Managing conflicts in slums within a relocation project. Case study of Soweto East, Kibera, Nairobi.
Adèle Charbonneau, « Managing conflicts in slums within a relocation project: Case study of Soweto East, Kibera, Nairobi », Mambo! Volume XIV (2), 2016.
In developing cities, many slum dwellers have settled down in valuable road and railway reserves due to the lack of affordable housing. In Nairobi, the railway line which passes at the edge of Kibera has been heavily encroached upon. Willing to expand the national railway network, Kenya Railway Corporation (KRC) faced the challenge of recovering the space occupied by slum dwellers. The expansion being funded by the World Bank1, KRC was not allowed to simply evict the population. However, with the support of Pamoja Trust, a Kenyan NGO working in informal settlements, KRC decided to develop and implement a Relocation Action Plan (RAP) to move the 9005 project affected persons (PAP) in Kibera and Mukuru, from the reserve to newly built houses few meters away. Nevertheless, implementing large relocation projects in informal settlements can be particularly difficult. Indeed, slums are often characterized by complex and tense relations. Kibera is no exception, as the settlement has known various episodes of violence such as the post-election conflict in 2007-2008 or more recently the clashes around the National Youth Service program in 20152. The case of the Railway RAP in Soweto East, a segment of the railway line in Kibera, is interesting to study as it provides the example of a rather successful relocation project implemented in a slum. In Soweto East and Laini Saba, 1680 residential units and 1740 business units as well as an underpass are being constructed. This article wishes to contribute to the better understanding of informal structures in Kibera and their interaction within large urban projects. Based on 18 interviews of implementing staff, community members and KRC engineers as well as participative observation, this article will look at how the project reveals intertwined conflicts in Soweto East and to some extent in Kibera and how such conflicts were apprehended to minimize the risk of obstruction or violence.