews, here San Diego, here Sandel, Michael, here, here Sapolsky, Robert, here Scottish Health Survey, here Seattle, here Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), here, here, here, here Sen, Amartya, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and Jean Drèze, here, here, here, here serotonin, here sexuality, here, here see also reproduction, control over sexually transmitted infections, here, here Shafir, Eldar, here Shakespeare, William, here, here, here, here Shanghai, here Shaw, George Bernard, here, here Shepherd, Jonathan, here shootings, here Siegrist, Johannes, here Sierra Leone, here, here, here Singapore, here, here Slovakia, here Slovenia, here, here smallpox vaccinations, here Smith, Adam, here Smith, Jim, here smoking, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here declining rates of, here, here and education, here and public policy, here social gradient in, here, here and tobacco companies, here and unemployment, here Snowdon, Christopher, here social cohesion, here, here, here, here, here, here, here social mobility, here, here social protection, here ‘social rights’, here Social Science and Medicine, here Soundarya Cleaning Cooperative, here South Korea, here, here, here, here Spain, here, here, here Spectator, here sports sponsorship, here Sri Lanka, here Stafford, Mai, here Steptoe, Andrew, here Stiglitz, Joseph, here, here, here, here, here stroke, here, here, here structural adjustments, here, here Stuckler, David, here suicide, here, here, here, here, here and aboriginal populations, here, here and Indian cotton farmers, here and unemployment, here, here suicide, attempted, here Sulabh International, here Sun, here Sure Start programme, here Surinam, here Sutton, Willie, here Swansea, here Sweden, here, here, here, here, here, here, here life expectancy and education, here, here male adult mortality, here, here Swedish Commission on Equity in Health, here Syme, Leonard, here, here, here Taiwan, here, here Tanzania, here taxation, here Thailand, here Thatcher, Margaret, here Theorell, Tores, here tobacco companies, here Topel Robert, here Tottenham riots, here Tower Hamlets, here, here Townsend, Peter, here trade unions, here, here, here, here traffic calming measures, here Tressell, Robert, here ‘Triangle that Moves the Mountain’, here, here trickle-down economics, here, here Truman, Harry S., here tuberculosis, here, here, here, here Tunisia, here Turandot, here, here Turkey, here, here Uganda, here, here unemployment, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and mental health, here and suicide, here, here youth unemployment, here, here, here, here UNICEF, here, here United Kingdom alcohol consumption, here capital:income ratio, here and child well-being, here cost of childcare, here and economic recovery, here, here education system, here, here disability-free life expectancy, here founding of welfare state, here health-care system, here income inequalities, here, here literacy levels, here male adult mortality, here PISA score, here politics and economics, here and poverty in work, here, here poverty levels, here, here prison population, here social attitudes, here and social interventions, here social mobility, here ‘strivers and scroungers’ rhetoric, here, here and taxation, here unemployment, here use of tables for meals, here United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), here, here, here, here United States of America air pollution, here, here alcohol consumption, here capital:income ratio, here child poverty, here and child well-being, here cotton subsidies, here and economic recovery, here education system, here, here, here female life expectancy, here and gang violence, here health-care system, here, here income inequalities, here, here, here, here international comparisons, here, here, here lack of paid maternity leave, here life expectancy and education, here male adult mortality, here, here, here maternal mortality, here, here obesity levels, here, here, here, here PISA score, here politics and economics, here and poverty in work, here poverty levels, here prison population, here race and disadvantage, here, here, here, here, here social disadvantage and health, here social mobility, here suicide rate, here and taxation, here US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here US Department of Justice, here US Federal Reserve Bank, here US National Academy of Science (NAS), here, here, here, here University of Sydney, here urban planning, here Uruguay, here, here, here, here utilitarianism, here, here, here Vågerö, Denny, here valuation of life, here Victoria Longitudinal Study, here Vietnam, here, here violence, here domestic (intimate partner), here, here, here Virchow, Rudolf, here vulture funds, here, here Wales, youth unemployment in, here walking speed, here Washington Consensus, here, here, here welfare spending, here West Arnhem College, here Westminster, life expectancy in, here Whitehall Studies, here, here, here, here, here, here, here wife-beating, here Wilde, Oscar, here, here Wilkinson, Richard, here willingness-to-pay methodology, here, here Wolfe, Tom, here, here women and alcohol use, here and cash-transfer schemes, here A Note on the Author Born in England and educated in Australia, Sir Michael Marmot is Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL.


