Posts tagged ‘Forceful Evictions’

April 2, 2015

Upgrading Occupied Space: What is the National Youth Service Doing in Mathare and Kibera?

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By Simon Kokoyo

The Kenyan government through the National Youth Service (NYS) has decided to improve the general living conditions in poor neighborhoods of Nairobi, namely Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru. These neighborhoods are known for high population density, inadequate health facilities, insecurity, unemployment and almost nonexistent garbage collection systems. The poor conditions in Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru can easily create an impression that there has never been government intervention or development plans for these areas and creates the temptation to address problems that seem amenable to a ‘quick fix’ like picking up garbage.

In Mathare, NYS personnel together with selected community members conducted a mapping exercise to identify needs or places that require a ‘quick fix’ such as uncollected garbage piles and blocked drainage and rivers. They are also  planning to construct dispensaries, police posts, fish ponds, markets, posho mills and urban farming areas. When President Uhuru visited Mathare and said that dispensaries, police posts, markets, fish ponds, posho mills and sewer lines will be constructed creating employment opportunities for more than 3500 youths including women, everybody was happy and waiting to see the new look of Mathare and other neighborhoods earmarked for improvement. After three weeks of clearing garbage, cleaning drainages and opening rivers, questions are now emerging; do we really need the planned 12 police posts, 12 dispensaries and how did NYS team arrive at all these figures in Mathare? It has now also dawned on the community that these facilities will require space, which is currently occupied.

Affected area

It is common knowledge that certain open spaces that were set aside for social amenities have been occupied or grabbed a long time ago. None of this grabbing has ever been addressed. Now, as amenities are being built, people will have to be displaced. For example in Mathare 3B, more than 500 residents have already been issued with 30 days notice by the Nairobi City County to pave way for NYS projects in Mathare or to move out of a piece of land identified for market development. In Kibera people who had occupied spaces meant for sewer lines, toilet blocks and roads were expected to vacate immediately. Some have already been displaced without compensation.

Once the NYS and some community leaders identify a piece of land for improvement or development a short notice is issued and occupants are expected to carry out a voluntary demolition and in some cases NYS locally hired youths will assist. There is lot of movement (shifting) within Kibera and Mathare, which is not painless for families, and if the intent is to improve the conditions of the poor, then these people require some support and compensation for their sacrifice for the broader community. In addition, in some place like Lindi-Kibera rents have increased after improvement on road and other social amenities. These adverse impacts of the NYS interventions on the very poor should be addressed. In the past, unless there are safeguards, slum improvements tend to drive out the poorest who are meant to benefit.

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Everybody agrees that the inhumane conditions in the poor neighborhoods need to be improved urgently. However, the government should be sensitive to the fact that such communities have emerged over long period of time and as a result of certain push and pull factors common with cities experiencing rapid urbanization such as poverty, forceful eviction, conflicts, job opportunities, closeness to resources or affordable housing. Past experiences in Kenya (Mathare 4A and Kibera Upgrading Projects) show that slum or informal settlement upgrading is a complex and time-consuming process. Residents require some compensation for their losses or need to be shown alternative land for displacement to be humane and in compliance with the law. When people are moved this will impact their ability to access jobs, customers and services. It also affects children who are schooling in the area. The National Youth Service projects should think about how it is approaching evictions. It is good that the government is in a hurry to improve living conditions in poor neighborhoods, but it should go beyond the “quick fix” mentality to have a long term vision so that the amenities are staffed and financed and can have an impact on people’s wellbeing. Finally, if this initiative is to be pro-poor, the government should also be sensitive to the needs of those who will be displaced in order to improve poor neighborhoods. The government must also comply with the law in moving people which entails proper procedures and some compensation or alternative location.

Nairobi Planning Innovations is appreciative of the attention the government is paying to these poor communities. It is still important, however, to note that interventions should be compliant with both the constitution (Article 43(1)(b)  which states that, every person has the right to accessible and adequate housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation) and the little known The Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons and Affected Communities Act, 2012 which sets out guidelines for how displacement is to happen to respect the rights and dignity of the displaced.

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July 4, 2014

Ombudman’s Mathare Launched

2014-06-04 11.52.37The living condition in places like Mathare and the level of neglect by the government warrants quick measure by the residents to hold public servants accountable.
In some quarters it is said that 60% of Nairobi residents live under deplorable conditions.No existence of important service is a common feature.

Launching of the local Ombudsman Committee, ten members in Mathare has come at time when we have several government services being devolved at ward levels. The Mathare Constituency Ombudsman Committee will be based at Mathare Valley Polytechnic next to Mathare Chief’s Camp.
It is hoped that unlike before when resident did not know where to report, this time round things will be different.

