Collins Marx Odhiambo, 29; Human Rights Defender

Portrait of Collins Marx

I live in Mathare North Area 4 in a double room made of iron sheets. It is a political hot spot for post-election violence. Every election time young men are arbitrarily arrested, some disappear and others are killed. Women are sexually assaulted. There is still some tension from the election outcome.

I moved from Mathare 4A to area 4 after the 2017 election due to the post-election violence which led to profiling and targeting of youth by hired political gangs.

Our houses were demolished by gangs hired by political aspirants. Some were razed down and other people were physically evicted from houses and had their property destroyed.

During rainy seasons people living along Gitathuru river have to move due to flooding. Fires are very common. Those who live on the cliff and under it are displaced when bits of it disintegrate during rainy season and the very dry season.

Collins Marx in his neighbourhood

Food supply has reduced and become expensive. People with big families find it hard to feed them. Variety has reduced to one or two options. People have resorted to fermenting milk, going long distance to find indigenous vegetables that they can keep for a while; some have substituted maize flour with rice and potatoes. Youth groups are doing small kitchen gardens on roof tops and pockets of public green space. Youth groups need to be trained on how to utilize space for urban farming.

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