Claims of an increase in sale of communal land in Narok and Kajiado counties have seen the Maasai council of elders raise an alarm. The elders want the sale to be stopped with immediate effect.
The chairman, Kasaine ole Esho, demanded representation in the land control boards to check rampant sale of family property. The concern has prompted elders from several counties to call for a meeting this week at osenotoi primary school in Narok south district. Leaders from Kajiado, Transmara, Ilchamus, Samburu and Laikipia will discuss the thorny issue.
Monthly Archives: October 2013
Claims of an increase in sale of communal land in Narok and Kajiado counties have seen the Maasai council of elders raise an alarm. The elders want the sale to be stopped with immediate effect.
A dominant development narrative is that poverty among pastoralists need be alleviated by expanded export markets. This view has led to substantial aid investment in livestock marketing as a means to reduce poverty. It holds that larger export markets increase demand in domestic markets, thereby increasing the volume and/or value of sales for pastoralists, including poor pastoralists.
A working paper commissioned by the FAO/IGAD Livestock Policy Initiative looked at the market participation of poorer livestock keepers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan. The findings indicate that increased export markets a not likely to bring widespread gains to poorer livestock keepers.
Pastoral wealth and poverty
As in any livelihood system, pastoral wealth is not uniformly distributed across the community’s members. For the purpose of the working paper, pastoralists were categorized according to 4 wealth groups; ‘better off’, ‘middle’ ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’. Not surprisingly, it is the latter two groups who comprise the majority of the pastoral population in the region.
The paper finds livestock providing a more valuable capital asset than cash and pastoralists therefore pursuing a strategy of herd building. This is particularly pronounced among the ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ groups. Other factors explaining the greater emphasis on herd building among poorer groups are the need to accumulate livestock in order to access the other livelihoods services that livestock provide and the high level of vulnerability associated with small herds.
Herd accumulation is therefore a logical economic strategy, particularly in areas with few other economic options, and means that livestock sales will be minimized until a certain threshold level of herd size is reached. Such sales as do occur are in response to a pressing need, such as medical costs, rather than to attractive market prices. Expanding export markets, even if successful in increasing the prices paid for livestock in domestic markets, are therefore unlikely to have a large scale impact on pastoralists in wealth groups ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ Pastoralists in the ‘better off’ and ‘middle’ groups tend to enjoy higher levels of expenditure and rely more heavily on the sale of animals to meet their requirements. They also own most of the animals which conform to the demands of export markets and most export animals are therefore sourced from these groups. As primary suppliers of export quality animals, these groups are affected most whenever export bans are imposed by trading partners, By contrast, the poor and the very poor own very small numbers of animals and depend more on alternative sources of income –such as contract herding for the wealthier groups, food aid, selling their labour, safety net programmes, charcoal production and so on for their survival. They are therefore shielded to an extent from the impact of export bans.
But not entirely, although such sales as they make are mainly for the domestic market, when a ban prevents herders in the ‘middle’ and ‘better off’ groups from exporting they will redirect their attentions to domestic markets, bringing prices down.
In addition, poorer farmers will sometimes sell their stock through better of pastoralists. When these better off pastoralists lose access to export markets for their own stock, they are unlikely to buy in from their poorer neighbors.
Research indicates that the poor, in general, sell far fewer animals than better-off households.
In Mandera (Kenya), the very poor sell on average 3.5 shoats compared to 60 by the better-off in a given year
In Teltele (Ethiopia), the very poor sell on average 5 shoats compared to 92 by the better off in a given year:
In Darfur (Sudan), the poor sell on average 4 shoats compared to 21 by the middle income group.
In summary, the poor benefit little from expanded livestock export markets. Stabilizing export markets, particularly by reducing the frequency or duration of export bans can be expected to have some benefits to poorer livestock keepers. The majority of the benefits will accrue to middle and better off wealth groups however.
Pastoralists need a minimum threshold of stock to stay in the pastoral system. As far as possible they will avoid selling stock until they have reached that threshold.
Livestock sales by poorer households are dictated by herd size, except in times of emergencies
The bigger the herd, the more the household will participate in the market. Poverty alleviation is, therefore, intrinsically linked to the ability to increase herd size.
According to African Commission Human People Rights (ACHPR 2006) there is no specific legislation regarding indigenous peoples of Kenya. However there are public policies that addresses issues to do with Land and Education among others for example the Government of Kenya has made clear its intention that ; Land issues requiring special intervention such as Historical Injustices ,Land rights of Minority and Indigenous Communities ( such as hunters and gatherers ,forest dwellers and pastoralist )and vulnerable groups will be addressed. The rights of these groups will be recognized and protected” (draft Land policy p.6)
This Ethnic Minority groups comprising about 30 distinct groups, some of which may have particularly or fully assimilated. These include Abasuba,Asagidze,Bok,Kuchchil,Bongomen,Boni,Chifundi,Gabra,Ilchamus,Digiri,Lanat,Nyala,Ogiek,Ribe,Sebei,Segenju,Sengwer,Shiranzi,Soboiga,Waata and Yiaku.
