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Monthly Archives: November 2012

KENYA PASTORALIST WEEK 2012:

This year’s Kenya Pastoralists Week (KPW) will be in Isiolo County from the 4th through the 6th of December, 2012. The function will be held at Isiolo Catholic Church being preceded by a procession to the Isiolo Stadium. To mark this event, we cordially invite other like-minded partner organizations, well-wishers, friends and the general public to come together and celebrate this event with pastoralist communities from various regions in the country.
This year’s THEME is “EMPOWERING PASTORALIST TO PARTICIPATE IN VALUES DRIVEN LEADERSHIP”
This year, Kenya pastoralist week has a special focus on value driven leadership and good governance as a prelude to the upcoming general elections in March 2013 under the new constitutional dispensation which has created numerous opportunities for effective leadership and governance as well as securing and promoting the rights and fundamental freedoms of pastoralists and other minorities/marginalized communities in Kenya.
This is aimed at enabling grassroots pastoralists to discuss and develop concrete strategies to ensure better and responsive leadership including gender in order to ensure improved leadership and good governance for sustainable development and a prosperous pastoralist society in Kenya.
Since the promulgation of the new Kenyan Constitution, its implementation has been on-going with a number of policies and laws being generated. The creation of County Governments, Equalization Fund, Youth and Women representation as well as the senate have all generated renewed enthusiasm among the rural pastoralist communities for responsive and servant leadership as prescribed under chapter 6 of the constitution that is envisioned to raise these communities from underdevelopment and despondency.
The structuring of the County Governments in the developed structure is one other critical component that is of immense relevance to minorities and marginalized communities. Protecting and promoting the rights of minorities and marginalized communities is one object of devolution that is provided for in Chapter 11 Article 174 (e) of the New Constitution and it recognizes the rights of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development. For the wellbeing of the target communities, it is prudent for pastoralists to consolidate their voice and develop strategies through which these opportunities shall be effectively harnessed and managed within the vision and spirit of the new Constitution in order to manage and internalize all these constitutional entitlements and safeguards.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Understanding the economics of cattle rustling:

Insecurity can be a peoples culture- ask a pastoralist, they are used to scenes of marauding gun-toting militia, for them clashes are more frequent than lunch. Any resident from the arid north would bet with their lives for peace – but have they ever seen it?

The recent killings of police in Baragoi Samburu, and the killing of Kenya defence soldiers in Garissa are just an indicator of a conflict volcano that is molten lacking a fissure to spew…but what exactly is happening in the Suguta Valley? History tells of a socio-economic face of cattle rustling that is not related to death, but the recent scenes are a total shift from the presupposed ideals.

Cattle rustling we are told was purely to enable young men who are ready for marriage raise enough cattle to offset the bride price running to over fifty cattle and up to  hundred in some instances. It is undisputable fact that the bride price has been rising with time while that of the cattle has not been commensurate-that is the source of the clash.

The recurrence of cattle rustling confirms that there is a tinge of history, cattle rustling takes place in the last quarter of the year and goes in line with the period when the pastoralist communities go for their brides. Interesting enough is that cows could even be stolen from the home of the family of the future bride. Simply put, it was a transfer of ownership.

Suguta Valley

Death was never linked to cattle rustling save for “obstacles” like men defending their communities. But death was never a price to pay. My hypothesis then would be the possible mutation of the socio-economic aspect to pure economics.

Presuming that cattle rustlers has a ready market for stolen cattle, how do they transport them and to which market? Where then is the link? Would we be ones consuming stolen products? Do we know where meat comes from especially processed meat?

The sophistication in firepower is far from the spears, bows and arrows that were common in the days so where did the arrows go to? Who can afford gun power with no economic support? The jury is still out on this. With the above questions what then should be done: Let’s borrow a leaf from the international markets where we have rules of origin and the introduction of traceability all with one aim to assure the consumers of the conditions of production and workers conditions. This was a campaign to curb human rights abuses and to cut down on carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.

The rules enabled consumers in Europe to know the conditions of cut flower workers in Kenya the amount of chemicals used to produce the flowers and to coffee drinkers in London they are able to know the soils used the altitude the coffee is grown same to the tea in a hotel in Islamabad Pakistani.

