Mukuru Kwa Ruben is part of the larger Mukuru slums located in the vicinity of industrial area of Nairobi City. It is prone to several challenges and risks, which include rampant insecurity both to its residents, children and workers of the Ruben Center. According to Ruben Centre Needs Survey, March 2015, others are fire, floods, sanitation, hygiene, diseases and children’s rights. Extreme poverty and human rights violation are prevalent. Losses due to shocks are frequent and can be massive and catastrophic. These shocks include severe water shortage, chronic severe illness, death of household head or working family member, death of other family members, break-up of household, jail term, assault, burglary, damaged dwelling, HIV/AIDS etc. all these result in loss of income and assets. Households spend cash to mitigate effects; a great majority seeks help from family, friends and well-wishers (Source: Well-being in Kenya, National Bureau of Statistics, 2009).
Due to its proximity to the industrial area, a few of its residents secure seasonal jobs at the factories, but even this is affected by frequent shut down of the factories and the large number of job seekers. Others do manual jobs such as separating garbage; a few are handcart pushers while others are petty traders. The majority is jobless. Dependency ratio - defined here as proportion of population that is dependent on the working age - as in other Nairobi slums- is therefore high at around 69.2% for children (0-14 years) and 2.1% for the aged (65+ years). Poverty levels are at over 50.3% for the male and 49.7% for the women.
The overall mean household size is 5 members among the poor compared to 3.6 members for not so poor. There are a few members of the community who live in Mukuru out of choice either because they were born there, are business people, landlords or have political and other interests. For the poor and very poor, 73.7% of households are headed by males while 26.3% are headed by women (Source Reuben Center: Questionnaire analysis, Review, November 2014).