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Monthly Archives: September 2013

How Devolution Is Fuelling North Eastern Province Chaos:

During the last election campaigns, Northern Frontier districts residents were made to believe banditry, clan rivalry and cut-throat competition for resources will be dealt with by the devolved governments.
Chapter 11 of the Constitution, which talks of a devolved system of governance, was widely discussed in Northern Kenya in the run up to March 4 election to solicit votes. Many politicians eyeing presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial and all other elective posts depended heavily on the chapter, quoting its provision as a quick fix to “marginalization” which was blamed for the underdevelopment in the expansive region. They promised, in their campaign manifestos, to ensure full implementation of devolution of resources if they were elected.
Majority of residents in the formers Northern Frontier Districts (Marsabit, Moyale, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Isiolo) were made to believe that they were marginalized by because of unfavorable centralized national decision-making system. “We blamed successive governments for having used the national government to entrench skewed policy formulations and the don’t-care altitude which never sought their inputs.
However, the chapter is proving a curse for the residents in the drought prone area, than the anticipated blessing as deadly inter-clan conflicts, which has its genesis in the county politics, creates widespread mayhem.
Deadly clashes have broken out and spread in the region like a wild fire just six months into birth of the devolved system of governments in the country. Three out of the five counties, that makes up the region have so far been hit by a bloody inter-communal feuding, that has so far claimed lives of hundreds of people.
Clashes have led to the destruction of property worth millions of shillings and the displacement of tens of thousands of families after sharing of the county elective positions reignited rivalry and a contest of numerical supremacy.
A curse?
According to the coordinator of the Garissa-based Northern Forum for Democracy Khalif Abdi, devolution, contrary to previously held belief of propelling the counties in the region to prosperity, has indeed proved to be a curse. “Instead of uniting communities, elected leaders, who left residents divided in their campaigns, are busy ostracizing communities perceived to be enemies because they voted against them,” said Abdi.
He adds: “The tyranny of numbers was experienced in many of the counties as the bigger clans took all elective posts leaving the minor communities empty-handed. This has left the numerically marginalized clans very bitter.” He further observed that because some of the smaller clans now feel their interests are not represented, most of them are now working to ensure failure of the county governments.
Mandera became the first county to be baptized with fire after inter-clan skirmishes pitting between Garre and Degodia pastoralists communities broke out shortly after elections. More than one hundred people from the warring sides were killed and more than ten thousand families uprooted from their settlements in less than three months of macabre fighting.
Courtesy of their numerical power, the Garre community easily captured all the county positions of governor, senator, county women representative and 26 out of the 30 Member of the County Assembly (MCA) seats plus four out of six members of parliament positions. However, the two communities buried their difference in a peace pact signed in May.
In an interview with The Standard on Sunday, the Governor of the Mandera County Ali Ibrahim Roba said his government had addressed the fears of marginalization by any community by forming an all-inclusive government. He promised to deal with the problem through equitable recruitment of staff as long as they were qualified for positions and not clan correctness. “As leaders who promised a lot of development to our people during the campaign period, we regret that unfortunate incidents of killings and insecurity had occurred in our county,” said the governor.
He regretted that for three months, residents couldn’t embark on developmental issues despite the county having been the first in the region to have a working government. “In fact millions of money, which had been used in developmental projects, had to be diverted to address the issue” he explained.
He said apart from forming a ministry to handle the matter, the county government also established a day for the same, which will be marked in all six sub-counties annually to foster unity.
Garissa is another county in the region bedeviled by run-away insecurity, which was blamed on the sympathizers of the Somali Islamist group, Al-Shabaab. The Al Shabaab fighters have repeatedly sneaked into the country after the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) commenced military action against them in Somalia and kicked them out of Kismayu.
War-torn country
Angered by the military invasion in their strongholds in war-torn country, Al Shabaab sympathizers within the country’s borders retaliated with grenade strikes, that has left more than fifty people including security officers killed and hundreds of others maimed in the cowardly reprisals.
Garissa governor Nathif Adam says that security in Garissa has drastically improved in the last three months following concerted efforts by the local administration to introduce several security projects. He says: “My County Government has initiated a program dubbed Jua Jirani Yako (known you’re neighbouring), which encourages the residents to report suspicious characters in their neighborhoods”.
A number of high mast floodlights have also been installed to light up major streets and selected residential estates, leading to a major drop in insecurity incidents –and now paving the way for investors and tourist to flock back to the county. “With all these opportunities available, it’s the responsibility of the local administration to take up these tasks and build a better tomorrow for themselves”, said the governor.
Moyale in Marsabit County has become the latest in the conflict prone region to descend into inter-clan chaos as Borana and Gabra/Burji communities engaged in bloody fighting, that led to the death of about 100 people.
Over 60 families have been displaced and turned into either internally refugees or forced to sought refuge in the neighboring Ethiopia. Godana Halake, 65, from Butie village, one of the settlements badly affected by the conflict says that County government has brought a curse that has re-ignited the deep seated hatred and animosity among various pastoralists’ communities in the volatile region.
Borana, a community which is majority in Marsabit County badly lost to a coalition of smaller tribe who formed an outfit -REGABU (Rendille, Gabbra and Burji) which locked it out of elective positions.

