Monthly Archives: April 2012



For decades, life was simple among the country’s pastoralist communities. If a man had many cattle and as many wives as well as children, he was highly respected and was among the likely choices for village leadership.

Time has turned this upside down. The quiet village life and pride that came with having herds of cattle are no more. Climate change has brought about unpredictable weather patterns. Recurring droughts have depleted the once plenty pasture land and demand for land is higher as population

Therefore, the pastoralists had to embrace alternative ways of life as they can no longer depend on cows, sheep and goats.

In their place, the pastoralists are now rearing fish.In Emsos village in Mogotio District in Baringo County, hundreds of farmers, among them old men, have turned their rocky farms into profitable fishponds.It was not easy for them to pick this new economic activity. For years, they had watched helplessly as rough weather decimated their prized, countless animals.

They have not fully abandoned cattle keeping but the attachment they had towards the animals is no more and the numbers can never be as huge.Their fish, which they fondly call Arap Mibei (son of water), is slowly taking over their affection and gracing their dinner plates.The fish rearing business is now booming in the semi-arid area.

Meat every day

“No family can slaughter a whole cow or goat just to get something to ‘escort’ ugali at the evening meal. But now we can enjoy meat every day following the introduction of fish,” says Isaac Chirchir, who was among the first people in the area to embrace the new farming.

Fish farming is one of the projects the Government initiated through the economic stimulus programme, whose purpose was to inject fresh ideas for wealth development among other things.It was tough selling the fishing idea among the pastoralists initially. That was four years ago. But when they decided to ‘try’ it, they are not looking back. Everyone wants to be a fish farmer.

Already, 200 ponds are functioning within Emsos’ natural water springs at the slopes of Kiplegung Hills.The villagers have successfully harvested and replaced 85 of the ponds. They sell the mature fish at local markets. Of course, pond owners and their neighbours also enjoy the fish.

During our visit, young enthusiastic school leavers were busy taking potential farmers through feeding and harvesting methods in several ponds along the small streams that feed Lake Bogoria.

Fish farmer Elijah Tanui is one proud owner of several ponds. He tells The Standard how his community has splashed around fish farming with a passion.It is now common to find herdsmen at local eateries enjoying fish as well as ‘expertly’ eating the head.In addition, families are now comfortably taking their children to school as fish sales are taking care of fees and other incidentals.

Says Tanui: “When we depended on our animals, most of us spent sleepless nights thinking about how to raise school fees. It is no longer the case.”He says rearing fish is simple.”It is less stressful compared with livestock rearing because with this kind of farming you are not required to hire somebody to chase them around. The only thing to do is provide them with food and wait to harvest,” he says.

In the past, the Tugen particularly disliked fish and had many myths about the fish. They could not even enter a house where fish was being cooked. The smell was repulsive, they believed, and was not good for their wellbeing.Interestingly, this has rapidly changed, says Mr Tanui.”The belief is dying as members of the community take up fish farming in great numbers.”

Here, villages form small groups before applying for financial assistance from the Government, which assists them to start and even expand the farming with ease.

Global market

Like any other serious and profitable farming, fishing has its problems. The Mogotio fish farmers want the Government to get them markets for their products. Local consumption is good but they can’t finish all the fish. And to get good money, these farmers must display their ware at global markets.

Vision 2030’s Omar Mohammed, who visited the farmers recently, encouraged them, saying private sector players, government and the farmers will work together to ensure the programme succeeds and is beneficial to farmers.

Dr Mohammed said fish farming among Kenyans is a potential local tourist attraction. Communities from other counties would visit to enjoy the local fish cuisine. Fisheries’ secretary Prof Charles Nguki says every Kenyan must be encouraged to eat fish as it increases body immunity.

“The region, which is already semi-arid, cannot support extensive agriculture and this has resulted in communities being vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. Scarcity of food leads to conflict in some areas.

This programme will increase the communities’ income, improve their food security and reduce their reliance on food relief,” said Nguki.The farmers have already done their bit and all they need is guidance on how to sell their fish in the global market.

