More than half of Nairobi’s population – some two million people – live in slums and informal settlements. Crammed into makeshift shacks on just one per cent of the city’s usable land, people live without adequate access to water, hospitals, schools and other essential public services.
Up to a million people live in Kiberia, Nairobi’s largest slum, crowded onto just 550 acres of sodden land that straddles the main railway line. Most earn barely enough to rent a mud-floored, tin-roofed wooden shack with no toilet or running water.
Slum Dwellers are under the constant threat of forced evictions, which are illegal under international human rights law. These evictions are often carried out with brutality and victims are not compensated despite losing their homes, businesses and possessions.
Sometimes private developers are behind forced evictions and sometimes it’s the government. Residents of the Deep Sea settlement have suffered waves of forced eviction by government authorities. Other forced evictions have been carried out in preparation for government infrastructure projects such as the construction of roads.
The Kenyan government’s slum upgrading programme, while a positive step, is doing little or nothing to address the immediate and desperate needs of slum dwellers in Nairobi.
Despite government promises to provide affordable housing outside the slums, its housing policies have not prioritized people living in slums and settlements, or others who may face the greatest difficulties in accessing their right to adequate housing.
During her June visit to Nairobi, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Irene Khan, urged the Kenyan authorities to immediately stop all forced evictions and to ensure that Kenya fulfils its obligations in relation to the right to adequate housing for the most vulnerable.
This work is part of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity campaign which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The campaign will mobilise people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit Demand Dignity section.