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The farms of Dadaab – Daily Nation

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By NG’ANG’A MBUGUA
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When the heavens open in Garissa County, it does not just rain, it pours. And when this happens, large volumes of water collect at the lowest point near the Dadaab Refugee Camp, forming a large pool.

Once the rains are gone and the sun returns with a vengeance, the water in the pool begins to recede. But because the soil retains some of the moisture, farmers from the camp start planting on the moist soil.

‘This practice is called flood recession agriculture,’ said Aurthur Mutambikwa, the Livelihoods Officer in the Dadaab sub-office of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ms Fatuma Ibrahim is one of the refugees who has been practising flood recession agriculture on a small-scale. When she was an urban dweller in Mogadishu, she knew little or nothing about farming.

Now, however, she is a member of a small and informal farming community calling itself the Shamba Group. This group brings together both refugees and members from the host community in the area surrounding the camp.

Together, they grow tomatoes, okra, water melons and pumpkins. ‘We get the tomato seeds from Somalia,’ said Suleiman Farah Abdi, a Kenyan, who is also the leader of the group. He also grows watermelons on a separate patch.

The farmers have divided themselves into six sub-groups, each trying out something different although most of them grow tomatoes.

Others, like Abdi Mohammed have started experimenting with pawpaws and lemons, but this experiment is still in its early stages.

For tomatoes, it is easier for them to source for the seeds from Somalia since there is regular traffic between Dadaab and the Liboi border point, about 82 kilometres away.

The alternative would be Garissa town, which is a two-hour drive from Dadaab. Another farmer, Hawa Aden partners with her two colleagues, Nathifa Khalif and Jowaher Korane, to jointly grow tomatoes and pumpkins.

Originally from Mareri in Lower Juba, Ms Aden, who became a refugee at 53, has also been experimenting with growing pumpkins.

“Our main challenge is water,” Ms Aden told Seeds of Gold.

‘If you prepare the pumpkin in camel oil, you cannot share with your child even if he cries for it,’ said Abdi, praising the crop grown by his refugee counterpart.

When UNHCR learnt that water was the biggest challenge for the farmers, it sunk a borehole not too far from where the farmers grow their crops.

Officials in Dadaab and a security officer inspect crops in a field where the inhabitants of the vast camp grow their crops.

Officials in Dadaab and a security officer inspect crops in a field where the inhabitants of the vast camp grow their crops. Now, more families both inside and outside the refugee camp are buying food crops from the local farmers. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

This water is pumped to two tanks at the site and the farmers use it to irrigate their crops. However, this remains a short-term solution because borehole water is both saline and expensive because the system has to be maintained.

‘The long-term solution is to harvest water,’ said Mutambikwa. ‘If we solve the water problem for the farmers, they can increase production.’ Ms Ibrahim agrees with this assessment.

‘With water we can do more,’ she said.Although the refugees have been engaging in small-scale agriculture for a long time, it was not until August that the UNHCR started supporting them. The agency identified farmers who already had their own implements.

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The aim was simple: To help them expand opportunities to improve their livelihoods through training in agriculture and business.

‘UNHCR also links farmers with government departments which offer extension services,’ said Mutambikwa. Although the farmers do not grow enough tomatoes to meet the demand of the local community, the amounts that Dadaab traders used to order from Garissa has decreased over time.

Now, more families both inside and outside the refugee camp are buying from the local farmers. If the county government were to allow the groups to till larger spaces than they are currently, productivity is likely to increase further.

Besides water, pests remain one of the other major challenges for the nascent group. When the Seeds of Gold team visited one of their farms, measuring about two to three acres, they found the farmers had widely spaced the tomato plants in the hope that this would reduce the spread of pests from one plant to the next.

The plants which were free of pests and disease were thriving, some carrying a sizeable number of the small but succulent fruit.

According to Mutambikwa, better inputs and seeds with higher yields and which are better suited for the area hold the key to improving productivity.

For the farmers, however, there is more to farming than getting high yields. First, there is little to do in the camps and for them, farming is a way to engage their time productively.

Habiba Farham waters vegetables at a demonstration farm within a health centre at Hagadera Refugee Camp.

Habiba Farham waters vegetables at a demonstration farm within a health centre at Hagadera Refugee Camp. Mothers here learn how to grow vegetables. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

It is also a way to diversify their diets since all of them rely on relief food.

This is true for Fatuma Ibrahim, who has lived as a refugee since 1992. She has been growing beans and onions purposely to supplement the diet for her family and rarely has a surplus.

Mutambikwa said the project has also improved co-existence by reducing conflict between the refugees and the host community.

He expects that in coming months, more members from both sides will join the informal farming groups, and this will further boost household incomes.

‘Farming is also a legitimate business,’ said Abdi, who also acknowledged that besides learning crop husbandry from the refugees, they have also learnt about entrepreneurship.

Traditionally, the people of Garissa are pastoralists. It is common to find hundreds of goats grazing by the roadside.

In turn, the hosts have taught the refugees to keep goats. Every morning a herder moves from one homestead to the other picking the goats and taking them to the grazing fields.

For payment, he gets a ration of the relief food that each family gets from donor agencies. Every market day, the goat owners congregate at the Hagadera market where they sell their livestock.

Some also sell camels, with medium-sized ones going for Sh50,000 and bigger ones costing as much as Sh80,000.

According to Mr Mutambikwa, more support from donors is needed to increase agricultural production and livelihood opportunities for both refugees and the host community.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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