Friday, May 25, 2012

Sharing the wealth

“At this rate, we may have to rely on relief food. There’s virtually nothing to harvest. All my maize crop is now only fodder for my livestock,” Jared Mwakina says, wiping sweat from his temple.

Mwakina’s woes are shared by hundreds of other villagers.

 “Sometimes when we get enough rains to sustain our crops, elephants from the neighbouring Tsavo West National Park move into our farms and destroy all our crops. It’s a vicious cycle of poverty and suffering,”
says Daftone Mwang’ombe, another resident.

To add to the locals’ misery, the roads are in a pathetic state. Water shortage is the order of the day. Women and children suffer endlessly searching for the precious commodity, which they ferry home on their heads and also using donkeys. But these beasts of burden in Kishushe hardly get a chance to browse or even bray as they are gagged tight most of the time,  to stop them from feeding on the little crops left in the farms.

Yet this is a rich community, blessed with vast resources including huge iron ore and copper deposits. The village holds one of the largest deposits of iron ore and copper in the country. The iron ore in Kishushe is called magnetite type, which is the best ore for industrial use. The whole iron ore deposit is estimated to be worth more than Sh1 trillion. Wanjala Mining Company, which is extracting the iron ore is projected to mine and export more than 100m tonnes of the ore this year estimated to be worth more than Sh20 billion. Most residents accusing the mining firm of short-changing them.

 According to an agreement, Wanjala Mining Company had undertaken to construct four rooms at Kishushe Dispensary, equip the labs, pipe water to Kishushe from Kishenyi Dam in Werugha location, pay Sh70 per tonne of iron ore extracted to KDTF as well as upgrading of local roads to a modern standard.

“Most of our youths were rendered jobless after the mining company mechanised most of their mining activities. At this rate, the idle youths may be forced to go into unlawful acts such as poaching for bush meat to earn a living,”
says Julius Mwasaru. There is abundant wildlife resources that are a major tourist attraction.

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