InformAction

InformAction

On July 8, the IFA Central Team returned to Kerugoya in Kirinyaga County to show the film ‘ Bridging the Gap https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfRIf2Km2Pc&t=1s’.

The film was about a women group in Murang’a County, who had invested in a simple community-owned banana value addition plant where banana jam, crisps, porridge flour and ugali flour are processed. 

This impressed the Bethsaida Women Group in Kerugoya, who felt inspired by their peers in Murang’a County. They felt challenged.

The women said they want their banana farming improved.

They wanted value addition to their produce, with each family having at least 50 banana trees.

Banana farming, they said, is their mainstay, since their husbands were so much into coffee and horticultural farming.

With the help of IFA, the Bethsaida Women Group said it will put pressure on the Kirinyaga county government to get a share of the value addition kitty for them to put up a banana drying place.

The group said as women, they needed to get some additional income generating activity that will empower them financially and socially.

Time has come, they said, to also put pressure on the political leadership to honour the pledges they had made to them during the election campaigns.

Some of the MCAs, like Njukiini ward’s Fredreick Bundi, who is now the Kirinaga County Assembly trade committee chair, had pledged to help the women push for a value addition plant.

A Community Action Team of women was formed and, through their own initiative, decided to push for value addition of farm produce as was highlighted during the debate.

They organized themselves and contributed money to train on banana value addition.

IFA helped them identify a trainer from the Murang’a Farmers Cooperative Society.

The women, through the CAT, will be doing advocacy so that the county assembly legislate on value addition of farm produce, which women spend more than 90 percent of their time and energy working on.

They women will also push for gender sensitive legislation to make women easily access funds that can help them engage in income generating ventures.

The women said this way; the girl child will benefit and reduce dependency on third parties like their fathers and brothers, for sanitary towels.

Four countries, including Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland, support the banana value addition venture.

From the banana fruit, the women learned, other products that can come out of the banana tree include nutritious flour for porridge/ugali and chapati when fortified, crisps, jam, among others.

They also learned that bananas could be dried and kept for over a year for food security.

 

Story By IFA Central Team

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On 27th August 2021, the Environmental and Land Court of Kisumu ruled that the Kenya Railways Corporation and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government were guilty of gross human rights violations in the forced evictions of 3,000 Kibos residents.

On 5th February 2021, at 10.30 pm, more than 3,000 people from the Nubian community were left homeless after they were violently evicted from their homes in Kibos, Kisumu County.

Kenya Railways Corporation claimed they had invaded their land.

Heavily armed police officers kept watch as the bulldozers flattened the houses.

“We arrived home at around 10 pm. Shortly afterward, we heard screams and we came out to find out what it was,” said Saumu Abdalla, a resident.

She saw roaring bulldozers being guarded by police. As she went back into the house to warn people, the lights went off. The electricity had been cut.

“I rushed inside to try and get the elderly and the children out. I knew they were about to demolish our houses,” said Abdalla.

Shortly after teargas canisters were hurled in the houses, making it impossible to stay inside the houses.

It was raining at that time, the ground muddy, nowhere to go.

Fatuma Hamisi, another resident said the small children had a hard time.

“There was a three-week-old baby who was hit by one of the tear gas canisters. He was severely injured,” said Hamisi.

Saidah Abdalla, also a resident, said the government was unfair to them.

“Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o should have come here and protected us. He should have talked to us and allowed us to remove our property if they wanted us out,” said Saidah.

The residents, distraught, desperate and disillusioned, had nowhere to go and no place to call home anymore.

“We are surprised we only got a short notice yesterday and it was a verbal notice from the DC that we should vacate,” said Abdulrahman Mohammed, one of the community leaders.

Following the verbal notice, the DC waited for Kenya Railways Corporation officers and the county commissioner to arrive before marking several houses with red paint.

Mohammed said property worth more than S15 million was destroyed.

“Look at this house here. We have spent over Sh2.5 million building this place,” said Mohammed pointing to a hound of rubble that was once a business premise.

Hadija Rajab, an elderly, said she could not salvage anything from the house.

“I only came out with these clothes that I’m wearing,” she said. “I don’t know where or how to start.”

“I ask our President, are we Kenyans or not? Does he know there are Kenyans in this part of the country who are being evicted from a place they called home for decades?” posed Rajab.

Ahmed Juma, an elderly person, who lost the use of his legs, said he would rather God took him away from this earth.

“I don’t have legs. I use people’s hands to move around. Now the people have had their houses demolished. Will they help me or help themselves? Who will help me?” said Juma.

The total number of those affected was 3,500, out of which 1,500 were children and another 1,000 were women.

“The other 1,000 are elderly people and youth,” Saumu said.

She said the most shocking thing is they even demolished the mosque used by the Nubian community, whose forefathers, they claimed, were buried on the land.

The Nubians are a minority and discriminated community in Kenya and have been struggling with land ownership for decades.

Siama Hamisi, an elderly woman, said they were the first to settle in Kibos, when the area was only a bush.

“I was born in Kisumu. We came here with my uncles, father and grandmother. It was only a forest here. There was nothing. Only the birds were singing

According to Saumu, the Nubian community was brought by the British government and deserves recognition.

She said the Kata Commission, the African Commission and several other commissioned from to address land issues recognized the community.

“Why are they doing this to us? Is it because we are a minority? The constitution gives us a right and we must defend that right,” Saumu said.

The community members slept in tents with no doors.

On February 11, led by Saumu, and with support from InformAction, and a few other community leaders, community members filed a case in court after which they marched to Governor Nyong’o’s office in protest.

