Over 6,000 fishermen in Lamu County will soon be issued with a Mvuvi card to enhance security at sea.
Mvuvi card is a smart identification card that will be used to identify fishermen in Lamu. It supports Android.
Through a month long exercise, the national government in partnership with Search For Common Ground and local community based organizations, aims at registering fishermen from all the 40 beach management units in Lamu.
Speaking during the launch of the registration exercise, Lamu county commissioner Simon Macharia said the issuance of the biometric card will not only enhance security but also assist the government in planning purposes.
“This card does not only identify who is a fisherman at sea but also gives both governments an opportunity to better understand the fisher folk and it will greatly inform on what kind of assistance to give to them in building their capacity in this time where a lot is happening in the blue economy,” Said Macharia.
Macharia further indicated that the card will bolster relationships between fishermen and security operatives something that had been greatly affected after the government imposed a night fishing ban. Fishermen believed that this ban was an injustice, which further eroded trust between security agencies and citizens, resulting in resentment toward security agencies efforts.
“They informed the security agencies that the daytime catch was not enough to ensure their sustenance. Many fishermen even had to quit the business and had to look for alternative sources of livelihood. Some even turned to violent extremism, this was a big problem to us,” added Macharia.
The Mvuvi card is an intervention by Search For Common Ground and local community based organization Kiunga Youth Bunge that saw the lifting of a six-year night fishing ban imposed in Lamu. The ban affected 6,000 fishermen in Kiunga, Ishakani, Mkokoni, Kiwayu, and Kizingitini, where fishing constitutes much of the employment and economy.
“We saw a conflict which was hurting us badly, through funding from the European Union we have been able to bring the two conflicting sides together and deliberated on a collaboration that will see both parties benefit and this has been made possible by the Mvuvi card,” Said Mohammed Mwachausa a program manager at Search.
He further urged other humanitarian organisations and stakeholders to continue intervening during moments where conflicts arise so that peace and security is maintained in the country. The intervention has already began to bear fruits as fishermen and security officers can now work together.
“Our relationship with security actors had deteriorated during the six-year night fishing ban but through dialogue and collaboration things have now changed, we are friends and we collaborate in many aspects in making sure the sea is safe” said Somo Mohamed the chairman of the 40 beach management units in Lamu.
“During the ban we used to fish in fear and it was a hard time if you are found at sea fishing at night. It was worse for women. Youths had no jobs, our men had nothing to fend for us, you had to hide while fishing but with the Mvuvi Card we are now sorted,” said Khadija Abdalla a fisherwoman from Mkokoni.
According to Lamu fisheries Chief officer Simon Komu the issuance of the Mvuvi card will increase the catch from 3,000 to 5,0000 metric tonnes a year. Something he says will be a boost to the economy in Lamu considering that 75% of the economy is dependent on fishing.
The night fishing ban was imposed in Lamu after a series of terror attacks in the county.
The ban greatly affected the economy of the county resulting to several social injustices