The ball is the Government’s court. It needs to kick it fast before these farmers become disillutioned.


source standardnewspaper

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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Uncategorized




Pastoralists in Loyamorok and Chepilat villages in East Pokot District are counting losses after more than 150 goats died after consuming contaminated food leftovers.

The community members allege that their goats ate food suspected to have been contaminated with aflatoxin, which had been left in the grazing fields by army personnel training in Loruk area. Some residents who spoke  complained that the army camps have subjected them to heavy losses since they entirely depend on the goats for livelihood.

“We’ve lost almost 200 goats in this training session alone. For the more than ten years the training officers have been here, we have continued to lose livestock in the same manner exposing us to poverty,” said Samuel Moindi, a resident.

Mr. Moindi, who lost 25 goats to the poisoning, said the goats develop bloated stomachs and foam in the mouth before dying.

Local leaders led by area councilor Geoffrey Lokortepa have called on the Government to relocate the army training camp from the area since the community has suffered from explosives and loss of livestock.


“We have tried as area leaders to talk to the army administration to be considerate of the local community, but they have continued to abandon live bombs and food leftovers,” said Lokortepa. He said the community near Kokwomoi cliff was living in fear because the army hurls explosives in the air at night, which occasionally fall on rooftops and scare the villagers.

The civic leader recalled three years ago when two children were seriously injured as they played with a live explosive at Chesirimion area and no action was taken by the Government.

Barely a week ago, was 16-year-old Smith Losiwareng seriously injured at Loruk after he stumbled on a partially exploded bomb. The boy had his right hand amputated after it was mutilated by the explosive and also had other severe injuries. He is still hospitalized at Kabarnet District Hospital.

East Pokot DC Amos Mariba said he was yet to be notified of the deaths of the goats but said Losiwareng’s case was being investigated by local police and the military team and the Government would take appropriate action.



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Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Uncategorized





The Keiyo and Marakwet have a long history of rivalry.

During the 24-year rule of former President Moi, the Marakwet felt marginalized as their cousins used their leaders’ closer ties to the President to get a bigger share of the cake. Many Keiyos, under the patronage of Nicholas Biwott, were given top jobs in the civil service.

Roads, water and power supply in Keiyo were also much better than in Marakwet. Indeed, it was because of this isolation that the Marakwets fought so hard to have their own district with its headquarters at Kapsowar.But with the new Constitution, the two groups have once again been placed in one county and the Marakwet fear the dominance of the more populous Keiyo will return.“It’s the bitter past that made us reject the new Constitution but now that we are in it we have to make good of the situation and ensure that the county is able to fully harness its huge economic potential,’’ said Marakwet East MP Lina Kilimo.She said the new dispensation was good because unlike in the single party era, power will not be concentrated in one person.

Elders from both communities have been meeting and so have professionals from the county; an indication that the political landscape will be inclusive, Mrs Kilimo said. But even with the new approach to politics, enormous challenges face political leaders seeking seats.

Untapped resources

Poor roads, weak marketing, insecurity, declining academic performance, high poverty and inaccessible health care are just some of the issues future leaders will have to address. Most of the area was scarred by cattle rustling and banditry and to assure investors of security, the new leadership will have to work out how to address continued crime, blamed on illegal possession of weapons.

It is because of these challenges that the locals say the governor’s position requires a technocrat who will turn around the county by winning investor confidence with a view to ensuring untapped resources are fully exploited.

Agriculture is the economic mainstay of the area as most residents are either fruit farmers or keep cattle. Other ventures include growing cereals, pyrethrum and vegetables. Poor roads are the main problem for farmers trying to get their goods to market while modern irrigation is needed in the Kerio Valley if the county wants to produce enough food. Exploitation of tourism sector and creating athletics training camps to promote sports are other issues that the locals say need political goodwill to succeed.

The governor’s seat has attracted many contenders including an assistant commissioner of the Kenya Revenue Authority, Mr. Abraham Talel, former Kenya Commercial Bank manager David Kimosop, and Equity Bank’s Small Medium Enterprises chief Timothy Biwott. City consultant Gabriel Barkechir, East African Breweries Western head Paul Kiplegunya and university lecturer Pius Sumbat have also expressed interest. Former Keiyo South MP Nicholas Biwott has declared his interest in the senator’s seat, as has political activist Tabitha Seii.

