Habiba Fora

Feb 24, 2017

Mombasa, Kenya

Taita Taveta County

Taita Taveta County is in the Coastal region of Kenya. The county is located at coordinates 3.3161° S, 38.4850° E. The county has an area of 17,084.1 Km2. According to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census (KPHC), the population of the county was 284,657, where females and males were 139,323 and 145,334, respectively.
The county population was projected to be 306,205 in 2012. The projections indicate that the total county population will increase to 329,383 and 345,800 in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES
Agriculture is a major activity; about 12% of the county area is suitable for agriculture, with arable land constituting about 2,055 Km2. The land in the county is communally owned thus reducing incidences of landlessness and approximately 35% of the landowners have title deeds.
Ranching; livestock farming takes place in the county The county has a total of 28 ranches with a combined area of approximately 773.5 km2. Eight of these ranches belong to the government, nine to groups, and 11 are privately owned. The average size of each ranch is 2,762.5 ha.
Sisal for fiber production is grown on large scale farms and this reduces land available for settlement and household farming activities. There are three companies that produce sisal for both domestic and export markets.
The major mining activities in the county are for gemstones and industrial minerals such as iron ore, limestone, marble, magnetite, asbestos, graphite, kaolin clay and mica. Deposits of copper and cobalt are also thought to be present. There are over one hundred licensed mineral prospectors and miners and among them eight major companies involved in gemstone mining.
The county has immense potential for tourism. The county prides in being home to Tsavo East and West National parks with magnificent sceneries, wildlife, birdlife, indigenous forests and rolling volcanic landscape.

CHALLENGES
(i) Majority of the mining activities are not prior subjected to the EIA process resulting to a degraded environment. The ongoing mining activities pose a threat to the environment and communities are not involved in aspects of public participation.
(ii) Despite mining taking place in the area the locals are yet to realize any benefits from the abundant resources in their midst. The County’s Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) identifies 57% of the population live in absolute poverty.
(iii) Gender inequality is also a problem in the county. Women are not fully engaged in leadership and decision making, they also have limited right to ownership of properties such as land.
(iv) The communities are not able to access both formal and informal dispute resolution methods as well as to take control of their lives through administrative or bureaucratic advocacy in relation to local legal problems.
(v) Forceful eviction of community members, by mining investors from their land, that is believed to be richly endowed with minerals. Some of the land in Taita Taveta is unclaimed which investors use to their advantage in getting land.

INTERVENTIONS
(i) Enacting laws that prevent deforestation and also educating the people on the importance of reforestation. This will go a long way in reclaiming land covered with vegetation.
(ii) Promoting the importance of education in the community through role models.
(iii) Promoting advocacy through civic education to enlighten people on cooperate social responsibility and their rights. This will enable them to benefit from the mining activities.
(iv) Women empowerment by training them to join business and leadership to redefine their role in the society.
(v) Advocating for legal justice through representations in court to solve land disputes.
(vi) Proper documentation of land boundaries.