For the last two years the WNairobiW! Campaign has been working to defend the right to land and housing in the shanty towns surrounding Nairobi. The campaign results from the co-ordination of missionaries, italian and international organisations and Christian networks in Kenya, alongside AfrikaSi, an organisation which works in the shanty towns surrounding the Kenyan capital.
An initial success enjoyed by the WNairobiW! Campaign has been the suspension since March 2004 of the forced evictions of 300,000 people in Nairobi.
Now the challenge continues with the matter of restructuring Kenya’s external debt to Italy, to promote development and improve living conditions among the most vulnerable residents of the Kenyan capital.
With this objective the WNairobiW! Campaign is echoing the response of the Subsecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Alfredo Luigi Mantica, to the parliamentary interpellation of the Deputy Giachetti (Chamber of Deputies session n.731 on the 17/1/2006).
In this document Subsecretary Mantica informed of the decision of the “Italian government, in co-operation with the international community, to restructure the debts created by Aid Credits given to Kenya: the negotiations have already begun in order to bring about the prompt release of funds. These funds will be reinvested in appropriate initiatives within the economic and social sectors, and the Kenyan Minister for the Economy himself has affirmed he is interested in the possibility of using a part of the said funds to carry out a large Italian project of regeneration in the shanty towns to follow the model of the successful pilot project and to be undertaken in co-operation with Italian missionaries.”
This is the first official Act to bear witness to the analyses and proposals which the WNairobiW! Campaign has been working on intensively for the past two years.
Always making use of interaction with Italian missionaries and the networks of civil society in Italy and Kenya, the WNairobiW! Campaign met with representatives of the Italian government in January 2006 and reaffirmed the following priorities to them:
• Obtaining guarantees from the government of Kenya and the local authorities that all demolition and eviction operations will be blocked.
• Setting-up, within the agreed framework of the restructuring of the debt between Kenya and Italy, a “People’s Fund for Land and Housing” which should receive the newly released economic resourses and which would be controlled by all interested parties, especially by local civil society.
• Ensuring that the funds from the debt restructuring are invested in the regeneration of two suburbs where consultation and organisation among the population are more advanced, thanks also to the work of the Kutoka Parish Network: the populations of the Soweto and Korogocho shanty towns would thus become a model, replicable in other large suburban areas, if further funds were to be released through the restructuring of other debts.
• It is necessary to arrive at agreement on two key points: i) the ownership of the lands in the suburbs which are to be regenerated should be accorded to the communities which live on them (Community title deed); ii) there should be a guarantee that Kenyan society will take part by means of a clear, formal and efficient method of participation throughout the process (management of the Fund, regeneration plan, effective completion stages). This participation cannot be limited solely to the consultation process but should be extended also to decision making.
28 February 2006