Moi University law lecturer Kipchumba Murkomen, businessman Julius Cheptili, road’s engineer John Chemulwa and former Marakwet West MP Francis Mutwol will also be battling it out for the senate.The job of Women’s Representative has attracted Moi University lecturer Susan Chebet, former Mosoriot Teachers College tutor Veronica Suter and Nairobi lawyer Irene Masiit.Key politicians, businesspeople and elders have been meeting to discuss how to share the seats equally between the Keiyo and the Marakwet. But they have not yet reached agreement.Mzee Kiplegunya Cheboi said if the governor were a Marakwet, the senator should be Keiyo or vice versa.

But Keiyo South MP Jackson Kiptanui said sharing positions would be difficult because prospective candidates were emerging from all communities. Of the William Rutto factor, he said a majority of people in the county supported the Eldoret North MP but much still depended on whether or not he would become a Presidential candidate.“Mr. Rutto is calling the shots in this county but we need to do a new survey to tell us what the county’s stand will be if he does not get the Presidential ticket, given that there are many parties that have cast their nets in the larger vote-rich Kalenjin constituency,” Mr. Kiptanui said.

The Eldoret North MP could play an influential role on the outcome although former President Moi also wields considerable influence mostly on the Keiyo side.

Historically, the electorate in Elgeyo-Marakwet has been divided in General Elections with voters in Keiyo allied to Kanu and the Marakwet backing the then Democratic Party. They also voted for Mwai Kibaki as President, in a region that was entirely a Kanu zone as Rift Valley province. 

 The perceived marginalization of the Marakwet during the Kanu era is what pushed them to the Opposition. They felt the Moi regime denied them resources, jobs and security making them vulnerable to cattle rustling and banditry by their Pokot neighbours who were loyal to Mr. Moi.

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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Uncategorized



Violence stalks little known refugees living in the camps for last seven years


Seven years down the line, the IDPs remain in camps, invisible to the government.

According to Mrs Orgicha Guyo, an IDP at Salesa Wako camp, the only time they here of IDPs are when the post election violence ones are mentioned. And Mrs Wako, a mother of eight who was uprooted from her home in Jaldesa area accuses the government of neglecting them despite numerous pleas for resettlement to safer areas. She observes that lack of access to health services and farmland to grow food crops has deprived them of right to a decent life.“We used to till our land and feed our families, but since we were displaced seven years ago we live on erratic government relief supply which often comes after two months,” said Mrs Wako.She notes that the government has not recognized them as internally displaced persons thus denying them a share of the funds the government has been disbursing to resettle the post election violence IDPs around the country.

After living on the cold verandas in town for four years, a group of more than 700 Gabra IDPs moved to a farm owned by the family of the late Dr Bonaya Godana on the outskirts of the town. In 2009, these IDPs bought 17.9 acres piece of land with their relatives’ support but not every family benefited from the land bought.

The Catholic Church through its Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) helped build houses for those who got the small plots, while many remain in the polythine huts. Not far from Mrs Wako’s camp lives Mr. Malicha Duba, an IDP from North Horr whose goats were stolen by his neighbours during the conflict. He escaped with his family to Marsabit.He says that lack of adequate food and water around the camps has aggravated the desolation of the IDPs. Mr. Duba affirms that malnutrition among children has been rampant in the camps.

The provincial administration refers to them as food distribution points (FDPs) instead of internally displaced people. Mr. Duba notes that the government relief food supplied to the IDPs is inadequate for distribution among the families and often causes conflicts.“We receive medical services from the NGOs and that comes when situation gets out of hand. We need dispensary here,” said M. Duba. In Mr. Duba’s camp only 14 families of the 54 households receive food aid through from the WFP supported programme.

 These families share with the rest. Through the help of Catholic Church the families secure 100 feet square plots but the land is barely enough to plant food crops that can sustain the family’s food need. School fees for the IDP children and the insecurity menace is a daily challenge for the IDPs in Marsabit.Sounds of gunshot in Marsabit is no longer news, and the weekly killing of pedestrians by gunmen is giving residents sleepless nights. For the more than 2,000 internally displaced people living in camps around Marsabit central district, the dusty paths that lead to town have become dangerous; gunmen stalk them daily.

