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Drought Pushes Turkana Herders To Farming:

Achwa Ikwachiyo, a widow and mother of seven, regarded with a sense of hopelessness the dusk embracing her Lokitaung village in Turkana North Sub-county. Fate and weather had conspired to hand her a tattered life. A devastating drought wiped out all her livestock, leaving her impoverished. Left with nothing, Achwa awaited a miracle. That miracle came through her decision to abandon traditional livestock rearing for farming. “My ambition is to turn my life into success,” says a joyful Achwa, “crop farming has always been my dream. It’s a flourishing and rewarding economic activity in the region compared to livestock, which perish during drought.” Recently, church officials from World Relief-Kenya visited her and she took them to her farm, 5km from her home

At the Lomareng farm in Lokitaung, a group of women were tilling, weeding and planting along seasonal River Kachoda. Achwa and 30 other pastoralist women are showing the way to those still sticking to cattle rearing despite the devastating effects of drought that leave them poorer as the years go by. The women use drip irrigation to water melon, onions, sukuma wiki, tomatoes, maize and cowpeas. “We earn a living from the farm. These crops, especially the sweet water melon, fetch us a good income that gives us our daily bread,” says Achwa. She says cowpea leaves are medicinal – people chew them to sharpen their night vision. “We have never gone to the hospital because of eyesight problems. In fact, we treat most villagers with night blindness when they visit our farm. It is a miracle crop as it heals instantly,” she says.

Chairman of the Lomareng farm David Epuyo says the farm has boosted the locals’ economic livelihoods. “We want to remove the over-dependence on relief food. We can grow our own food and feed the rest of Kenya. All we need now is more water to succeed,” says Epuyo. Epuyo says several pastoralists are willing to farm since the region has potential to produce food through irrigation. Farmers are reaping big from water melons. A kilo of the sweet fruit fetches Sh100 and a farmer can harvest hundreds of kilogram’s at one go. A similar farm in Manalong’oria near Lokitaung town has also been put under drip irrigation. Several pastoralists continue to enroll in the farm following biting drought in the region. Lokitaung senior chief Paul Lobolia says the farmers have benefited from the crop farming techniques that the church has initiated in the region. “We have a chunk of fertile land that can be put under irrigation. If more land is farmed, then our farmers would help achieve food security in the region. We want to end the situation where people die from hunger in the region,” says Lobolia.

World Relief gives the farmers high value seeds, constructs green houses, digs shallow wells and provides technical expertise. Their input has borne fruit. Paul Amodoi from the organization says more than 2,500 households have benefited from the project and it is intending to increase the number of beneficiaries to ensure the region becomes a food-secure zone.

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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in News briefs




When Kenya promulgated the new constitution in 2010, there was optimism of breaking with the disorder and impunity of the past and joining the community of law abiding nations. But based on recent developments it is cause for worry when those charged with the responsibility of defending the constitution and the people of Kenya tend to flout this oath that binds them with the citizenry and the supreme law.
The case of the Sengwer is one such incident. This is a minority community with a population of a paltry 33,187 according to the 2009 national census. The Sengwer have inhabited the Cherangany hills for centuries and the nature of their livelihood systems is such that their daily existence is fundamentally linked to land and natural resource use which are managed through intricate traditional decision making mechanisms.
Natural resources provide them with livelihoods, primary and supplementary sources of food, animal feed, medicine and shelter. And it is also upon land and natural resources that this community’s cultural and religious ceremonies and other practices thrive.
According to information available online, when plans were mooted to move the Sengwer from the Cherangany Hills, the community moved to court and in March 2013 the High Court in Eldoret issued interim orders forbidding the Kenya Forest Service and the police from carrying out the evictions. This injunction was renewed in November 2013. On 18 January 2014, the Eldoret High Court issued further orders requiring that the police arrest anyone breaching the high court orders.
According to the community, the police providing support to the Kenya Forest Service officers proceeded to ostensibly evict the community and burn their residences to the ground in clear breach of not only the court injunction but also Article 56 (a) of the Constitution read together with Article 10(2) (b) that underscore the principles of human dignity, social justice, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalized in all aspects.
According to the United Kingdom based Forest Peoples Programme, these evictions are motivated by a World Bank funding to the Government of Kenya’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) Program through the banks’ $68.5 million dollar Natural Resources Management Program, in the Cherangany Hills. REDD is a carbon offset mechanism that uses forests and land as sponges for developed country’s pollution.
According to the World Bank website, its policy on indigenous peoples aims to promote their development in a manner which ensures that the development process fosters full respect for the dignity, human rights, and uniqueness of indigenous peoples.
Globally, Indigenous Peoples are increasingly getting concerned about REDD since their experiences in the past have shown tendencies by governments and private companies to refuse to recognize their rights and interests in forest projects and programs. Indigenous peoples global discourse is rife with concerns that due to the huge amounts of money from the developed countries to the developing countries such as Kenya, there is expected increase in government sanctioned encroachment on indigenous peoples’ forests to cash in on the REDD largesse.
The Sengwer are basing their legal quest on Article 63 (d) of the Kenyan Constitution that recognizes the rights of communities to own ancestral lands traditionally occupied by hunter-gatherers. Additionally, National Land Commission whose mandate among others include conducting research related to land and the use of natural resources, and making recommendations to appropriate authorities appear glaringly lacking in the Embobut forest issue.
On 13 January 2014, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Professor James Anaya expressed concerns about the impending eviction of the Sengwer indigenous people from their homes in the Embobut Forest in the Cherangani hills and urged the government to ensure that the human rights of the Sengwer are fully respected, in strict compliance with international standards protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.
A foundational constitutional argument in support of the principle of consultative and inclusive approaches is that the more participatory a process, the more likely decisions will balance the range of economic, environmental and social considerations involved in a project and thereby lead to more socially and politically viable development of natural resources.
Indeed Article 10 read together with article 69(d) of the Constitution underscore the same principle by highlighting the importance of the participation of people, protection of marginalized lands and sustainable development as well as co-management of the environment.
In the 2009 ruling by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) regarding the Endorois Case on their rights to Lake Bogoria and access to resources therein through communication 276/2003 to the government of Kenya, the ACHPR recommended a raft of measures to safeguard the rights and fundamental entitlements of the Endorois community in the spirit of Chapter five of the constitution with specific emphasis on article 63 that vests community land on communities identified on the basis of ethnic and cultural identity as well interest. This decision is yet to be implemented 4 years down the line and numerous communiqué’s by ACHPR have been sent to the government the latest being on 5 November 2013.
In Kenya’s last mid-term report under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2011 one of the recommendations from Bolivia was that Kenya ensures that public policies for combating poverty are in accordance with the rights recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and that they are not negatively affected by commitments that might be undertaken in the context of trade and investment agreements.
It is therefore imperative that the government and its operatives as well as other regional and international actors recognize and respect the provisions of the Kenyan constitution in addition to other commitments by Kenya under international law as part of integrating the country within the community of nations where the rule of law and the rights of minorities are safeguarded and respected or else Kenya shall be viewed as a pariah state that is only preoccupied with the welfare of the politically powerful and the affluent.

