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The farmers in Kasarani

Some of you may have read parts of the story about land grabbing of parts of the area around Kasarani Stadium. Here comes an updated version of the whole story.

 

What happened?

We don’t know for sure who has been behind the attempt to grab the area where the farmers has been given the legal rights to cultivate. About 40 families have started a CBO where part of the goal is to cultivate the area with one piece of land given to every farmer family with the right to grow and harvest. Last year someone tried to illegally move them away from the area which is located in the most upper part of Mathare Valley, by Masai herds with cows and by criminal youth gangs. Suddenly  last year more than 30 small structures were build all over the cultivated area. Some made of light structures with tin sheets and others by stones transported to the area by big trucks. Twice the Masai herds sent their cattle out on the fields and the cattle ate everything of the crop. They were notified to the Police who came and moved them away, but they managed to bribe the Police and run away from the area and without paying the compensation they owed to the farmers. So the Police did not give any real protection and gave no help to claim compensation for the farmers.  The farmers have been threatened and physically harassed in their work and have been chased away and have been persecuted several times.

 

Meeting with representatives of authorities.

The farmers were called for a meeting with representatives from the President’s office, The Minister of Sports, Local Authorities, the Leader of Kasarani Sports center and the Leader group of the Farmers. It was accepted that Kasarani Sports center should continue to  issue identity cards to the farmer members of the CBO; giving only the farmers right of admission to the area. After this meeting neither the criminal straw men, nor the Masai herds should have any access to the area. The Police were required to arrest people without any valid right of admission to the area. It has also happened.

 

Who could have been behind?

There are two factors that make Noracta wondering who may stay behind the attempt of the land grabbing.

At the meeting the representative from Sports Ministry claimed that the only way to prevent a continuing conflict of interest would be to deny all; farmers, Maasais and the criminal youth gangs to get into the areas. However the farmers meant that it would then only serve “the Land grabbers”. Then the leader of Sports reacted strongly. He stated that farmers already at that time were equipped with identification- and access cards to the area and that it was absolutely no question of going back on the agreement. It became clear that farmers, local authorities and Kasarani stadium have the same interest: to protect the soil and the environment in the hillside down to the river from erosion and depletion. Therefore, the farmers vowed to plant trees to create an ecological balance and harmony between the trees and garden plants in the area.

 

The other thing that makes us wonder is that straw men already at that time had begun to sell parts of plots to outside buyers. Those who falsely were tricked into buying land now demanded that farmers had two give away parcels the farmers had the legal right two cultivate. Several farmers were attacked by criminals, threatened and chased away. During this period it was dangerous and unsecure to cultivate the land.

 

Facebook page “Stop grabbing Kasarani Stadium»

Kasarani Sports Centre is an icon in Kenya. It was established by former President Daniel Arap Moi. We wonder if our face book page may have had some influence by simply telling of the injustice that was being perpetrated against a group of 40 peasant families in Mathare slum who kept losing their livelihoods. But not only the farmers; the area around Kasarani Stadium were in danger of being taken by land grabbers. Many have been visiting the page. Maybe also people high up in the bureaucracy? We hope it continues.

 

Police action in Kasarani

Shortly after the meeting with authorities last fall in Kasarani, the area was one morning swamped by over 200 police, lorries and bulldozers. Police action led to all structures that were illegally set up on the site was razed. All building materials were next night stolen by the same youth gangs that had set them up. Piles of building blocks are remaining. Police is now arresting intruders to the area who do not have authorized access sign. The farmers can now again cultivate the land in peace and last autumn they got the best crop of corn in living memory. Noracta by the support of the Plant a Tree built an irrigation pump and contributed with seedlings so that farmers got started. Now the plan is to have a solid hedge with strong spikes planted around the area to keep animals out.

 

The leaders are paying a high price.

The head of the group of farmers have repeatedly barely escaped pursuers. For some period one family had to escape their own apartment because of security risks. Those who have been responsible for the sales of plots and construction of structures have lost their illegal income and are of course affected, while the leaders of the project for a long time lost their freedom and have been exposed to serious threats. We hope the police will continue to closely monitor the Kasarani so that those who illegally persecuting others can be taken and stopped. Face book page Stop grabbing Kasarani Stadium, will continue to monitor and report on what happens.

One question remains: Have we seen the end of land grabbing around Kasarani Stadium?

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