By, Monicah Yator.
Following the response by the World Bank Country office in Kenya regarding the forceful evictions and the denial of its involvement in the expansion of geothermal extraction in Narasha, the Maasai communities have taken further steps to seek a just and long lasting solution to their quest for justice. The community takes cognizance of the government instituted committee to investigate and come up with a lasting plan to resolve the problem but given the history of government committees and commissions, the community sees this as a political ploy to delay the evictions and a strategy to use legal systems to evict the Maasai. To date and since the president visited the community, the families who lost their homes to the arsonists is still languishing in tents with no food and other basic needs including support from the government. The World Bank and other funders of any geothermal projects within Nakuru district need to be aware that the Maasai who are the Indigenous inhabitants of the area have claims dating back 1904 when they were forcefully evicted by colonialists. The lack of transparency on the part of Kengen regarding court cases that Maasai have filed further complicates the issue of land ownership. This implies that further development in disregard of the court cases is contempt of court and therefore an illegality.
Given the ongoing government and Kengen action of choosing to divide the Maasai community through bribing certain members of the community and inadequate response to the demand for compensation for past and current evictions, the community found it prudent to engage the World Bank Inspection Panel to investigate past and current activities of the World Bank and Kengen. This was done through a series of meetings held between the community representatives in the US and the World Bank Inspection Panel, the World Bank board of directors, members of the civil society, and Indigenous Peoples’ representatives at the World Bank’s Annual General Meeting on October 9, 2013. Conspicuously absent were the Kenyan representatives who did not attend any of the meetings.
The president of the World Bank and the managing director of International Finance Corporation recognized the need to look into the grievances raised and promised to investigate all claims regarding land grabs in Africa and to take the necessary measures as per policy to address the plight of the Maasai.
Land is an emotive issue in Kenya and has been associated with the many tribal clashes that have led to loss of life, destruction of property and displacement of thousands of people. The post- independence Kenya Government has had a dark history among the Indigenous Maasai people. The enactment of laws and legislations that ignored traditional land right and land use practices have taken advantage of the high illiteracy levels of the Maasai, corruption and greed for land by government officials with blessing from state offices has contributed to wanton, grabbing, alienation and dispossession. The laws and policies on the MAA people’s land in Kenya have been extremely devastating and exploitative. They are not sympathetic to the plight of the Maasai people. The policies are not sensitive to the livestock or the pastoralist lifestyle. There has been a deliberate misconception of the pastoralism and livestock socio – economic lifestyle which has been viewed as being primitive and unproductive. The introduction of Group Ranches and private ownership of community land has not only been used as a mechanism to use officialdom to alienate Maasai land but it has resulted in creating a whole community of landless women, children and other vulnerable members of the community.
A phenomenon that has clearly pushed for the dispossession is the subdivision of Group Ranches in Kajiado and Narok Counties which has not only led to illegal allocation of non- deserving non-indigenous communities, but has introduced a discriminatory system where corrupt group leaders have been used by government officials to sell community land. Starting from Illodo-Ariak, Ilkesumeti and Mosiro Group Ranches in the late 1980s to late 1990s, where vast tracks of land was illegally alienated from the Maasai and allocated to senior government officials, the forceful evictions in Eland Dawns in Laikipia, the most recent forceful evictions in Narasha, the pending land related disputes in Kamorora, Shompole, Namuncha, Mau, and the Kitengela Export Processing zone which was annexed from Kajiado without Free, Prior and Informed Consent of the Maasai are potent areas for ethnic clashes in the near future.
The government of Kenya seems to have adopted a “don’t see evil, don’t hear evil and even don’t talk evil” attitude, and the events of the past that precipitated tribal clashes is evident in what is currently happening at Elangata Wuas Group Ranch in Kajiado County. The Residents of Elang’ata Wuas group petitioned the National Land Commission over fraudulent land transactions. The petition has documented deep state supported corruption where group ranch officials are giving out land to non-registered members and fraudulently allocating land to themselves and family members, and the local lands office with the knowledge of senior government officials legalize such transactions by issuing Title Deeds. The reports also accuse the officials of selling public land to outsiders as well as doubling as land brokers – a process that’s giving investors unfair advantage over the poor and ill-informed landowners in the area. The officials are said to have made double allocations to themselves and are making a killing by selling the land to investors. The process has contributed to dispossession of the poor, widows and disabled who have either been excluded from land ownership or pushed to the periphery. Elang’ata Wuas group ranch was dissolved by members in 1990s and the process of subdividing and allocating members individual parcels of land has been doing on for several years. An elected committee is in charge of this process.
