The high urbanisation has in most cities resulted in rapid growth of slums and squatter settlements because governments cannot cope with the population increase in terms of provision of serviced building plots...
- in Egypt, about 40% of Cairo's population lives below poverty level, earning up to US$35 per month. There is an extreme housing shortage. Limited medical care for slum dwellers leads to 40% children dying in their first year of life; 60% are illiterate. There are 10,000 to 15,000 people living in each of the seven garbage-dump communities; (1)
- in Kenya, a controversial government plan (April 2004) to demolish a slum to make way for a road is threatening one of Africa's most notorious slums, Kibera, on the outskirts of Nairobi. By the time it is completed it is estimated that around 350,000 people could have been made homeless as a result;
- in Liberia, a UN survey of living conditions in the capital Monrovia - carried out in September 2003 - showed that 249,000 people, impoverished and made homeless by war were living precariously, with most eating just one meal a day. The report noted that chronic malnutrition was very high at 36% in the surveyed population as a whole, indicating the hardships people had suffered. On average, the war had caused each household to move home twice over the past five years; (2)
- in Sudan, in January 2004 a replanning project in camps around the capital, Khartoum, has left thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) homeless, according to humanitarian sources. Bulldozers had reduced about 7,000 homes to rubble, while only 2,200 families would be allocated a plot of land each, said one source. Sudan's estimated 4 million IDPs are a product of its protracted civil war. Most of those living in the capital are poor southerners who are regularly descriminated against in terms of access to jobs, education, and basic services.
- in Zimbabwe, since May 2005 the government has been forcibly evicting and demolishing people’s homes and market stalls in the capital and countrywide. The homes targeted were informal backyard dwellings, which have grown up due to the critical shortage of housing in most of Zimbabwe’s urban areas. The UN Human Rights Commission estimates that up to 200,000 people may have been made homeless by the operation in Harare alone. In total, it is estimated that up to 1/4 of Zimbabwe’s population will have been affected – that’s more than 3 million people left homeless; (3)
- both droughts and floods have increased in frequency and severity over the past 30 years. Over the past ten years, Africa has experienced nearly one-third of all water-related disaster events that have occurred worldwide, with nearly 135 million people affected, 80% by droughts. In 2000, large floods have hit southern Africa, leaving 850,000people homeless, and almost 1,000 dead victims; (4)
So is there any hope? Yes! Look at how slum-dwellers and the homeless are helping themselves to a better quality of life…
- A new global movement is beginning to transform the lives of some of the world's poorest urban dwellers. The change is being witnessed by 250 homeless Zimbabweans in Harare on a piece of land they are acquiring from the city authorities. The inhabitants of slums and squatter settlements are forming the movement. They not only drive change locally, but support it in other nations. Hundreds of housing initiatives are under way. Some are large scale and include national programmes; (5)
- slum-dwellers and homeless federations are already running in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda and Swaziland. They have developed their own poverty reduction programmes, drawing on their own resources and capacities and negotiating with local and national government for support. In many other countries, comparable organisations are developing.
- In South Africa, the Homeless People's Federation has over 100,000 members. It has helped 12,000 families get housing, and many more to improve their homes, get water and sanitation and acquire land tenure rights. It is in a housing improvement partnership with the city of Durban. (5)
(1) Source: www.ihaudp.org/aca/africaviews.html
(2) The World Food Programme (WFP) and several other UN agencies carried out the survey “Livelihood Needs Assessment” in camps for displaced people and poor suburbs of the city in September 2003.
(3) Source: Homeless-International, Coventry, UK.