Slum dwellers across Africa urge governments to respect housing rights

Thousands of slum dwellers including those under threat from forced eviction are taking part in a week of action across Africa supported by Amnesty International and partners. Activists in Chad, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt and Zimbabwe will call on their governments to stop forced evictions and make sure that people living in slums have equal access to water, education, health care and other essential services.“Hundreds of thousands of people across the continent are left homeless each year by forced evictions. In most cases, these evictions are conducted with complete disregard for international law and even the most basic human rights standards,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.“African leaders must do more to end forced evictions and prioritize the needs of people living in poverty in their housing and land policies.”The continent-wide rallies coincide with the African Ministerial Conference on Housing and Urban Development (AMCHUD), which takes place in Nairobi 20-23 March.On Wednesday, some 1,000 slum residents will march through Ghana’s capital Accra with a brass band to make their demands heard. In the Kenyan capital, 54 slum dwellers, each symbolically representing a country from the African Union, will take part in a parallel conference on Thursday entitled “People Live Here”, mirroring the official AMCHUD meeting taking place in the same venue in Nairobi. In attendance will be representatives from Nairobi’s slum communities and also a representative from informal settlements in Zimbabwe, Ghana and Nigeria. The activists will take part in a live Facebook chat at 11am GMT.

On the same day in the Egyptian city of Giza, children’s art troupes from several informal settlements will present theatre, dancing, singing and poetry performances at Al-Samer Theatre in Al-Mohandessin.Also on Thursday, hundreds of residents from five different waterfront communities in Port Harcourt, Nigeria will recount their experience of threats of forced eviction and consequences of demolitions.In Zimbabwe, a theatre and music festival in the capital city of Harare will see three theatre groups performing specially-written plays about forced evictions dramatizing slum communities’ demands for housing rights. Finally, a roadshow truck with entertainers and local celebrities including Kenyan rapper Juliani will travel to the Nairobi slums of Korogocho, Kibera, Mathare and Mukuru Kwa Njenga this weekend. “Time after time, governments across Africa have acted in violation of international law, rendering millions homeless and destitute,” said Erwin van der Borght.“The authorities in these countries must actively involve those people who are most affected in developing solutions that help break the vicious cycle of poverty and human rights violations that many are caught up in.”Join the week of action – sign the petition to end forced evictions