Forced evictions in Africa a major crisis
22 March 2012, 16:13
Nairobi - Forced evictions of people from urban slums across Africa is a
"widespread and pernicious problem," rights group Amnesty International
said on Thursday, warning of a "profound and deepening" crisis.
of people who live in cities and towns south of the Sahara live in an
informal settlement or slum," said Amnesty's Kenya director, Justus
Nyang'aya. "Governments in Africa have not got to grips with this
With growing urbanisation - by 2025, more Africans will
live in a city or a town than a village - Amnesty said citizens must
have legal protection and security of tenure, a current major block to
development in slum areas.
Across Africa, large slum areas are
often demolished with little or no warning, Amnesty added, in a campaign
launched on the sidelines of a meeting of African housing ministers in
"Most people living in slums pay taxes, vote, put their
children through school and contribute to the city's economy," said
Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty's Africa director.
"Yet most have little or no access to sanitation, clean water, education and adequate healthcare," he added.
rallies to end forced evictions were planned across Africa this week -
including in Chad, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
dwellers from across Africa gathered at the same conference centre - but
excluded from the ministerial meeting itself - in the hope of adding
pressure on ministers by describing the daily challenges they face.
No dignity in begging
are labelled criminals and trespassers... a typical case of giving a
dog a bad name so as to kill it conveniently," said Alhassan Ibn
Abdallah, who lives in the Old Fadama slum in the Ghanaian capital
"Politicians only recognise us during their electioneering
campaign, we are forgotten after we have voted them into power,"
Abdallah said, adding fears of demolition meant people stayed in wooden
huts at high risk of fire, rather than investing in more permanent
"There is no dignity in begging, we want to
be able to support our own families," said Moreblessing Gwavuya, a slum
resident in Zimbabwe's capital Harare, whose home was destroyed in
government mass demolitions in 2005.
"All those dreams we had
were shattered... no adequate notice was given, we were not consulted
about our removal, we were not given any alternative, neither were we
compensated for the destruction," Gwavuya addded.
In Kenya, slum dweller Minicah Otieno said constitutional protections "remain paper rights" and are not applied in practice.
not asking the governor for any favours - we're demanding that he
respect the law," said Marcus George Irimaka, a slum resident in
Nigeria's city of Port Harcout, where Amnesty says 300 000 face their
homes being demolished.
"We want to see security of tenure...so that we can invest in ourselves."