LETTERS FROM SLUMS' EVICTION
URBAN PARISH NETWORK IN THE INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
KUTOKA – EXODUS
February 19, 2004-02-23
Honorable Mr. Joe Akech Honorable Mr. Sigei Most Rev. Bishop
Mayor of Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Ndingi Mwana N’zeki
NAIROBI NAIROBI NAIROBI
RE: TREAT OF FORCED EVICTIONS IN THE NAIROBI SLUMS
Peace be with you! We are writing this letter on behalf of the pastoral teams of
the Catholic Parishes in the Informal Settlements “Kutoka/Exodus” to express our
grave concern about the ongoing and threatened forced evictions that are taking
place in Nairobi’s informal settlements.
As we know you are aware, there are several ministries that have announced plans
to demolish certain areas of the city; namely the Ministry of Roads and Public
Works is demolishing houses in Kibera and other areas to make way for the
by-pass. In addition, the Minister of Energy is planning to demolish houses that
are near to power lines in a number of our communities including Korogocho,
Kibera, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Lunga Lunga, Shauri Moyo and other areas. The
Ministry of Local Government is demolishing structures that are near to roads.
And finally, the Kenya Railways Corporations is planning to demolish structures
that are along the rail line.
These threatened demolitions have caused widespread panic, fear and confusion in
our communities. Of immediate concern to us is the likelihood that tens of
thousands of people will be rendered homeless and left with nowhere to go. In
addition, we are concerned that the evictions will provoke physical conflict and
violence. Already slum dwellers are scuffling over who will occupy the limited
space that will be available after the demolitions. There is also the threat
that structure owners will physically try to resist the evictions, which will
inevitably result in violence.
Moreover, we are very concerned that the government is undertaking these forced
evictions without regard to the law or established human rights norms. (See
Gusii Mwalimu Investment Co. Ltd. And Two Others vs. Ms. Mwalimu Hotel Kisii Ltd.,
Civil Appeal No. 180 of 1995. Penal code, Chapter 63, Laws of Kenya; the Rent
Restriction Act, Chapter 296, Laws of Kenya and the Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 8, Section 8 (a) and General Comment
No. & (to which Kenya is a signatory) ).
There has been no official notice given to the potentially affected parties that
their structures will be demolished. (Rumors and general statements made in
newspaper on radio do not constitute the adequate and reasonable notice as
required by law.)
Nor has the government consulted with the communities or informed them about the
parameters of evictions. People do not know when and if they are going to be
And most notably, the government has not provided the people living in the slums
any play for resettlement or alternative housing, which Is a basic minimum
requirements of the government when it undertakes forced evictions. This applies
even when the evictions or justified or somehow necessary.
It is a fundamental human rights principle that any process to evict people must
follow a peaceful and lawful process that protects the rights and dignity.
Development of any kind cannot take precedence over the human rights of the poor.
All of the justifications proffered for the “necessary” forced evictions do not
absolve the governments from its legal obligation under the laws to give
adequate notice, consult the community and to prepare and implement a plan for
resettlement for the affected residents.
We recognize the current situation in our communities is very complex. The
purported reason for the evictions is that it is dangerous for people to live
near the rail lines, roads and power lines. That position is indisputable.
However, the historical context in which people came to live in these areas must
be taken into consideration. Virtually all of the people who have put up
structures in the slums have paid a “fee” to the local administration including
the chiefs, wazee wa vijiji and the police in some cases in exchange or the
official permission of the local administration to stay there. People have
occupied space near the rail line, roads and under power lines for decades and
they have occupied these places with the full knowledge and sanction of the
government. To suggest that they must be removed in three days or three weeks
time because of imminent danger is not realistic, fair or reasonable.
In addition to the short term threat of violence and chaos for our communities,
the long-term negative implications for the economic and social development of
our people are very serious. The demolitions will affect not only dwelling
places but also a large number of kiosks, dukas and open-air markets. Hundreds
of people will lose their business and only source of income. The unavoidable
result will be greater impoverishment and hardship to families who are already
struggling to survive. Moreover, the involuntary displacement that will
accompany these evictions is not limited to the physical dislocation of families,
houses, business, schools and churches. It also involves a significant
dismantling of the neighborhoods, families, culture and the communities the poor
living in the slums.
