Open Letter: 50,000 at Risk of Eviction and Homelessness, Kibera (Kenya)


President Mwai Kibaki EGH. M.P

Office of the President
Harambee House
Nairobi, Kenya
Transmitted by Fax: +254 (0)20 225–0264
 RE:  50,000 at Risk of Eviction and Homelessness, Kibera (Kenya)
 Dear Mr. President Kibaki:

We are deeply disturbed to have learned from the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), part of Habitat International Coalition (HIC),  and local members and affiliates in Kenya about the planned mass evictions of people living along Kenya’s railway lines in Kibera. We strongly advise that the Government of Kenya halt any of the intended evictions and, rather, establish a Task Force comprised of representatives from the Kenya Railways Corporation, personnel from concerned Government agencies, and members of both the affected community and civil society in order that a meaningful and just solution be reached for all. To resolve such a complex problem, we advise the Kenyan Government to adhere to international standards concerning forced evictions and displacement, with particular reference to the UN’s “Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement” (2007)[1] which elaborate the obligations of the state when exceptional circumstances make evictions necessary. These obligations not only include consultation with affected communities, but, also, require that that the State provide alternative accomdation and compensation prior to the proposed evictions. 

The land at the heart of this debate has been designated by the State as a railway reserve and comprises 100 ft on either side of the tracks. According to media reports, the Kenyan Railways Corporation (KRC), a parastatal company, served a public notice on 21 March 2010 to all the inhabitants living on this land to leave within 30 days to make way fro the planned expansion of the railway.[2] Approximately 50,000 people are at risk of eviction, violent treatment and homelessness having been offered no alternative solution by either the Kenyan Government or the Kenya Railways Corporation. 

Neither the state nor the KRC has made any plans for compensation or relocation of the residents. The planned violation of the inhabitants’ right to adequate housing will likely create a human catastrophe since most of the residents are among the poortest of Nairobi and have no alternative solution and/or shelter. Any evictions without proper and adequate resettlement will result in the disruption of access to schools, health services, sanitation, water and food.[3] Moreover, in light of the large number of persons expected to be evicted, HLRN is concerned about the physical safety of the residents and fears that the lack of any precautions or safety measures will put the residents at risk of violence. 

While the causes may appear logistically legitimate, their implementation definitely will not be if the government does not provide for any fair alternative solutions or compensation schemes, in compliance with the international human rights norms, including treaties, to which Kenya is bound. While Kenyan land laws and policies  has generally been unclear and inadequate, Kenya is nonetheless bound to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights to adequate housing. 

Should the evictions take place as announced, the Government of Kenya would violate the human rights to livelihood, security, life, health, education, and of course adequate housing, among others. The latter includes the right to secure tenure; affordability; freedom from dispossession, damage and destruction; information, capacity and capacitybuilding; participation; resettlement and compensation. All these entitlements are recognized in international law and treaties, and as such, the Kenyan Government would violate its obligations, inter alia, under articles 2, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which Kenya accessed on 3 January 1976. The manner in which the proposed evictions are being implemented thus far render the State already derelict in its obligations as elaborated in the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) General Comments Nos. 4 and 7 on the human right to adequate housing. Moreover, the potentiall ill-treatment of affected victims threatens to render the Kenyan Government in violation of Articles  7, 9 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Kenyan Government also has committed itself to respect Habitat Agenda 21 and ensure that alternative solutions are provided when evictions are unavoidable. Finally, it should be noted that all these elementsshould be applied in an environment of nondiscrimination, gender equality, rule of law, and progressive realization of human rights concerned.

Arbitrary eviction; “officials” failure to conduct effective consultation with the affected inhabitants; the government’s failure to provide reparations, including restitution and compensation; and the use of force, as well as being inconsistent with the necessity and proportionality principles, violate a bundle of human rights and several treaties to which Kenya is a ratifying party.

We look forward to your diligent efforts in this matter and thank you in advance for your attention.

We hope to hear from you about your constructive response.

Please be assured of our highest consideration.


Hon. Raila Odinga EGH, M.P.
Prime Minister
Republic of Kenya
P.O. Box 7443–00200
Treasury Building 14th Flr.
Harambee Avenue
Hon. Musalia Mudavadi
Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister of Local Government
P.O. Box 30004–00100
Hon. Soita Shitanda
Minister for Housing
P.O. Box 30450–00100
Hon. Chirau Mwakwere
Ministry of Transport
P.O. Box 52692–00100
Transcom Hse, Ngong Road
Hon. Mutula Kilonzo
Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs
and National Cohesion
P.O. Box 5605–00200
Dr. Alfred Mutua
Public Communications Secretary
Office of Public Communications
KICC Building, 3rd Floor
P.O.Box 45617–00100
Brown Ondego
Executive Chairman
Rift Valley Railways (Kenya)
P.O. Box 62503–00200
Mr. Nduva Muli
Managing Director
Kenya Railways Corporation
PO Box 30121 – 00100, Nairobi
Fax: +254 (0)20 340–049, +254 (0)20 221–456
Prof. Maria Nzomo
Ambassador/Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya
to the United Nations Office in Geneva
1–3, Avenue de la Paix (1st Floor)
1202 Geneva
Tel.: +41 (0)22 906–4050

Fax: +41 (0)22 731–2905
Prof. Anna Tibaijuka
Executive Director
P.O. Box 30030, GPO,
Nairobi, 00100, Kenya
Tel: +254 (0)20 762–3151/3153
Fax: +254 (0)20 762–4266/762–4267/762–4264/762–347/762–4060

Prof. Raquel Rolnik
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing
UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
H.E. Mr. Bishar Abdirahman Hussein
Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, Cairo
Tel.: +20 (0)23 345–3628/345–3907
Fax: +20 (0)22 344–3400

[1] “Annex I: Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement,” Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, Entitled “Human Rights Council”, A/HRC/4/18, 5 February 2007, at:  

[2] Odula, Tom, “50,000 Kenyans Living Beside Railway Face Eviction,” The Daily Caller, 16 April 2010, at:

[3] Ibid.