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Homelessness and insecurity

The impossibility of securing a permanent place to live has many negative impacts for the residents of Kibagare. The land belongs to the government, which regards those settled there as illegal squatters. As a result, families live under the constant threat of eviction and the demolition of their homes, which are constructed out of scrap materials such as cardboard and old roofing sheets.

Nyiva explains: “all the time we are told we are on other people’s property. When I go to look for a job, I may return to find my house is still standing or I may not…” She goes on to say that the wealthy occupants of Loresho are happy every time their flimsy houses are burned or knock down, because they would really like them evicted and the slum demolished: “That is the joy of the people of Loresho.”

Mercy also highlights the stress and anxiety raised by having no secure place to live: people “are always afraid” she says. She longs for a time when they can be “sure that the houses will not be burned down or destroyed, so that we stop being afraid of losing our belongings”.

The other major disadvantage of this insecurity is that having no permanent residence apparently excludes them from some development initiatives. Nyiva: “I was told that the Constituency Development Fund cannot help people of the slums… It is to help those with a permanent residence, but not people like us.” She also says they were not allowed to dig their own toilets because it is a slum area.


Homelessness and insecurity is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Kenya oral testimony project.


Alice: sleeping hungry

Deborah: widows have rights

Elias: cultural change

George: no jobs

Helen: poverty of war

Joseph: keeping optimistic

Lemaron: challenging discrimination

Martha: battling corruption

Mary: life of struggle

Mercy: completely forgotten

Nyiva: cardboard homes

Peter: search for work

Key themes






Self-help initiatives

Sanitation and health

Political representation


Crime and unrest



Homelessness and insecurity

Pastoralism and agriculture