As I shared in an earlier post, Global Networks Unite on Forced Evictions, WITNESS, our partner the Habitat International Coalition and 6 other networks working on housing and land rights have organized World Habitat Days – six weeks (16 September – 31 October) to bring attention and activism to forced evictions, land grabbing and activists at risk.

The United Nations has designated today, October 3rd, as World Habitat Day, where it has called for a focus on “Cities and Climate Change.” The coalition of networks, including WITNESS, has released a public statement in recognition of today, which highlights the six week campaign and calls for the inclusion of communities outside of cities also to be considered when addressing the effects of climate change.

For me, since the theme of six week campaign isResistances and Alternatives for the Right to Habitat on World Habitat Day I am reflecting on the hundreds of communities worldwide who are demanding a stake in their own development and advocating for their right to adequate housing. This past week, I joined others at the UN HABITAT Expert Group Meeting on Forced Evictions in Nairobi to consider recommendations on how UN HABITAT can address the increase in forced evictions worldwide. I listened and shared how communities around the world are creatively challenging development projects which stand to negatively impact their lives. This UN meeting underscored the fact that forced evictions, land grabbing and the threats against activists are not isolated incidents happening to one informal settlement in Delhi or Rio because of “megaevents” like the Commonwealth or Olympic Games (in Portuguese) or to just one town facing floods from proposed dams in Guerrero, Mexico (in Spanish) or Madhya Pradesh, India.

To support this effort as part of the global campaign on forced evictions, WITNESS is working with VideoVolunteers’ project IndiaUnheard to produce advocacy videos on forced evictions in India. Watch their compilation video “People vs Land” which compares community resistance to forced evictions in 4 states in India.

Mapping for Action and Solidarity

The Map of Cases for the six week campaign is an effort for communities and organizations to report their campaigns. Ten campaigns showing examples of communities resisting and presenting alternatives will be featured during the month of October on

  • Over 50 cases of forced evictions have been added to the Map of Cases, including forced evictions to make way for mega-projects like mines in Papua New Guinea and mega-events like the upcoming Olympic Games in Brazil and Russia.
  • 18 cases of land grabbing have been reported, several of the which highlight the social conflicts created by the expansion of monoculture farming as we have already seen in Cambodia and the development of hydroelectric projects in rural areas throughout Mexico.
  • 16 cases of persecution of activists have been reported – including the Venerable Loun Sovath, a Buddhist monk supporting communities facing land grabs across Cambodia and Rose Mary Irusta in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Get Involved

Add your cases of forced evictions, land grabbing and activists at risk to the map and follow and the hashtags #WHD2011 and #forcedevictions on Twitter for updates during the month of October.

See what others around the world have planned for the six-week campaign on the Map of Events.  So, what are YOU doing for World Habitat Day?

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