Archbishop calls for end to violent rent dispute - World - Kenya - Brief Article
National Catholic Reporter, Dec 28, 2001 by Gill Donovan
KENYA: Following a week of bloody clashes between landlords and tenants over rent in one of Africa's largest slums, the archbishop of Nairobi has called upon the Kenyan government to deal with the problem of life in the slums.
"[We need] a policy such that people know what the landlord should charge," Archbishop Raphael S. Ndingi Mwana'a Nzeki said about the dispute in Kibera, a desolate Nairobi slum that is home to an estimated 700,000 people.
Although a rent tribunal exists in theory, it has never been involved in mediating any disputes or setting rents, Nzeki said.
Nzeki's comments come after bitter fighting between landlords attempting to collect rents and tenants who refused to pay.
Violence broke out Dec. 3, a few days after Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition National Development Party and a member of parliament, called on landlords to cut their rents by at least 50 percent.
Initially, tenants beat up landlords who came to collect their rent, citing Moi and Odinga's comments as justification for not paying. The violence turned into mass rioting that included looting, raping, razing houses, and other crimes. By Dec. 10, more than 12 people were dead and scores injured.
Briefs, gathered from news services, correspondents and staff, are compiled and edited by Gill Donovan.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Catholic Reporter
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group
Copyright © 2006
KENYA: Missionaries Lead International Campaign to Better Slums
NAIROBI, April 7, 2006 (CISA) -A campaign spearheaded by Italian Catholic missionaries and church-based civic groups is urging the government of Italy to cancel its debts to Kenya.
Funds obtained from restructuring the debts would be used to improve the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of poor Kenyans living in Nairobi’s slums.
The campaigners have already met representatives of the Italian Government, and negotiations over the matter are reportedly underway between the two nations. Dubbed the 'W Nairobi W!' Campaign, the initiative was launched in March 2004 by the Comboni Missionaries, Kutoka Parish Network and the International Alliance of Inhabitants, to defend the right to land and housing in Nairobi’s shanties.
At the meeting in January, the campaigners asked Italy to restructure Kenya’s debt upon obtaining guarantees from the Government of Kenya and the local authorities that all evictions and demolition of shanties in urban areas will cease.
Funds resulting from the restructured debt would be put in a special "People's Fund for Land and Housing," controlled by all interested parties, especially the local civil society.
Another condition is that the Government of Kenya should ensure the funds are invested in the upgrading of two shanties to become models for other cities and towns across the country.
On January 17, the Italian Deputy Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Luigi Mantica, told Parliament of a decision his government had made, in cooperation with the international community, to restructure the debts owed by Kenya, and that negotiations had begun to release funds for socio-economic projects.
Campaign against forced Evictions in the informal Settlements in Nairobi (Kenya)
Nairobi, April 26. 2004
Introduction | Ongoing and Threatened Evictions | Response of the Affected Communities | Government Response to Protests? | Concerns on the Short and Long-Term Threat of Forced Evictions | Proposals for a Way Forward |
In the last few weeks, Nairobi informal settlements residents have experienced great threat to their short and long term stability, resultant from threats of demolition and eviction. Currently, there are notices from several government ministries to undertake large-scale demolition of structures that purportedly present a risk to the occupants of railway line operational corridors and households living near or under electric power lines and wayleaves or are in the way of planned bypass roads.
Currently, there are over 168 informal settlements in Nairobi that are home to over two million people. Residents of Nairobi's informal settlements constitute 55% of the city's total population and yet they are crowded on 5% of the total land area in the city. These staggering statistics have their historical roots in the failure of the State to provide for low-cost housing for the poor. As a result, thousands of residents of informal settlements in Nairobi have encroached on unoccupied land, including that set aside for road reserves, railway lines, forests and public utilities, where they have put up semi-permanent structures.
The main reason being advanced justifying evictions is that it is dangerous for people to live near the rail lines and power lines. That position is indisputable. However, the current situation in the informal settlements is very complex because of its historical context. Any solution for the current problem must consider the origins of the informal settlements. Most structure owners in Kibera, Korogocho and the other affected areas have paid a "fee" to the local administration including chiefs, wazee wa vijiji (village elders) and the police in exchange for "official permission" to occupy the spaces where they live. These irregular allocations by the local administration are normal business in the informal settlements. As recently as February 19th this year, Kenya Railways was issuing receipts for 'rent' paid by people occupying plots located on the rail line operational corridors. People have been increasingly occupying space near the rail line and under power lines for decades and they have occupied these places with the full knowledge and sanction of the Government.
In addition, UN Habitat has undertaken to support slum upgrading in the Nairobi slums. After an initial agreement with the former government, the Executive Director of UN Habitat entered into an official memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Roads, Public Works and Housing in January, 2003. The agreement was widely publicized and hailed as a positive step forward in improving the informal settlements. This combined project of the Government and UN Habitat is specifically designed to improve the housing and infrastructure of Soweto village in Kibera. Since the signing of that agreement, however, the project has been characterized by confusion caused by lack of information and consultation. An apparent lack of coordinated thinking by the Government, has frustrated initial good intentions that are now marred with plans for forced evictions by different ministries in the very area that was to be regenerated.