Over the past three months alone, more than eight people have been killed along the way by people who escape into the forest without stealing victims’ meager shopping. Because tribal animosity has permeated the social fabric here, the displaced people following the infamous Turbi Massacre occupy separate camps created for different tribes.

There are seven IDP camps in Marsabit Central District, and an eighth camp hosting about 500 people at Hurri Hills, Chalbi District. The bulk of the IDPs living in four of these camps in Dirib Gombo Location in Marsabit are from the Borana community who fled North Horr constituency while Gabra IDPs were evicted from their homes around Marsabit town by irate neighbours following the tribal turmoil.

At Leyai camp about 26 kilometers from the Marsabit town, Mrs Amina Asuran tends her epileptic daughter. Mrs Asuran could not take her daughter to Marsabit District Hospital as the road that connects to the town has become more dangerous to trek.“Women and children have borne the brunt of the conflict here since we could not access health services due to enemies on the road,” said Mrs Asuran.

Over the past three years more than 14 people have been killed including school children on the road by gunmen. Leyai was a farming settlement until 2008 when inter-community conflicts disintegrated it.

There is a police patrol base in Leyai supposedly to protect the locals from attacks but there are only two officers manning the base. Local homguards are ill armed either as Mr. Bagaja Elkatoi puts it. The heightened insecurity in Leyai has affected learning in the school as children no longer attend classes after midday for fear of attacks.

According to Mr. Elkatoi, the seven homeguards in the area still use the Mark4 rifles which are not any match for the self reloading automatic rifles wielded by raiders.“None of our homeguards has over nine bullets which expose them to danger and our pleas to replace the old rifles with automatic one has fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr. Elkatoi.

As the country approaches another electioneering period, the internally displaced people in Marsabit district are calling upon the government to resettle them in safer areas. They want the government to tackle the insecurity menace in the area.

However Marsabit Central DC Kipchumba Rutto said people displaced during the clashes were integrated among their communities. He denied the claim that the IDPs are neglected, stating that after they were settled in Dirib Gombo they had been receiving relief rations like other residents. Insecurity in Marsabit is not particular to the so called IDPs since not a single attack has been reported on the settlement they occupy,” said Mr. Rutto.

source daily nation 12/04/12

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Posted by on April 12, 2012 in Uncategorized




Article 260 of the Kenyan constitution defines marginalized community as; one that, due to its small size, has been unable to participate fully in the economic and social life in Kenya. Secondly it could be a traditional community that out of desire to protect its culture and identity remains uninterested in the social and economic life in Kenya. Thirdly it could be an indigenous community that has maintained a traditional lifestyle and livelihood based on a hunter gatherer economy. Fourthly, the definition covers pastoral persons and communities, nomadic or settled communities that due to geographic isolation marginally participate in the integrated social and economic life in Kenya. Despite having the facts about the existence of marginalized/indigenous groups in Kenya, many Governments in Africa have not accepted the word indigenous to be used in their constitution.

According to Article260, marginalized group is defined as a group of people who, because of laws or practices before, on, or after the effective date, were or are disadvantaged by discrimination on one or more grounds in Article 27 (4). Article 56 of the Kenyan constitution talks about the rights of minority groups and also stipulates the affirmative actions/ policies/programmes to ensure that the marginalized participate in governance, are provided special opportunities in education, economic fields and access to employment.

Article 204 also provides for an equalization fund of 0.5% of the national budget to cover service provision and infrastructure development in marginalized areas. This can be a good opportunity for the minority groups to take charge of their own resources by utilizing these funds and develop their infrastructure.

Due to their peripheral position in the county, pastoralist communities have been subjected to discriminative terms and names. Majority of Kenyans view their livelihood as primitive and barbaric. However it is important to note that the state has the mandate to protect the minority and the marginalized groups from any form of discrimination. (Article 27)

The pastoralist child has also been forgotten in so many ways. They do not enjoy their rights fully like any other child in the country.  Being born in ASALs they usually face a lot of challenges from illiteracy, health care, poor infrastructure and negative cultural practices such as FGM.