Can we then apply the same for meat products; it might not be a panacea to the perennial clashes but an effort towards capping the market for beef products in Kenya. What are the odds that the same force being fought would be feeding on the cattle being stolen? This if confirmed would be shocking since we will be having a consumer fighting the producer-cattle rustler.

Devolution

If this is true then the economic power if crippled might end cattle rustling and possibly relegate it to its traditional form… which was intended for the propagation of a people’s culture. Military intervention must not always be the first action taken by Government.

Kenya’s leadership must move in through non-military ways aimed at inclusion and institutionalization of northern Kenya especially in view of the impending transition into country governing units that are expected to open up the area to other cultures by way of trade.

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Ministry blocked from leasing pastoralists’ land:

The High Court has stopped the Livestock Ministry from leasing public land set aside for a livestock training Centre to a Chinese company to carry out quarrying activities.

High Court Judge Philomena Mwilu granted members of the Ilkeek-onyokie Welfare Group in Ngong district conservatory orders restraining the ministry from leasing veterinary farmland that may cause environmental harm to area residents. The court further stopped China Road and Bridge Corporation from carrying out quarrying activities in the said land situated in the outskirts of Ngong town.

The aggrieved group says they have since time immemorial occupied land adjacent to the one set aside for the livestock training Centre that has now been earmarked for quarrying activities. Through Lawyer Hassan Lakicha, the applicants have sued Livestock Ministry Permanent Secretary, County Council of Olkejuado and China Road and Bridge Corporation.

The petitioners aver that the respondents have unlawfully embarked on quarrying activities within public land reserved for farming and livestock training activities. “If allowed to proceed, it will adversely affect the ecosystem and character of the Ilkeek-onyokie area which forms part of the applicants’ ancestral and communal land,” they said.

They also claim the respondents have further proposed to unlawfully apply part of the public land as a dumping ground for waste materials without regard to their fundamental rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution.

They said they came from an indigenous community who are predominantly pastoralists.

Source standard Newspaper 29/11/12

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Standard prescription to insecurity seems to be collective punishment:

All Kenyans are angry about the brutal attack on the police at Baragoi that took away the lives of dozens of officers and our sympathies are with their families. They died in the line of duty while fighting criminals.

What irks many Kenyans though is how they were killed, and why none of the criminals died. In police parlance, they call it a botched operation, and the police boss blamed it on the field commanders who planned the operation. In functional democracies, when such a failure results in deaths, someone must take the flak for professional negligence and poor judgment, and resign or be fired.

It does not happen in our society; men do not resign ovyo ovyo. Nor do they take responsibility for failure by their juniors. As our ministers often say, ‘they would rather die than resign…’ And they don’t get fired.

This latest incident follows several others in which security officers and innocent civilians were killed in large numbers. It reveals operational bankruptcy in our police force and the dearth of our investigative and intelligence units. That the force is corrupt to the hilt also aggravates the situation. The frequent calling in of the army to fight crime clearly reveals increasing failure in operational command of the police.

However, when it comes to security in Northern Kenya, policy failures is to blame. Nearly 50 years after independence, the region is steeped in ethnic conflicts on the scanty resources, and cattle rustling.

Life is hard and parasitic, and survival is for the strongest. The upcountry public officers who lord over the residents seldom understand the pastoralists, and worse still care too little about their livelihood. Neither does Nairobi. The region invariably hits the headlines when such tragedies occur. The reaction is always predictable; send in more forces, carry out massive operations, mobilize the army, carry out disarmament and what have you.

The result is collective punishment in which residents of whole villages and towns are beaten, maimed or tortured as State violence is meted on them. It is a ‘scorched earth’ policy as civil rights and liberties are rubbished. And it happens only in Northern Kenya. Mt Elgon was the only exception.

There are no attempts to carry out a simple evaluation of the process. No effort to review the failed actions. Successive Governments just dole out the same punishment. And the situation remains the same. When you prescribe medicine for an ailment and there is no cure, you change it. Even before giving the prescription, you carry out some tests to diagnose the problem. In Northern Kenya, the standard prescription to our insecurity seems to be collective punishment. The result is apathy, feeling of marginalization, lawlessness and more poverty.

Rushing in the Kenya Defence Forces to Sugutta Valley will not bring the culprits to book. Neither will it stop future cattle rustlers. Innocent men, women and children will suffer their brutality. We have seen it in Mt Elgon, Mandera, and Tana Delta. If a Turkana bandit kills an officer, it is the individual bandit who must be sought and arrested. All Turkanas in that region cannot be punished as culprits or accomplices. Regrettably, that is what will happen.