Forced evictions of this scope and nature are unprecedented in Nairobi. To
render thousands of people homeless in a matter of a few days is in essence a
campaign of unlawful slum eradication. This kind of a programme simply cannot be
sanctioned in a democratic nation.
We believe that these threatened evictions are very serious and pose a
tremendous danger to tens of thousands of slum dwellers. While we do not oppose
the government’s attempts to develop the city, we believe there must be a legal
and humane process followed. As the pastoral agents in the communities that will
be greatly affected, we believe the Catholic Church must speak out for the
rights of our people. There must be adequate notice given, consultation and
plans for resettlement. It is our hope that we can join together in making this
plea for a dignified and legal process to be followed.
On behalf of the entire Network, we thank you for your efforts and we are
hopeful that we can be a voice of our people in a time of great need.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Franco Cellana, Consolata Shrine, Westlands
Fr. Daniele Moschetti, St. John’s Catholic Church, Korogocho/ Kariobangi
Fr. Raul Nava, Christ the King Church, Line Saba, Kibera
Consolata Shrine, Westlands
St. John’s , Korogocho
Christ the King, Line Saba, Kibera
St. Joseph and Mary, Shauri Moyo
St. Joseph’s, Kangemi
St. Theresa’s Eastleigh
St. Joseph’s, Kahawa West
Christ the King, Embakasi
Holy Cross, Dandora
Our Lady Queen of Peace, South B
Holy Trinity, Kariobangi
Holy Mary Mother of God, Githurai
Sacred Heart, Dagoretti
St. Mary’s, Mukuru
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Adams’ Arcade
His Excellency Mwai Kibaki
President of the Republic of Kenya
Office of President, Harambee House
P. O. Box 30510
24 February 2004
Re: Forced Evictions in Kibera and other Informal Settlements in Kenya
The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) is an independent
international human rights NGO mandated to protect and promote housing rights
throughout the world. It works to prevent forced evictions, which are a
violation of international human rights law.
COHRE has received information that on 8 February 2004, the Ministry of Roads,
Government of Kenya evicted approximately 2000 persons from over 400 structures
in the Raila village in Kibera. Aside from homes, the demolished structures
included churches, schools and a clinic. According to our information, the
residents had not been informed that their homes would be demolished, and many
of them were at church on Sunday morning at the time when their homes were
destroyed. These evictions were carried out in the course of your Government’s
initiative to demolish all illegally built structures on lands set aside for
In addition, we have received information that more than 330,000 residents of
Kibera are facing imminent eviction:
• Further evictions of land on road reserves will lead to the demolition of an
estimated 17,600 structures, leaving over 150,000 people homeless.
• The Kenya Railway Corporation has issued gazetted notice that it will demolish
all structures within 100 feet of the rail line in Kibera starting on 27
February, 2004. Oral notice from the local District Officer and Chief was given
only in the week of 16 February, 2004. It is estimated that 20,210 structures
will be demolished and 108,000 people left homeless.
• The Ministry of Energy has announced that it will demolish all structures that
are near to or under electricity power lines starting 2 March, 2004. No maps or
specific details have been provided. Notice was only given in the week of 16
February, 2004. If implemented, this plan could affect lead to the destruction
of 3,255 structures will be demolished and 76,175 people left homeless in Kibera
and would affect many other informal settlements in Nairobi.
• The Local Government Ministry has stated in the week of 16 February, 2004 that
it will start taking down structures near the roads in Kibera. It has not
specified to which roads this will apply and the distances. No specific notice
or maps have been provided. Again, many thousands of people are potentially
COHRE recognises that it is the duty and intention of the current Government of
Kenya to visibly enforce the rule of law in Kenya and to promote safety
standards. However, these initiatives are being implemented in a rushed manner
without viable alternatives to offer the affected people. They therefore
threaten some of the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the Kenyan
population. Several hundred thousand people now face the loss of their homes,
their businesses and their social support networks. Examples from all over the
world have shown that the social and economic cost of forced evictions includes
deeper poverty, reduced levels of employment and lower health standards. Finally,
the evictions may provoke physical conflict and violence as slum dwellers engage
in conflict over who will occupy the limited space remaining.