pages: 494 words: 116,739

Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change From the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama


Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blood diamonds, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, conceptual framework, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser,, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, global village, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, Kibera, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, Nicholas Carr, North Sea oil, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, randomized controlled trial, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, school vouchers, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, Y2K

For a while now, the total US population has been eclipsed by the number of wireless subscriptions.12 So during a golden age of innovation in the world’s most technologically advanced country, there has been no dent in our rate of poverty.13 All of our amazing digital technologies, widely disseminated, didn’t alleviate our most glaring social ill. A Tale of Two Approaches When Smith said, “Talent is universal; opportunity is not,” she was quoting an epigraph from a memoir, It Happened on the Way to War, by former Marine captain Rye Barcott. Barcott was an officer-in-training in 2000 when he visited Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, and his eyes were opened to global poverty. Feeling compelled to do something about it, he worked with local residents Tabitha Atieno Festo and Salim Mohamed to found a nonprofit organization called Carolina for Kibera (CFK), which has since been honored for its work by Time magazine and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The organization runs health and education programs and trains youth leaders to solve community problems. Steve Juma, for example, joined a CFK youth soccer team and discovered he made a good referee and peer mentor.

If so, I’d be wrong that more technology by itself doesn’t help social causes, but that would also mean that our social system tends toward greater poverty unless new technologies are invented at a breakneck pace. That is an even darker scenario, which, if true, would only further justify the overall thesis of Part 2: that we need to pay more attention to social forces rather than to technological ones. 14.Carolina for Kibera (n.d.). 15.Of course, it’s understandable that corporate spin highlights products even if executives praise employee talent. The problem occurs when the rest of society drinks the Kool-Aid. And it does. I once had a conversation with an influential Harvard development economist in which I mentioned the importance of growing wisdom in people. He fixed me with a quizzical look and asked, “How is that different from what you’d want for your kids?”

Journal of Economic Perspectives 9(2):209–219, Cameron, William Bruce. (1963). Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking. Random House. Caplan, Bryan. (2012). Selfish reasons to have more kids: Why being a great parent is less work and more fun than you think. Basic Books. Carlin, George. (1984). Carlin on campus. HBO, April 19, 1984. Carolina for Kibera. (n.d.). Stories: Steve Juma, Carr, Nicholas. (2011). The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. W. W. Norton. CBS News. (2007). What if every child had a laptop? May 20, 2007, Center for American Women and Politics. (2014). 2014: Not a landmark year for women, despite some notable firsts.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand


agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

By 2004 I knew something important was up with the rampant urbanization of the developing world, but I couldn’t find much in the way of ground truth about it until the publication of Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, a New Urban World, by journalist Robert Neuwirth. His research strategy was to learn the relevant language and then live for months as a slum resident—in Rocinha (one of seven hundred favelas in Rio de Janeiro), in Kibera (a squatter city of 1 million outside Nairobi), in the Sanjay Gandhi Nagar neighborhood of Mumbai, and in Sultanbeyli, a now fully developed squatter city of 300,000 with a seven-story city hall, outside Istanbul. In each seemingly scary shantytown, Neuwirth found he could just walk in, ask around, find a place to rent, and start making friends. In Kibera he was the only white person for miles, and no one cared. He was frightened just once, when city police in Rio threatened him, apparently because he had neglected to bribe them. Contrary to a standard assumption, Neuwirth discovered that the wretched quality of housing in squatter cities is never the main concern of the inhabitants.


pages: 364 words: 102,225

Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep


battle of ideas, British Empire, call centre, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, illegal immigration, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Kibera, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, McMansion, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, urban planning, urban renewal

