Nairobi - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Nairobi is rated critical for crime and high for terror. Your best friend is situational awareness. For the most part, if you think smart, you stay safe. Most crime that affects the embassy community is theft, especially of things like phones. We have not had any issues living here. I was nervous when we first came, especially because of the terrorism risk, but quickly felt safer here than I do in the States where mass shootings are common and unpredictable. Schools and housing are well-guarded. That said, there is always a potential for something major to happen here and it is important not to get too comfortable. That said, most people live life as usual and simply stay aware and make smart choices. - Mar 2024

This post is rated high for crime and terrorism, and on occasion, such events do occur. It’s best to just follow the same security and safety procedures you would in any major city. - Aug 2023

Yes, high crime which is why most people never walk anywhere and keep doors and windows locked at all times. There has been an uptick in armed robberies, which I have heard has included US embassy personnel in the past few months. - Mar 2022

Nairobi is safe yet not. Keep your windows up when you drive. If you're in a house, you will want to make sure you have adequate security: - guard, - a good, solid wall as a fence, - razor wire on the fence, - electric fence, - electric security alarm system; and - a contract with a security company such as KK or G4S. - Aug 2021

Other posters have already talked about crime. It is real, be careful. - Apr 2021

Yes! In addition to the terrorism (!) which is a real and ever present concern, there are general safety issues with everything. - Nov 2020

High-crime post, but if you are sensible, life is rather normal. In our immediate area (work, housing, malls are all nearby), I feel very safe. Our houses are well protected as well. Avoiding driving late at night, or walking after hours is a good idea. We have not had or witnessed any crime while here. - Dec 2018

Yes. As our RSO will happily tell you, Nairobi is one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world. We are constantly treated to horror stories about robberies, rapes, carjackings, home invasions and more. There was a shootout a block or two from a school bus stop one morning. Hell, even I was assaulted at a local casino.

It's imperative that you keep your head on a swivel in Nairobi. Don't let it deter you from this post, but you do need to be aware that the crime here is serious and not to be taken lightly. - Dec 2018

Yes, however, the amount of security and checkpoints going into the groceries stores helps. Be careful and vigilant and always aware of surroundings. We have been lucky that we have not had any personal encounters while living here, however, I have heard of people being robbed. - Jun 2018

Absolutely. Robbery, muggings, burglary, car jacking- these are regular occurrences. These are mostly crimes of opportunity and can be prevented with common sense practices such as using alarm systems, locking car doors, avoiding questionable areas, and being aware of your surroundings. Terrorism is a high threat as well, though most attacks are directed at local police and citizens. - Jul 2016

Yes. Crime is high. White people are a target and cannot walk freely around the city. You need to live in a well protected home with electric fencing. Terrorism is real threat. - Sep 2015

Yes. Carjackings and robberies are heard of, but haven't been experienced first hand. Scattered terrorist problems in areas that are in the north about 6 hours drive away. Checkpoints/searches of people and cars are common at malls, compounds, schools, diplomatic areas. We feel pretty safe, but understand you cannot prepare for every situation. Many people go to either extreme in their feelings about safety here. We are probably in the middle and go out sometimes at night, but not too far from home. Treat living here like living in any big city and try and take precautions. We are not allowed to go to the coast because of security risks, unfortunately. - Aug 2015

Yes, plenty. Car break-ins while parked OR moving, home invasions, pick-pocketing. Given the widespread corruption, it's not unusual to hear of a guard burglarizing the homes they're supposed to be guarding. Also scattered terrorism - bombings etc. So far American housing and the Embassy have been safe (at least since the Embassy was bombed in 1998). Your FACT training will come in handy. - Jul 2015

This is Kenya. Although security is a concern, you can easily become complacent here. This is paradise. - May 2015

Threat of Al Shabab attacks but this can be mitigated by avoiding malls and crowded areas. Home invasions do occur but security measures can be taken (guards, alarm system, electric fence, etc). - Dec 2014

Yes. Many. Nairobi is rated critical for both crime and terrorism. Home invasions are common and terrorism has been on the rise since the September 2013 terrorist attack by Somalia's Al-Shabaab. Due to the rapidly deteriorating security situation, particularly related to increased attacks and threats by Al-Shabaab, parts of the Embassy, particularly USAID, are downsizing. - Jun 2014