COHRE wishes to draw to your attention that such forced evictions are a
violation of international human rights law and in particular the right to
adequate housing. Indeed, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has
affirmed that forced evictions are a “gross violation of human rights.”
Furthermore, as a State Party to the United Nations Covenant on Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (the Covenant), the Government of Kenya, is legally obliged
to protect the right to adequate housing enshrined in Article 11(1) of the
Covenant. A similar obligation implicitly arises under the African Charter of
Human and Peoples Rights, to which Kenya is also a State Party. These
obligations are also reflected in the Kenyan National Housing Policy of 2003. It
is also noteworthy and welcome that on 11 December 2002, Your Excellency
declared in a speech in Mombasa that decent housing, like education, is a basic
According to our information, the procedures required under international human
rights law were not followed in the recent and upcoming evictions. These
procedures, listed in the attached Annex, specify, inter alia, that each State
is obliged to “explore all feasible alternatives” to the eviction, that no
person be rendered homeless, and that there be genuine consultation with those
affected. In all the cases of potential and actual evictions, there appears to
have been no reason for carrying out an eviction in a hasty manner. For example,
The Ministry of Energy and the Kenya Railway Corporation has stated that the
evictions are motivated by safety concerns. However, people have been living in
these areas for decades. No reason has been provided to explain why the
evictions must occur now, and within such a short span of time.
COHRE respectfully urges the Government of Kenya to carry out the following acts:
1. Immediately halt all forced evictions and to reconsider any plan that would
result in forced eviction.
2. Carry out in-depth consultations with the affected communities to find a
3. If feasible alternatives do not exist, abide by the international standards
relating to forced evictions set out by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, as listed in the Annex, in particular the legal requirement
that affected persons receive adequate alternative housing.
4. Ensure that the persons who have already been evicted are provided
alternative land in a suitable nearby location, where they can maintain their
businesses and their links to the community. They should be paid compensation
for the destruction of their property.
5. Develop a comprehensive policy on evictions that is in line with its
international human rights obligations. This policy should be developed in
consultation with representatives of communities living in informal settlements.
No forced evictions should be carried out until such a policy is put in place.
We thank you for your time and attention to these matters. COHRE has substantial
expertise in assisting national groups access international human rights
monitoring bodies and United Nations complaints mechanisms, which we hope will
not be necessary in this case. As you are no doubt aware, the United Nations
Advisory Group on Forced Evictions will be meeting in Nairobi on 5 March 2004.
We will be proposing to this Group that it investigate the current and planned
evictions in Nairobi. We look forward to your response and an ongoing dialogue
with your government on the rights of its people to adequate housing. We will be
contacting you shortly to follow up.
[Original signed by]
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
Honorable Raila Odinga Honorable Ochilo Mbogo Ayacko
Minister of Roads, Public Works and Housing Minister of Energy
Ardhi House, 6th Floor Nyayo House
P.O. Box 75323 P. O. Box 30582
Nairobi, Kenya Nairobi, Kenya
Fax: 254.20.720.044 Fax: 254.20.240.910
Honorable John Njoroge Michuki Honorable Karisa Maitha
Minister of Transportation Minister of Local Government
Nyayo House P. O. Box 30004
P. O. Box 52692 Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi, Kenya Fax: 254.20.240.910
Anna Tibaijuka H.E. Amina Mohammed
Executive Director Ambassador of Kenya to Switzerland
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements Avenue de la Paix 1-3
P.O. Box 30030 Geneva 1202,
Nairobi, Kenya Switzerland
Fax: 254.20.623477 Fax: 41.22.731.2905
Key Requirements of International Human Rights Law Relating to Forced Evictions
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the Committee), the
body mandated by the international community to implement and enforce the
Covenant, has expressly stated in its General Comment No. 4 (1991) that “forced
evictions are prima facie incompatible with the provisions of the Covenant, and
can only be carried out under exceptional circumstances.”