It was commonly estimated that something around half of Karachi’s people lived in unauthorized homes. In other words, half of the inhabitants of the largest city of a nation founded by a lawyer—a lawyer whose face and name where everywhere—were now living in the realm of the extralegal. And this was typical of cities across much of the developing world. Karachi’s katchi abadis were rough equivalents of the vast settlement called Kibera that was growing at the edge of Nairobi, or the crowded slum of Dharavi in the heart of Bombay, or the favelas that climbed the steep hillsides of Rio de Janeiro (and which the Athenian planner Doxiadis, in his plan for Rio, had proposed to demolish). Governments were struggling, and often failing, to deal with social and economic change. Western advice frequently went astray, as in the exploding Nigerian city of Lagos, where one study reported that United Nations–led efforts to create a city plan “had no tangible results.”

Human Rights Commission Hurricane Katrina Hussain, Altaf Hussein ibn Ali (grandson of Prophet Mohammed) Hyatt Regency Hotel Icon Tower Ilyas, Ghulam Ilyas, Najeeb Ilyas, Waqas Inchon India: British divisions among populace Hindus’ migration to independence of Pakistan’s wars with partition of Indian National Congress Indonesia Indus River Indus River Valley industrialization instant cities populations of Investment Advisory Centre of Pakistan Iqbal, Khuram Iran Iraq Babylon ruins in Islam in creation of Pakistan see also Muslims Islam, Zia-ul Islamabad Istanbul IT Tower Jalil, Nasreen Jamaat-e-Islami Jamali, Seemin Jihad jihadi organizations Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah, Muhammad Ali birth of death of tomb of Jinnah Ground Jinnah International Airport road to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre February 5, 2010 bombing and Jinnah Road as Bandar Road Jubilee Cinema Jundallah Kabul Kamal, Mustafa background of construction projects of Karachi: airport road in alternative government in bird sellers in building boom in 1950s as capital of Pakistan central city and suburban planning and development commuting and electricity supply in ethnic diversity in government in Kamal’s construction projects in literacy in migrants and refugees in monsoons in in 1947 parks in, see parks poor in population growth and expansion of post-traumatic stress suffered in press in religious diversity in seaport of socio-economic survey of transportation and traffic in types of conflicts in unauthorized settlements (katchi abadis) in violence in, see violence water supply in Karachi Boat Club Karachi Gymkhana Karachi Monorail Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) Building (old city hall) protesters at Karachi Press Club Karachi University katchi abadis (unauthorized settlements) Kaur, Bibi Inder Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Center Khan, Akhtar Hameed Khan, Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, Mahboob Khan, Nawaz Khan, Nichola Khan, Wahab Khan, Yahya Khattab, Raja Umer Khuhro, M. A. Kibera kidnappings Kishwar, Romana Korangi Kothari Parade Kumail, Mohammad Kumeli, Abbas Lagos Lahore Landhi land mafias (land grabbers) Langley, James Lari, Yasmeen Larkana Lebanon Lighthouse Bazaar Lighthouse Centre Lighthouse Cinema literacy London Los Angeles, Calif. Love Line Bridge Lyari Macao Machar Colony mafias land Malik, Rehman Malik, Zain Manghopir Road Mawdudi, Abul A’la Mawdudi, Maulana McCartt, Steve Medellín megacities Memon, Sharfuddin “Bobby,” Memon Masjid Memons Mexico City migrants and refugees in Karachi in Pakistan reverse migration and Mirza, Iskander Mithidar Mohajirs Gutter Baghicha and Mohammad, Fawaz Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Prophet monsoons Mountbatten, Louis MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) Alibhai and Ashura fires and Gutter Baghicha and name change of MQM Haqiqi Mumbai murders Musharraf, Pervez Muslim League Muslim League National Guards Muslims Ahmadi extremist Memon migration to Pakistan Shia, see Shia Muslims; Shia processions Sufi Sunni, see Sunni Muslims Nader, Mohammad Nader, Shaheen Naim, Mufti Nairobi Napier, Robert Narindas, Makwana National Arms Navi Mumbai Naweed, Baseer nazims Nehru, Jawaharlal New Delhi New Karachi News International newspapers New York, N.Y.


