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Respect My rights


Housing means having a roof over your head.

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What do you think are the essential features of a house?

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Housing must be situated where people have access to job opportunities, health care, schools, emergency services, and other social facilities. Housing should not be situated in dangerous places, for example near sources of pollution that might be a threat to health; and the security of the location and freedom of movement should be upheld by good policing.


Regardless of whether people rent, own or are living without any legal rights on the land or home in which they live, security of tenure guarantees them legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.

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What do you think are the essential features of a house?

So for your house you’d need these items:

Garden Security of Tenure* Lockable door internet Safety Location* Multiple rooms Games console Stove Water Privacy Electricity and gas Windows TV Phone Bed Bath/Shower Four walls Toilet

Not everybody has a house like this - In fact, millions have to go without.

Pick three of these things you absolutely couldn't live without

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But here are some things to think about:


Where can you go to the toilet? For many people around the world, this is not a major concern, but it is a daily problem for the more than 1 million residents of the Kenyan slum Kibera.. Watch the short film 'Going to the Toilet'.  Most slums have no legal status: they are ‘illegal settlements.’ That is why local authorities do not feel responsible for providing essential facilities, such as access to clean water and sanitation. ‘You’ll be shocked’, a woman warns. The filthiness of the area is overpowering. Cholera and tuberculosis are rampant. ‘In the hospital the doctors advise me to live in a place with fresh air’, a woman says. A ramshackle, improvised shower is used by 200 people. The waste water flows through an open sewer through the neighbourhood. 

What about water?*

Many people living in inadequate housing have to walk for many miles to access safe water or pay for water from private suppliers or from street vendors which is often very expensive.. You may have a stream near by, but it's hard to guarantee that the water is safe to drink. Drinking unsafe water can cause many diseases (which are usually preventable) and even deaths. Without access to water it can be difficult to wash clothes and keep clean. You'll likely have no access to a flush toilet, sewage system or waste removal services.

What about privacy?

Living in informal settlements or inadequate housing often means that you have very little privacy. You will probably have to share toilets and bathing areas with many people, carry your own water, have to wait in long queues to access them and often have no lock or even door. This can make it especially uncomfortable and dangerous for girls and women to change clothes and bathe. There's also little room for anyone to have privacy as families often sleep and live in one room all together - that means sharing living space and sleeping in a room with your parents, siblings and other family members!

My four-year-old son has to take antibiotics very often because he gets sick a lot. Those antibiotics have to be kept in the refrigerator. We don’t have electricity. I have to drive three times a day, even in the middle of the night, to get his medicine from my mother-in-law. Our baby is only a few months old. She is sick all the time. I don’t know how we will survive the winter." Danilo Hudorovič, his partner and three children live in the informal Romani settlement of Goriča vas, which has around 70 inhabitants. 

What about gas & electricity?*

Many people living in inadequate housing lack a stable supply of energy for cooking, heating and lighting. This can affect what food you are able to eat each day, as well as your ability to store food safely in a cold space, like a fridge. Lacking energy for lighting means you may struggle to do your homework in the dark, and without public lighting, your street can become a more dangerous place.

Living far from a school can mean missing out on an education. This is one of the reasons that 67 million children around the world did not go to school during the 2009 school year!

What about location?*

Many people living in inadequate housing live far from the most basic of services, such as healthcare facilities and schools. Informal settlements or slums can often be far from municipal areas meaning that people may have difficulty travelling each day to get to work. This impinges on your rights to healthcare, education and work, all key human rights which are important to help people break out of the poverty trap.

Did you know? In many cities, women and girls living in slums are particularly at risk of sexual violence. This is particularly common at night when women try to reach toilet blocks (also called sanitation blocks) in the dark. Roads or lanes that lead to toilet blocks are usually unlit and dangerous. 

What about safety?*

Many houses, rooms and sanitation facilities in informal settlements and slums do not have locks on the doors. Without these basic security measures people are at higher risk of crime. Women can be at particular risk from sexual violence living in informal settlements or slums as police presence is usually limited or non-existent.

“My former landlord… would increase the rent regularly and on a whim… Before I left the house, I owed just one month’s rent arrears and the landlord became very violent towards me. One day he came to the house with some youths and broke down the main door and part of the roof. He threw all my belongings out of the house and told me to leave. After I took my property back into the house, he warned that he would do the same thing the next day…I left that house the following day.” Flora, Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum in Kenya.

What about security of tenure?*

People who lack security of tenure may be excluded from laws and protections that apply to other urban residents such as rent control or requirements on landlords to provide services. Security of tenure guarantees that you cannot be evicted from your home without due legal process. Even if you have lived in your house for a while, and all your belongings and possessions are there, without security of tenure you could lose everything by tomorrow.

Tell us about where you live.

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Sorry but this land appears to be earmarked for development. The government has declared it is building a multi-billion sports stadium here.


This is an Eviction Notice! You have been warned! You must vacate your house now!!!


Looks like your government will be bulldozing your house to make way for the construction project...


You have an empty bag and only 30 seconds to gather as many of your possessions as you can carry...
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A forced eviction is the removal of people against their will from the homes or land they occupy without due process and other legal safeguards. Because evictions can have such devastating impacts on people’s lives, they may only be carried out as a last resort. Prior to any eviction, government authorities must genuinely consult everyone who may be affected by the eviction to identify all feasible alternatives to evictions. People must be provided with adequate notice, legal remedies and compensation for their losses.

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If not, that's not unusual. Many people who are forcibly evicted* lose their identity documents.
Without these it can be difficult to prove who you are and it can be very hard to enrol in a school, access health clinics or find work.
Did You Remember to grab your passport or identity card?

Being forcibly evicted doesn't just mean the loss of your house and possessions.


