Boni community turn to wild fruits as starvation bites

Displaced Boni residents at a previous function. PHOTO/FILE

Lamu, KENYA: The over 2000 members of the Boni minority community in Lamu have been forced to feast on wild fruits after they failed to get any harvests this year following invasion of pests on their crops.

The heavy rains that pounded the area and subsequent flooding didn’t make things better either.

Speaking on Thursday, Boni elder Noya Buli said constant Al Shabaab attacks in their areas have also made it impossible for vehicles to bring in food aid for fear of being attacked.

“We did grow crops but we lost everything after unknown pests invaded all farms here. Not a single person has harvested anything. We now have to spend hours in forests and bushes so that we can feed our kids and wives, which is still not enough,we still go to bed hungry. It is so painful and hard to live like that,” said Buli.

Many children in Basuba now risk suffering from illnesses related to poor dieting due to the immense poverty situation.

Msuo Ware wonders why the KDF soldiers conducting the Linda Boni operation have their food delivered in choppers when the same can not be done for them considering they are in the same area.

“Its understandable when they say the roads are insecure and its true because of the Al shabaab attacks, but can’t they bring us food in choppers too? We are so much in need of food right now. Let the government move mountains and attend to us,” said Ware.

The community is also accusing government of failing to honor its promise to supply them with food and other humanitarian needs for as long as the operation lasts as had been agreed during the operation launch in 2015.

“They were to give us food all through but they stopped and we don’t know why,”said Ware.

The Bonis occupy the vast Basuba ward in Lamu East.

The Bonis are a forest community traditionally who have for decades relied on hunting, gathering and honey harvesting for survival with the Boni forest being their main source of food.

However, due to the Linda Boni security operation that’s being conducted inside the Boni forest and neighboring areas in a bid to flush out Al shabaab militants said to be hiding in the forest, the community has been banned from setting foot in the forest.