As one makes their way into Garsen town the sight of booming khat business does not fail to capture one’s attention. This is so especially on the designated market days of Wednesday and Saturday where public service vehicles from as far as Garissa and Mombasa arriving at the town would have both men and women flocking around them to get a piece of the precious commodity. The vendors of the miraa are among the first to get to the commodity so that they can make bumper sales out of it. One such vendor is Halima Juma, from Bilisa location.
Halima for a long time has engaged in this trade as a way of livelihood for her family. In a recent interview however, the 28 years old mother of two admitted that since conflict and violence broke out in the region, the business has had uncertainties and she ends up making less than she used to. Her business fails even more when news and sometimes rumours of violent conflict in the Tana Delta gets to her miraa suppliers in the interior parts of the country. These supplies would sometimes fail to come to the town for fear of getting attacked. Last year there was a series of ethnic clashes between the Pokomo and Orma that left people injured and others feared dead.
Through support from the SCORE program funded by USAID and implemented by Kenya Community Support Centre (KECOSCE) in the Tana delta Mrs. Juma however came up with a new way of keeping peace as well as stabilizing her business. From knowledge learnt from women’s roles and importance in conflict mitigation Mrs. Juma now sales her products to her youthful clients and at the same time sharing peace messages with them on conflict mitigation strategies. According to her testimony the number of youths she has reached has been sufficient enough to ensure that areas around her homestead and business area have been peaceful for her to continue in her bread winning activity.
"It is easier for me to mobilize using this initiative, youth flock my kiosk once so often, it is even nicer talking to them when in this mood. With Miraa the boys get very talkative, they open up and I sometimes get a lot of important information which I also share with the chief. " Says Mrs Juma .