This process of land subdivision has not only been marred by illegal alienation, acquisition and sale of individual and public land, land extortion, forceful relocation and disinheritance, said the letter to the National Land Commission, but it goes contrary to all laws of natural justices, the constitution and all International legal statutes on human rights. These malpractices besides being illegal have a profound long lasting and disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups of our community such as the poor, women, widows, orphans and persons with disabilities. The documents also told the National Land Commission that the community’s attempts to seek redress at the county level have failed to bear fruit. The role of government’s institutions at the county lever have significantly perpetrated these land injustices by failing to honestly and adequately address them on a number of occasions, and in according to the law. The residents are recommending that a thorough audit of Elang’ata Wuas land subdivision be carried out and all land sales in the area be stopped.
Going by past events, the Maasai have a herculean task in seeking redress given that due to high handedness responses by government and use of brute force, and the legal processes which itself is corrupt. The government has in the past responded by using the police to kill, maim and arrest the Maasai whenever they challenged such government supported land allocation processes. Secondly, the current government which came to power after a highly charged and disputed election has not shown any resolve to support the National Land Commission given the fact that not only were their plans curtailed by meager allocation of finances, but there is a plan to place it under a government department contrary to the constitutional provisions that entrench its independence. The other body that might be of help to the Maasai is the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission which is also a constitutional body created to fight corruption but has been bogged down by political intrigues that have seen it deliver as expected.
From the on goings at Elangata Wuas Group Ranch and the hundreds of other land related cases the Maasai have filed in courts, the situation is a recipe for potential classes of higher magnitudes than any other that Kenya may have experienced in the past.
The Ogiek Council of Elders has complained to President Kenyatta of his government’s “reluctance” to restore the Mau Forest Complex. The elders said in a letter delivered to the President by Chairman Joseph Towett Kimaiyo, through Rift Valley PC Osman Warfa, that the Jubilee Government had taken a back seat in the forest’s restoration.
The elders said as a result, illegal loggers were poaching timber. “Numerous actions have been proposed to stem the destruction, reclaiming encroached land, compensating current occupants, resettlement of genuine squatters, rehabilitating and conserving the Mau Forest Complex, but it will not happen without the goodwill of the two leaders (President and his deputy),” said the letter.
The Mau reforestation campaign started in 2008 when former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was given the task of saving the Mau. He set up a Taskforce known as the Kenya Water Tower Agency.
It completed two phases. The first was securing the forests’ water catchment areas that had been settled on. The second phase was flushing out illegal settlers and the third, in which occupants of the Maasai Mau were to be evicted, is yet to take place due to what the Kenya Water Towers Agency says is lack of funds. The final phase, involving repossession of forestland from powerful individuals who have established tea plantations in the Trans Mara section of the Mau, has not started. Meanwhile, an environmental group has accused locals near the forest of frustrating conservation.
The environmentalists told a Mau stakeholders’ forum in Nakuru last week that the conflict started after the communities were left out of conservation plans.
Source daily nation newspaper 2/10/2013
The good news is in. Turkana is the place to be with its huge water reservoir and plenty of oil to boot. Natural resources are in plenty and the future is bright for Turkana. Initially, nobody really seemed to care about the region. It was known for all the bad and ugly reasons. Even those who had never reached Rift Valley had something to say about Turkana.
Drought, famine, poor infrastructure, lack of communication facilities, impassable roads, illiterate people, poor security, thin cattle and malnourished children were almost synonymous with Turkana region. It was a land where nothing good could come from. Or so, we thought. All this might change in the not so distant future. A natural water reservoir in a place known to be arid is news too exciting to ignore. Thanks to 21st century technology, Ngamia One is now a term that is familiar even to small children. Oil will definitely make Kenya among the richest countries in Africa.
But this begs the question; did the water and the oil just come out of the blue? Is it a coincidence that the resources were discovered almost the same time? Nah! Turkana had been forgotten almost totally and entirely. Apart from being acknowledged to be within Kenya and cherished for adding to the territory of the country, nothing more happened or seemed to matter.
The people of Turkana have gone through unspeakable suffering: Hundreds of residents have been killed or kidnapped by Ethiopian raiders, cattle rustlers from neighbouring communities have worsened the situation and food security is far-fetched. Residents have seen the worst of famines and survived the grimmest of droughts.
The colonial government ignored them. It is not surprising that they thought Turkana would inflict maximum pain and suffering on freedom fighters including Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
The first post-colonial government did not do any better; in fact the only main road in the region is the Trans-African road running from South Africa to Cairo. Whether it was by chance or design that the road passed through Turkana, is debatable. The country enjoyed the fruits of independence and it did so at the expense of Turkana. The Kibaki government came to power in 2002 and the country had great expectations. By the time he left, the problems of the Turkana people remained with them as always. The only time we saw our politicians touring the northern frontier was during political campaigns.
The last few years have seen a commendable rise in the exploration activities in the country. This has come with immense benefits for Turkana and the country at large. The question we should be asking is: Could we have possibly made the lives of Turkana people better much earlier? Could we have discovered the oil and much needed water much earlier? Is it because of our ignorance as a nation that the Turkana people had to suffer so much?
Turkana people must be the greatest beneficiaries of their resources. They suffered alone, they should eat the most.