Archive for November, 2017

The growing enclosures of ‘gentrified ghettos’ on the Isle of Dogs

November 30, 2017

Island Point

There has been a growing trend of developments printworks, calders wharf , Island Point here on Isle of Dogs ( my own locality); which share similar features in as much as their profile and reach to their potential residents and their indifference to the housing needs of commoners.

Render of people in the new development

Controversy has emerged around 2 themes; the affordability of the accommodation- as defined by it’s inclusiveness, that of the on site facilities- such as ‘Free Schools’ and ‘Health & community centres, Crech’ and the massive demand on infrastructure capacity… The PR of these developments suggests the kind of convivial living aspired to by commons- in harmony with natural surroundings, an eclectic mix of services tailorable to almost universal  needs.. What has been obscured is the exclusion and driving out of the peasantry (lower working class and underclasses). What litmus test has defined ‘affordable rent’ (20% of the accommodation) other than local market averages? The newspaper tycoon Richard Desmond, presides  over the next regeneration of Docklands residents, dubbed ‘Hong Kong in east London‘ Let us take a snapshot of  each development; the former printworks site is where the tycoons newspaper industry was since 80’s. In a recent council meeting last week which descended into chaos regarding concerns that the free School on the compound mirroring the exclusion that another recent free School on the Isle precipertated.

In the Calders Wharf case, the enclosure is more around disputed land – that it shouldn’t have been approved and it’s encroaching onto Island Gardens- the public Greenfield park. Friends of Island Gardens

Then Island Point Development is also about right to light so the encroaching on neighbourhood space compromising quality of life, where Tower Hamlets Council is effectively buying off dissent by means of minimal compensation (use of Section 237); re commodifying another aspect of Housing need..

These few cases need to be set in the context of much larger scale developments on the Isle of Dogs…but at least a small bastion hope; that organised voices of protest can achieve such as preventing the ASDA Crossharbour supermarket site.

We can see in these 3 cases the issues are an onion of layers during the lifespan of developing a site; typical of housing issues enclosing and driving out the poor across London.



Land Grabbing

November 28, 2017

Land Grabbing
A survey done in Uganda shows that 29% out of 204 widows lose the land that used to belong to their late husbands. This makes them more susceptible to land gab more than widowers Gilbom et al.,2000). This gives us an impression that land grabbing affect the poor and women disproportionally which has a negative impact on equality. This study was done in two districts, thus Luwero and Tororo.

Pollution in the Bomeh Commons

November 27, 2017

Countries strengths are measured by how they are governed, economic and social but beside this, environmental change is needed in Freetown for future development, by educating and leading Sierra Leoneans to more value with the environment. Whilst government should be protecting and preserving the Bomeh environment, the biggest environmental problems are air and water pollution. Although people already know how harmful it is to live there, they are left with minimal choices. This area is where cholera and other diseases always start from because of living conditions


What will happen to a country that has experienced a lot of recent disasters, in the 21st century, the world has changed in many ways. Some changes have improved the quality of life and health for many people. Others have affected people health and causing different kind of pollution that is harming the environment. Politicians will actually come to these places to campaign; when they are elected they will neglect such communities in the city of Freetown.


The government should create public awareness. Educating them on how detrimental their environment is, Good management from the government have to be done; make some stringent measures on how to manage all the waste without harming the environment. The government has to implement a successful plan on how to manage the rubbish; Regulations to protect the environment and introduce tougher punishments, Furthermore, these people should understand the implications of living in such environment.




“Microbes” in Abidjan: Social disruption of a new generation of gangs- Security as a key element of the commons

November 27, 2017

microbesWho are they? Where are they from? Younger and violent, their members are at the origin of recurring barbaric attacks that have left several dead and wounded in the economic capital of Abidjan since the end of the 2011 post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. They occupied the socio-political news columns of the country. They are called metaphorically “Microbes”.

