By: Yasin Kakande
Date: October 3rd 2016
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
KAMPALA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The bulldozers came after midnight, sirens wailing. Startled from their sleep, slum-dwellers on the outskirts of Uganda's capital Kampala dashed for safety as the diggers tore through wood, brick and corrugated iron.
It was a typical eviction in Banda slum, home to an informal settlement of around 1.3 million people. Residents lost everything: clothing, furniture, the roofs over their heads.
"One minute you're being sent away, the next you're staying, then you're being warned and told to leave again," said Safina Nankwanga, a resident since 2001, recalling the night two years ago when 20,000 families were made homeless in just a few hours.
That eviction was carried out by Uganda Railways Corporation (URC) and Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) to make way for a new railway line to connect Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
The demolitions were halted temporarily by a court order but more than two years later the shadow of eviction still looms over residents of Banda who fear their homes could be casualties of the city's rapid urbanization.
They include Joseph Kmaru, a father of eight, who lost everything that night and who is among residents who have taken their fight against the evictions to court - so far in vain.
"We don't want to insist on staying here, but we want the government to help us relocate to another place," he said.
The Uganda Railways Corporation declined to comment on the Banda evictions, saying the case was still in court.
According to a 2014 study carried out with Slum Development International (SDI), 85 percent of slum-dwellers around the world live in constant fear of their homes being demolished amid a wave of private sector development and infrastructure upgrades by the government.
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Proportion of urban population living in slums, informal settlements or inadequate housing
Last updated on 1 February 2022
This indicator is currently classified as Tier I. The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) is the Custodian agency for this indicator.