Source standard newspaper 08/09/2013

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Posted by on September 26, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Turkana Discoveries Are Evidence Of Marginalization:

Even before the residents of Turkana get a taste of the huge discovery of water beneath them, the Government is talking about getting into an international agreement to supply neighbouring Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan.
The Water Principal Secretary has the courage to even announce that the Government lacks the capacity to exploit that resource alone and will require the support of other nations. And then he urges the County Government in Turkana to start making revenue from this resource immediately.
There was no talk of a national emergency programme of accessing this water across the acquifer and supplying the entire thirsty Turkana County.
Nor has the government got excited about using it immediately to irrigate the millions of acres of that barren land to address the perennial food insecurity and to be precise the hunger, in the county. Turkana is the largest county in Kenya, measuring some 69,000 square kilometres, and its residents suffer extreme hunger, and the highest child mortality rates in the country.
Existence of water has never been the problem even before this discovery. Lake Turkana that traverses the county is the world’s largest permanent desert lake, with a surface area of nearly 6,500 square kilometres.
Though its water may not taste nice because of its alkalinity, it is potable. It has a huge potential of fish, not to mention its scenic beauty, which has never been exploited. When Ethiopia started damming its largest source upstream, River Omo, the Government remained mum on the matter.
No attempt has ever been made to desalinate the Lake Turkana water and pipe it across the county. Neither has any attempt been made for water catchments of the huge seasonal rivers such as Turkwel and Kerio rivers that run across the county.
Hence, understandably, Turkana is the poorest county in Kenya, with a poverty index of 95 per cent, meaning that that percentage of its people lives in abject poverty, largely dependent on relief food handouts.
Only 0.1 per cent of its nearly a million residents serve in the public service. Its millions of livestock are a perennial source of attack by cattle rustlers, and hugely depleted by unrelenting and unmitigated droughts. It has few schools whose graduands end up roaming the desert for lack of fees to pursue higher education. Health facilities are a luxury, and good infrastructure remains a distant pipe dream. Turkana, like all other North Eastern counties, has therefore, been marginalized by successive regimes, in spite of the available unexploited resources.
Even after oil has been discovered, there is little that has been factored into this year’s budget to address infrastructure or social amenities in the county.
The National Government that spends billions of shillings in counties where water is available within walking distance cannot contemplate spending similar amounts in regions where the commodity is not accessible even in flying distances.
The fact that 250 billion cubic metres of underground water was available just 300m below the surface all these years is a damning indictment of the Government and a glaring evidence of neglect of these communities. It means the same potential of underground water may exist in all ASAL areas had the government used this technology to survey the regions. Would this high tech survey have been done if oil was not discovered in Turkana earlier? Probably not!
Economists have long argued that for every shilling we invest in these ASAL areas, we shall make a return five times higher. But if the Turkana responses are anything to go by, all indications are that the north shall remain marginalized for a long time to come.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Making cultural industries work for indigenous communities in Kenya:

PDNK-UNESCO-IFCD-Study Findings-2012

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in News Briefs

 

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Pastoralists Demand Pay for their land:

Pastoral communities in northern Kenya are living in fear of losing their grazing lands to the vision 2030 projects.

The pastoralists are worried that Lamu port, southern Sudan- Ethiopia transport corridor and the proposed Isiolo resort city would occupy much of their pasture land. Speaking yesterday at a consultative forum on the two projects, the communities under the auspices of Pastoralists Development Network of Kenya said the construction of a 200 meter wide Lapsset corridor from Lamu to Lodwar through Isiolo would deprive them of livelihoods.

