Angolan government wages war against ‘chaotic urbanisation’

Post-colonial Angolan cities have expanded exponentially, with the population of Luanda growing 10 times since the Portuguese colonial reign ended in 1975. This has been accompanied by economic growth from the diamond and oil trade. However, three-quarters of Luanda’s residents live in informal settlements and two-thirds live on less than $2 per day, in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Since 2002, the Angolan government has been waging “a sustained war against chaotic urbanisation” which has been categorised by evictions and demolitions without warning. Most of the urban poor living in informal settlements have little or no land tenure, land rights or documentation. The houses destroyed are those of the poor, while shopping centres and gated housing developments are built in their place for Angolan elite.

The Guardian reports: “Sitting outside her tin shack in what is left of Cambamba II neighbourhood, where she has lived for 47 years, a Luandan grandmother says she and the other inhabitants had cultivated land over the years to grow their own food, but police and government bulldozers have destroyed her home five times, together with all her possessions. “We lost the bed, the pans, our stove – the people who pushed down the houses took them. They came with dogs and guns and they flattened everything.”

Across the road the new houses, now renamed “Nova Vida” (New Life), are like a dystopian 1950s suburbia – matching pastel colours and manicured front lawns surrounded by the shacks of the dispossessed.

Between 2002 and 2006, Christian Aid partner SOS Habitat and Human Rights Watch documented more than 18 mass evictions on the outskirts of Luanda alone. More than 3,000 homes were destroyed, leaving 20,000 people homeless. In 2009, the homes of an estimated 15,000 people in the capital were destroyed. In the run-up to last year’s presidential election, the evictions stopped. But they have since started again. In February, 5,000 residents were forcibly evicted in Maiombe, on the outskirts of Luanda.”

For the full story visit The Guardian.

Image via Wikimedia commons user Manuel Dohmen


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