Cases of police harassment, lack of responding on time to emergencies like fire outbreak are common. Kenyans are yet to fully trust that systems work like the judiciary and accessing proper justice for slum dwellers in still a pipe dream in Kenya.

With the office coming closer to the people, it is time for people to seize the opportunity and hold all public servant accountable. When forceful evictions occur this time round, we hope it will be investigated and proper action be taken against any public official abetting the vice.

Case Handling Levels see the website: (http://www.ombudsman.go.ke).

February 7, 2014

Maps and Slums

mathareNairobi is home to more than 100 informal settlements with little basic social amenities of low standards. The most ‘famous’ slum in Nairobi is Kibera. This is a place with many NGOs activities than schools.

There is high presence of NGOs in Kebera plus the place being put on the world map courtesy of OpenStreet Map However the residents continue to live in usual conditions found in slums. However there is hope for Kibera unlike Mathare. If the Kibera slum upgrading is completed and the houses distributed fairly without corruption then we headed to good times. Slum Upgrading projects are better off if the development process is monitored by various stakeholders.

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Looking at the informal settlement in http://www.openstreetmap.org , in Nairobi section one notice that some of the informal settlements mapped are, Mukuru, Kibera, Mathare, Baba Dogo, Korogocho among others. Amazingly, the most mapped slum in Nairobi is Mathare! Almost all schools, health facilities, disaster prone areas have been mapped in details and shared in the OpenStreetMap platform. But has this visibility translated into Mathare being a popular destination with donors compared with Kibera? And what could be impeding factors? (Next week Mathare and Kibera)- Simon

February 1, 2014

Slums and Nairobi Master Plan

I have had the opportunity of being engaged in consultative meetings regarding Nairobi Integrated Urban Master Plan (NIUPLAN) which my parents never did in 1973, this is was the last plan for Nairobi. The 1973 – 2000 master plan was developed and one of the most important issues I have noted was recognition of the urban poor, investment in provision of housing by the council and well equipped city with accessible social amenities like playing grounds and social halls.

In the meetings I have attend, lack of space and high population have been attributed to the break down in provision of services. Listening to various presenters, one easily concludes that the city has been running without master plan for 14 years while urban planning department never had experts and qualified staff to enforce some of the recommendations in the 1970 Nairobi Master Plan. During the 14 years period, Nairobi City went to the dogs. Parking spaces in some city estates were grabbed, sprawling of slums along major Nairobi river become coupled with forceful evictions, the once safe and City in the Sun paradise became Nairobbery.

Slums are not an issues. The current Nairobi master plan assumes that slums will just disappear. Listening to concerns of residents from Marurui, Thome, Kasarani and Mathare issues such as controlled development are never adhered to. In some residential areas such as Huruma, Kayole and Pangani it is common to find buildings with more than six storey without lifts.

Poor road net has greatly contributed to uncollected garbage lying in low income neighbourhoods with garbage collectors’ lorry unable to access inside these place hence continued accumulations on solid waste.

The Nairobi Master plan is a good to start in the right direction.

January 26, 2012

Urban IDPs, Forgotten Lot

Mabatini, Huruma Corner and Kiamaiko were some of the hot spots of 2008 post election violence in Mathare which resulted to setting up of a camp for internally displaced persons at Mathare chief’s camp. The IDPs were from Mathare 3c, Mabatini and Mashimoni areas.

Today former IDPs held a demonstration to protest what they term as a case of them being forgotten or neglected by the government and NGOs. One of the leader of IDPs from Mathare lamented that while in other areas (Rift Valley) IDPs had been resettled or their -plight addressed unlike those from urban areas like Mathare had been forgotten.

Most IDPs I interviewed expressed concern that ‘the IDPs from Rift Vallye are being favoured while those from Mathare have been forgotten’.

After the confirmation of ICC case, IDPs from Mathare felt that nobody was addressing their plight or compensation package. A woman who was part of the demonstration said ‘the ICC case has become more to do with Ruto and Uhuru than victims of post of election violence like us. The government has rushed to form a team to look into Uhuru and Muthaura’s case but not about the IDPs’. This motivated IDPs today to match to Marthare District Offices to seek audience over the matter of compensation. The previous space which was occupied by IDPS had now been turned into urban farming demonstration centre for the community to address food insecurity in Mathare. – Simon

February 19, 2011

Life on the Edge of Justice

Hezron outside his house at Njagwani, NYS

Hezron Akinga Agwanda, 32 a father of four has been on the trail of eviction one after the other. He first came face to face with the reality of being evicted in 2002 after the death of his grandfather. The grandfather entrusted him with three rooms in Mathare North, Quarry slums. The slums are located off Outer Ring Road.