“There is need to strike a balance between the sacrifices and the benefits because most pastoralists depend on the space,” said the Lobby’s National Coordinator Michael Ole Tiampati.
He said there must be measures to guarantee land rights so that those affected are compensated adequately. “Though the communities will be empowered through the projects, taking away land will be like drastic surgery.” Vision 2030 secretariat official Jonathan Lodompui said there would be consultations on all projects.

Source Daily Nation 17/09/2013

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in latest news

 

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Turkana Underground Water Sufficient For 70 Years:

A huge underground water reserve the size of Lake Turkana has been confirmed in Turkana County. UNESCO scientists say the new find is a “game-changer” and can meet Kenya’s total water needs for the next 70 years because it is constantly replenished.
The discovery was made by French Company called Radar Technologies International (RTI) at a cost of $150,000 funded by the Japanese government. The water lake was found in Lotikipi location in Turkana district. “Lotikipi Aquifer equals the volume of Lake Turkana today, offering the prospect of becoming the ‘New Lake Turkana’ since, unlike the actual lake that has alkaline water, its waters are fit for human consumption,” RTI said in its final technical report seen by the Star.
Kenya’s Ministry of Water and UNESCO had May last year announced the presence of the water reserves, but the amount had not been confirmed through drilling. It was also unclear if the water was potable.
The ministry had estimated Turkana’s underground water at 60 billion cubic metres. The figure has now been revised to 200 billion cubic metres, according to Alain Gachet, the Frenchman who led the exploration for RTI. He said they drilled more than 300 metres underground to hit the water.
The RTI report says Turkana has a network of other smaller lakes and shallow underground streams that it is shocking residents still have no water. Lotikipi alone holds 900 per cent more than Kenya’s current water reserves. It could also serve 625 million people in one year, according to the findings.
“We have seen the system and the fact is water is there, and that is extremely important and it could be a game changer within the country,” Abou Amani, a UNESCO scientist who took part in the discovery told UK broadcaster ITV.
The discovery may benefit millions of drought-hit pastoralists who currently walk for many kilometres looking for water. “We have enough water and if we utilize it properly this country should not classified as water stressed,” says head of water resources in Kenya John Rao Nyaoro.
The technical report says the underground lake is constantly replenished by waters from Uganda highlands and South Sudan. The confirmation comes even as UK oil company Tullow confirms Turkana residents also sit on huge amounts of oil reserves. RTI is now asking county governments to allow it drill across the country. “Turkana can be a model for other counties,” the company said in a statement.
RTI now also wants the land gazetted. “Kenyan authorities are recommended to gazette the land above the aquifers in order to protect them from harmful activities,” it said in its report. It has also asked the government to establish a limit on abstraction rates for both the Lotikipi and Lodwar Aquifers.
The discovery also puts exploration skills and capacity of the Kenyan borehole drilling industry on the spotlight. RTI said the drilling equipment in Kenya are “outdated”. “A major campaign should be launched to build the capacity of the industry as a whole, and reduce the inefficiencies in the market,” it said in a statement.
But scientists are cautious. “Some of these water aquifers are more than 100 years old so any development should focus on sustaining the water,” said Dr Saud Amer, a US geological survey expert who attended the launch of the exploration last year

Source star newspaper12/09/2013

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in News briefs

 

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Lapsset ‘Not Good For All’

Pastoralists communities on the Lamu Part-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport and Economic Development corridor will take part in a forum to consult on positive and negative impact of the project.
Speaking during the opening of the meeting on Lapsset project and the proposed resort city in Isiolo yesterday, vision 2030 director, Jonathan Lodompui said the government is preparing the community to be part of the implementation process.
Lapsset project is a multi-billion dollar flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030. He said pastoralists may be negatively affected by the project as they have been marginalized economically, socially and politically.
Lodompui said the communities may lose their grazing lands. The project may also lead to increased conflicts, disruption of source of income and collapse of beliefs and cultures. He said pastoralists are ill-equipped to respond to new set of challenges that Lapsset project portends.
Indigenous Pastoralists communities along the LAPSSET Transport corridor will take part in consultative forums on positive and negative impacts of the project to mitigate the effect on them.
Speaking during the opening of the community consultative forum on LAPSSET project and the proposed resort city in Isiolo yesterday, a Director with vision 2030, Jonathan Lodompui said the government has begun series of steps to prepare them to be part of the implementation process. He said the indigenous people will potentially suffer the negative impacts as results of having been historically marginalized economically, socially and politically.
The Lamu part-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport and economic Development (LAPSSET) corridor is a multi-billion dollar flagship project under the Kenya Vision 2030 national development policy blue print.
Jonathan said the communities will loss chank of grazing lands, territories and resources, increased conflicts, alteration of traditional livelihoods systems and the collapse cultures and traditions among others. He said some of the communities were among those excluded from the social -economic and political fabric of Kenya and are least equipped to respond to new set of challenges that LAPSSET transport corridor portends.

source starnewspaper 16/09/2013

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2013 in News briefs

 

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The “Pastoralist” North Is Changing, Follow Its Course.

