How do residents of informal settlements perceive potential pathways to reduce poverty in their area? Until now, few studies have looked at the views of people living in informal settlements on strategies to reduce poverty. While informal settlements are often targeted for poverty reduction, most examinations of poverty solutions follow a top-down approach, which can create a disconnect with the local realities of people experiencing poverty. This study tries to address these gaps by examining poverty solutions from a bottom-up perspective in the Manyatta B informal settlement in Kisumu, Kenya. The purpose of this case study was (1) to understand how people living in Manyatta B perceive poverty and current development efforts in their area, (2) to document the ideas that residents have on ways to improve the poverty situation in their area, and (3) to investigate the reasons behind the ideas proposed. A total of 32 semi-structured interviews were conducted with residents of the informal settlement between May and July 2022. Findings suggest that respondents mostly define poverty as an inability to meet basic needs, such as food, shelter, clothing, and education. Every respondent perceives poverty as a problem in Manyatta B and considers the current poverty reduction efforts as insufficient. Participants believe more efforts should be made, and nearly all stress the responsibility of the government, exposing a disconnect between top-down government policies for poverty reduction and the residents’ own priorities for poverty reduction. In addition, many also attribute a responsibility to the community in the fight against poverty. In terms of solutions, employment is seen as the key solution to reduce poverty in Manyatta B. Many residents also perceive business and sensitization on poverty reduction as other avenues, while several respondents identify youth education, empowerment, and better governance as potential pathways to improve the poverty situation in their area. Four main issues were raised by the participants to justify the solutions proposed: unemployment, idleness, poor governance, and lack of knowledge on pathways out of poverty. All in all, the results show that the residents of Manyatta B interviewed have a multidimensional view of poverty, a broad understanding of solutions, and a clear sense of the problems affecting their community. There is an apparent disconnect between the priorities of the residents of Manyatta B and current poverty reduction efforts, and development actors would do well to address this gap before any meaningful poverty reduction initiatives can be undertaken.

Published: 2024-01-08