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The Domestication of the Right to Housing

Video Summary

This session will discuss the importance of the domestication of housing rights, what that means, and to what extent that influences the strategies of civil society in claiming that right to be realized. 


After an introduction, we will zoom into two counties and discuss with housing rights activists/NGOs in India and South Africa.

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Dr Maartje van Eerd 

Assistant Professor

Department of Socio-Spatial Development

IHS - Erasmus University

Maartje van Eerd is a Human Geographer by profession with extensive experience as a researcher, trainer, and advisor on housing and social development issues. Her PhD research focused on the governance aspects of resettlement in Chennai, India. Her main research interest and expertise is in housing rights, displacement and resettlement and livelihoods.


She currently coordinates a research project on interventions to improve access to (digital) information and livelihoods of poor resettled women and their families in Chennai, India. Besides conducting long term research on the impact of resettlement and incremental development, in collaboration with Anna University in Chennai she has produced a documentary on the gender impact of resettlement. She conducts training and advisory work and research, mostly in the Global South, particularly in South and Southeast Asia and Africa.

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Faith Ndhlovu

Community Development Officer

Chipata City Council


Faith Ndhlovu is a Community Development Officer at Chipata City Council, a municipality under the Ministry of Local Government and Housing in Zambia. Her position has enabled her to coordinate the planning and implementation of community-based programs to ensure the wellbeing of all people in the city of Chipata.


She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies with Sociology from the University of Zambia. She also holds a Master of Science in Urban Management and Development, with specialization in Urban Housing, Equity and Social Justice, from the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands. Her Masters thesis focussed on the effect of the extent of justiciability of the Right to Adequate Housing in two countries (Zambia and South Africa) on strategies of Civil Society Organizations operating in these countries.  This has further developed her interest in human rights, specifically, housing rights as human rights.


Edward Molopi

Research and Advocacy Officer

Socio-Economic Rights Institute

South Africa

Edward Molopi is a Research and Advocacy officer at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa. He holds a BA Honours degree in Politics and a Masters degree in Urban Studies, both from the University of the Witwatersrand. His Master’s research was based on eviction struggles in the context of the housing demolitions that took place in Lenasia South in 2012.

Prior to joining SERI in January 2015, Edward worked as a researcher with the Babhuti Research Institute from May to November 2014, where he conducted research on various housing-related issues. He has also worked on a number of community participation and urban change projects.

Edward's research interests lie broadly within the fields of housing and urban politics.

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Vanessa Peter


 Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC)

Chennai, India

Vanessa Peter is the founder of Information and Resource Centre for the Deprived Urban Communities (IRCDUC). She has 17 years of experience in the development sector. Vanessa has worked towards ensuring access to land and adequate housing for the vulnerable sections. 


Having been associated with the office of the Advisor to the Supreme Court, Vanessa was monitoring the implementation of 'Shelter for the Urban Homeless' programme. As a result of her lobbying and advocacy, there are nearly 150 shelters across all the Corporations and major Municipalities across Tamil Nadu. She was also instrumental in the designing and implementation of 'Shelter for Urban Homeless' for the Greater Chennai Corporation. Presently, she is a member of the Shelter Advisory Committee to monitor the programme. 


Vanessa is also the member of the Supreme Court appointed state-level committee to monitor the functioning of the Shelter for urban homeless in Tamil Nadu.


Through her policy research and social audits, Vanessa has brought several pro-poor policie changes in Tamil Nadu. In 2011, Vanessa started the 'Information and Resource Centre for Deprived Urban Communities' - a community centric information hub that seeks to address the disconnect between the people, the policy and the policy makers. Vanessa continues to be a policy researcher and a social activist since 2005.

Additional Information

  • Donaghy, M. M. (2018). Democratizing Urban Development: Community Organizations for Housing across the United States and Brazil. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

  • Williams, L. A. (2014). The Right to Housing in South Africa: An Evolving Jurisprudence. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 816-845.

  • Adjudicating the Human Right to Adequate Housing: Analysis of Important Judgments from Indian High Courts, Housing and Land Rights Network, New Delhi, 2019. From: {accesses 28 April 2022]

  • SERI, Evictions and Alternative Accommodation in South Africa 2000-2016, (2016). Available here:





  • Eide, A. Adequate standard of living, pp. 233-256. In: Moeckli, D., Shah, S., & Sivakumaran, S., (eds). International human rights law. Oxford University Press.

  • UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Fact Sheet No. 21, The Human Right to Adequate Housing, November 2009, Fact Sheet No. 21/Rev.1, available at: [accessed 28 April 2022]

  • UN-HABITAT. (2002). Housing rights legislation: Review of international and national legal instruments. United Nations Housing Rights Programme, Report No. 1. Series of publications in support of the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure No. 05. Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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