At least 5,000 Lamu based fishermen will be getting a Mvuvi card from next month in a move that will aid the national government improve security across its territorial waters.
Starting December 2020 the fishermen will be able to gain access to the Mvuvi card through Huduma Centre based within Lamu Island.
The Mvuvi Card which will contain biometric information on each fisherman in the county is an initiative that has been facilitated by community based organizations, Kiunga Youth Bunge, Search for Common Grounds, the ICT Authority and the national county security apparatus and will entail data management of each fisherman.
Speaking to KNA on tuesday during a stakeholder’s forum in Amu Island on the launch of the Mvuvi Card programme, Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia stated that the process despite being grounded on ensuring security across the county’s ocean waters is owned by the fishermen.
He stated that the Mvuvi Card initiative will aid fishermen operate without prejudice through the county’s waters without fear of harassment.
“Fishermen in Lamu have long suffered due to restrictions with the ban on night fishing put in place by the national government in the wake of heightened insecurity in the county, following the Mpeketoni attack in 2014 as well as the abduction of a French national in Kiwayu by suspected Al-Shabaab pirates,” Macharia stated.
He said that the success of the Mvuvi card initiative will signal its rollout in Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa once it is fully implemented among fishermen in Lamu.
The move to digitize the Mvuvi card is being driven by the ICT Authority who have been charged with ensuring that all the fishermen are captured and connected to a national registration database
The Mvuvi card contains all the information of an individual, including the ID number, BMU registration number and a special serial code.
The County commissioner also noted that security agencies have been keen on the launch and disbursement of the Mvuvi cards with an aim of ensuring that the county’s water are safe for fishermen to ply.
He noted that fishing as primary trade had been in decline since the Al Shabaab threat affected night fishing and now with the impact of COVID-19 affecting the trade as well.
“As a national government the Mvuvi card will enable the fishermen carry out their trade despite the current restrictions on night fishing being in place due to a COVID-19 imposed regulation,” he added.
Sentiments echoed by Lamu County Director of Fisheries Simon Komu who stated that the Mvuvi card will enable the county as well as security agencies develop a database that can identify existing gaps both in security and resource allocation for the fishermen.
He noted that the fishermen have been looking forward to being given the Mvuvi cards due to lack of proper documents identifying them as Kenyan fishermen given the current stalemate between Kenya and Somali over territorial maritime waters.
Adam Lali, Kiwayu Beach Management Unit member and fisherman and boat owner however urged the national government to exercise caution with the registration process due to the frequency of fishermen to change boats from time to time while at sea.
“We need to appreciate that the launch of the Mvuvi card is aimed at addressing new realities such as the need to address terrorism, but the fishermen are also afraid over losing their territorial fishing grounds or being harassed if they get caught out in Somali waters,” he observed.
Lamu County Police Commander Moses Muriithi who also spoke to KNA said that the Mvuvi card initiative will improve relations between security agents and fishermen.
Kiunga Youth Bunge Initiative Executive Director, Mathenge Ndungu expressed optimism that the initiative will further bolster security and police intercommunity relations, especially against the threat of Al-Shabaab.
“Initiatives such as the Mvuvi card helps bring security agencies closer to communities by way of bringing in channels through which information sharing is facilitated,” Mathenge said.
By Amenya Ochieng