Yes! It's the one drawback to living on Nairobi. Armed invasions happen here, Westgate terrorist attack is still firmly in the front of everyone's mind and terrorist threats are constantly being reported. Security is the only bad thing I can find about Kenya though. The embassy provides 24 hour guards and other security measures for houses. In spite of these things, for the most part I feel safe. - Jun 2014

YES. The Westgate attack in September of 2013 has made a major impact - I will be here another year and there is a general sense that terrorist attacks will occur with regularity. In addition, there have been several issues with home invasions (including one colleague whose family was tied up - including the 1-year old child and robbed at noon on a Sunday), and people often get robbed at gunpoint. If you are not out by yourself late at night, you are probably fine, but people in stand-alone houses have to use a safe haven and an alarm. - Mar 2014

It isn't called "Nairobbery" for nothing. Carjackings and smash and grabs are rather common and there was a recent uptick in home invasions. The wealth disparity is depressing and the country is currently at 40% unemployment and you are driving a Prado and living in a huge house. If you follow the RSO guidelines you should be ok. They do everything they can to keep employees and families safe, you just have to listen and be self aware. Don't be "that person." - Jul 2013

YES! Car jackings, home invasions, pick pockets, rape. - Jun 2013

So many security concerns. Car-jackings, robbery, everyday driving, al-shabaab, tribal clashes; you name it, it's a security concern here. Luckily, most of these -- except car jackings -- aren't targeted at foreigners. - Dec 2012

YES, it's a major factor in life here. Everyday concerns are: car-jackings, robberies, identity theft, mugging, and home invasions. Terrorism is a threat here, and there are active al Qaeda branches here and in neighboring Somalia. It has gotten worse since Kenya sent troops into Somalia. All USG houses have private security provided. - Aug 2012

Yes. This is a critical crime/terrorism threat post, but I think most people like to overlook that. Carjackings and armed robberies are common and terrorist threats do exist. - Dec 2011

Crime is a big threat. Sometimes there are terrorist threats/warnings due to the presence of Al-S in the Horn of Africa. - Dec 2011

Nairobi is a dangerous city and one must be careful. Traveling outside of Nairobi was generally safe and enjoyable. - Sep 2011

yes, carjacking especially. We limit night driving, and never drive between towns at night. Embassy housing is secure, due to the great lengths taken by the embassy. - Dec 2010

Car jackings and petty crime are rampant. People joke about living in "Nai-robbery."People tend to avoid going out at night unless it's only for dinner. Stores are closed - save for the supermarkets - after 6pm, so there isn't a big need to go out after dark, which is about 6pm. Monkeys invading your house are a real concern, though! They will open windows and steal fruit. - Dec 2009

Major. Carjackings can occur anywhere at any time. If you can't handle this, don't come here. On the plus side, if you cooperate, you're very likely to come out of it injury free. Most carjackers have guns and aren't afraid to use them if you resist. For housing, we live on a compound and it's safe. Everyone with any money at all has a guard night and day at their home, plus high walls. - Jul 2009

Tons. Crime is insane. Had a couple of murders and shootings of Embassy personnel, both American and locals. - Jun 2008

High to extreme. Nairobi has a bad reputation for crime, particularly carjackings, and the omnipresent security presence at malls, restaurants, homes, etc. in the form of 24-hour guards (sometimes toting guns) and high walls with razor wire and electric fencing. In a UN security report back in 2006, the words “hand grenade” appeared in a description of a shoot-out between police and bad guys at a checkpoint on a major road on a Friday night. You definitely have to be careful and aware of your surroundings, but with a few precautions (locking all doors/windows while driving, paying attention to the road and people around you at all times, etc.), you will be fine. Of course, since the elections (December 2007), things have become a little more tense. During the first week of January, we were in lock-down in our apartment and there were protests and street violence near where we live. This has since calmed down, but the peace is a bit tenuous: a lot depends on how well the current political negotiations play out and how long (and if) they stick. Lots of if's. - Feb 2008

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