White weapons in hand, always ready to shed human blood, these young murderers who often dress up as beggars are spreading across Abidjan

The phenomenon is about to reach the other big cities of Ivory Coast. The ” Microbes “have been illustrated themselves in a very bad way in different neighborhoods and borough of Abidjan. By killing with stabbing their victims very often in the middle of the day. They engage in criminal activities of varying nature and intensity. Aged 9 to 15 years, these young murderers are danger for safety and people security.

People lives are threatened, dead and mutilated are countless, businesses and economic activity of some victims are stricken, neighborhoods and the country in global become unsecured.

Face to the Ivorian incapacity to deal with the “Microbes” gang multiple solutions have been envisaged. The population have taken some steps such as the creation of self-defense committees in the neighborhoods,. They have decided to take their destiny in hand, to protect themselves and ensure their own safety.

The police has carried out massive arrests of the “microbes” and also some raids in  smokehouses without any real impact since theses spaces are rebuilding so quickly. Despite the police actions to dissuade other children to behave in this way, nothing still helps, because like the phoenix, they continue rising from their ashes.

The power of “us”, the common perspective for future generation well-being.

November 27, 2017


The Macerie – Rebels Barracks is born at Molfetta, Puglia as a self-managed collective solution to stray dogs phenomenon. This is a very common problem that the local administration whether for poor founding or corruption they never try to solve.

Over the last 13 years, they create and improve a self-managed social space, subtracting it from the abandoned state and making it as a communal shelter for thirty dogs. Today the centre is also a community space for art, music, cultural event and active politic ideas.

The space they occupied is open to everyone and everybody recognized this space as communal area where discuss how to build another economy based on local people needs and environment respect.Their active do politic is not based on any political party logic but they’re doing politic based on people needs and free will.

In the Globalized world, we live in, society and people have been expropriated of rights as a mean of participation and this aspect decrease emancipation and ability on building projects for their own political and social success.  Local governments on the other side are always more global market-oriented on their blind vision of development most of the time brought contradictory and scarce results for local people necessities.

In the last 5 years  the community social center “Le Macerie” have taken part in a national campaign named “Genuino Clandestino“, a national movement network that fight social and economic injustices on food production and lands and  gives people voice to reclaim their own food sovereignty as alternative way to the industrial capitalist vision of food security.

Genuino Clandestino is a member’s network of collective such us: peasants, teachers, farmers, lawyers, students, voluntary organization and local traders that together promote a self-managed food economy based on solidarity principals of sharing food, prices and land resources. They don’t follow the traditional patch of capital production where food is considered a commodity more than a necessity.

They run around different cities and towns “Clandestino Markets” where there is a direct connection between the producers (peasant and farmers) and consumers. People can buy food made with genuine ingredients and also artisanal products made on 0 KM. The singularity of these markets is that producer and consumers with assemblies decide a communal price (price co-maker). They also advocate and practice the re-appropriation and collectivization of land for autonomous communities and discuss with seminar and activities about agro-ecology and the importance of self-sustainable way of producing food as an alternative to the agro-industrial reality of global food industry.

Genuino clandestino is part of a bigger global reality called “La Via Campesinas” that over the last 2 decades is fighting against free trade and global market dictatorship on food resources and land, denouncing inequality gender patriarchy in the agro global business and the no necessity of transnational companies to claim and decide the rising price of local products.

These forms of association in international global world (La via Campesinas) and national reality (Genuino Clandestino) will lead to a better common perspective for future generation and It will build a strong sustainable economic development where the main actors(people) finally separate themselves from the in-force concept of primitive accumulation, regaining community identity as first and main step for their own well-being.

Here some link to  past programme and activity of le Macerie in Molfetta (Italy):

Fiera delle autoproduzioni

The shifting enclosures surrounding orphanage (compounds) in Uganda

November 26, 2017

mpora sign

Since 2005 I have become increasingly familiar with a rural orphanage project in Western Uganda (Kicwamba) to which I was introduced to support by fundraising. They have developed from humble beginnings to a facility which caters for orphans education from primary to secondary and tertiary, vocational education. They are relatively self contained having renewable energy, outdoor sports and recreation, a farm, allotments, a fishery and irrigation facilities as well as tree planting. The corporate ‘model of excellence’ promoted be the neo-cons. They run an eco-tourism ‘homestay’ project for income generation which gives reciprocal benefits to the ‘off road backpacker’ community then feeding into the project. However more recently the villagers outside the ‘compound’ of the orphanage have found themselves excluded from the benefits of the -project inside their own midst.

mpora view

I have learnt this first hand from somebody I introduced to the project in 2010- who wanted to get involved in such an ‘ethical eco tourist project’ like this. He went back every year and linked this project with Hand in Hand International inputting his skills, contributing solar components, and solar electrical knowledge… In the process of distributing and proactively engaging in the wider village community- circulating his solar lanterns, kettles and mini charging facilities -as donations; he gave the ‘outside’ villagers an insight into what was happening ‘inside the compound’ of the orphanage. They realized that the facilities within the orphanage were sophisticated on a level that could precipitate opportunities their own children couldn’t access.

So the dichotomy between the ‘project’ and the sense of an inclusive ‘communal village’ has emerged in the way this has played out…which has opened a new divide, creating new enclosures between the commoners and the (common) ’beneficiaries’ How can this situation be sustainable in terms of building an ongoing ‘commonwealth’?



Development tragedy (IV) by Raf Balogun

November 26, 2017

Above is a community floating  primary school in Makoko built using local labour with financial support from UNDP.

Robert Nevwirth who lives and writes about informal settlements like makoko around the world said the government of Lagos State in Nigeria seems to approach city planning from an authoritarian point of view—- as if their desire for development transcends everything.

After the strong pushback by SERAC and community groups in Makoko in 2012 following the threatened eviction, an affiliate of SERAC, URBAN SPACES INNOVATION , began to work on a regeneration plan for Makoko.

It was designed to be a community- led, people-oriented, people-centred development model. This plan brought members of the community together with academics, nonprofits and international  consultants.

In January 2014, USI ( urban spaces innovation) submitted the plan to the Lagos State Ministry of Urban and Physical Planning. The plan achieved two main objectives. Firstly, it put the demolition and forced eviction on hold. Secondly, the plan was able to outline various strategies for redeveloping Makoko into a livable and sustainable community.

There are three possible options for Makoko’s future. Firstly, it could be completely demolished to make way for development (tragedy) that is turning nine square kilometres of Atlantic Ocean into what developers are touting as the “Manhattan of West Africa”, a residential and commercial mini-city called EKO ATLANTIC. Lagos of course is starved of land but has no shortage of property developers; were Makoko to be demolished, it will make way for apartment blocks and villas priced out of the reach of the commons.

Secondly, the government will stop obsessing with demolition and focus instead on providing infrastructure that citizens expect of their administrators such as hospitals, schools, electricity and allow Makoko to develop in its own way and its pace.

The third option fascinates this writer the most, it’s a middle road of sorts and has direct correlation to sustainability and the commons, that is , the implementation of the community led regeneration plan, a collaborative compromise between residents,civil society groups and government.

The building of a community floating primary school in Makoko could be a catalyst here; built with local labour and financial support from UNDP, it was nominated for the Design Museum’s design of the year award and has become Makoko’s most famous building. The model has been adopted by the Lagos State government as a model that will be used for developing houses on waterfront communities.

Residents of waterfront communities like Makoko engage in fishing and boatbuilding for sustainability, whatever the developers and government might think of it, Makoko is a real community built by families that live there. It is valuable to them and to the city as a whole.

Development tragedy (III) by Raf Balogun

November 25, 2017

The government of Lagos State sees Makoko as a perfect nightmare. A slum in full view , spread out beneath the most travelled bridge in West Africa’s largest city. For a city, keen to recreate itself as forward looking, Makoko is a dismal advertisement as far as developers and the government are concerned.

On the 12th of July 2012, four days after the Lagos State Ministry of waterfront infrastructure development issued a 72hour quit notice to residents, a band of machete wielding thugs laid siege to Makoko’s buildings.

Four days later according to SERAC ( a legal advocacy group for underprivileged Nigerian communities threatened with forced eviction) demolition workers set fire to targeted structures and deployed armed police who fired gunshots indiscriminately and killed one resident. In all, 300,000 people had been rendered homeless.

Referred to as the darling of urban theorists, Makoko has exceptional situation inventiveness. For example, through community efforts, clean drinking water criss-crosses the lagoon bed through pipes paid for and laid by enterprising residents to bring in clean potable water for a modest fee from boreholes in Sogunro , a neighbouring community.

The HENRY Böll foundation is one of the most active NGOs in Makoko. Presiding over various parts of the waterfront are the local chiefs known as Baales. One of the primary schools in

Makoko was built by one of the Baales’ brothers called Noah.

Land has become commodified and there are now winners (enclosures) who revel in the spotlight and despairing losers ( commons) who fight for mere survival.


Development tragedy (II) by Raf Balogun

November 25, 2017

Lagos: africa’s Fastest growing megacityThe picture above is that of the people of Makoko in Lagos State Nigeria. In my previous blog, I mentioned the threat of eviction by the government of Lagos State of these hapless community that exists and survives purely on resourcefulness and adaptation to life on water.

Granted that they do not have what’s referred to “certificate of occupancy or right of occupancy” documents, but they have simply harnessed their resourceful collectivity to develop a community that lives on free God given resources.

The government of Lagos State has not helped this community at all in providing basic infrastructure of contemporary existence and as a result, life expectancy is below 40 years.

There are, as a consequence, infrastructure problems as this is an unplanned settlement without urbanisation concepts. The intention of the government is suspect as all they are interested in is securing the land for grandiose developments to make way for mega ocean front homes for 250,000 rich residents. There ocean front shanty is therefore a valuable commodity which is 7 million square meters.

The elites clearly are the target market for the unfortunate displacement of a community which has been referred to as the “Venice of Africa “.

But this community is fighting back. They have convened and through their community leaders and self help groups been able to engage the services of an NGO through its legal practitioner. So much work is being done by this nongovernmental organisation called SERAC ( social economic rights action centre)

in ensuring that this community gets fair treatment. As mentioned before, they have secured an injunction against demolition and eviction and next blog (III) will look briefly at the progress made and current situation of things in Makoko waterfront settlement and the activities of SERAC.

Please watch the related video to this write up .

Egyptian People’s Committees During The Revolution

November 24, 2017

On the third day of the 25th of January Revolution in Egypt in 2011, the ousted president Hosni Mubarak tried to terrorize Egyptians mislead public international and national opinion about what was happening in his country by spreading anarchy. Official state media agencies, who always loyal for the president whatever the situation is, tried to image the demonstrators in Meydan Al-Tahrer and all around the country as an Islamic jihadists, gangs of thieves, foreign intelligence agents, and all bad images in life.

Another groups found in that situation, of instability and lawlessness, a fertile environment to exploits. Gangs of thieves began trying to rob the state offices, museums, do sexual harassment in streets and public transportation. The revolutionaries’  social media in turn accused the president Mubarak of being behind the spread of those deeds.

However, the reaction came from the people themselves. They quickly set up vigilante committees responsible for guarding state offices, public utilities, and museums. People began organizing themselves in their neighborhoods and spreading the idea on social media. Several attempts to rob the Egyptian National Museum and state offices were thwarted dawn by theses people’s committees who continued their work even after the victory of the revolution after 18 days, till the situation reorganized and resettled again.


A full Egyptian Revolution timeline here