Lessons from Mobilisation around Slum Evictions in Tanzania

By Hooper, Michael | Forced Migration Review, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Lessons from Mobilisation around Slum Evictions in Tanzania


Hooper, Michael, Forced Migration Review


Forced evictions are a prominent challenge facing developing world communities, and a major driver of forced migration. A study of forced urban eviction in Tanzania shows that grassroots mobilisation alone may be unable to confront the challenges of displacement and that there are risks when mobilisation around displacement is premised on unrealistic expectations.

It is estimated that 4.3 million people globally were affected by forced evictions in 2007-08. In the developing world especially, there is a hope that grassroots mobilisation can serve as a means for marginalised groups to address such challenges.

Dar es Salaam's Kurasini ward lies adjacent to the city's port and is home to approximately 35,000 people. In October 2007 the government started evicting residents from the community in order to expand fuel storage capacity in the area. The Tanzania Federation of the Urban Poor (TFUP) - affiliated with Slum Dwellers International (SDI) - was the main group that mobilised residents around the eviction. The principal mobilisation effort undertaken by TFUP members in Kurasini before the eviction was a community-led population census and comprehensive mapping of plots and households. Accepting that the eviction would take place, TFUP used the data to lobby government for a grant of land for community resettlement. Six months after eviction, no grant of land had yet been secured and evictees were forced to independently find homes elsewhere in the city.

With respect to post-eviction outcomes, evictees who resettled as owners tended to relocate significantly further from their former homes than those who resettled as renters (an average of 4.5 kms distance versus 1.3 kms). In addition, the most negative impacts were found in employment, rather than housing. And TFUP members fared worse than nonmembers, particularly in respect of employment.

It appears that being a member of TFUP negatively affected resettlement outcomes by raising members' resettlement expectations and adversely influencing their strategies for securing post-eviction housing. Instead of finding new housing quickly, TFUP members intentionally delayed in anticipation of obtaining land and housing as a result of TFUP's mobilisation efforts. …

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