Unmet Needs and Resilience: The Case of Vulnerable and Marginalized Populations in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements
Catalyzing change and promoting sustainable cities in informal settlements and their residents requires an understanding of unmet needs and resilience among marginalized and vulnerable groups (MVGs). This is because needs identified on behalf of MVGs as “unmet” are sometimes not perceived as unmet, or even “meetable”, and resilience strategies from above are often perceived as unsuitable by the MVGs. To the best of our knowledge, no study has used governance diaries to identify the unmet needs and resilience strategies of MVGs from their perspectives. As such, this study explored the unmet needs and resilience strategies of MVGs in informal settlements using governance diaries. This was a qualitative study using governance diaries with 24 participants from two informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. We used Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for the framework analysis. We identified unmet needs related to physiology, safety, love and belonging, and self-esteem, in the order of the hierarchy. MVGs did not need the full satisfaction of a lower need to yearn for a higher one, and continue living despite their unmet needs. However, there were no self-actualization needs as the participants could not satisfy the lower level needs. The urban paradox reminds us that cities are not always beneficial for all. There is a continued need for holistic approaches to uncover the often hidden resilience strategies for achieving unmet needs. Our study identified behavioural and cognitive resilience strategies. As such, actors need to embrace and build on local resilience strategies in efforts to address the unmet needs of MVGs in pursuit of inclusive urbanization in Africa. The identification of unmet needs and resilience strategies adds to the literature, policy and practice on how and why residents and MVGs continue working and living in informal settlements despite a lack of or inadequate basic amenities. Our study findings imply that actors in informal settlements need to build on and re-build local resilience strategies in pursuit of inclusive and liveable urbanization in Africa, as unmet needs tend to increase with worsened marginality and vulnerability status. Beyond the resilience strategies adopted by MVGs, governments, service providers and caregivers should take more useful actions to prevent or reduce unmet needs.
Chumo I, Kabaria C, Shankland A, Mberu B. Unmet Needs and Resilience: The Case of Vulnerable and Marginalized Populations in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements. Sustainability. 2023; 15(1):37. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15010037