pages: 427 words: 124,692

Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British by Jeremy Paxman


British Empire, call centre, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Etonian, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, imperial preference, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Kibera, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, offshore financial centre, polynesian navigation, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade

‘This embodiment of the eager, masterful, materialistic civilization of today’, he wrote, ‘was pushed through a region in which nature, both as regards wild man and wild beast, does not differ materially from what it was in Europe in the late Pleistocene.’ Now, as you rattle out of Nairobi you are advised to shut the window, because if you don’t there’s a good chance someone will lob a pile of human shit through it. The train passes through Kibera, the biggest shanty town in Africa, home to perhaps a million people, which formally doesn’t exist yet whose cardboard, wood and corrugated-iron shacks probably house a third of the population of the capital – not that anyone ventures in to take an accurate census. But then the whole of Nairobi was an accident – it just happened to have the last bit of flat ground where colonial engineers could turn around a locomotive before the line they were building snaked its way up through the highlands towards Lake Victoria.


pages: 407 words: 121,458

Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce


additive manufacturing, air freight, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, demographic transition, Fall of the Berlin Wall, food miles, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Kibera, megacity, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, profit motive, race to the bottom, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, the built environment, urban planning, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Its boss and founder Tony Roberts has fought continued scepticism in the environment community about the morality of shipping old computers to developing countries. Some say the risks of them ending up somewhere like Mandoli are too high. But he says we should see the potential good that can be done as well. In mid-2008, shortly after the organization’s tenth anniversary, it also celebrated its 100,000th delivery. Three-quarters so far have ended up in Africa, where Kenya takes the most. When we spoke, he was trying to set up a new computer lab in Kibera, the huge slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. The potential of CSK to take the world’s computers may be limited. But Tony believes there is huge potential to set up similar enterprises round the world. Most discarded computers have several years of active life left in them. And now that more and more computer owners are having to think about where their old kit ends up, the potential is growing fast.


pages: 497 words: 144,283

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna


1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, megacity, Mercator projection, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day

Indeed, though most of the world’s population never physically leaves their nation of birth, urbanization significantly boosts their degree of connectedness despite their location. The lives of any two people in cities across Europe and Asia are increasingly more similar than the lives of fellow citizens living in rural areas. In terms of access to basic services, people in Jakarta have more in common with those in London than they do with their countrymen on the remote Maluku Islands. Even those in the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai or Kibera in Nairobi earn far more than the landless peasantry they left behind. A world where people have more in common across geography than within it is a telltale sign of a supply chain world. As the Columbia University professor Saskia Sassen has shown, globalization has enabled a proliferating set of networks—what Sassen calls “circuits”—that have a life of their own. Financial investors in New York and London and the capital pools they deploy in Asia, Swiss and Singaporean commodities brokers and the resource deposits they control in Africa and Latin America, Silicon Valley and Bangalore programmers and their global customers, German and American carmakers and their factories from Mexico to Indonesia—these are all cross-border circuits connected by way of supply chains.


pages: 391 words: 117,984

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz


access to a mobile phone, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, business process, business process outsourcing, clean water, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, Hernando de Soto, Kibera, Lao Tzu, market design, microcredit, out of africa, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, transaction costs

On the savanna, we’d point in awe at the graceful silhouettes of acacia trees in the fading light, smell the dirt and wind and the coming rain, and then dance slowly outside the car, besotted with the endless swirl of orange and pink sky and the slow loping of the giraffes and antelopes near the water holes, feeling the sweet ache of being so fully alive. My life in Nairobi, as in Rwanda, was one of extremes, moving from magical adventures to the realities of life for the very poor, sometimes within a single day. On the other side of the city’s tracks, more than a million people lived in slums such as Mathare Valley, Kibera, Pumwani, and Soweto, in shantytown houses made of mud and corrugated metal sheets. There were no clear streets, just winding alleyways, open sewers, the smell of trash, and wandering children sniffing glue. Men skinned goats and hung meat in open-air markets that swirled with flies. That this world existed in such close proximity to the gorgeous tree-lined suburbs of Nairobi and its spacious national park made the desperation even crueler.