In Central Kenya, if Mungiki massacres a village as they did 29 people in Gathaithi in 2009, the army is not called in. There will be no collective punishment of that village or neighborhood. Detectives will swoop the area and suspects will be arrested. Clearly, we live lives apart in our country.

The colonialists hired police from pastoralist communities and posted them to that region. We ought to do the same. An officer from elsewhere who abhors the hardship in the region cannot perform. The local person understands the terrain and gets informal intelligence readily.

However, the police force requires massive transformation. It requires leadership that will improve their terms and operational effectiveness. The Kenya Police Service just set up is a bold step. Perhaps it is time a fresh mind from outside headed the force.

source standard newspaper     19/11/2012

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Shock as rustlers kill 30 police officers:

Cattle rustlers killed 30 police officers in the Baragoi ambush, a fact that raises concern at the level of preparedness by security agencies and the frightening capacity of firepower bandits now have.  In what is reported to be the worst single attack on the police since Independence, 11 bodies were picked on Saturday and 19 more on Sunday. Two senior inspectors are still missing and their fate remains unknown.

In what is likely to shake the government’s security machinery to its core, some of the police officers were ambushed and executed by armed bandits at Lomerok area in Baragoi, Samburu North District at 4am. Nine survivors are in hospital. The bodies recovered so far will be flown to Nairobi tomorrow.

The killings brought the total number of the people so far killed in the area in the last two weeks to 43. The attacks came as interviews for the incoming Inspector General of Police progressed and in the midst of a go-slow by police over a salary dispute.

Suguta Valley is billed as one of the driest areas in Kenya, and is literally a death trap given its rugged topography, that takes police about ten hours to surmount on either side, and the experienced raiders just about three hours.

It is believed the 19 additional police officers were killed on Sunday after the 11 who were executed on Saturday. There was even a theory that they were incapacitated during the first attack and the raiders only came back to finish them off the next day. The lorry under attack was carrying over 50 officers from GSU, AP and regular police wing.

A stunned Standard reporter watched as the 21 bodies were collected for the flight to Nairobi. By the time of going to press last evening a senior GSU officer in the rank of Superintendent and another from the Administration Police wing of the same rank were missing.

Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe confirmed the recovery of 30 bodies and cancellation of plans to ferry the bodies to Nairobi on Sunday.

The Standard team on the ground counted 30 bodies of police officers as they were being picked from Suguta Valley in an operation co-ordinated by the head of police operations in Rift Valley Province Mr Willy Lugusa.

A furious Internal Security Minister Katoo ole Metito pledged that government would leave no stone unturned until the killers were arrested and brought to justice.

Ole Metito who spoke to The Standard from Tel Aviv in Israel where he is on an official visit said he was saddened by the tragic assault, which he described as the worst to have happened in the country’s history.

Metito who was destined to return in the country on Thursday said he had cut short his trip and will board the next flight back home. “It is a disaster. It is impunity of the highest order. It has never happened in this country before. I am looking for the next available flight now. I have to be on the scene by tomorrow to take firm action,” he added.

Internal security Assistant Minister Simeon Lesirma, who hails from the region, and his Permanent Secretary Mr Mutea Iringo held a security meeting in the morning at the office of the President. Lesirma described the massacre as “shocking and unacceptable.” Iringo said it was shocking the attackers could kill such a high number of police officers adding that: “It seems some of them were killed early this morning.”

Meanwhile, the government dispatched two police helicopters in the morning while another team of officers was mobilised on the ground to pursue the attackers who are believed to be from Turkana. In a cruel twist of fate a police officer that was found fighting for his life in a thicket more than 24 hours after they were ambushed, passed on.

The officer who had a bullet lodged in his chest was found Sunday morning after the Saturday morning attack that left his colleagues dead.  “We have found one officer with serious wound in the chest in a thicket but he has left us. The search is on. We do not know the fate of the missing officers,” said a senior officer on the ground but asked not to be named.

Witnesses and survivors said the officers were aboard a police lorry pursuing hundreds of cattle that had been robbed from herders in the area when they were ambushed. Apparently, the attackers hid in thickets as their accomplices drove the animals ahead and sprayed the police truck with bullets using “sophisticated” weapons, said a senior police officer.

