NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 25 – The Civil Society Coalition on Housing has called on the government to fast track the draft Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines to ensure a smooth relocation process for slum dwellers.
Convening a press conference on Sunday, the coalition said this was in response to statements by various state agencies to evict residents of the recently fire-ravaged Sinai slums.
Shelter Forum Chief Executive Officer Eric Makokha said the coalition has been in talks with the government regarding the relocation of informal settlement dwellers.
“A major result of such efforts is the Railway Relocation Action Plan (RAP) that now covers Mukuru and Kibera,” he revealed.
Makokha added that if the need for evictions arose the exercise should be preceded by a comprehensive resettlement strategy that would not leave the residents in a worse off state.
The Eviction and Resettlement Guidelines propose mechanisms that facilitate evictions requiring negotiations with the individuals meant to be evicted as well as provisions for alternative settlement areas and clear process of relocation.
With an estimated 2.4 million people currently living in Kenya’s informal settlements, Makokha said mechanisms that allow for reconstruction plans should be considered as a short-term solution by the government, until relocation efforts are actually realized.
“Such mechanisms should ensure uninhibited access to basic rights such as safe water and sanitation services,” he urged.
In the long term the coalition pointed out the need for a comprehensive disaster preparedness and response system, taking into account the complex structure of informal settlements.
It also called on Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) to take responsibility and consider opening discussions around possible compensation for the Sinai victims.
Roseline Asena, who resides in the Mukuru slums, said the recent eviction threats triggered by the Sinai fire tragedy have put a lot of pressure on slum dwellers across the country.
“If you evict these people forcefully without showing them where to go, it becomes a problem to the whole country. Coming up with eviction guidelines will make things easier,” she noted.
She further dispelled claims of slum dwellers resisting relocation, emphasizing that the process needs to be humanized.
“We have not refused to move, we are ready to go, but let’s go in a manner that considers the human rights and will not be selfish to us. We are human beings.”