Mathare Valley is located about 3 kilometres from the Central Business District, along Juja Road. The settlement occupies an area of approximately 73.7 hectares. It is made up of smaller settlements including 3B, 3C, 4B, Kosovo, Mabatini, Mashimoni, Village 2, Kiamutisya and Gitathuru.
Before independence, Asians owned the area presently known as Mathare. When Emergency was declared in 1952, this area was believed to harbour a Mau Mau core, and the settlement’s 150 huts were mowed down two years later. There was a notable surge in population between 1959-63. This caught the government's eye and one of the first acts of Kenya’s independent Government was to try to clear this area.
In 1968, 102 families relocated from Eastleigh Section VII to make way for the Pumwani resettlement scheme, although only 24 families had been given plots. In June 1969, a larger number of people moved to there after the City Council burned down part of Kaburini squatter settlement. In 1970, the population more than doubled due to construction of 7,628 room-units by residents’ land-purchasing companies. These companies were originally planned on a co-operative basis and had attempted to include each household head in the squatter village as a shareholder.