Women fight for ownership of Nairobi’s Mukuru settlement

Fed up with walking long distances to the nearest toilet, in fear of rape and other forms of attack, a group of women living in a Nairobi informal settlement have decided to sue the landowners. The women’s bid to take ownership of their home is due to be heard in December 2013, according to a report from The Guardian.

In the southeast of Nairobi, Mukuru is home to an estimated 400,000 people. Squatters’ rights action against the private company and individual landowners was filed in September 2012 by the Kenyan NGO Muungano wa Wanavijiji. The women are launching their own proceedings on the back of this, arguing that private ownership of the land has prevented the building of adequate sanitation facilities.

Mukuru resident, Dorice Bosibori Moseti, told The Guardian: ‘We have to go in the bushes near our homes and we are still very afraid.’

She said that she and about 8,000 other women who support the campaign are prepared to testify in front of the national lands commission about the sanitation issues.

Housing is precarious in Nairobi, where 60 per cent of residents are estimated to live in informal settlements.

The pioneering Mukuru court case incorporates a variety of human rights issues including housing, property and dignity. The Katiba Institute, which was established to promote the understanding and implementation of Kenya’s Constitution has said: ‘The petitioners have been subjected to inhumane conditions in the premises where they reside. The owners of the land acquired the land unprocedurally and further failed to satisfy even the conditions of the grant, instead supporting a system that has given rise to middlemen (called slumlords) who are charging unconscionable amounts of rent to the residents without provision of basic sanitation or other services that ensure right to housing.’

Photo of Mukuru from A Sheep in Man's Clothing, under a CC License.