Monday, March 22, 2010

railway eviction planned

Once again, the Kenya Railways Corporation is pushing to evict squatters in a 200 foot wide swathe around its train tracks, The Nation reports.

Among the crazy allegations: that a derailment in Kibera last December that killed two people, was caused by 'flying toilets' -- the waste disposal method of last resort in squatter communities that don't have toilets or sewers: people defecate in a plastic bag, tie it closed, and fling it as far from their homes as possible.

The people operating the rail line have never worked to keep the tracks clean and clear. They have never offered for form a partnership with communities like Kibera, to find solutions or build replacement homes for those around the tracks, or, even, as one commenter on The Nation article pointed out, to build toilets so people would not have to shit in plastic bags.

The only solution they push for is summary eviction.

It's an awful, short-sighted, and anti-human policy.


Rémi said...

You may want to read this: and this: The Kenyan Slum Dwellers' Federation is about to start one the biggest "enumerations" of people living along the railway line in Kibera, and to plan the relocation - in a community-led manner, as they like...

rn said...


Many thanks. I hope the enumeration is as democratic and inspirational as is suggested by sdinet.

Still, I'd like to know a bit more: how many Kibera residents are involved in the enumeration effort? What were the specific results of the 2004/5 census? Where is the proposed relocation area? What are all those new organizations that Jack Makau mentions in his short history? Are they still active? Etc.

Anonymous said...

Hey I wanted to ask you something about squatting, but would prefer to do so privately. Do you have a email I can contact you at? Facebook maybe?

thanks :) love the blog

rn said...


Give me your name and email and I'll try to respond.

Anonymous said...

John D.

elizabeth said...

I contacted PRI's World several weeks ago to get information on how to get permission to use one of your photos. I have not heard back from them so I thought I might be able to contact you directly and came across your blog. Lucky me, it looks very interesting and I plan to spend time reading your posts.

But before I get reading, I need to ask about obtaining permission to use one of your photos. The photo is titled Kibera in the Rain. I intend to use it on fliers/posters to advertise a benefit concert that I am organizing to offset costs and raise additional funds for American Friends of Kenya (AFK). I will be traveling to Kibera with AFK this summer as part of a medical team.
Please advise.

mikel.maron said...


Map Kibera has had some technical conversations on mapping with Pamoja (who are doing the GIS work in the enumeration), to see if some of the OpenStreetMap infrastructure could help in their work, but not beyond that.

Our approach is different. We started specifically to engage and empower local residents of Kibera to use mapping and web tools to create maps and stories of Kibera. We are building capacity for the people of Kibera to be the repository of information about themselves. As you say in Shadow Cities, "Kibera's people deserve to know the facts about their lives". Our aim is to go one step further, so that those facts are owned and acted on the Kibera's people.

With these tools in place, they will be in good standing to address issues as they come, like the Railway, and take the lead on the myriad other issues they face.

Would be great to discuss this more with you. My gmail address is mikel.maron.