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Monthly Archives: May 2013

THINK CREATIVELY TO QUELL PASTORAL CONFLICTS:

Pastoralist parts of Kenya are again back in the news because of the clan fights going on in Mandera County. Nomadic communities have been dogged by violence for decades, and, historically, they have been mostly over cattle, grazing lands and other similar issues.

Sadly, the causes are not that simple any more. Despite the frequent nature of these clashes, our government is unable to find lasting solutions. Why solutions have evaded us this long is worth considering. Is it because the real causes of the conflicts are unknown? Or is it that the causes are known but the right solutions are not being applied?

Naturally, the starting point when tackling problems of this nature should be to determine their root causes. Any attempt at solving them that does not include this core component will be futile. Contrary to common belief, these clashes, when they occur, especially in places like Mandera and the Tana Delta are not necessarily about the quest for cattle as the case may be in Turkana and Pokot areas.

Deep-seated grievances over land ownership or a quest by some communities to have exclusive right of residence in certain areas may be the main cause. Thus, the problem of ethnic-based violence in pastoral areas has diverse causes and, as such, the solutions need not be uniform across the board, but tailor-made to suit the specific grievances.

For many years now, the authorities have adopted a straitjacket approach in their attempt to address the issue. The reaction of the police and the government in general has become boringly predictable whenever such incidents arise.

It often starts, and ends, with deploying more troops to the area ostensibly to disarm the people of their “small arms and light weapons” and that is expected to make the problem go away somehow. Regrettably, this has been the standard response in all the incidents. But the problem persists because the response fails to take into account the real cause of the problem.

Disarming communities

What sense does it make to blame the weapon rather than its user? If illicit small arms are to blame for the violence in Mandera as the Inspector-General of police claims, then who is to blame for the massacres in the Tana Delta?

There is clearly an urgent need for the government to unearth and understand the causes and be more innovative in their solutions. This is because the methods that have traditionally been employed to address conflict have failed. Disarming the communities is certainly not among the solutions. On the contrary, why not consider arming them so that each community can defend itself against aggression by other communities?

As it became evident recently in the Tana Delta, the police cannot defend every village or homestead even when their stations are located a few metres away. Thus the only logical thing to do may be to allow all pastoralists to carry arms so that they can defend themselves adequately. This is what they have always done anyway, albeit illegally.

Who knows this may even be a solution to the problem of policing our vast borders with volatile neighbors. Besides, it can be recalled that disarmament exercises by the government have always been lopsided, disarming one side while sparing the other. The disarmed group becomes vulnerable and dangerously exposed to massacres as was seen in the Bagalla massacre of Wajir in 1997.

The troops deployed to quell such violence have the tendency of resorting to brutal violence against innocent members of the community perceived to be guilty. The police need to find out whether the actions they are taking to curb the violence in Mandera have any history of yielding positive results anywhere. There is a need to come up with effective methods of solving the conflict problem once and for all.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in latest news

 

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Maasai Community, Discard Cultures That Lock Children Out Of Classroom

Maasai community has been asked to discard retrogressive practices blamed for hindering their children’s education. Narok County Teachers Service Commission Director Enow Alio Gulia appealed to the pastoralist community to take advantage of the free primary and secondary education and educate their children. “When we educate our children, we will help enlighten the future generation and create enough human resource in our county which will raise the standards of living,” said Gulia.

The director, who made the remarks in his office in Narok town, asked all education stakeholders to join hands to improve on the performance in the national exams.

Last year (2012), our county made slight improvement in the national exams and we aim at producing better results in future. We want to ensure more children transit to universities and other tertiary institutions,” he said. Gulia appealed to Non-Government Organizations to help in addressing challenges facing education in the area like early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation and Poor infrastructure. “Some institutions have been helping in the purchase of learning materials in schools and paying fees for needy students. We urge others to help give children quality basic education.”

He asked teachers to conduct themselves responsibly and help children to develop positive attitude towards education.

standardnewspaper 29/05/2013

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2013 in latest news

 

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Clan Diversity Beneficial Resources For Development In Wajir County:

Wajir County has just elected her maiden governor and progress shall depend largely on how he steers the ship of leadership. We congratulate him for this unenviable task.

