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Kenya: Farmers resist sewage plant in village

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Farmers at Rwanyange in Nyaki East of Meru County have opposed Sh1 billion sewage plant in the area.

Elias Mutuma, a local farmer who is also an agent of one of the companies that buys French beans for local and export markets, said buyers want to end the contract over fears that their product is contaminated,The Sh1 billion sewage plant on 40 acres that the county government said is necessary because of the increasing population of Meru Municipality has left a bitter taste in the mouths of French beans farmers, who argue it will kill their cash cow.

Mr Mutuma said he makes Sh32,900 from the 700 kilogrammes of French beans on a weekly basis, and he fears he will lose his livelihood because of the sewage plant.

Water sourcesHe said when the idea of the project was floated, they opposed it after  exporters vowed they would not buy their produce as there was a risk of contamination of the soil and water sources.“As you can see, the Kinyaritha river flows metres below the sewage plant.

We also have river Gaciuma and several streams. There’s a possibility of contamination when there is an overflow at the sewage plantl,” Mutuma said.Dennis Bundi, a farmer, said although land owners in the area were compensated, villagers were misled that it was a water project.

“When the people learned that a sewage plant was about to be built near them, we were angry. But the local administrators and the police subdued us, and leaders of the protest retreated,” Bundi said.

Nyaki East MCA Kithinji Ringera and Charles Kariuki, the chairman of Rwanyange Self-help Group that is opposed to the project, said the farmers stand to lose significantly when buyers walk away.

But Meru Urban Water and Sanitation Corporation CEO Joseph Mberia said the sewage plant is important because the old one at Gakoromone in Meru town lacks the capacity to process waste.

Mr Mberia told the farmers that relevant environmental studies had been undertaken and the chances of overflow or any contamination were non-existent.He added that there was public participation before the project commenced and that it will produce manure for local farmers to boost production.

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