Pain of villagers whose land has ‘moved’ to TZ

Residents of Kuria West lost more than three quarters of their farms to demarcation of Kenya-Tanzania border

Kenna Claude

Chacha Marwa has lived off his land all his life and at 67, he has no plans to move anywhere else. But the land has moved.

Yes. Three quarters of what used to be his land has moved to the Tanzanian territory following a recent demarcation of the Kenyan-Tanzanian border.

Marwa is one of the many residents of Nyankororo village, Kuria West, Migori county who have been affected by the demarcation.

According Marwa, the land was an inheritance from his father who in turn inherited it from his father.

The land has been his only source of food and income for his large family. But more than half of it is no more after the border survey indicated that three quarters of it was in the Tanzanian territory. 

Migori County Commissioner Joseph Rotich is on record saying Kenyans had encroached as deep as eight kilometres into Tanzania.

The two governments decided to demarcate the border to end the perennial disputes arising from fishing territories in Lake Victoria, grazing rights and farming.

But the survey has left some farmers with as little as a quarter of an acre, down from 10 acres. It is into these tiny patches that they have to squeeze their livestock, crops and homes.

Marwa says while he used to struggle to feed ten mouths with the 10 to 15 bags of maize that he used to harvest annually, he can’t imagine how life will now be that only a quarter of the land is remaining. 

According to the director of Kenya International Boundaries Julius Rotich the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments are surveying 769 kilometres of the border from Muhuru Bay, Lake Victoria Migori county to Lunga Lunga, Indian Ocean in Kwale county.

“We are retracing the colonial pillars and erecting new ones 100 meters apart,” Rotich told People Daily on phone.

On whether farmers who have lost part or all of their land will be compensated, he was non-committal, only saying they will forward their report to the Attorney General who will determine the next course of action.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are scheduled to tour Migori today, the agenda being to address some of the border issues that have placed Kenyans at the border at loggerheads with the Tanzanian authorities.

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