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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Water, water, everywhere ...

... except in Kenya's Ngiro River, which is being drained by the demands of agribusiness for the purpose of growing flowers for the European market.

According to the head of the water authority, the 12 largest flower firms which farm hundreds of hectares of flowers, fruit and vegetables in the region ... may be taking as much as 25% of water normally available to more than 100,000 small farmers.

"The big flower farms should be taking water only [during] the floods, but they are taking it from high up the mountains whenever they need it. They are all stealing water. We follow the river at night and see them do it," said Severino Maitima, head of the recently set up, government-appointed Ewaso [river] Ngiro water authority, which manages all the water in the region.

"They steal it between 10pm and 2am. We do not know exactly how much they are taking, but it is a lot of water. They take it to replenish their stores when they think we sleep," he said.

Locals and campaigners say the river now peters out 60 miles short of where it used to, and the overuse of water was contributing directly to conflict between small-scale farmers. The big companies were accused of directly risking the lives of nomadic pastoralists.

"The flower companies are exporting our water. A flower is 90% water. We are one of the driest countries in the world and we are exporting water to one of the wettest. The minute that the flower firms came they met resistance. It was very acrimonious," said Mr Maitima. "They are in direct competition with the peasant farmers for water and the biggest companies pay the same as the smallest peasant for water."

Yesterday no supermarket would comment on the amount of water being used to grow its flowers from Kenya, but the largest horticulture company, British-owned Homegrown, which cultivates more than 300 hectares of flowers in the region and has built five major reservoirs and diverted a river on the slopes of Mount Kenya, accused other companies of taking water illegally.

Via UK Guardian.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:00 AM | Get permalink




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