Personal stories: What rights mean on the ground
Residents and market traders from the Kabete NITD settlment in Nairobi have told Amnesty International how local authorities destroyed their homes and livelihoods, leaving many struggling to survive.
Bulldozers from the Nairobi City Council flattened buildings in Kabete NITD twice in the past week, with around 100 homes and 470 market stalls demolished. No official notice of the evictions was given to residents or traders.
Joshua, 45, resident of Kabete NITD.
“I am left with nothing, only what you see me wearing right now. There was no time to salvage even documents or money from the house. The evictions were over in 15 minutes and then the tractor was gone. We were given no notice – if only we’d been given notice I would have been able to organise myself and remove my things. My wife and I are caring for five children, between 6 and 15 years old. We have no one to stay with so all of us are sleeping out in the open, in the cold. It is not safe for us and we are very very cold at night. I don’t know how I can get food for them.”
Eliza, 38, market trader in Kabete NITD.
“For the last couple of weeks we had heard that they might be evicting us from the market but there was no formal eviction notice and no one had consulted us about them. In fact, we’d received no information at all – it was just rumours.
"I am now desperate as I don’t have capital to start my business again. I need compensation for the losses that I have incurred so I can continue to trade.”
Oliver, 43, resident.
“We tried to talk with the askaris [Administrative Police from the City Council] so that they would give us time to remove our things from our homes, but they refused. I lost everything, including my business. I have no clothes for my family and no money to pay for my daughter’s school fees – I don’t know how she will learn. My wife and five children are now sleeping in the place where we used to live. We make a bonfire at night and then we sleep in the rubble of our former home.”
Elizabeth, 49, resident.
“I need a place to live. I have managed to find a shelter for my three youngest children but the older children and I are sleeping out in the open. Even my young ones can’t stay for long where they are as the person caring for them can’t afford to look after them. The government should give me a place where I can live and a place where I can work.”
Sella, 78, resident from the part of Kabete NITD under imminent threat of forced eviction.
“I am 78 years old and disabled. I am in great pain – I am bed-ridden and I can’t even move my fingers. During the demolitions on Saturday night I was put in a wheelchair and taken outside my house because we feared that our houses would be destroyed as well. If I am moved from here I don’t know where I will go. The government is treating us like dogs. They don’t think that we are human beings. They say that they are fighting poverty but really they are promoting it by carrying out evictions in this way.”
Margaret, 50, market trader.
“I lost all of my wares which I keep in my market stall so I haven’t been able to do business since the evictions took place. I have to beg so that the three children in my care, including one orphan who is just four years old, can get food. They are hungry. I need a permanent place to trade and I need compensation for all the goods that I lost.”
Beverly, 61, resident.
“My relative, who is expecting, and I were sleeping inside my house. I woke up suddenly and heard the tractor as it was demolishing everything. We’d had no warning they would be evicting us. We tried to salvage some of our things but it all happened so fast. We even lost all of our clothes and bedding. We have managed to find accommodation with a friend but she can only take us for a week. After that I don’t know what we will do. I have nowhere to go, nowhere to run to. The government should give us land where we can build.”