It was then that some of the officers escaped from the scene with injuries. It is not clear if they managed to shoot back. By the time they received reinforcement, the attackers had left the scene with the stolen animals.

Lesirma told The Standard priority had switched to rescuing the missing officers, who it later turned out, had been killed. “I am appealing to both sides to recognize that this is not an incident caused by tribes but the work of criminals,” he added.

Lesirma said there were excess firearms in the area, which the government would mop up. “Both Turkana and Samburus must embrace peace if things have to work out,’ he added. Iringo said: “We have a plan for that region and we will tell you more soon. Things cannot (continue) happening this same way.”

He urged local leaders to spearhead peace and reconciliation even as he added more personnel had been dispatched to the area. At Kenyatta National Hospital, a section of the ward had been set aside for the police officers brought in on Saturday.

They include seven policemen and two reservists who were injured in the Baragoi assault. Another officer who was shot and wounded in an attack in Nairobi’s Dandora Estate later joined them.

KNH spokesman Kibet Mengich said the officers included four Administration Police officers, one from GSU and two from Anti-Stock Theft Unit. “Two are admitted with gunshot wounds on various parts of the body while seven have soft tissue injuries, fractures, lower limb and abdomen injuries,” Mengich told The Standard.

The officers at the hospital were heard complaining that the State had neglected officers serving in the remote areas to the North of the country where they lamented cattle rustlers are having a field day.  They believe the animals end up in Nairobi where they are slaughtered and the meat sold. “That place needs permanent choppers and dedicated officials to ensure the robbers who you refer as rustlers are contained by use of maximum force. The area is neglected,” said an officer who was among those injured in the attack. Two months ago another nine police officers were killed in an ambush in troubled Tana River.

The government for the past weeks has been engaging in talks with the two warring communities and issued an ultimatum to surrender stolen livestock to each other. It was upon the elapsing of the government’s deadline that the government deployed police officers to pursue the bandits and recover stolen cattle.

source standardnewspaper 12/11/2012

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Devastation caused by rustling unacceptable:

Sometime in August 2008, the region’s police chiefs met under the aegis of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Co-operation Organization (EAPCCO) and came up with guidelines on how to end the menace of cattle rustling.

Known as the Protocol on the Prevention, Combating and Eradication of Cattle Rustling in Eastern Africa, the guidelines were seen as the first critical step to save lives endangered by prevalent incidents of cattle rustling both within and across their borders. It recognized that cattle rustling is both a national and regional security problem and any measures to tackle it must recognize that when it comes to the menace, borders are meaningless.

The police chiefs acknowledged that it retards development, deprives families of able-bodied men lost to bullets of rustlers and cannot be eradicated solely through enforcement as has been the case all along.  Now let us fast-track to Saturday morning when bandits killed up to 30 Kenyan police officers and injured others in brutal fashion who were attempting to recover stolen cattle in Lomerok area of Baragoi in Samburu North District.

Tragic

This area is among many in Kenya’s main pastoralist zones where cattle theft is endemic. Others include Todonyang, Kokuro, Meyen, Liwan, Kibish Sasame and Napak in areas of Turkana North District. The loss of police officers to the bullets of bandits is tragic, as they have left behind families and other dependents.

In Todonyang where Merille tribesmen from Ethiopia cross over to murder the Turkana for both ritual and fun, the number of orphaned children is not fully documented but is believed to be quite high due to the raids. One Government official even equated their number to the population of a school.

Early this year, 300 Merille tribesmen attacked Todonyang and killed three members of the Administration Police Rapid Deployment Unit and injured five others after storming their camp. These are areas of persistent conflict, but even worse the police officers are too few and their weapons are more often than not vastly inferior to those used by the raiders.

In areas like Samburu, rustling has been equated with their way of life, but there are beneficiaries of this slaughter, those who buy the animals and sell them to slaughterhouses in Nairobi and Mombasa. So what has the EAPCCO protocol achieved since it was signed four years ago? Not much, at least not where Kenya is concerned.

Solutions

Among the recommendations was that Sate parties pass laws that make cattle rustling a serious offence, upgrade their regulations on the same and adopt new technology to aid in eradicating the menace.

Given the vast areas and difficult terrain to cover in pastoralist areas, the police numbers are simply not enough and more has to be done.