His background and skills in the corporate world, is a great boost to his current status as Governor. We also promise him support and urge him to consult widely whenever need arises because we appreciate that Wajir County belongs to, and depends on all of us for speedy development and progress.

There are critical challenges facing Wajir County. Wajir has a population of 661,941. It has an estimated voting-age population of 308,596. However, it has only 118,091 registered voters (because of lack of IDs and other factors). At the last general election Jubilee Alliance’s Uhuru Kenyatta garnered 38.83% of the total votes cast while CORD’S Raila Odinga garnered 45.59% of the votes. This reflects the social, economic and political diversity across the vast county.

At National Assembly level, ODM won five seats while URP won one (1). At the County Assembly, the results were: ODM (7), TNA (6), WIPER (4), FORD-K (2), NARCK–K (2), URP (2), MUUNGANO (2), NARC (1), KNC (1), UDF (1), AGANO (1) and Safina (1).

This data is sufficient evidence that Wajir County is united in diversity. It is, therefore, crucial that leaders be sensitive to the socio-cultural, economic and political inclinations of every corner of the county. It is a given that democracy runs on the principle of inclusion as opposed to exclusivity.

To maintain harmony and sustain development in the vast county, leadership and resources have traditionally been arbitrated through clan lines. This is the reality on the ground and the realistic formula that has worked successfully for generations. It reduces tensions, defuses clan rivalries and ensures peaceful co-existence among the people.

Historically, when clan-interests were arrogantly dismissed and suppressed, clan wars spontaneously broke out with terrible consequences. Examples include the Wagalla Massacre of 1983; between the Degodia and Ajuran; because the Degodia dominated the local civil service. Between 1999 and 2000 inter-clan wars between the Gare and Ajuran clans claimed so many lives because a Gare chief had been imposed on the Ajuran at Arestamo. These are regrettable and unfortunate incidents that were born and bred by arrogance, corruption and marginalization.

Clan elders had decided long ago that positions and resources of the county would always be divided as follows; Degodia 30%; Ajuran 30%; Ogaden 30% while 10% would be reserved for the tiny corner tribes and clans. This is the workable, practical and suitable formula for ensuring justice, peace, prosperity and progress of the vast and diverse county.

However, the entire county was alarmed when the new governor Hon. Ahmed Abdullahi Mohammed unveiled his County Assembly Public Service Board. It comprised Degodia (5), Ajuran (1) and Ogaden (1).

And before the county could recover from this shock, we were thrown into consternation when the governor unveiled his Cabinet, comprising Degodia (5); Ajuran (2); Ogaden (2); Corner tribes (1) and the Chief of Staff (Degodia).

This is the face of manifest injustice. This is extreme impunity, marginalization at worst, arrogance personified, and devolution of corruption to the county.

The governor conveniently forgot that Wajir County comprises of 30 wards that require equal attention in jobs and resource distribution.

The Governor also ignored the reality that all these wards equitably have highly educated, qualified and skillful sons and daughters who merited equal treatment for the public positions. The Governor failed to appreciate the fact that skewed public appointments and un-balanced resource distribution is a recipe for clan tensions, inter-clan rivalries and other unmitigated disasters. The Governor dismissed the spirit of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which prohibits all forms of discrimination, marginalization, tribalism and nepotism.

We, the concerned citizens of Wajir are apprehensive that unless the governor rectifies these deliberate blunders, we are staring at tensions of huge proportions.

Furthermore, according to Mr. Micah Cheserem, Chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), Wajir County shall receive Sh5, 290,000,000 this financial year, from the central government.

This translates to Sh7, 983 per person for redressing the pathetic poverty index in the county. It is curious and puzzling how a governor with such suspect intentions, will be trusted to use the devolved funds justly and fairly. IN Wajir, there are for example, people who can only get water from more than 50 km away, including those from Qanjara, Weithali, Adan Awale and Kurman centers. What will happen to them if the governor does not come from their clan? This cannot be the change we voted for or impunity we voted against

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Maasai Women Want Say In Land Boards:

Maasai women have demanded representation in land control boards to check rampant sale of family land. They claimed men were using hired ‘wives’ when they appeared before the local land committee with intensions of selling family land.