For instance access to healthcare is a major problem in pastoralist communities and the communities travel an average of 40 to 80km to a health facility. Such areas like Pokot have only two Secondary Schools and few teachers compared to the number of students. Education in ASALs has been majorly affected by cattle rustling, tribal clashes, water scarcity, lack of electricity and poverty. Article 53(1) (b) states that every child the right to free and compulsory basic education and thus the pastoralist child have equal chance to access education like any other child in Kenya.

The children are also involved in other house chores and thus this has led to high school drop out among the pastoralist school going pupils. These chores include fetching water, herding, collecting firewood, taking care of their siblings and also going to wars. Girl child education is not regarded as important by some parents. For instance after undergoing FGM cut the girl was supposed to get married and start a family. There is also ignorance on the part of the children, who in most cases are not aware of their rights.

Constitutional provisions are one step in the journey; the more important issue is to convert these written laws to practice. Among the indigenous communities land has been at the centre of all the conflicts. Since these communities attach more meaning to their land, land related disputes are therefore rampant.
Double and multiple marginalizations have also been experienced by these communities in cases of disabled persons, women, children, youths, albinos, the elderly and the abysmal camp-life of Internally Displaced Persons.

With all these opportunities for marginalized/minority groups in the new constitution, the questions of judicial reform come to the fore. The only way for the marginalized to access justice in the narrow prism of courts would be if the judges are ready and willing to entertain and redress their claims. The strength and independence of the Judiciary is a key plank in the rule of law. The marginalized communities must engage in judicial reform efforts. This can be done by advancing the inter-section of formal and informal justice systems.

The role of civil society is also another crucial intervention in accessing justice. Civil society must continue to offer civic education and paralegal trainings for the marginalized communities and campaign for better access to justice; including waiver of court fees .The lawyers must in turn institute public interest litigation cases and adopt cutting edge strategies and persuasive advocacy for the courts to deliver land mark rulings on issues targeting the minority and the marginalized in the country.

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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized



Pastoralists earn for conserving ecosystem :

As pastoralists in South Rift grapple with the drought that has affected over 12 million East Africans, a new model of paying pastoralists for conserving the ecosystem in reserves and parks is helping them diversify their income and end their dependence on rain fed agriculture alone.

The payment of pastoralists, mostly Maasais, has successfully been piloted in areas near Maasai Mara National Reserve and Kitengela, near the Nairobi National Park. In both areas, Maasai people have formed ‘eco-conservancies’ to protect their grazing areas for livestock and wildlife alike.

Under the payment for Ecosystem services scheme, pastoralists are given monetary incentives in exchange for allowing their land to be used for ecological services that promote conservation, for example allowing free movement of wild animals in their land.

The pastoralists voluntarily agree not to sub divide, fence or cultivate the land they are in, in return for a fee that is paid to them. The pastoralists also commit to keeping the land open for livestock and wildlife grazing.

About 357 households living in Kitengela have given about 16,800 hectares of private land under the scheme, where they are paid roughly Sh900 per acre per year. A report by the International Livestock Research Institute indicates that the income from the payment constitutes 59 per cent of the total off-farm earnings among participating households, but experts argue that the payment still remains paltry considering the sacrifices the pastoralists make.

“It’s a good venture, we are not questioning it one bit. I just think the pastoralists should be compensated more. The amount that these parks and reserves get is astronomical and so it should be reflected in the pay that they give to the pastoralists,” said Milly Ndenge an environmentalist based in Nairobi.

Under the arrangement, beneficiaries enter into a contract with The Wildlife Foundation (TWF) which also monitors adherence to the contract by the pastoralists. In the event that the beneficiary sells the land, they are removed from the records. The beneficiaries are paid in three installments, each on the last Saturday of the holiday before schools open in January, May and September, in order to cater for the school needs of the children of the beneficiaries.