One of the proposed measures is the injection of special microchips into livestock spread over a specific geographical area. Police would then be able to track the stolen animals even across borders and secure them. The only problem with this measure is the cost, as this would involve paying for satellite and helicopters, which is very expensive.

A cheaper option proposed in the regional protocol is ensuring the mandatory standardized branding and identification of livestock.

All livestock are supposed to be permanently branded to identify the area and the owner of the stock including the country and district or tribe. This involves hot iron branding which pastoralist communities have traditionally used over centuries. The protocol also called for national training exercises involving police, Customs, Judiciary, veterinary and other agencies that could aid in the fight against rustling.

Even more importantly, there was a proposal for joint training exercises relevant enforcement agencies including the military (where the latter are involved in border control operations like in Somalia).

Internal security is for the police, but there are special circumstances that would justify the involvement of the military. But ultimately a commission of inquiry into the matter that would also look into the Todonyang killings and others before might be necessary.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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High number of orphans is the order of the day in Todonyang:

The mention of Todonyang area in Lokitaung, Turkana North District arouses memories of misery. The misery in this Northern part of the country has left many families in pain due to many counts of death and destruction by the Merille Militia men.

The militia from a neigbouring country has seen a number of families widowed or children orphaned due to a series of attacks. The most worrying is the high number of orphaned children left behind after their parents were killed by the militia from Ethiopia. For those who know Todonyang, it is a region with persistent conflicts that has made the area unfairly welcoming.

In Todonyang, death is the order of the day as Merille militia kills at will either for ritual purposes or just for fan.  It is for this reason that one cannot be proud of Todonyang area despite the flourishing fishing business that fetches massive income annually. Due to the conflicts, a number of residents have fled the area for fear of their lives. Many residents have been left homeless.

Difficult situation

A local resident, Osman Eleman says Merille militia target men to eliminate them along the shores of Lake Turkana so that they remain to dominate fishing activities. Mr. Eleman recounts how Merille militia ambushed a number of families who had crossed to Ethiopia for barter trade early last year where more than 40 Turkanas were killed. “It is a difficult situation here. We can’t even go for fishing along the Lakeshores. The militia usually lay ambush to deter us from accessing fishing grounds,” Eleman says.

He says they solely depend on fishing to feed their families but the business has now been paralyzed by militia threats.  About 1,300 displaced families have found a camp in Lowarengak location about 25 kilometers away.  Those who survived the killer bullet from the Merille militia remain to recount ordeals that left their lives in shambles. A local cross border peace network coordinator Joseph Elim says the government must compensate for the lives of people killed by the Merille militia.

Hardest hit

“Why do we have a coalition government that has abdicated its responsibility of protecting its citizens? Where are we going to take these orphans who have been left destitute? The government must compensate families of those killed by militia,” Elim says. Turkana North District Commissioner (DC) Albert Mwilitsa has decried high number of orphans in Todonyang area.

The DC equated the number of orphans in the area to a population that can start a school. “We are in shock to learn that many children have been left destitute in the area following persistent conflicts along the Kenya-Ethiopia border,” says Mr. Mwilitsa.

The DC says the hardest hit area with the highest number of orphans include Todonyang, Kokuro, Meyen, Liwan, Kibish Sasame and Napak areas in Turkana North district. Mr. Mwilitsa is appealing to well-wishers and charitable organizations to assist orphans in Turkana North district.

The DC has praised well-wishers in Nandi -Lassos Educational Centre for supporting two orphans who were victims of Todonyang massacre. The center came to the aid of the two orphans after our sister publication; The Standard highlighted a story about the fate of orphans in the remote part of Turkana County.

The administrator says the militia group is a threat to peace in the area adding that there is an urgent need to deploy more security personnel along the border points. Recently, the DC called for the deployment of Marine Police unit to Todonyang to forestall incursion of the militia.

Mr. Mwilitsa says the militia vandalized Todonyang primary school, paralyzing learning activities in the area. Parents fled with their children to safer places after the only school that had supported learning in the area was vandalized.

Nightmare

Even with the presence of security officers who have been deployed to the ground to protect residents, the militia have ignored security presence and continued to attack residents and security officers.  A few months ago, more than 300 heavily armed Merille Militia attacked Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU) security camp in Todonyang. They killed three officers and injured five others.

The DC says the task of enrolling orphans to school has turned to be a nightmare as militia continue to unleash terror to residents.

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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