The hope that we installed in Mwea is hope that we can't lose. It's my sincere hope that the farmers will live in better conditions and the pain that we have had to go through is the price that has to be paid.
Lydia Mukami is the chair of the Mwea Foundation, a grass-roots organisation of rice farmers in the Mwea constituency of Kirinyaga county, in the Central Province of Kenya. The Mwea Foundation has been at the forefront of an ongoing campaign to challenge the constitutionality of the 1966 Irrigation Act (Cap 347). The Mwea Foundation argues that the Act is retrogressive as it prohibits women from owning land, violates a host of socio-economic rights of the Mwea farmers and gives excessive powers to the National Irrigation Board (NIB) with regard to the administration of the area. Lydia and her colleagues at the Mwea Foundation have faced threats and direct violence as a result of their human rights work. Lydia herself was abducted, beaten and stripped of her clothes in public. She has also received threatening messages and her home has been torched.