Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kenya: Nyanza's forgotten IDPs

Photo: Kenneth Odiwour/IRIN
Karen Ayieko, 75, with her granchildren at Mtwala in Muhoroni, where dozens of IDP families have settled, with the help of a church-based organisation

IRIN - Thousands of Kenyans displaced to Nyanza province during post-election violence in 2008 have yet to receive full payouts under a government compensation scheme, say officials.

"We estimate that more than 18,000 households were displaced to Nyanza. Most were evacuated from Naivasha, Nakuru, and Molo,” Keffah Magenyi, the national coordinator of the IDP Network, an NGO, told IRIN, referring to areas in the Rift Valley that witnessed some of the worst violence after a disputed December 2007 presidential poll.

According to the government’s Ministry of Special Programmes, there are almost 25,000 households of internally displaced people (IDPs) in Nyanza province.

Unlike IDPs in Rift Valley and Central provinces, thousands of whom are still in camps and transit sites, many of those who went to Nyanza either rented houses in urban areas or sought refuge with relatives.

"Some of the IDPs, mostly those in South Nyanza and some in Kisumu and Muhoroni areas, have received KSh10,000 [US$120] from the government. The majority have not received the KSh25,000 [$310] which the government was to pay to those whose houses were totally destroyed during the violence," Magenyi said. "Right now, there is no hope for the IDPs in Nyanza to get the KSh25,000 because they were not factored into the government's budgetary allocation for this financial year."

While government figures state that almost 19,000 IDP households in Nyanza did receive the KSh10,000 payment, only 1,642 received the KSh25,000.

The 2008 violence resulted in the deaths of at least 1,300 people and the displacement of 663,921 others, according to an IDP status brief by the ministry. A total of 78,254 houses were destroyed countrywide while 350,000 IDPs sought refuge in 118 camps and 313,192 others were "integrated" among various communities, according to the Ministry of Special Programmes.

Some of the IDPs in Nyanza were displaced during earlier unrest, notably violence linked to elections in 1998 and 1992.

Cyrus Yugi, deputy coordinator of the IDP Network, is one of those displaced in 1992 from Kericho district, Rift Valley Province, where he owned 1.21 hectares.

"Around election time, my neighbours burnt our homes and farms. They told us to move out of the area as we did not belong. We were about 650 families who were not originally from the area," Yugi said.

"We first moved to the Thessalia [Catholic] mission but we later relocated to Muhoroni [in Nyanza] with the help of the NCCK [National Council of Churches of Kenya]. Since then, many of us have been displaced every time clashes erupt at election time."

Yugi said IDP families in Nyanza faced serious challenges, including financial difficulties in keeping their children in school; lack of access to clean safe water - "we often rely on water from the river"; and poor nutrition as many live from hand-to-mouth, relying on casual employment.

William ole Naremo, the district commissioner for Rachuonyo North, one of Nyanza's recently created districts, told IRIN the challenge administrators faced in the province was getting accurate numbers of IDPs who returned in 2008 and those who were displaced earlier in the 1990s.

"Only a few of the IDPs have formed groups and listed the genuine cases, the problem is that the majority of the IDPs are in urban areas living with relatives or have rented houses on their own and since they are often on the move, establishing their exact numbers has been difficult," Naremo said.

In Rachuonyo North, he said, a list of 40 IDP households had been identified. He said they received food under the government's assistance to the flood-affected and other vulnerable families such as child-headed families.

Rachuonyo North is home to Bernard Ndege, an IDP who lost 11 family members during the 2008 violence in Naivasha, Rift Valley Province.

Ndege told IRIN: "I lost everything in the violence yet I have only received the KSh10,000 from the government since I returned. It seems the focus is only on IDPs in camps, those of us who did not go to camps have been forgotten."

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