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Crime and unrest

All those narrators who live in Kibagare say that crime is rife, and they see the police as ineffective and corrupt. Nyiva describes how the only activity of the police in Kibagare is to arrest those brewing illegal alcohol or dealing in marijuana, because these people give the police bribes in exchange for being released.

Women in Kibagare, including Alice and Mercy, mention that rape is so widespread that they have to escort their daughters everywhere. Several narrators say that drug use fuels the crime rate, including rape.

Others point out that poverty and lack of work are at the root of most theft and anti-social behaviour. Mercy says that life is so hard for some people in Kibagare that they “ask to be arrested because in jail nowadays there is food, not like here in Kibagare”.

Alice makes a strong connection between high unemployment and crime rates, acknowledging that it is hard for young men to change these habits without any work to fill the vacuum or produce some income: “…even if they want to change it is hard, because they don’t have any work to do. Maybe if the government found them work, then they would truly change.”

Many say that residents of Loresho, the wealthy neighbouring suburb, refer to the people of Kibagare as “thugs”, “enemies” and “thieves”. “Whatever happens in there – let’s say a theft occurs – they will think it’s done by the people of this village,” says George. But narrators say this is untrue: “Where can we get a car to go and steal with?” asks Nyiva.

Alice also resents this assumption, and points out that most victims of crime are the poor: “They assume that we are thieves when honestly it is just that we have many problems. And if there are thieves, they steal from each other here in [Kibagare].”

Several mention that crime is not just committed by poor people. Land-grabbing by the rich is a common complaint.

By contrast, narrators in the rural locations do not perceive crime and lack of security as a major problem. Mary, talking about Oloitokitok town, says “we have officers of the government that do a good job, so we have enough security… Here there is peace… There is no crime.”


Crime and unrest is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Kenya oral testimony project.


Alice: sleeping hungry

Deborah: widows have rights

Elias: cultural change

George: no jobs

Helen: poverty of war

Joseph: keeping optimistic

Lemaron: challenging discrimination

Martha: battling corruption

Mary: life of struggle

Mercy: completely forgotten

Nyiva: cardboard homes

Peter: search for work

Key themes






Self-help initiatives

Sanitation and health

Political representation


Crime and unrest



Homelessness and insecurity

Pastoralism and agriculture