After reports last month of Nepali government plans to force evict thousands of poor families in Kathmandu, community and federation groups have been working together as the Nepal Squatters’ Front to protest against the evictions and demand housing alternatives. The government eventually decided to halt the planned evictions due to pressure from various political parties and has agreed to provide some compensation for genuine squatter families.
The planned evictions would have been the largest scale in Nepal’s modern history, leaving homeless as many as 10,000 people squatting alongside the banks of the Bagmati River – with no clear plans for their relocation or alternative accommodation. News of the evictions was a great cause for concern for our partner in Nepal, LUMANTI, who has been working for almost 20 years to tackle the issues in Nepal’s slums.
It was particularly devastating news because LUMANTI has been working with the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) in Nepal over the last few years on plans to safely rehouse the riverbank families. Last year, DUDBC had even purchased land for the relocation project and LUMANTI organised various meetings with the communities and government and had begun working with the families to create house designs.
Following news of the planned evictions, LUMANTI worked with Nepal Basobas Basti Sanrakshan Samaj and Nepal Mahila Ekta Samaj, the squatter community federations, and helped the affected community to lobby against the plans. It also invited politicians and key government officials to visit its past housing projects, demonstrating that there are sustainable ways to rehouse families like those living alongside the Bagmati River. Further visits are planned to work out housing solutions for the Bagmati River families and LUMANTI is helping with the rehabilitation programme.
LUMANTI is working to collect up-to-date information about the families affected and to demand a complete rehabilitation package. LUMANTI - along with other organisations including Homeless International (through our CLIFF programme), the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) and Slum/Shack Dwellers International - will be providing ongoing support to ensure a better future for these families and others like them.
Original article: Homeless International