Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 28, 2013.


A three-part series about the world's growing slums, told through writing and photography on

One sixth of the world’s population lives in slums and that number grows every day.

Slum Rising will share the stories of Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, through writing and photography by Journalist Abby Higgins. 

The stories will be published on The Seattle Globalist in just a few short weeks! Here is how the coverage will unfold. 

Part 1 Who’s afraid of Kibera?

Part 2 Ideas and innovation: slums as centers of creation

Part 3 Quick fixes and near misses: the drive to fix slums

Despite their prevalence, slums are treated as eyesores to be eliminated that have problems with quick fixes. The media describes them in increasingly apocalyptic terms: festering, depraved, filthy, horrifying, inhuman. Those negative realities exist but only as part of a place where innovation, economy and culture also thrive. 

Slum Rising will be published in March by The Seattle Globalist in time for Kenya’s presidential election. This is the first election since 2007, when over 1,000 people were killed and well over 150,000 were displaced when violence broke out after contested results. A lot of that violence occurred in Kibera. 

A great deal of press will be coming out of Kenya in March making it that much more important that nuanced, in-depth reporting about Kibera is produced. 

How will your awesome pledge be used?

International reporting is expensive and these funds will help get me to Kenya, work with local reporters to tell the story, and cover living costs for three weeks of reporting. 

And rest assured, we are seasoned veterans at this kind of reporting. Before rebranding from The Common Language Project to The Seattle Globalist, we completed several other successful Kickstarter projects you can take a look at here.

Curious about other work by The Seattle Globalist? Check out the audio slideshow of water walkers in East Africa or this article on the aftermath of Kenya’s post-election violence. Recently, we completed "Generation Putin," a one-hour radio special on young people in the Former Soviet Union playing on public radio across the nation!

We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, know what that means? Your donation is tax deductible!

For other work by Abby Higgins check out her website

What is a khanga? 

At the $50 reward level, you'll receive a beautiful printed fabric from East Africa. (See example photo below). 

Examples of khangas.
Examples of khangas.

Thank you!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

International reporting comes with a lot of challenges and unpredictability. Things rarely go as planned, interviews fall through and political climates can change without warning.

Luckily I have a lot of experience with these inherent risks. I've reported from Kibera before and I have three years of experience working and living in Kenya that have taught me to be adaptable, always alert, and ready to go with the flow. Sometimes the story is in the mishaps.

Luckily, I'm also not in this alone. I have the support of the entire Globalist staff in the reporting, editing and production of this series.

I also have a large network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances in Kibera who will always know the community and its goings on better than myself. I will rely on them throughout the reporting and editing process to tell the best story that I know how.


  • It depends on who you ask. Some people prefer shanty towns or informal settlements, or barriors or favelas depending on the region. Slum is the most commonly used word in Kenya as well as the most widely used and understood term outside of Kenya for a complicated concept. It is for these reasons I will use it for this series.

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  • Estimates range from 170,000 to over a million. The reality is somewhere in between. We do know that Kibera is about the size of central park and is an extremely densely populated area. Statistics about slums are notoriously difficult to verify because their populations are transient and largely undocumented. This series will use the best statistics available while acknowledging that there is still a lot we do not know. These gaps in knowledge about such a huge part of our world is exactly what makes this reporting so important.

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  • This is an important question I believe is critical to address. I am not Kenyan nor have I ever lived in Kibera but my experience working there and ability to speak Swahili have given me insights into this community which I will bring to my reporting.

    The nature of being a journalist is that you report, empathize and accurately share the stories and experiences that are not your own. My job is to use my skills and access to publications to share the stories that are not told in mainstream media. This is at the core of The Globalist’s mission to publish the underreported stories of the world.

    I am also committed to working with Kibera’s many to report this story and ensure that Kenyans continue to have increased opportunities to tell their stories.

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  • For international backers, please see below for our shipping rates:

    $15 - $25 reward: Add $2 for international shipping

    $50 - $500 rewards: Add $15 for international shipping

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    A huge thank you and credit on the published project, which will be published in a few short weeks! How's that for instant gratification?

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    A Seattle Globalist sticker and a Seattle Globalist button to show off that you're a Globalist!

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    Get a unique postcard sent all the way from Kenya from the journalist!

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    A khanga, a bright and beautiful printed fabric from East Africa with a Swahili proverb at the bottom. Worn as traditional dress by women or used as tablecloths, wall hangings or other decoration. See FAQ for pictures!

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    One original 8x10 printed photo of your choosing from the series.

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    An original frame-able tapestry hand painted by Kenyan artisans with scenes of Kenyan markets, villages or wildlife. See FAQ for picture!

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    Three original photo prints of your choosing from the series and VIP treatment at a Seattle Globalist celebration of Slum Rising including a panel featuring the journalist and local experts.

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    Set of three custom ordered photographs from Kenya in a scene of your choosing. These could be from a safari, the Indian Ocean beaches, Nairobi's textile markets or another one of Kenya's endless beautiful scenes...AND VIP treatment at a Seattle Globalist celebration of Slum Rising that will include a panel featuring the journalist and a local experts.

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Funding period

- (15 days)