Homeless but not hopeless: Working together for eviction alternatives in Kibera

We are extremely angered by the evictions in Kibera last week. Not only does it destroy the communities affected, it holds cheap the gains that Muungano has made over the last 20 years. 

Muungano and SDI know that there is another way.

Immediately below is cross-posted (slightly adapted) from SDI's blog; followed by a Kenyan civil society statement that Muungano has signed.

Photo by Nicera Wanjiru Kimani, of Muungano and Know Your City TV Kenya.

Photo by Nicera Wanjiru Kimani, of Muungano and Know Your City TV Kenya.

Last week demolitions and evictions in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, left 30,000 families homeless, their homes, businesses, and belongings destroyed. Muungano and SDI know that there is another way. Successful alternatives to evictions have been demonstrated across the SDI network. In fact, Kibera itself is home to a successful large-scale relocation programme, in which the Kenya federation, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, used community-driven data collection and organizing processes to facilitate the successful relocation of slum dwellers living along Kibera’s railway line to a nearby housing scheme. This co-produced solution resulted in all families being housed on a smaller footprint of land, allowing for both the clearing of the railway reserve and upgrading of families’ living conditions. Not a single family was moved more than 100 metres from their original home, minimizing disruption to the local community by safeguarding social networks, employment and livelihoods opportunities, kids’ place in their schools, and the overall fabric of the community.

These violent evictions are particularly disturbing in light of this nearby example of another way. SDI and Muungano invite local and national government to join hands with Muungano to put an end to these evictions and instead pursue a negotiated alternative that maintains the dignity, homes, and livelihoods of Kibera’s residents.

A brief summary of the Kenya railways RAP project is below, followed by links to additional articles about the Kenya Railway Relocation Plan, a project implemented by Muungano in partnership with Kenya Railway Corporation and funded by the World Bank:

This project involves the upgrading and resettlement of 9,000 families and businesses along an eleven kilometre stretch of rail line through two of Nairobi’s largest informal settlements, Mukuru and Kibera. It is a US$30 million Kenya government and World Bank funded programme to remove families and business sitting on the thirty-metre wide buffer on either side of the railway track and re-house them on its outer ten metres – effectively creating a 20-metre buffer for use by the railways, and improved housing and trading space for the residents. Construction began in Kibera in 2013 and is ongoing, with the first families moving in 2015.

There were notices to evict all people living along the railway buffer in 2004. Following large scale protest by civil society, including Muungano, the federation offered to design a win-win solution. This involved organising an exchange visit to India for the top brass of the Railways Corporation to see how the Indian railways and the SDI alliance had dealt with similar encroachment. Later, Muungano was contracted to develop a Relocation Action Plan (RAP) (Government of Kenya, 2005).

The railways RAP’s impact on how the Kenyan state deals with large-scale resettlement of informal communities faced with the threat of eviction has been to enforce the global position that government must bear the cost of displacements of communities on public projects, irrespective of the legality of tenure of those affected. These principles have now been adopted into state policy. Muungano’s other key success has been that community participation was positioned at the centre of this large informal settlement upgrading.[1]

Additional resources:




[1] “Muungano nguvu yetu (unity is strength): 20 years of the Kenyan federation of slum dwellers” by Kate Lines and Jack Makau, IIED Working Paper, January 2017, pp. 47-48, http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/10807IIED.pdf


Civil society statement, signed 25 July 2018:


We, the undersigned human rights and housing organizations work on the right to affordable and dignified housing enshrined under Article 43 of our constitution. We strongly condemn the forced evictions in Kibra that has left at least 10,000 residents homeless. The forced evictions seen in Kibra and also, in Mau this week contravene Kenya’s national and international human rights obligations. The state has a clear constitutional obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right of all Kenyans to adequate housing. 

The Ministry of Transport and Kenya Urban Road Authority did not meet the threshold of a legal or humane eviction. No eviction should render anyone homeless in bad weather, without alternative resettlement and compensation. The two eviction occurs in complete disregard for the High Court orders in Petition 974 of 2016 prohibiting the government from evicting residents of Kibera without putting in place a Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). 

At the 16 July meeting attended by KURA, The National Lands Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Office of the Kibera Member of Parliament and representatives of the Kibra, KURA made assurances a Resettlement Action Plan would be put in place prior to eviction. A RAP would specify the procedures and actions that KURA would follow to ensure due process in the evictions of affected people. A further promise was made that schools would not be demolished until the close of the term and until measures to address the plight of the affected pupils and students are in place. None of this was done by the time the evictions started at 6am on 23 July.

600 armed police officers accompanied bulldozers to demolish homes, schools, churches, businesses and community support centres. This continued on 24 July for the second day until the road construction path was cleared. At least seven schools have been demolished three months before the October national examinations. 

Both the Multi-Sectoral Committee on Unsafe Structures and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority have publicly declared their intention to repeat the violence we have seen in Kibra in the coming weeks. They target at least ten other informal settlements including Deep Sea (Parklands), Accra, Ngara and Kenya Power and Kenya Railway Reserves in Kaloleni, Makongeni, Mbotela, Mutindwa, Dandora and Kenyatta University (Kamae). 

The residents from the targeted informal settlements have clearly stated that they are neither opposed to development. They maintain their willingness to leave the area to pave way for development projects. They are asking the government to respect their right to adequate housing and ensure that the eviction processes arecompliant with international human rights standards. Forced evictions resulting from development projects invariably negate the developmental outcomes claimed by the government. The cost of forced evictions is too high a price to pay. 

We call on the authorities to follow due process as required by law. Kenya has ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and domesticated these in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in Article 43. These commitments bind Kenya to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing. This constitution right must be upheld.  

We call on the Office of the President to

  • Exercise its authority to stop any ongoing or planned forced evictions by the Ministry of Transport and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority until they have put in place resettlement action plans.

  • Announce a moratorium on mass evictions until the government of Kenya puts in place laws and regulations to ensure that all evictions in urban cities and rural forests comply with Kenya’s national, regional and international human rights commitments.

We call on the Transport Ministry and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority to

  • Publicly disclose and act on the enumeration and Resettlement Action Plan for those assessed in the case of Kibra and undertake the same process for the other neighbourhoods and populations now at risk;

  • Establish a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) based on human rights standards to restore or resettle those displaced by these forced evictions back to their homes and livelihoods after successful completion to resume genuine consultations led by the PAPs. The genuine consultation to follow the full spectrum of due process for total human rights compliance.

  • Immediately cease the proposed future forced evictions, follow due process when planning and implementing evictions. These must include genuine consultation with project affected persons, adequate prior notice, compensation for losses and the provision of alternative housing and relocation options for those who cannot provide for themselves.

  • We call on our elected Representatives both in the Senate, Parliament and County Assemblies to;

  • Support these demands before the lives and livelihoods of 60% of Nairobi’s population are subjected to immeasurable harm and danger.