Narok Nominated County Assembly member Lucia Teeka said many women were left homeless after parcels belonging to their families were sold without their knowledge. “We only discover that family land has been sold when strangers come and order for our eviction by claiming they had bought the land,” said Teeka.

Teeka, who is also the region’s Maendeleo Ya Wanawake Organisation chairperson, said women from the community have been turned into paupers who depend on handouts. “Maasai women have been turned paupers who depend on handouts after their husbands secretly sold their only land before eloping with other women in Narok town where the proceeds from the sale of the property is spent on leisure at the expense of family welfare,” she said during a workshop for journalists and peace and reconciliation members from South Rift region.

It emerged during the workshop that a large number of women victims of such cases have found their new homes at rescue centers offered by churches and non-governmental organizations.

Pastor Davies Kisotwa said many Maasai homes have been divided after husbands sell off land without the knowledge of their wives. “I have been forced to shelter tens of such women and children in my church after they were forced out of their homes and made squatters by their husbands,” said Kisotwa.

Alice Munge, a Maasai girl-child education activist, claimed that rampant incidents of wife battering could be linked to women who have stood up to protest the sale of family property without their consent.

source standardnewspaper 8/05/2013

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Community against Push to Settle Idps:

The Maasai community has said there is renewed push by the Government to settle about 900 displaced families in the controversial 2,496-acre Rose Farm in Mau Narok.

It has consequently petitioned the National Land Commission to intervene and suspend the intended sub-division, accusing the Provincial Administration of pushing for settlement in the alleged community land. “The community is opposed to the planned settlement, which was mooted three years ago. The ongoing talks between sections of our leaders led by an MP to have the community allocated 600 acres as a bait to abandon its claim on the whole land is selfish and doesn’t have the entire community’s blessing,” said Meitamei Dapash, a Maasai land rights activist.

Mr Dapash, who has been in the forefront in opposing the internally displaced persons’ settlement and the bid to have about 30,000 acres of land in Mau Narok area whose 99-year leases have since expired revert to the community, also appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene until an amicable solution is found.

Execute mandate

“The issue cannot be resolved in boardroom meetings. All interested groups should arrive at a decision before any sub-division is done,” he said and added that there were about 20,000 landless youths in the community who ought to be settled in the controversial land.

Dapash said there were suspicions that some people in Government want to be allocated land for commercial purposes at Rose Farm, arguing that the IDPs should return to their former lands because the Kikuyu and Kalenjin communities, which clashed over land in Rift Valley after the 2007 botched presidential elections, have since reconciled.

He said Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the Agricultural Development Corporation, which were last year mandated to manage the land, should execute their mandate and wondered why the Government was concerned about the issue of landlessness at the Coast only yet there were many landless Kenyans who deserve attention.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Bandits Kill Two Pastoralists In Narok:

Two brothers were on Saturday shot dead by bandits who invaded their Manyatta in Naikarra, Narok County. The bandits, who are believed to be Sonjo tribesmen from Tanzania, broke into Malike Ole Lepore’s manyatta early in the morning intending to steal his livestock.

However their commotion attracted Lepore’s attention who rushed to the scene armed with a machete. The thugs shot him on the head killing him instantly. According to Narok OCPD Peterson Maelo the brother of the deceased was killed after he went to find out what had caused the shootout. “The public who were also attracted by the gunshots corned two of the raiders and lynched them but one managed to escape towards the Tanzania border. Administration police and Kenya Wildlife Services officers are pursuing the runaway bandit,” said Maelo who added that an AK47 riffle and 24 bullets were recovered. The bodies of the dead were taken to Narok district hospital mortuary.

Narok South DC Chimwaga Mongo said security has been beefed on the border to avert such raids in future. He appealed to locals to exercise restraint and desist from retaliating. “Kenya is working with Tanzania to bring to an end these raids. The victims should exercise restraint and desist from retaliating,” he said.