In its General Comment No. 7 (1997) the Committee articulated that in those
“exceptional circumstances” in which forced evictions could be carried out
without violating international law, certain requirements must be adhered to.
First, States must ensure, prior to any evictions, and particularly those
involving large groups, that all feasible alternatives are explored in
consultation with affected persons, with a view to avoiding, or at least
minimizing, the need to use force.
Second, “evictions should not result in rendering individuals homeless or
vulnerable to the violation of other human rights.” Governments must therefore,
“ensure that adequate alternative housing is available . . . to affected persons.”
Finally, in those rare cases where eviction is considered justified, it must be
carried out in strict compliance with additional relevant provisions of
international human rights law and in accordance with general principles of
reasonableness and proportionality. The Committee expressly enumerated relevant
provisions of international human rights law by which States must abide. These
include, inter alia:
(1) An opportunity for genuine consultation with those affected;
(2) Adequate and reasonable notice for all affected persons prior to the
scheduled date of eviction;
(3) Information on the proposed evictions, and where applicable, on the
alternative purpose for which the land or housing is to be used, to be made
available in reasonable time to all those affected;
(4) Especially where groups of people are involved, government officials or
their representatives to be present during an eviction;
(5) All persons carrying out the eviction to be property identified;
(6) Evictions not to take place in particularly bad weather or at night unless
the affected persons consent otherwise;
(7) Provision of legal remedies; and
(8) Provision, where possible, of legal aid to persons who are in need of it to
seek redress from the courts.
KENYA 11/3/2004 2:00
NAIROBI, DONNE DI KOROGOCHO A MOGLIE PRESIDENTE KIBAKI: "VENGA NELLE
"La invitiamo a farci visita: venga a vedere le nostre case, le nostre famiglie
e i nostri bambini. Insieme potremmo camminare nello ‘slum’ di Korogocho e lei
potrebbe avere la sensazione di come viviamo noi e provare i nostri stessi
timori". Inizia così la lettera inviata alla moglie del presidente del Kenya,
Lucy Kibaki, dalle donne di Korogocho, una delle gigantesche baraccopoli di
Nairobi oggetto di un piano di sfratti e demolizioni a causa di lavori pubblici.
Nelle scorse settimane il governo aveva iniziato a smantellare le baracche di
Kibera, il più grande ‘slum’ della capitale keniana e il secondo dell’intera
Africa; altre 100mila persone erano a rischio nella stessa bidonville e in altri
mega-quartieri di baracche, dove oltre un milione di persone vive in condizioni
di assoluto degrado. Poi grazie all’intervento del network ‘Kutoka’, che
riunisce 14 parrocchie di Nairobi impegnate nelle numerose bidonville della
città, l’intervento di demolizione è stato almeno rinviato. "Gentile Signora,
sappiamo di aver avuto altri 40 giorni di tempo per trovare una sistemazione
alternativa" scrivono nella missiva pervenuta anche alla MISNA le donne di
Korogocho, che si sono riunite presso la parrocchia ‘St. John’s Catholic Church’.
"Abbiamo deciso di scriverle – si legge nel testo inviato alla moglie del capo
di Stato – perché lei, donna e madre, si trova in una posizione in cui può ben
comprendere le nostre paure e ciò che stiamo attraversando". Le firmatarie della
lettera elencano i drammatici problemi di sopravvivenza cui rischia di
aggiungersi anche quello di dover abbandonare le proprie fatiscenti abitazioni:
"Mamma – scrivono rivolgendosi in tono quasi famigliare alla ‘first lady’ del
Kenya - la maggior parte degli abitanti di Korogocho sono madri sole con i
propri figli e nonne che si prendono cura dei nipoti, a causa di malattie assai
diffuse, che hanno ucciso molte madri e altri figli che erano rimasti orfani.
