Villagers living on Lari wetland fear eviction

In Summary

• Entire Kariaini village in Lari constituency built on a wetland.

• Warma says no one will be forcibly evicted; those living near waterways may be affected.

Kiambu region Warma manager James Nyangweso addresses Kariaini residents in Lari constituency.
NATURAL RESOURCES: Kiambu region Warma manager James Nyangweso addresses Kariaini residents in Lari constituency.

Residents of a Lari village built on a wetland fear they might be forced out in the government's drive to conserve riparian land.

The government says Kariaini village in Lari constituency was a swampy area, and is one of the sources of water for Ruiru dam in Githunguri.

The Water Resource Management said on Wednesday it has started carrying out research in order to protect wetlands.

In a meeting with residents at Uplands chiefs office, Warma said residents will not be forcibly evicted.

Kiambu region Warma manager James Nyangweso said they want to carry out research to establish how many people occupy wetlands, the effect and the impact if conserved.

"We shall write our report and forward it to our headquarters for more advice. I assure you that no one will be forcibly evicted," he said.

But Nyangweso said in their report, those who will be too close to waterways will be affected. "As of now, we can't say who will be affected and who will not. The research will guide us," he said.

Residents accused the government of planning to evict them. They said they bought the land in clean deals in division land boards.

George Wamutonya said he bought a quarter an acre in 1992 and has been living there ever since.

"When I came to Uplands Bacon Factory, I used to work a casual. I would save money and ended up buying the land where I live. I can't just be evicted like I encroached on someone's property," he said.

Salome Wanjiku asked the government to compensate them for the cost of buying land, building houses and their income-generating activities.

"We cannot sit back and watch as we are evicted. Why can't the government compensate us?" she said.

Area assistant county commissioner Geraldine Barasa told the residents the government has to have enough information regarding the swamp, residents' investments and the impact of its occupation.

"We ask you to remain calm since the government found it important to invite you to this important meeting to let you know that Warma will come to your village to conduct research. You should not get worried," she said.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya