Satellite imagery assessment of forced relocations in Nairobi, Kenya: 2011-2012

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Executive Summary

At the request of Amnesty International, USA (AIUSA), the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) investigated reports of forced relocations in Nairobi, Kenya. AIUSA identified five locations from which residents reported being forced to leave their homes (Figure 1) between 29 June 2011 and 2 April 2012. At three of these locations forced relocations occurred on two separate dates for a total of eight forced relocation events (Table 1). Across these locations, AAAS documented the destruction of approximately 3,966 structures in total.

Figure 1: Locations of interest in Nairobi
Table 1: Locations and dates of forced relocations
Location Latitude Longitude Event Date 1 Event Date 2
Syokimau 1°21’33.48” S 36°56’16.95” E 12 November 2011  
Kenya Ports Authority 1°20'27.54" S 36°52'55.60" E 29 October 2011 2 April 2012
Mitumba 1°19’44.79” S 36°49’25.92” E 19 November 2011 26 March 2012
Kyong’ombe, Embakasi 1°17'59.94" S 36°55'0.10" E 22 October 2011  
Embakasi 1°18’17.93” S 36°55’8.98” E 29 June 2011 17 November 2011

Data and Methods

AAAS received six images of Nairobi, Kenya and its surrounding suburban areas, collected between 2011 and 2013 (Table 2). Due to the distance between locations of interest, the images covered different areas of the city, such that not every location of interest was contained within each image. For each event, the two closest images in time before and after the event were analyzed (Table 3). For example, Syokimau was reported to have experienced demolitions on 12 November 2011. The image used to establish a baseline for the area was collected on 30 June 2011 and analysis to quantify demolitions was conducted using an image collected on 4 September 2012. The analysis consisted of counting individual structures at each location before and after the reported forced relocation. Note that the event reported at Embakasi could not be assessed because there is no high-resolution imagery of the location from prior to the event date (29 June 2011).

Table 2: Imagery acquired
Date Sensor Image ID
30 June 2011 World View 2 103001000B505200
6 October 2011 World View 2* 103001000D004F00
10 December 2011 World View 2 1030010010073900
6 August 2012 World View 1 102001001DD5AC00
4 September 2012 World View 2 103001001A09A900
21 January 2013 World View 2 103001001E5Acc00
*Panchromatic Band Only
Table 3: Imagery used to assess each forced relocation event
Forced Relocation Event Date Location Before Image Date After Image Date
29 June 2011 Embakasi NA NA
22 October 2011 Kyong’ombe Embakasi 30 June 2011 4 September 2012
29 October 2011 Kenya Ports Authority 6 October 2011 10 December 2011
12 November 2011 Syokimau 30 June 2011 4 September 2012
17 November 2011 Embakasi 30 June 2011 4 September 2012
19 November 2011 Mitumba 6 October 2011 10 December 2011
26 March 2012 Mitumba 10 December 2011 6 August 2012
2 April 2012 Kenya Ports Authority 10 December 2011 6 August 2012

Results

Imagery analysis confirmed five forced relocation events. Multiple structures had been removed from the Syokimau, Kenya Ports Authority, and Mitumba locations during the reported period of forced relocations. The forced relocations reported to have occurred at the Embakasi and Kyong’ombe Embakasi locations, however, could not be confirmed.

Embakasi and Kyong’ombe Embakasi

AIUSA reported that traditional Masai dwellings had been erected on government owned land at the Embakasi and Kyong’ombe Embakasi locations in 2011. Reports indicate that these dwellings were first removed on 29 June 2011. Following the initial removals, new Masai dwellings were constructed and subsequently removed between July 2011 and November 2011. The earliest image available of these locations was collected on 30 June 2011, one day after the initial removals. No images of the location were available between the dates of when the dwellings were reconstructed and when they were removed. As a result, AAAS was unable to confirm later forced relocations, as the Masai dwellings could not be located.

Syokimau

The Syokimau neighborhood is a collection of freestanding structures southeast of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Between 30 June 2011 and 4 September 2012, 411 structures in Syokimau were removed (Figure 2). These structures were all located north of the Syokimau Airport Road, while structures just to the south of Syokimau Airport Road were undisturbed (Figure 3).

Figure 2: Removed structures in Syokimau
411 Structures (red dots) in a cluster (red outline) north of Syokimau Airport Road were removed between 30 June 2011 and 4 September 2012. Image DigitalGlobe | Analysis AAAS.
Figure 3: Subset of structures removed in Syokimau
On 30 June 2011 (A), numerous structures can be seen on both sides of Syokimau Airport Road(red line). On 4 September 2012 (B), however, all structures north of the road have been removed. Images DigitalGlobe | Analysis AAAS.
Mitumba

Mitumba is a densely populated slum covering 58,940 m2 adjacent to the Wilson Airport. A total of 870 structures were counted in the 6 October 2011 image. In the 10 December 2011 image, cloud cover obscured 30,100 m2 of Mitumba. In the 28,840 m2 not covered by clouds, 415 structures were counted in the 6 October 2011 image. Only 115 of these structures remained on 10 December 2011, representing a loss of 72% of all structures. If that ratio was consistent throughout Mitumba, it can be estimated that a total of 626 structures were removed in this time period. By 6 August 2012, all of the remaining structures had been removed (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Structures removed in Mitumba
On 6 October 2011 (A), Mitumba (red line) contains 870 structures. On 10 December 2011 (B), approximately 72% of structures have been removed. By 6 August 2012 (C), all original structures have been removed. Images DigitalGlobe | Analysis AAAS.
Kenya Ports Authority

Kenya Ports Authority is another densely populated slum covering 1,036,365 m2 at the southern edge of Nairobi. In the 6 October 2011 image, clouds obscured 38,625 m2 of the slum. Outside of the obscured area, 2,685 individual structures were present. Assuming that the density of structures inside the area covered by clouds was similar to that in the uncovered area, the total number of structures present on 6 October 2011 is estimated as 2,789. By 10 December 2011, only 67 structures were present in Kenya Ports Authority. All structures had been removed by 6 August 2012 (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Structures removed in Kenya Ports Authority
On 6 October 2011 (A), Kenya Ports Authority (red line) contains 2,789 structures. On 10 December 2011 (B), only 67 structures remain. By 6 August 2012 (C), all original structures have been removed. Images DigitalGlobe | Analysis AAAS.

Conclusion

Imagery acquired and analyzed by AAAS confirmed reports of forced removals at the Mitumba, Syokimau, and Kenya Ports Authority locations but forced relocations at the Embakasi and Kyong’ombe Embakasi locations could not be confirmed. At these two locations, AIUSA reported that structures were cleared on 29 June 2011, one day before the first available image of the area.

Table 4: Estimated number of structures removed in each forced relocation event
Forced Relocation Event Date Location Structures Removed
29 October 2011 Kenya Ports Authority 2,618*
12 November 2011 Syokimau 411
19 November 2011 Mitumba 626*
26 March 2012 Mitumba 244*
2 April 2012 Kenya Ports Authority 67
*Estimated totals due to partial cloud cover

At the Syokimau, Mitumba, and Kenya Ports Authority locations, analysis revealed the removal of hundreds of structures (Table 4). In the northern area of the Syokimau neighborhood, a cluster of 411 structures was removed between 30 June 2011 and 4 September 2012. Two slums, Mitumba and Kenya Ports Authority, were completely cleared in two stages. Initial removals occurred between 6 October 2011 and 10 December 2011 with both areas entirely cleared by 6 August 2012. In total, approximately 3,966 structures were removed.