Labour and living conditions in the cut flower industry at Lake Naivasha, Kenya.
Over the past four decades, a labour-intensive flower industry was established at Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Most farm workers – predominantly migrants from elsewhere in Kenya – are not provided with company housing and rent rooms on private plots in one of the switfly expanding residential areas around the lake. These settlements were not planned for by the industry or the government, and are notorious for their poor living conditions. But although the flower industry has no formal role in these settlements, it has shaped them in various ways: through its mere presence (e.g. environmental consequences); its production processes (e.g. defining everyday rhythms); and its CSR-activities. In this talk, I introduce four medical facilities in the area: a dispensary located in a former colonial settler's house; a clinic that was developed by colonial ranches but now services flower farms and their workers; one of the few company hospitals, of a farm that went bankrupt and fell into ruin a few years ago; and the maternity ward of Naivasha Town's hospital, financed through Fairtrade contributions from flower farms and their workers. These four different medical facilities illustrate the complex historical connections between the workers' residential areas and the flower industry.
Dr. Gerda Kuiper is a cultural anthropologist based at the Global South Studies Centre and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne, Germany. She holds a BA and MA in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology from Leiden University. She conducted her PhD-research under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Michael Bollig at the University of Cologne. Her dissertation has been published as a book by Palgrave Macmillan under the title Agro-industrial labor in Kenya. Cut flower farms and migrant workers' settlements (2019). Her current research project focuses on the trade in second-hand clothes in Tanzania.