They went to the Land Court to reclaim the land they had occupied for more than 80 years and seek compensation for their destroyed property and lost livelihoods.

After a relatively short court battle, Judge Anthony Ombwayo on August 27 said by demolishing their houses, hospitals and mosques, the KRC and Interior Ministry Cabinet Secretary denied the petitioners their socio-economic and cultural rights.

He said the state has a duty to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the petitioner’s enjoyment of their socio-economic rights.

He said there was a court order stopping the eviction thus it was illegal to evict the petitioners.

He averred that the KRC and the Interior Ministry cabinet secretary never followed due procedure in evicting the petitioners.

He said the eviction of the petitioners without providing them with an alternative place to stay is illegal.

Ombwayo ruled that the petitioners be compensated and given an alternative place to stay.

However, he advised that the petitioners separately file for compensation.

 

Story by IFA Western Team

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Heavy floods in 2018 saw a bridge connecting Tetu and Nyeri Town sub-counties swept away cutting direct communication between residents of the two constituencies.

Three years later, only a makeshift wooden bridge stands in place of the bridge at River Kagumo.

Only the brave can use it. It is dangerous. It squeaks and sways when people use it.

Many residents of Muruguru, Mung’aria and Gichira areas in Nyeri have protested demanding the construction of a new proper bridge.

But the county government of Nyeri has been slow to act, only sending officers to assess the situation after demonstrations led by InformAction in February.

InformAction’s Samuel Wandimi wants Governor Mutahi Kahiga to use a fraction of money set aside for emergencies to build a temporary bridge as they wait for a permanent one to be constructed.

“A makeshift bridge would have been his effortless undertaking before we know whose mandate to construct the real bridge is,” he said.

The bridge has over the years been a key factor in the economy of Nyeri County. Transport and movement of goods and services were made easier by the bridge.

Now, those not brave enough to risk their lives to use the makeshift bridge constructed by residents have to use a longer alternative route to transport goods and services, including farm produce, to the market.

InformAction organized another demonstration in July, where residents threatened to storm Governor Kahiga’s office if he failed to act fast.

“We were expressing our emotional feelings because we no longer transact business or socialise like we used to,” said Wandimi.

 

The county government, again, sent a team to assess the situation after the demonstration. 

Residents want county and national governments to rebuild the bridge as soon as possible.

Zachary Waruru from Gichira said they had informed their leaders of their suffering but no action has been forthcoming.

Karanja Wahome from Gichira said it has been very difficult to transport farm harvests to the market, especially coffee to factories.

“People have fallen into this river while trying to cross over using that makeshift footbridge, with some sustaining injuries,” Wahome said.

Schoolchildren have to use long alternative routes, forcing them to either wake up earlier than usual or risk getting to school late.

Gatitu-Muruguru MCA Muturi Muthee said the bridge is supposed to be done by Kenya Rural Roads Authority.

But the residents say they do not care whether the national or county government will do the bridge.

Story by IFA Central Team

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Francis Kirimi was still sleeping on the morning of 22nd August 2021, when he heard movements outside.

It was around 3 am and a bulldozer, escorted by police, was offloaded from a truck outside his gate.

Kirimi says when he went out to check what was happening he saw a contingent of police officers.

“One lady officer told me there was someone hiding near the gate. They came for me and as they escorted me to their Landcruiser, I shouted for help, waking up the neighbours,” said the father of three.

The contingent of about 60 police officers, who had arrived in a lorry and two Landcruisers, were also accompanied by a bulldozer and had come to evict the locals.

No prior notice had been issued.

Kirimi, a plumber, says he was not part of the six neighbours who had a case at the Isiolo law courts regarding ownership of the land being disputed between the six neighbours and a developer.

In 2019, the same developer came with the police and demolished his house and later apologized saying he was not the target.

Gripped by fear on August 22, the residents started screaming while fleeing for safety as others hurled stones towards the police officers.

This forced the police to shoot in the air and lob tear gas canisters in order to disperse the violent crowd that demanded an explanation for the demolitions.

Tired of frequent demolition and evictions in Mwangaza, the angry locals barricaded roads and burnt the bulldozer and truck.

Police shot at them injuring three of them on the stomachs and legs.

Mwangaza village neighbours Meru County and the Isiolo International Airport. It has been a hot cake for private developers.

Many landowners have lost their lives and properties in the area with the County government doing little to help them despite numerous pleas to issue them with land documents.

Ann Wambui said she thought the police officers were thugs when she heard doors being broken.

She rushed out to check when she met with the bulldozer starting to bring down her house.

Her late mother, who was the owner of the land, is among the respondents in the court case.

Six victims are in court with a tycoon whom they claim they have never seen in court. His lawyer always represents him.

Wambui’s mother’s grave was destroyed during the demolition.

It pained her to see four of her neighbours’ houses brought down yet they were not part of their court case.

In 2019, when the court ordered the six respondents to vacate the piece of the land, they went to court and a stay order was issued, which they say is still in place because the plaintiff had not objected to it.

Several questions abound. Why did the police have to shoot at the demonstrators injuring three of them? Why did they have to evict the respondents without issuing an eviction notice? Did the eviction have to take place at 3 am when people were sleeping? Will the four affected neighbours who were not part of the case in court get justice?

InformAction Isiolo Team notified the Independent Police Oversight Authority of the shooting and investigations into the matter have started.

Evictions should only be carried out when appropriate procedural protections are in place, in accordance with the law.

Story by IFA Isiolo Team

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