Urban Health and Communities

The world is urbanizing at an increasingly rapid pace. As the trend continues, many will have no alternative but to move to informal settlements, commonly called slums. UN-HABITAT estimates that, of all urban residents worldwide, sub-Saharan Africa currently has the largest proportion of urbanites living in slums (nearly 72%)1.

Jhpiego has implemented two large programs in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya in the past several years and is a founding member of the Nairobi Urban Health Poverty Partnership, a collaborative effort designed to demonstrate the variety of interventions that must be addressed to foster sustainable improvements to health in urban slums. With initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund, Jhpiego has created a sustainable model that links empowered communities with strengthened health facilities.

Through its Nairobi programs, slums assessments in other parts of Africa, as well as its technical expertise, Jhpiego is looking expand its urban programming to other slums in Kenya and worldwide. Jhpiego has shown that targeted amounts of funding can make a huge impact. To demonstrate that even more can be done with increased levels of support, the time is now.

Examples of the Sustainable Successes
Spearheaded by Jhpiego

Urban Health, an Engine for Innovation

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Merck/MSD, the Wallace Global Fund, the Waterloo Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation—and in close partnership with local organizations—Jhpiego has translated its technical expertise to the context of poor, overcrowded slums in developing countries.

Jhpiego’s approach has been to listen to the urban poor, and to link them to health care services to address real health needs in their community. Numerous community-based innovations have resulted—and thousands of lives have been improved. A few examples:

  • Jhpiego has trained HIV-positive "expert patients" from the slums who test the medical knowledge of clinicians providing HIV treatment and care services. These expert patients now are regularly engaged to help strengthen the quality of HIV training in Kenya.
  • In response to the threat of violent sexual assault, Jhpiego sponsored self-defense training to help women in the Nairobi slums ward off attackers at night. Community paralegals who were trained with Jhpiego support have helped police capture and convict nine rapists from the slums. Youth groups now patrol the slums at night to help protect their community.
  • Jhpiego has helped organize young mothers’ clubs, which not only help single mothers care for themselves and their babies during and after pregnancy, but also help them earn income to support their new families.

What's Happening

Male champions change the conversation about family planning in Nairobi slums

As part of an effort to increase access to modern contraceptive methods, the Tupange project is reaching out to men in casual and social settings to educate them on the benefits of healthy birth spacing for families. Read More »


Keeping the Slums Safe and Clean—A Jhpiego-Kenya Priority

Urbanization is a by-product of modernization that brings with it unique health challenges. Jhpiego-Kenya's Keeping the Slums Safe and Clean Project is leading the way in developing innovative solutions to urban health challenges. Read More »


Jhpiego’s Work in Kenya Slums Highlighted in Influential WHO/UN Report

Jhpiego’s successful work and results were recognized in the 2010 joint World Health Organization and UN-HABITAT publication: Hidden Cities: Unmasking and Overcoming Health Inequities in Urban Settings. Read More »

  • 1 UN-HABITAT. 2003. The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements