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The Kasima Case

Kasima community of Mongu District who were forcibly evicted from their lands and houses by state and municipal security forces.

Some of the affected community members started occupying land in Kasima, Mongu District in 2018, others in 2019 and 2020. Their customary tenure was confirmed by the issuance of land ownership certificates by Chief Libumbu on behalf of the local traditional authority, the Barotse Royal Establishment, in 2018 - 2021. 

In 2016, the African Development Bank (AfDB) granted funding for a project to improve water supply and sanitation to rural communities in western Zambia. In 2020, the Mongu Municipal Council allocated land to the Western Water and Sewerage Company (WWSC) to drill commercial water boreholes and build water infrastructure for the project. 

From October 2022, the WWSC commenced sinking boreholes and putting up infrastructure on the community’s land. They fenced off the land, restricting access to facilities such as water, and educational facilities. The construction of toilets or installation of boreholes by members of the community was prohibited. Community members were also denied access to their agricultural plots, preventing them from cultivating crops, affecting their livelihoods and access to food. 

Initial consultations were held between the community and the WWSC regarding potential compensation and grants of alternative land. However, armed police officers were present at these consultations, and community members were intimidated and threatened with being beaten and arrested. One community leader reported being hit on the back by state police. Two community leaders reported hiding in the bush for several weeks in fear of further reprisals. Contrary to initial indications and official statements, no offers of compensation were made. 

On 24 January 2023, the affected households were given 14 days’ notice, through a media statement, to vacate their land and dwellings. On 10 and 14 February 2023, officials from Mongu Municipal Council, in the presence of armed uniformed police officers, again ordered the community to vacate. On 21 February 2023, 106 individuals were forcibly evicted from Kasima by armed state police, in the company of Mongu Municipal Council police. They were fired upon with teargas, beaten, and their homes and property were destroyed.

The displaced persons were not provided with alternative land, housing, or any compensation for their houses or land. Many are sleeping in the open, in the rainy season, or have had to find temporary alternative accommodation, including pregnant women, children, the elderly, and disabled persons. Some have returned to their partially demolished homes but remain in fear of further reprisals and eviction.

FIAN Zambia defended the community by holding government accountable, engaging the UN human rights mechanism, the ACHPR and finally the Zambian Judiciary. Outcomes of the case were in favor of the community who have been compensated for their land and dwellings.

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