risktaker wrote:i'd like to hear about nairobi, actually.
There are, on average, four carjackings resulting in murder a week. This is just Nairobi and environs, this does not include the civil war happening upcountry, near Mt. Elgon. Oh, that's right, we aren't allowed to call it a civil war. Just like the world's largest slum (in terms of population per square meter [yes, that is correct. Over one million people in two square kilometers]), Kibari, "doesn't exist" according to the government. It's just a big open air market. Because Kenya doesn't have any slums, you know. Not even Mathare (another "not a slum") where the murder rate per day is comparable to Oakland CA's per /week/...in a space just over a square kilometer.
We pay $900/month to a security firm per month, in order to have (unarmed) guards on our compound (delineated by 2.5m concrete walls topped by razer wire and electric fencing). They are unarmed because the only people carrying guns are the government and the criminals. But I repeat myself.
Last saturday night there was a gun battle about 300 meters down the valley from us. AKs and handguns. In case you don't know, 300 meters is the /aimed/ accuracy of AKs.
Our house has three steel doors, security bars on all the windows, a panic room.
The only road that we have seen paved in the 2.5 years we've been here, has been paved twice (it is the road heading out to the Road's Ministry's minister's house).
Every truck is overloaded.
Matatus (15pax Nissan Van, used in place of public transportation) carry more than they are rated for (there is a story: Two matatus got into an accident at a road intersection. Six people were killed, thirty two were taken to hospital. And fifteen walked away). They speed and pass on blind corners. Every week there are reports in the paper about how a speeding matatu, carrying 20+ passengers, generally five or so are children sitting on mama's lap, tried to pass on a blind corner and either hit a pothole and flipped, or gets wacked by a truck coming the other way.
Kenya (population about 30 million) has a traffic fatality rate equal to the rate in the entire United States (about 300 million).
Hell, a friend of mine got hit by a car yesterday as he was riding his bike home. Why he was riding a bike is beyond us, but hey, everyone is allowed to take their own chances.
The reservoir that serves our area has a rated capacity. Of that rated capacity, 60% is unavailable because somebody rubbled the dam (originally built using French aid money) and stole it. Of the remaining 40%, at last check, about half of that was silted up. So even during the rainy seasons, there is water rationing.
Electrical power is cut on average once a day. Generally fur upwards of two hours.
Phone is out generally for one week out of every month, generally because someone has stolen the copper wires in order to melt them down (to sell as scrap to the Chinese...who make copper phone lines out of them and sell it back to Kenya).
There is only one leased line for all internet traffic, it is routed through Nairobi to Mombasa on the coast, and thence to the BT offices in London. They have been talking about installing fiber optic in its place, but when South Africa tried to lay down the law (There would be /no/ single-source bid contracts. Any nation wishing to take part in the East Africa fiber network would be allowed to do so, with regional oversight and auditing of expenses, and any connections to the network would be free-market governed, /not/ Government monopoly), the Kenyan government pulled out and decided they'd lay their own trunk line to [someplace. it changes from month to month. Maybe Dubai, maybe Mumbai, maybe Perth, whoever gives the biggest kickback]. They have been talking about doing this since /before/ I got here. They are now talking about having it "early 2009".
Everyone in the government is on the take. From the traffic police running "security and safety checkpoints" to the higher levels of government.
Single-bid contracts for ten times what it would cost to build something, and then just enough building to finish the job using substandard materials, rather than waste all that largesse on standard building materials.
Nairobi is technically earthquake country. There was an earthquake here (luckily it wasn't a big one) last year. Shortly thereafter, a building under construction collapsed, killing 40 or so workers. Hell buildings simply collapse, because the concrete is rarely allowed to cure for the minimum acceptable time before they build the next story on top of it.
There is high unemployment and many, many people living in poverty because of that.
One of the largest employment sub-sectors is the security sub-sector (see above re $900). This is due to the unemployment problem, since the unemployed turn to crime to feed their families.
If the government was willing to solve the unemployment problem...it would put all the security guards out of work...causing an unemployment problem.
People running for office attach themselves to whichever political party they think will win the election, it has squat to do with what any given party's "politics" are. The president is currently "deciding" which party he will run for in the upcoming elections. This would be like Mr. Obama waiting until the last minute and then saying he was a republican. Not because he is, but because he thought the GOP had a better chance of winning the election.
I drive my wife to work, and my kids to their schools. I do this, rather than have a local driver, because I spent a decade in the US Army and have had training in driving in combat environments. And that is what it is.
There are days when I'm unavailable to drive, and my wife is driving the kids someplace, and I sit and wonder if I'm ever going to see them again.
To bring this back on subject, I would like to see Dustin add a method to Lux that would allow me to turn East Africa into a glowing crater, salt what is left, etc.
The UN is responsible for like six percent of the country's GNP. If they were to pull out and move the (third largest UN) site someplace else, the entire region would collapse. The UN has four main security ratings. Rating A is for places like New York and Geneva. Rating D is for places like CAR, the Congo, Nigeria, etc, places where there are Peacekeeping missions, etc. Rating C has four subclasses, 1-4. Rating C4 (how appropriate) means that the duty station is no longer "a family allowed" duty station. Nairobi is C3 (Kenya /averages/ C4, there are D places up country, towards the Somali, Ethiopian and Ugandan borders), and after a review by the UN Sec Office from New York last year, it was recommended that all of Kenya/East Africa be reclassified as at least C4 (if not D) and get the families out. The then director said there was no way he would do that.
Like I said, don't get me started.