Minoo Kya, 27; Non-binary; Activist/thespian

I live in Mukuru Kwa Jenga. Housing is very poor; it is made of iron sheets. It gets very hot during the day. There are no demarcated roads. There is a shortage of water and poor sanitation. The area is prone to fires. People live in extreme poverty. Some are currently living in tents. Children have been lost to pneumonia. When it rains the place floods and sewer lines burst. Since the demolition, there have been no hospitals or community schools.

I have lived in Mukuru all my life. I only moved when I was evicted last year. The evictions happened on October 10th [2022] because of the Nairobi Expressway. There was no notice or public participation. There was word going round three days before but people ignored it because it was not official. People also found it hard to believe the Expressway would pass through the slum. We came to learn that there was an announcement on TV two days before but Mukuru has had no electricity for a year so no one watches TV. We expected the information to come through the local administration.

More than 10,000 families were displaced.

The second phase happened in November. People were evicted to make way for feeder roads. The information in mainstream media was misleading. Some media houses created a narrative of people causing chaos to justify the violence and heavy presence of police. There were no demarcations, it was impossible to know where the road would pass through. They demolished all structures in two settlements. More than 70,000 were evicted. We organized twitter campaigns. The government response was that it was not aware of the demolitions yet the demolitions were implemented by police who had equipment from Nairobi Metropolitan Services. There was no official statement, just oral promises. There was no aid.

My family had to separate. Now we have to pay rent three times and buy items separately. Hospitals and schools were demolished. Some children have had to drop out of school. One person died from shock. Poverty has worsened and crime rates have gone higher.

There were cases of sexual violence like rape because people were sleeping outside or in tents. Some were obliged to enter marriage. So many mothers were left behind by fathers [i.e. their partners]. There was more violence amongst men.

I cooked for the first time after evictions last week because I had to start from scratch and sort out my parents first. I would eat in kiosks whilst I planned on how to buy kitchenware.

We would like to do urban farming. There is no space in Mukuru for growing food except in a few schools. The spaces available are heavily polluted near sewer lines.

We need sensitization on how to relate with local authorities to be supportive of such initiatives. We will need trainings and seeds.

This testimony is part of the Dossier Urban Displacement. Forced Evictions: Stories from the Frontline in African Cities