These large-scale demolitions are being undertaken with little consideration of their disastrous effect on the residents. The internal displacement that will invariably accompany the forced evictions will lead to increased violence, insecurity, loss of livelihoods, community structures and consequently greater poverty for hundreds of thousands of people living in informal settlements such as Kibera, Korogocho, Agare, Lunga Lunga, Sinai,Soweto and others.
Forced evictions of this magnitude are unprecedented in Kenya. To render tens of thousands homeless in a matter of a few days is an unlawful slum eradication campaign. Furthermore, forced evictions of this nature are in breach of well-established international norms and laws which obligate the Government to provide the affected communities with: (1) adequate and reasonable notice, (2) genuine consultation, (3) information on the proposed evictions and (4) adequate alternative housing or resettlement.
Ongoing and Threatened Evictions
There have been numerous announcements, meetings and press statements over the last two months indicating that different government ministries will undertake demolitions and evictions in designated slum areas within Nairobi. These demolitions essentially pertain to structures located in three main areas: (a) within 100 feet of either side of the rail line, (b) under power lines and (c) the area earmarked for the new road bypasses. Response of the Affected Communities, Civil Society, Faith, Based Groups and International Housing Groups
a. Affected Communities
The intended demolitions have caused fear, panic and confusion among the affected communities. This is because many people were not given official notice or the actual parameters and dates for the evictions. In Kibera, for example, chiefs and the Provincial Administration who are to effect the evictions have no maps to identify which structures are earmarked. As a result, no one knows with certainty if and when they are likely to be evicted. This lack of information has created a vacuum that has been filled by rumour mills, speculation and exploitation (often by local politicians).
In Kibera, religious leaders asked for and were granted a meeting with the District Officer on February 20th. In addition there is an on-going signature campaign to collect 500,000 signatures to protest the evictions. The communities also successfully organized a prayer rally on March 1st, which was presided by Catholic Archbishop Raphael Ndingi Mwana 'a Nzeki and a representative of the Anglican church. In his prayer, the Catholic Archbishop asked God to grant the government grace to fight
In Kibera, over eighty residents living on the rail line operational corridor have filed a case in the High Court against the Kenya Railways Corporation, seeking an injunction to restrain the Railways from forcibly evicting them. They hope the court will impel Kenya Railways to hold adequate consultations with the community so that an alternative settlement is identified. The suit argues that the plaintiffs, who are all long-term residents of structures located near the rail line, were issued with temporary occupancy licenses by the Railways and such licenses have not expired. Furthermore, the threatened evictions are in contravention of the Railways Corporation Act, Children's Act and international procedures that prohibit forced and arbitrary evictions.
Proposals for a Way Forward
We respectfully urge the Government of Kenya to carry out the following acts:
a. Immediately suspend plans for any and all forced evictions in the informal settlements.
b. Disseminate information and carry out in-depth consultations with all affected communities to find a feasible alternative to the forced evictions.
c. If there are no alternatives, ensure that international standards related to forced evictions are followed including but not limited to the following:
i. adequate and reasonable notice to all affected parties
ii. information on the proposed evictions
iii. consultation with the affected parties
iv. adequate alternative housing or resettlement
d. Develop a comprehensive policy on evictions that is consistent with local and international human rights law.
e. The Provincial Administration should not implement any order for eviction. Instead, a coordinated and disinterested body should be made responsible for orderly and peaceful evictions.
f. Appoint an inter-ministerial consultative group to coordinate any and all plans related to evictions and demolitions that will take place in the informal settlements.
g. Provide immediate assistance to those people who have already been evicted
- Shelter Forum, Michael Arunga, 0721-213236, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Christ the King Church, Office of Human Rights, Christine Bodewes, 0733-920846, email@example.com;
- St. John's Church, Fr. Daniel Moschetti, 780-430, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a Joint Position Paper prepared by members of the Campaign Against Forced Evictions in the Informal Settlements in Nairobi on March 17th 2004.
Members of this Campaign include:
African Network for the Prevention and Protection of Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN);
Basic Rights Campaign;
Carolina for Kibera;
Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG);
Kenya Human Rights Commission;
Kituo Cha Sheria;
Kutoka Network of Parishes in the Informal Settlements:
Christ the King, Line Saba
Sacred Heart, Dagoretti
Christ the King, Embakasi
St. John's, Korogocho
Consolata Shrine, Westlands
St. Joseph, Kahawa West
Holy Cross, Dandora
St. Joseph and Mary, Shauri Moyo
Holy Mary Mother of God, Githurai
St. Joseph the Worker, Kangemi
Holy Trinity, Kariobangi
St. Mary's, Mukuru kwa Njenga
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Adams Arcade
St. Theresa's, Eastleigh/Mathare Valley;
Maji na Ufanisi;
See also: www.giovaniemissione.it/mondo/campagnanosfrattohomeing.htm
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2005 Campaign for the Kenyan Debt Cancellation
The "Catholic Economic Justice" together with KENDREN organized in May 2005 a week on DEBT, to ask the G8 for the cancellation of the Kenyan and African Debt.