Hello. My name is Wato Ibrae Mamo, and I am a Gabbra girl. I want to give you a story about me, my life and aspirations, a story about growing up in the arid north where opportunities are scarce and risks stare at you from every corner, a story about hope and desire… and being a girl here.
I am the third born in a family of four. My father is a nomadic pastoralist and that means he is always on the move looking for pasture for our tiny herd of cows, goats and camels. I was born inside a house here in the Kalacha Oasis, where my family settled all those years ago to take advantage of the seasonal swamp that supports the ecosystem around here.
I am 14, and this sun-baked hamlet in Marsabit County is my home. My one and only. The sun, sand, stones, the dust and all, I know no other and, in its own little ways that a foreigner cannot see, it has blessed me with a few joys.
I met this writer a few days ago as he and a number of others toured my neighborhood. I knew, at first sight, what they wanted: a story about the ‘forgotten, god-forsaken northern frontier”. You know, a story about all that is wrong about this place. You have read such, haven’t you? Aren’t all stories from this place full of guns and bullets and wails and screams and drought and starving camels and gasping anthills?
Subjective prism
So I asked the writer whether we could do something different, something about being a teenage Gabbra girl. “A story written from my personal perspective and not through the subjective prism of this Nairobi types” He will polish it, I know, but I hope he won’t distort it. At least he promised me he won’t.
So, how is it being a Gabbra girl? Well, for one, it is fun, confusing. And a little bit challenging. But then again, aren’t I, at 14, in the middle of that stage in life when everything is fun and confusing and challenging?
Still, I think I am among the lucky few. For one, I go to school and my mind is slowly expanding, accommodating the worldviews of others and digesting all those theorizations about life, our collective mission on Earth, and death itself.
Around me are hundreds of girls who will never get to go through that, thousands whose fathers decided they are better of herding their camels than going to school.
I am a Standard Eight pupil at Kalacha Nomadic Girls’ Primary School, and from here I hope to chart a course that will eventually land me in law school. It is tough though, but I am managing. I wake up at 5:00 in the morning and, in the three hours to 8:00, do a bit of personal studies, take my breakfast and bathe.
The whole school here refers to everyone, including the six-year-old Standard One daughters of nomadic pastoralists, as pupils. But aren’t these little tots just children? Can a six-year-old who is here because his father is herding goats and dodging rustler bullets 400 kilometres away from home be a pupil in the true sense of the word?
I ask those questions because these little girls have to be bathed and fed by support staff who run our boarding programme, and, even though I am just eight years older than them, I can feel their heartache and see the trauma in their eyes.
But they have to be here because, as our head teacher Mr Sora Duba Dadacha tells us, only sacrifice can change lives. We all do — only the cost of that sacrifice varies.
Whenever I have the time, I listen to the dreams of my friend Talaso Jillo, another 14-year-old who is also in Standard Eight. She wants to be an engineer and is mad about Starehe Girls’ Centre. (As for me, Alliance is where I want to eventually end after here).
And so, every time we have time to spare, we catch up on those dreams, on being lawyers and engineers and Starehe and Alliance… and the life after that.
That banter sometimes leads us to boys and, more seriously, marriage. The average 14-year-old, no matter the environs, will somehow get preoccupied with stuff about marriage and family life. It is a way, I think, of preparing us for ‘life proper’, and so these discussions about boys and marriage probably help to tether us and our choices properly.
Talaso says she will get married after attaining her engineering degree, but I think I will do so after getting a job, probably in one of the best law firms in the country. She is clever, this Talaso she scored 281 marks in last term’s exam and was position 12 overall while I got 258 marks and was ranked position 27 out of 42. Not bad, but still not good enough. I am working on it though.
School is nice, but it is also disturbingly provocative. One mattress for four girls, and cow or goat hides for the rest. Ours is a little community united by both its ambitions and travails, a gathering of girls that hopes to be the change that will resonate across valleys and mountains to the whole world.
And so, when, at the end of every term, our head teacher takes the short journey to the oasis to send word to our parents to come and collect us, we feel the sadder to part ways.
And then another term begins, and I, just one of the few girls from this area with dreams of a future beyond the acacia trees and cows, embark on yet another leg on this winding road to Alliance.
