Kenyan flower workers crisis

7 February 2008 - 4:51pm

In the early weeks of the crisis the flower-growing region was unaffected. But by the end of January the violence spread to Lake Naivasha, where local residents have been victims of violence and displacement, with many workers' homes burnt to the ground. Workers have been unable to reach their jobs fear losing their employment altogether.

War on Want supports the Kenyan Women Workers Organisation (KEWWO), which works to improve the lives of Kenya's female farm workers. Women on flower farms are the most vulnerable workers, and many report instances of abuse from their supervisors. Often migrants they lack the stability of community ties, and many are on seasonal or casual contracts, meaning their jobs are insecure. They are undoubtedly hit particularly hard by the continuing chaos.

Kathini Maloba, President of KEWWO, told War on Want that while many of the large farms are able to look after their workers to some extent, it is those on small farms that are most vulnerable. Some workers have been forced to sleep in police stations or even local prisons for their own protection.

Explaining that workers in the region are traumatised, Maloba said that political "leaders don't speak the workers' language due to class difference. It is therefore imperative that an organisation such as KEWWO spearheads this detraumatising process."


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