The revolutionary Wildlife Lease Program was an idea inspired by The Wildlife Foundation and the Friends of Nairobi National Park in a bid to counter the loss of crucial migration lands connecting Nairobi National Park. The initiative supports the Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) objective of supporting Management of the ecosystem to facilitate the conservation of species and habitats inside the park, as well as in the entire ecosystem.

However in order to ensure that the conservation payment works for the long term, experts at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are investigating the tradeoffs to quantify how such interventions could be more equitable to pastoralists inhabiting these wildlife-rich areas.

The scheme comes hot on heels of a report recently released by ILRI which showed that despite government decision to invest Sh8.5bn in agriculture and funding irrigation schemes in drought ravaged parts of Turkana, the only feasible way to address future droughts is through investing in pastoralist in dry lands.

The report found that only investments aimed at increasing the mobility of livestock herders could buffer the dry lands from future food crises. It argued that herding makes better economic sense than crop agriculture in many of the arid and semi-arid lands that constitute 80 per cent of the Horn of Africa, and that supporting mobile livestock herding communities in advance and with timely interventions can help people cope the next time drought threatens, and that pastoralists switching to growing crops that require extensive investment in irrigation would be counterproductive in the long run.

Livestock constitutes an important aspect of Maasai life, with an estimated 75 per cent of the total household income in Maasai land generated from livestock, according to a report by the World Resources Institute.

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized



Dreams of wealth consume Turkana oil village:




A dusty, sleepy township is slowly waking up to the reality that it could become the focus of industrial development. Just 25 kilometers away from Lokichar town in Turkana South, lies the oil rig at Ngamia 1, where Tullow Oil Company four days ago announced it had struck oil.

A wave of excitement has set in, with residents already conjuring up life amid massive wealth. Said Sharon Topos, a school dropout, the fact that I did not complete my studies does not mean I will not reap from this new found wealth in our county. I have big plans of going into business. Soon, our dusty town will be an economic giant.”A shopkeeper who runs perhaps the only wholesale, and relies on solar power is talking of expanding his business, “There is every reason for us to start thinking big. I will certainly expand because we will soon be seeing new faces and everyone coming over will need something to eat and a place to sleep,” God had a purpose for putting us in Turkana, an area that has suffered decades of neglect from the government. Even the NGOs here have only been attracted by extreme poverty levels to get funding.”He said basic amenities like electricity were unheard of, and barber shops; typing services and shops in Lokichar are solar powered.

Residents are already on the look-out for anyone who could be planning to invade the place.“We have not seen strange people so far, but we know very soon they will be streaming in to start reaping money from this development.

“But the land has not been demarcated and therefore nobody owns land here. This could be an advantage but knowing what Kenyans are capable of doing, we will kick out anybody bent on amassing land,” said Muye.Lodwar town, is the headquarters of the expansive Turkana County, where structures built on either side of the dusty Kapenguria-Lodwar Road speak volume of the neglect and underdevelopment it endures. Water, electricity, health clinics and schools are scarce in the soon-to-be oil-rich county

At the exploration site, workers are receiving a barrage of demands from villagers to be told the status of the oil find. But little information is forthcoming from the area now turned into a no-go zone, much like a military installation. The Press is not allowed anywhere near this place. You cannot take pictures or gain access until you get clearance from Tullow headquarters in Nairobi,” warned the head of security.

He said his situation was now more difficult after what he said was the blowing out of proportion of the news of the oil, something that had forced his company to tighten security. Armed policemen have been placed in strategically located watchtowers surrounding the now fenced off area. They are very suspicious of anybody approaching the site from any direction.

“What is going on at the rig is classified and even some of us who take care of the security here do not know what is going on. The only thing we are privy to is that there are geologists who are working round the clock,” said the security boss who did not give his name, instead directing the armed policemen to keep the media at bay.

But an official who is the man liaison between the company and the community said the biggest challenge has been to play down the high expectations, we have had to explain to them what the process is all about because some want to see for themselves what is going on. They want to know whether the oil is has started flowing,” said the man who also requested anonymity.

But even as Tullow gets more economical with information, even vegetable vendors are already anticipating massive economic gains.


source daily nation newspaper 30/03/12

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Uncategorized