On these weary shoulders lie not just my own little dreams, but also the dreams of my father, Ibrae Mamo, who let me leave his homestead and head to school all those years ago.
My mum, Gumatho Ibrae Mamo, grew up on these selfsame gasping plains, but, unlike me, she never went to school. In me, therefore, she sees the one chance to break a cycle of poverty and illiteracy that has stalked my people for generations.
Special necklace
I dread to imagine where I would be if my father had not sent me to school. What would be my life, my outlook? At the age of 11, a special necklace made of red and yellow beads would have been put around my neck to mark me as someone’s intended wife.
The man, most likely, would have been three, five or six times my age, but what choice would I have? For all I know, the man would have been as old as the windswept Qubi Bathana Hills in North Horr, but as long as he had the required livestock I would have been under no illusions about what was expected of me.
And that would have been the normal, rosy, expected and celebrated turn of things. For, were I to get pregnant out of wedlock, my people would gather at our homestead, hand a small container to me with some drinking water in it, and sent me out into the wilderness, never to come back again.
So, even as we discuss boys and marriage with Talaso, we know our boundaries. We are well aware of what is expected of us, the bridges we can cross and those we should dare not venture onto.
Education, however, is slowly changing the ways of our community. It is a painfully gradual process, but I can see it happening. For instance, that curse into the wilderness is being replaced by something better, even though still odd.
Today, girls who get pregnant outside marriage are handed over to the offending man, who then builds a small hut on the edges of the community and forgets about her. She and her baby, Inshallah, will find a way to fend for themselves.
Beyond some of our villages stand a group of six to eight huts in some secluded place. Those houses belong to girls foolish enough to get pregnant before marriage. Should a man from another community be interested in any of them, he would seek her from that point.
But I digress. Back to ‘if I had not gone to school’: If I behaved ‘well’ and kept myself pure, the man whose beads I would be wearing would come for me at 13 or 14 or, in some cases, later on at 16 with no less than three camels, an agreed upon number of cows and an unspecified number of goats.
And off I would go, wailing or smiling, to start life in matrimony. I would not be a greenhorn though: by this time I would have been circumcised and taught a few things about life in marriage, things like how to, you know, be with a man.
But I promised you at the top that this story will not be about the wrongs of this place, but its rights, its buoyant expectations and the winds of change sweeping through this landscape. So let me tell you something about our Chief. Her yes, her name is Sabdio Wario Galgallo, and to me she is the personification of everything that is right about my hallowed community.
Sabdio worked hard enough to earn her position, and she is not done yet. These days, I hear, she has travelled to the big city of Nairobi, where she is pursuing some course at a university whose name I forget.
God-ordained leaders
Now, why do I say she is the personification of everything that is right about our community? To answer that question, I will give you a simple fact of life here.
Just a few years ago, it would have been unheard of for a woman to lead any cause here. Men, my people believed, were the God-ordained rulers of the land and thus women had to “know their place” which is a euphemism for “be quiet and follow the great, know-all male leader”.
But something great started happening about 20 years ago. Girls started being allowed into classrooms, fathers loosened their grips on their daughters, the media penetrated into our hitherto unreported hamlets and, to cap it all, Mwai Kibaki, 10 years later, gave us free primary education. Those factors combined to produce a powder keg strong enough to send me, Talaso and the hundreds of girls in our school to class.
Before us, it gave the community Sabdio, that one woman who, in my own feeble thinking, is preparing the way for the likes of us.
In a nutshell, then, Kalacha is changing. The story from here is no longer about bandits and hunger and disease, but education, infrastructure and the hopes of a community.
It has taken us a lot of time and sacrifice to be where we are today, and there are still some anthropological and cultural purists among us as there are in any community who think this change is not good for our collective good.
But look at me and Talaso above, our wavy hair shining in the sunlight and our eyes full of promise. Do you think anyone, anything should tether us? Is Alliance or Starehe too much to ask for? To work for?
Yes, the story from Kalacha has changed, and this young man has done well to help me tell it. Now, I hope, you see me and mine in a different way, and that you will find time to travel up north and spend a few days with us. Thank you for your time.

Source daily nation Dn2 6/09/13

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in News briefs