• Slum tourism in Kenya: in aid of a good cause or poverty voyeurism?
  • Nairobi, Sep 13 (EFE/EPA).- While tens of thousands of foreign visitors flock to safari parks and the endless sandy beaches of Kenya during the peak summer tourist season, others with a penchant for more unorthodox attractions and activities opt for so-called 'slum tourism.'

    For just $25 (or 2,500 Kenya shillings) per person, tourists are steered by local tour companies in the direction of one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Africa_ the Kibera slum in Nairobi.

    Sometimes referred to as 'poverty tourism' by Western tourists, the tour operators claim that these tours help raise awareness around the issue of poverty and bring much needed extra income to the slum dwellers who survive on less than a couple of dollars a day.

    The residents of the slums see it entirely differently, however, arguing that they do not gain anything from the tours, and that tourists come only to see and take photographs of their plight.

    And yet, some tourists see it from another perspective.

    "We are blessed to be here," said 29-year-old tourist Bahare Bahrampoor, a public health worker from Denmark who is visiting the Kibera slum with her friend Laure Willemen from Belgium.

    "We are amazed to see how people help and support each other to tackle their everyday problems," she said.

    Willemen said they had a discussion about how to behave and what to do in the slum, to make sure they did not treat it "like a safari."

    To this end, the pair decided not to take photographs during their visit.

    She went on to say they convinced themselves to do the tour not just to see the poverty but also to see how people help each other with various projects, and because their money would help with some of the causes.

    Asked how they would respond to criticism of the tour being a 'poverty voyeurism,' Willemen said it was "very serious criticism and we should continue to take it seriously."