Per quanto ne sappiamo, a Korogocho ogni settimana muoiono cinque donne a causa
dell’Aids; questo significa che circa 15 bambini rimangono orfani ogni sette
giorni". Dove andranno, chiedono ancora le donne di Korogocho – "questi orfani
quando le loro baracche verranno abbattute? Certo, sono state costruite lungo la
rete dell’energia elettrica". Cioè lungo il tracciato che taglia di netto il
grande slum e che ora il governo vuole ristrutturare. "I nostri bambini hanno
bisogno di scuola ed educazione: abbiamo paura che la demolizione delle case
avrà serie conseguenze per la loro istruzione e temiamo che molti di loro non
potranno più andare a scuola". Le lezioni, a Korogocho, si tengono in locali
"informali" – così definiti nella lettera – che saranno abbattuti. "Un numero
elevato di ragazzi perderà definitivamente l’opportunità di ricevere una
formazione" si legge ancora nella missiva alla moglie del presidente. "Ci
dispiace dover dire che la loro unica forma di istruzione sarà la strada" è
l’amara conclusione. "Vogliamo ricordarle che ci sono 2 milioni e
mezzo di persone che vivono negli slum di
Nairobi e occupano l’1,5 per cento della superficie della città" scrivono
infine. "Mamma – termine l’appello – la vita a Korogocho è estremamente
difficile. Crediamo che tutti insieme possiamo lavorare per renderla migliore".
integrale in Inglese:
Women from Korogocho slums
St.John’s Catholic Church
P.O. Box 47714
5th March 2004
Dear Hon. Mrs. Lucy
Re.: Help for an
alternative settlement after demolition of houses under the power line
Madam, we learnt from the Media that we’ve been given forty more
days to find an alternative settlement other than our present ones. We as women
of Korogocho, request you to come to our rescue because we seem to have no other
alternative and we and our children are the most affected. We have decided to
write to you because you are a woman and a mother, who is best placed to
understand our fears and all that we are going through. Therefore, we are
requesting you to use all your power and influence to help us.
Mum, we kindly invite you to come and visit us; visit our houses,
families and children. Together we can walk through our slum life in Korogocho,
so that you can experience our way of life and get to feel how we feel and
experience our fears.
Of the many problems we face, we would like to highlight just but a
few and especially those that mostly currently affect us.
Mum, as you may be aware, Korogocho like other
slums such as: Kibera and Mukuru kwa Njenga face the problem of housing. The
poor houses and the land they are built on do not belong to the slum dwellers.
This can make us lose our homes very easily and therefore our children and we
will not have a place to stay.
The majority of Korogocho slum dwellers consist
of single mothers and their children or grandmothers taking care of their grand
children, because of the widespread diseases, which have killed most of the
mothers and other children who have been left orphans. As far as we know, every
week about five women die in Korogocho slum from AIDS. This means that about
fifteen children remain orphans every week. Where will the children go when
their shacks will be demolishes? Of course they’ve been built under the power
Mum, our children need schools and education. We
are afraid that the demolition will seriously affect our children school career
and we that some of them may never get to new schools. Most schools in Korogocho
slum are non-formal schools and some of them are going to be demolished. A fair
number of our children will definitely lose their education opportunity. This
means that apart from the dangerous fumes they inhale from Mukuru dumping site
in Dandora and the dangerous fumes in our wads, the children and their families
will lose their houses and their education. Sadly to say that their only
education will be the one on the streets.
Mum, how would you feel if you were in our shoes?
How would you feel if you were forced to move from your only house and had been
given only forty days to do so? Worse than this, to move nowhere?
Life in Korogocho is extremely difficult. We
believe that we can all work to make it better. Taking under consideration the
following problems: violence, drugs and alcohol, prostitution, unemployment,
expensive medical services, high crime, housing problems, poor basic services
e.g. toilets, police harassment and bribe.
Mum, above all, we believe we need a cemetery in
the Eastern zone. We strain so much to transport our dead to Langata. It will be
more than a blessing if we were allocated a cemetery in our Eastern zone.
We will like to bring to your attention that
there are 2,5 million people living in the slums in Nairobi and that all these
people live only in 1,5% of the total land in Nairobi. We request that an
alternative may be found.
We know that you will listen to our cry, that you
will sympathise with our situation and that you will always remember the many
women and needy children in our poor slums. While we thank you in advance, we
hope to hear from you soon. May God bless you.
We the women of Korogocho