Archive for July 8th, 2008

New Kenya Law Could Raise Food Prices Further

Posted on 8 July 2008. Filed under: Economy, Food Security, Governance |

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Some of the products, with the standardization mark, on a supermarket shelf

NAIROBI, 4 July 2008 (IRIN) – Prices of food in Kenya, which have already risen by 50 percent since the start of 2008, could increase further following a new government regulation, a consumer watch group has warned.

From October, all food products sold in Kenya will have to bear an approval mark from the country’s bureau of standards (KEBS), which will charge a fee for this service.

“Manufacturers and producers, who have a turnover of below 200,000 shillings [US$3,125] each year, will pay 5,000 shillings [$78]. Those with a turnover of 200,000-500,000shillings [$7,812] will pay 10,000 shillings [$156],” John Abongs, the general manager of quality assurance at KEBS, told IRIN.

“Producers will be forced to pay higher prices to bring their products to the market,” Su Kahumbu, the coordinator of Consumer-Watch Kenya and an organic farmer, said on 1 July.

“The regulation does not take into account the impact on producers, particularly small scale producers, or the consumers who are the end-users of the products,” she added.

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Su Kahumbu, the coordinator of Consumer Watch Kenya

Kahumbu said the fees were too high for small-scale producers. “It should be free for them to acquire the mark, we [farmers] are already paying taxes through the nose”.

She added that the regulation could force some small-scale entrepreneurs out of business.

“This regulation will definitely increase food prices,” Eustace Kiarie, the national coordinator for the Kenya Organic Agricultural organization (KOAN) said. “Most producers are likely to factor in the costs of paying for the regulation when pricing their goods.”

Kiarie said even the lower fee for small-scale producers was too high, especially for those with more than one product line, “if I produce five different flavours of yoghurt, I will have to pay 5,000 for each flavour, that is 25,000 shillings [$390] in total. It’s not fair”.

Adan Ramata, a branch manager of a leading supermarket in the country, said some of the small-scale producers would have to withdraw their products from the shelves if they did not have the mark.

“It is an additional expense to them and it will be eating on the little they get,” Ramata told IRIN.

KEBS has warned supermarkets that they could face legal action if they sell products without the mark, Ramata said.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) had originally opposed the regulation, saying the first deadline for compliance, July 1, was too soon. A recent meeting between the association and KEBS officials led to the deadline being extended to 30 September.

Kahumbu complained that small-scale producers, who have no representative association, were not present at this meeting. She said the government’s intent to ensure quality goods in the market was laudable, but insisted should have consulted all stakeholders first.

However, some manufacturers support the new regulation.

Photo: Julius Mwelu/IRIN
Janet Abilla, senior trade development officer, Ministry of Trade

“I think it’s practical. It’s time we got rid of substandard goods in the market,” Anthony Maina an official with a local beverage company, told IRIN in a telephone interview.

Janet Abilla, an official in the ministry of trade, said the government had not yet come up with a solution to the demands of small-scale producers, but that it was looking into the matter.


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Kenya IDPs Hold Out for Better Compensation

Posted on 8 July 2008. Filed under: Governance, Insecurity, Refugees/ IDPs |

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
IDPs are choosing to remain in the camps in the hope of a better government compensation package

NAKURU, 7 July 2008 (IRIN) – Jane Wanjiru Maina, a mother of seven, is tired of living in an internally displaced people’s (IDP) camp in the show grounds of Nakuru, in the Rift Valley.

“The tents are now starting to leak and I can see a possibility of spending the [Christmas] holidays here,” said Maina, who also has three grandchildren under her care in the camp. She lost property worth 485,000 shillings (US$8,000) during a wave of violence that followed December’s presidential election.

“Although I would really like to leave so that I can take care of my family like I used to before, I have to stay on until the government comes up with a better compensation package,” she said.

Each resettled IDP household is receiving 10,000 shillings ($166) in family assistance funds. The IDPs also take home a one-month food ration along with a kitchen kit.

“If I leave this place with 10,000 shillings, will my grandchildren ever learn to read and write?” she asked. “We are not landowners so why should we have to go back to receive compensation?” The resettlement funds are paid out in areas of return.

Most of the former IDPs who have returned to their places of origin are landowning farmers, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Many of those still living in camps are agricultural workers, who do not own land, or business people.

Photo: Ann Weru/IRIN
Jane Wanjiru Maina, an IDP living at the Nakuru show ground camp

At least 68,519 IDPs were still in 101 camps as of 1 July, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS).

Another IDP among the 14,000 living in the Nakuru show grounds said he preferred to stay there to be in a better position to lobby for more support.

“Why should I get the same amount of money as someone who is going back to his farm?” Samuel Mbote asked. “Even if you are moved [from the camp] with the tent, where will you pitch it?”

More time

The IDPs in the showground camp and the Afraha stadium camp, also in Nakuru, had been expected to start returning home on 1 July.

However, they asked for more time to allow them to bury an IDP killed during a demonstration.

According to the director of resettlements at the Ministry of Special Programmes, Wilfred Ndolo, discussions were ongoing to find a long-term solution for such IDPs. “They will probably get interest-free loans,” he said.

He added that there were plans to provide an extra 25,000 shillings ($416) for shelter support. “We have the money but we still do not have the data of those who lost their houses.”

At least 36 million shillings ($600,000) has been paid out in shelter support to 3,600 households, he said.

Meanwhile, the IDPs who remained in the camps were still receiving assistance. “They have food, water and electricity,” Anthony Mwangi, the KRCS public relations manager, said.

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Food being distributed at the Nakuru IDP camp

“Nobody is being forced to leave the camp. They don’t want to go back with no [shelter] structures,” he said. The KRCS has built 10 houses for returnees in the Matharu area of the Rift Valley with plans for the construction of another 1,000 units depending on funding.

Transport problems had also delayed IDP returns at the Kedong camp in Naivasha, he said.

The Red Cross official said there was a need for further efforts to foster reconciliation. IDPs who had been resettled in Surgow, in Eldoret North District, from a camp in Eldoret had to be returned to the camp after receiving a hostile reception.

According to OCHA, about 100,000 people have left IDP camps for 134 “transit sites” near their home areas. The OCHA report said sanitation facilities in some sites was below standard, with residents defecating in the open, leading to a risk of disease.

Cases of malnutrition have also been detected among IDPs in “host” communities not targeted by food aid, according to OCHA.

The resettlement of IDPs began on 5 May in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province under a government campaign, Operation Rudi Nyumbani (Go Back Home). So far, at least 210,000 IDPs have left the camps, including those in transit sites, Ndolo said.

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    A blog created to cover environmental and political information in Kenya with a view to promoting POVERTY ALLEVIATION through creating awareness of the Millennium Development Goals


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