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Zimbabwe Quantifying destruction – satellite images of forced evictions

30th September 2006, 17:05:15 UTC

Between May and July 2005 some 700,000 people in Zimbabwe lost their homes, their
livelihoods or both as a direct consequence of the government’s Operation Murambatsvina1, a
programme of mass forced evictions and demolitions of homes and informal businesses. In
some areas entire settlements were razed to the ground. While the demolitions took place
right across the country, the majority of the destruction occurred in high density urban areas
in Harare, Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kariba and Victoria Falls. In these areas tens of
thousands of poor families lived in what are known as backyard cottages or extensions – these
were small, often brick, structures built on residential plots around the main house, sometimes
attached to the main house, and sometimes a little way separate from it. They varied in size
from one to several rooms. In urban areas these backyard structures were the only source of
accommodation for poor people, who could not afford to buy a plot of land and build their
own home. The government and local authorities in Zimbabwe provide almost no cheap rental

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