Many activities took place during these weeks with a great number of slums dwellers participating in the activities of the week.
The week started with a "Press Conference" with the presence of Catholic and Anglicans leaders.
A lorry with music, dances and propaganda went through the poorest areas of the town to create awareness on the link of debt and poverty.
There were different acts at the Holy Family Basilica Hall (Catholic) and at All Saints Cathedral (Anglican), with participation of Christian and political leaders and a great participation from slums dwellers, who asked quite a number of questions on debt and poverty.
Seminars on debt took place in some of the Nairobi slums, to create awareness on the Debt situation and its impact on poverty.
A football match between NGOs and Churches against slum dwellers took place at Nairobi University Campus.
The youth from Korogocho slum was very active during the week and the previous activities: Sport competition in Korogocho; they made different songs and drama on DEBT, that were performed at nearly all acts of the week. The Korogocho acrobats and dancers presented their numbers at the Press Conference.
An exhibition of photos from Korogocho slum took place at the UN Habitat during an Iinternational Conference.
Another exhibition with cartoons on poverty and debt, by GADO, took place at the Italian Cultural Centre.
The week ended with a demonstration on the streets of Nairobi, ending at Uhuru Park.
Marathon for shelter 2002
The parishes of the Exodus-Kutoka Network participated actively in the 2002 Nairobi Marathon for shelter. Many of the participants were young people from the slums. These ones were the real "runners". At the same time another "small marathon" for those unable to run all the kilometres went around the town with t-shirts, banners and propaganda to create awareness of the need for good shelter for the slam dwellers.
Many of the inhabitants of Nairobi Centre and well-off states do not know the reality of the Informal Settlements just some hundred metres away from their homes.
The Marathon had been prepared, organized and sponsored by a platform of NGOs and civil society working in the Nairobi slums.
Inter-faith prayers were said before the starting and T-shirts, flags and caps were distributed to all the participants.
The major of Rome and of Nairobi addresses the crowd and promised better housing.
The atmosphere was a festive one. Many slum dwellers came to the Uhuru Park (start and final point) to encourage their friends and neighbours.
Request for a mortuary and cemetery
PASTORAL TEAMS OF CATHOLIC PARISHES IN NAIROBI INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
P.O. Box 47714, 00100 Nairobi
10th April, 2003
To Hon. Karisa Maitha To Hon. Mrs. Charity Ngilu
Ministry of the Local Government Ministry of Health
P.O.Box 30004 Afya House
NAIROBI P.o. Box 30016
Ref.: Request for a mortuary and cemetery
Peace be with you!
We, the Pastoral Teams of Catholic Parishes in Nairobi Informal Settlements, are writing to you to support the letter already sent on 4th of March by the St. John Catholic Church of Korogocho regarding the request for a mortuary and cemetery in the Eastern part of Nairobi.
We appreciate your efforts shown in these days by visiting areas which need urgent remedy from your Ministry. We are particularly grateful for the visit that you, Hon. Karisa Maitha, made to Langata Cemetery some time ago. We are sure that you have embarked to serve the people of Kenya, especially the poor.
Our request to your Ministries is to build a Mortuary and allocate land for a Cemetery to serve the urban-poor inhabiting the Eastern part of Nairobi where the majority of the population and poor live. Due to poverty experienced in these areas, the cost of transporting corpses to the mortuary and finally burial at Langata Cemetery is quite unbearable. According to our information eight (8) out of ten (10) people buried in Langata Cemetery are from the Eastern part of Nairobi and other poor areas. We suggest to allocate an appropriate piece of land in the areas of Dandora, Kayole, Ruai.
In the context of planning the fast growing city of Nairobi which has the highest rate of migration of Eastern Africa from the countryside and the shocking rate of mortality, we appeal to you to hear this our request.
Yours faithfully, Fr. Franco Cellana Fr. Raoul Nava Fr. Daniele Moschetti
HOLY TRINITY PARISH KARIOBANGI
ST. JOHN KOROGOCHO
CHRIST THE KING KIBERA
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER KANGEMI
ST. MARY MUKURU KWA JENGA
ST. THERESA EASTLEIGH/MATHARE
CONSOLATA SHRINE WESTLANDS
ST. JOSEPH KAHAWA WEST
CHRIST THE KING EMBAKASI
OUR LADY QUEEN OF PEACE SOUTH B
STS. JOSEPH AND MARY SHAURI MOYO
STUDENTS AND LECTURERS TANGAZA COLLEGE (CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF Eatern Africa)