RIGHT TO HOUSING
Do you know that an estimated 1.8 billion people lack adequate housing? Homelessness and forced evictions are on the rise in virtually every country, while sanitation and access to basic services remain dire. In every city in Nigeria, hundreds of people are living under bridges, uncompleted buildings, shacks and under trees. The street has become their own home and are left to the mercy of the dangers out there in the streets.
In Nigeria, thousands are being evicted from their residences every day and cases are going to courts daily because of forced eviction. Of course, it is only those who have some resources who can fight for their rights. The great majority of those who are forcefully evicted have no means of fight for justice. House owners raise rents without any consideration for their tenants.
To even get a house to live, you are required to pay at least a two-year upfront rent for the accommodation. Many houseowners evict the tenant once the two-year period comes to an end so that they can give the apartment to a new tenant who will pay for two -year rent upfront except the old tenant is ready to do same. Most house owners refuse to collect monthly rent.
In her recent report, Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, recognized that "the global housing crisis is rooted in a crisis in access to justice because without access to justice, housing is not properly recognized, understood or addressed as a human right." Sadly, Nigeria is a place talks about justice and rights fall on deaf ears. Most Nigerians do not really care about justice and right if the situation favours them. Not to care about justice and right is in fact to deny the humanity of the person.
We are building a group of grassroots activists to discuss how we can find tools to advocate for policy change, and why "access to justice for the right to housing is inseparable from the right itself."
SpringAid International Development (SAID Nigeria) has been at the forefront of pressing for housing justice. We are doing this through the mobilization, organization of those whose housing rights are denied to have the skills and tools to fight for their rights. We build them and assist them explore strategies for promoting the right to housing and a broader set of social and economic rights in informal settlements — including how to foster and strengthen the voice of residents in housing rights advocacy, how to navigate collaborations and confrontations with local governments, and innovative legal empowerment approaches to unlocking the poverty penalty that batters already vulnerable groups. More importantly, we help to construct descent housing for them to have a roof over their head.
We are encouraging communities who are increasingly calling for access to justice and housing rights. In doing so, they will be making a statement about the kind of world they want to live in, and the kind of future they want for their Children. Prince Joseph (SAID Nigeria)