Today I joined him for a walk through the Mathare North so that I can understand his predicament. Our journey started at Ruaraka Police Post and Mathare North’s Chief’s Offices where has been reporting his cases. The first time he reported a case involving him and the tenant who had refused to pay the rent. In process, his tenants conspired with the village elders and the ownership of his structures changed hands. This happened after the village elders decided to register all the houses so that they can pursue legal ownership of the land. It is in the process of registration that Hezron lost his house to an outsider since he could not afford to pay Kshs. 30,000/-. Those who paid the fee, managed to be issued by allotment letters by the village elders.

The ‘Outsider’ land then started demanding rent from Hezron who refused to paid rent. Hezron has been more report to the police more than 10 times about the harassment including physical injuries he has been subjected to by goons hired by the new owner. Hezron has also previously reported the matter after a death threat delivered through phone and the matter is still under investigation.

The case became hot and finally the security chairman of Quarry slum decided that all tenant vacate the houses while they seek a permanent solution. Unfortunately the houses were later demolished and Hezron was threatened with arrest by the chief. The new ‘owner’ of his houses is claimed to be working in the office of the vice president wants to erect stone building.

With nowhere to go, Hezron decided to move to move to Jangwani as it is one of the cheapest place to live within Mathare. House rent is between 300/- to 700/-. Currently he is faced with possibility of being evicted again. The residents through the assistance of Kituo cha Sheria and Prof. Yash Pal Ghai have lodged a petition in court challenging the eviction notice. The case is slated for Monday 27/2/2011.

Hezron is fighting for justice to have a shelter not caring if it is in the slums or not. But he is fighting a tough battle and today I joined him in trying to establish the facts on the ground.  Hezron sometimes feels like he is fighting a loosing battle as the new owner is ‘powerful’ working in the office of the vice president.

At this time I turn to Kofi Annan for inspiration and direction on why I have to fight for justice: “….lack of respect for human rights and dignity is the fundamental reason why the peace of the world is so precarious, and why prosperity is so unequally shared”: On June 19, 2006, Kofi Annan the then UN Secretary General during a Human Rights Council in Geneva said. Simon

February 8, 2011

Enforcing Eviction

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Eviction Notice

Whenever, Joseph Mwinzi sees a bulldozer passing, he thinks of eviction being in the process. He has been displace more than once since he came to Nairobi in the late 80s. The first time he came face to face  with eviction was in 90s when him together with his brother were forced out of their shanties at Muoroto near Machakos Bus Station in the middle of the  night . The second time was was during the post election violence at  Kijiji cha Chawa near Mathare North.

Together with his three children, he was forced to relocate again to Njagwani near the National Youth Service Engineering Institute. While at Muoroto, they were never issued with eviction notice. For him, it was better that they the government issued them with  notice.

However, Joseph believes that they should be given alternative land. He prefers Njagwani since it is close to where he attends clinic for ART treatment.

He is happy that Prof. Yash Ghai and Kituo Cha Sheria are currently engaging the government on the way forward. – Simon

February 2, 2011

Evictions in Mathare North (Part 2)

Andrew Atweyo is a resident of a small ghetto called jangwani within mathare north area 4 with a population of more than 5,000 people. Andrew as been living in jangwani (jungle) for more than twenty years and the population living within this area survives on less than one dollar per day. They have got poor infrastructure in terms of water and sanitation services; a jerrican of water goes at a price of 5shilings. Poor waste disposal services and poor drainage systems have led to spread of malaria and TB to most of the young children living within that area. Many people have initiated various ways of surviving one them being crime, prostitution and use of drugs which has led to many deaths in the area and vibrant spread of HIV and AIDS is being experienced.

During the announcement of demolition notice which was issued by the national youth service engineering school, Andrew says that he was surprised because he wondering who will be compensated will it be the landlords only or tenants and where will they go because this is where they have been calling home for the last twenty years. Their request to the government and the city council is that they should reconsider their request on demolition issue or not so they are claiming that they will fight for they their rights and what’s belonged to them for the past twenty years.

Most of the people living within this 13 hectare piece of land are divided into two: rich and poor. Most houses are thatched going at around 800 shilling and rest goes around 7000 to 12000 thousand shilling per month as for now the rich have already left and the poor are still remaining with no were to go. Some the people within this piece of land they have go allotment letter from the city council and even claiming that they have been paying revenue to the city council. It all started in the year 1995 when the land was seen vacant most of the investors found productive in terms of business went head buying the land from the city council not knowing what was going to happen after to them. This is impunity/corruption from the government. –Javin

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