A group of people believed to be from Tanzania armed with guns and arrows last August crossed into Kenya and burnt down a trading center, seriously injuring scores of villagers.

source standardnewspaper 6/05/2013

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Development Key To Stability In Cattle Rustling Prone Areas

Poor infrastructure, high illiteracy and under development are common features in cattle rustling prone areas, that have for over five decades remained behind the rest of the country. One of the reasons for under development since independence in some parts of the country has been blamed on imbalance in distribution of resources and development revenue due to lack of a clear distribution formula.

But with the new devolved system of government, resources channelled from the national treasury, whose level is based on researched determinants, could help turn around some of these counties, through promotion of development and perhaps help end the rampant cattle rustling culture.

In February this year, the three most affected counties by banditry: West-Pokot, Turkana and Samburu were among 14 counties selected to benefit from the Sh3 billion equalization fund for the next three years.

The Chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) Micah Cheserem had then said the fund allocated to the 14 counties was equivalent to 0.5 per cent of the national revenue. In deciding which county qualified for the equalization fund, the commission had indicated that it relied on three parameters of County Development Index, one being historical injustices and its own county surveys. Turkana County, for example, was allocated the lion’s share of Sh271 million while West-Pokot got Sh233 million and Samburu 224 million.

West-Pokot County Senator Prof. John Lonyangapuo (pictured above) however notes the system of revenue allocation adopted by the CRA was not fair to under-developed counties. “We are one of the countries with the three enemies declared at independence (Disease, poverty, illiteracy) still intact. Kapenguria  hospital has no casualty ward and even X-ray services, children in some school learn under trees, there is no piped water and electricity despite the county being home to the Turkwel Power project,” points out Lonyangapuo.

According to the Senator, CRA should review the formula of revenue allocations to favour marginalized counties, which he notes are recognized by the Constitution. “It’s wrong to use factors such as education, population and land size to determine the level of revenue allocations to counties. Determinant factors should majorly be the poverty index and land size among others for us in under-developed counties to benefit well,” adds Lonyangapuo.

He says with improved revenue allocations, he foresees West-Pokot county’s fortunes changing for the better in the next five years. “In terms of education, I foresee our nursery schools increase from the current 900 to 1,500, primary schools from the current 600 to 1000 while secondary schools increase from the current 90 to 150,” says Lonyangapuo.

He says plans were underway to establish a teachers training college, medical training college and a university  campus in Kapenguria, (the county headquarters) and a meat processing factory at Chepareria at a cost of Sh500 million.

Already, Sh120 million has been spent on the project which has started as a modern slaughter house, and whose operations commences at the end of the year. “We also intend to boost agriculture by bringing more land under irrigation. Among areas targeted is the completion of the third and fourth phases of Wei Wei Irrigation Scheme,” Lonyangapuo further explains.

Both West-Pokot and Turkana are endowed with minerals, with oil having recently been discovered in Turkana South (Ngamia One) while Limestone is available in Ortum area of West-Pokot. The minerals, according to the government functionaries are of commercial value.

However, the economic turn-around of these counties may largely depend on the security situation, which as per the new Constitution remains the role of the national government. Even as the county governments take-off, leaders in these areas are crying over insecurity, calling upon the government to contain banditry.

Last week for example, eight MPs raised the red flag over increasing insecurity in Turkana County.  The legislators, led by Turkana County Women Representative Joyce Emanikor, demanded for immediate government’s intervention and noted residents lived in fear since gangsters had taken over most parts of the county.

MS Emanikor said close to 40 people had been killed in the county in the past month by raiders. She appealed to the government to deploy adequate security personnel to deal with the menace.

The MPs told journalists that some of the raiders are said to have come from as far as Ethiopia and South Sudan. Loima West MP Protus Akuja claimed local security personnel were sending more officers to guard the oil fields. Isiolo North MP Joseph Lomwa, John Lodepe (Turkana Central), Christopher Nakuleu (Turkana North), Nicholas Nikor (Turkana East) and Nicholas Ngikor (Turkana East) were at the press briefing.

source standardnewspaper 01/05/2013

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in News briefs

 

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