Your home is often part of a neighborhood and community - being relocated elsewhere means you can lose support networks of friends and family.

Family Friends

You may be moved away from your school

... or your job,

... or lose access to other amenities such as healthcare centres.

What would you do now?

See what others have said...

buscaría nuevas amistades, un entorno que me puede volver a gustar como mi hogar pasado
Care more about the ones that doesn't have as much as other people, like homeless people because they don't have an identity
Try to relocate my self in another neighbourhood
buscaría un lugar temporal para vivir, en lo que se pueden arreglar las cosas. empezar a buscar empleo, intentaría seguir con mis estudios.

Where would you sleep?
Here are some photos others have uploaded via the scrapbook...

Evictions can happen for a variety of reasons.


These include: 

  • Genuine consultation with the affected people. 
  • Adequate and reasonable notice provided to the community. 
  • Adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses 
  • Safeguards on how evictions are carried out. 
  • Access to legal remedies and procedures, including access to legal aid where necessary. 
  • No one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations as a consequence of an eviction. 
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Your government has a legal obligation to ensure that evictions are only ever carried out when strictly necessary and that they comply with legal and procedural safeguards* in line with international human rights standards.



Human rights are a fundamental set of entitlements or guarantees, starting with the right to life. They are every human beings' birthright, meaning that no human being anywhere in the world should ever be denied their rights, at any time or for any reason. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the world’s governments in 1948. It is a set of standards that affirm the rights to freedom, dignity, respect and equality for everyone, everywhere. Article 25 of the UDHR includes the right to adequate housing as part of the human right to an adequate standard of living.

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When these laws and conditions are not upheld, the action becomes a forced eviction, and that is a violation of human rights.*


Informal settlements are areas where housing has been constructed on land to which the occupant have no legal claim, or which they occupy illegally. These are unplanned settlements where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations. 



A slum is an area where more than half of the households have the characteristics of a “slum household.” This means that most of the residents in a slum lack one or more of the following:

  • Basic water and sanitation facilities
  • Sufficient living space
  • A house that is structurally strong and secure
  • Security of tenure 


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If you live in a slum* or informal settlement* you may find yourself more likely to be the victim of a forced eviction, as these are often not seen as "real" homes.


Discrimination means being excluded, restricted or treated differently, in a way that denies people their human rights. Ending all forms of discrimination is essential to enabling people to exercise and claim their human rights. 

A particularly stark example of discrimination is the inadequate housing and living conditions that many Romani communities live in within Europe. Romani communities often live in segregated settlements on the outskirts of cities and towns, with poor access to transport, schools, health care facilities and other public services. This reflects historical and current discrimination against these communities, both by authorities and by others in the population who do not want Romani individuals and families moving into their neighbourhoods.

“The local population does not accept Roma at all. They don’t want the Roma living in their neighbourhoods.”

Mayor of Semic, Slovenia in August 2009. From: Parallel lives: Roma denied rights to housing and water in Slovenia.


And who ends up living here often depends on who faces the most discrimination* and inequality within society.

Currently there are 1.1 billion people around the world living in slums and informal settlements.

Slums aren't just found in developing countries, they're also located in some of the richest countries of the world. They are referred to by different names across the world including informal settlements, shacks, favelas, jhuggis etc


 Human rights are often described as being “inalienable”, “indivisible” and “interdependent”: 

  • Inalienable means that human rights cannot be taken away under any circumstances, including in wars or
  • emergency situations.
  • Indivisible means that all human rights are equally important. No one can decide that certain rights matter more than others 
  • Interdependent means that when one right is abused, it has a negative impact on other rights. Similarly, when a certain right is realized, it contributes to other rights being fulfilled.


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essential services
access to
healthy environment
right to
Living in slums means living in overcrowded shelters packed closely next to your neighbours. Your house may have makeshift walls or doors meaning you have very little privacy.
Also, many slums lack access to water and sanitation, making it hard to wash clothes and bathe, not to mention having little access to clean and safe toilet facilities
In slums, police protection is lacking or non existent and people lack basic security measures like public lighting or a lock on their door
Many slums and informal settlements don't have a school or health clinic nearby, so many people end up missing out on an education and lack basic healthcare when they need it...
Without proof of residency, people living in slums are more often denied formal work and may face discrimination from employers
...and those living in inadequate housing can often be made to feel powerless and marginalised from society.
Human rights are like a tower of bricks: they are all interdependent, indivisible and inalienable.* This means that the violation of one of your rights - such as the right to adequate housing...
may impact on your other rights...or vice-versa

At least one in three urban residents around the world live in inadequate housing with no or few basic services.

But communities living in inadequate housing are taking action to address these issues.
See what people are doing on the ground to make a difference:

Is housing more than just a roof over your head?

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A house provides the foundation for most things that people need in their lives. In the words of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) in its General Comment No. 4 “[T]he right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow or restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one's head". To be “adequate” or fit for habitation, housing must meet certain standards:

  • Legal security of tenure, guarantying legal protection against forced eviction, harassment and other threats.
  • Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure. 
  • Affordability 
  • Habitability, providing protection against bad weather; adequate space, privacy and security; and physical security including good construction, ventilation, lighting and sanitation.
  • Accessibility to all, including women, children, the elderly, people who are mentally ill and those with severe illnesses.
  • Housing must be situated where people have access to job opportunities, health care, school and emergency services.
  • The way houses are constructed must take cultural needs into account. 


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A house is much, much more than a roof over your head. The right to adequate housing* is a human right.

By looking at international laws and treaties, we can identify states' obligations to guarantee everybody this right.

By voicing our outrage against human rights violations and standing in solidarity with those who are demanding their right to adequate housing, we can tackle poverty

And by holding governments and other actors accountable, we can help those whose rights are violated to get justice.

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