Santeto Ole Tiampati

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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in News briefs




Inter-community conflicts left 491 people dead last year, a report released by a United Nations agency indicates. The conflicts, according to the UN Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), left another 1,235 people injured while 47,050 were displaced from their homes.

The clashes were sparked by competition for political positions and other resources, according to the report. Although fighting may have subsided, issues that led to the violence in Tana River, Marsabit and Mandera counties remain unresolved. The Impacts of Inter-communal Conflicts report says those counties were the worst affected.

The UN agency, whose mandate is to strengthen response to complex emergencies and natural disasters, released the report on Tuesday. Leaders in the affected areas have been accusing the government of failing to stop the killings.

In Tana River, 222 people died in ethnic clashes, the report indicates. The Pokomos, who are farmers, and their pastoralist neighbours, the Orma, engaged in deadly violence that ended before the last General Election. The violence was blamed on incitement by politicians.

Despite the suffering and the highest number of deaths, Tana River had no displacement, according to the report. In Moyale, Marsabit County, the Gabra and their allies from Burji ethnic group fought gun battles with the Borana.

The fighting started after the latter lost seats in the General Election to those from a political group known as Regabu (Rendile, Gabras and Burji). Clashes also occurred in Turkana and West Pokot. Thirty four people died in skirmishes between Turkanas and Pokots on the one hand, and between the Merille and the Toposa from Ethiopia and South Sudan, respectively, on the other.

Massive displacement, the report notes, were in Moyale, where 40,000 people in a population of about 80,000 fled violence that left 15 people dead. Most of them went to live with their relatives in Ethiopia.
Some 2,000 were displaced in Baringo where pastoralists have been fighting over pasture and water points.

Source daily nation 6/02/2014

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Posted by on February 6, 2014 in News briefs


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The Case of the Somali and Borana
The whole of the northern Kenya region has gone through a long history of ‘antagonism’ with the Kenyan government. The antagonism started during the Shifta secessionist war of the 1960s. Long after the end of the Shifta war, the government still holds the people of this area with great suspicion. In several occasions the government has sanctioned massive violence and rights abuse on the people of the region. The climax of these abuses were seen in the many massacres including the Bulla Kartasi massacre, the Wagalla massacre, Malka Meri massacre and Bagalla massacre, where the government allegedly indiscriminately killed thousands of people on suspicion of being bandits. The aftermath of these massacres remains to date and many people remain traumatized.

Conflict in the region
Conflict in the whole of the Northern Kenya is centered on competition for water and pasture. This competition is exacerbated not only by drought, but also by the state’s behavior, which alternates among neglect, a weak government presence, and intense security operations to make up for historical shortcomings. Between 1992 and 1994, two other factors contributed to a worsening of the situation: the collapse of the Somalia government in 1990, which led to a proliferation of arms through the already porous borders; and the fluidity of the Kenyan transition from authoritarian rule to competitive electoral politics between 1991 and 1992.

According to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report 1996, while Borana and Liban zones in Ethiopia are prone to drought, adjacent areas in neighbouring Kenya and Somalia are even more likely to suffer from water scarcity. During times of complete failure of rainy seasons in northern Kenya and south-west Somalia, there are often apparent influxes of pastoralists from those countries into Ethiopia and vice versa searching for water and pasture. These situations lead to conditions where local people and ‘guests’, often related by trans-border kinship and sharing common languages and cultures, have to compete for the use of the few perennial water resources.

Customary Law and Conflict Resolution in Northern Kenya
The difference among societies is not whether conflict exists, it is how conflict is managed: whether conflict is managed in ways that lead to violence or in ways that open opportunities for innovation and positive change. In fact, the process of development almost invariably leads to conflict, as resources are reallocated according to new priorities and relations between social, ethnic or religious groups are altered.

In early 2005, the UN supported the government and civil society in developing and launching a programme on ‘Strengthening National Capacities for Conflict Prevention and Conflict Transformation in Kenya’. This programme focuses on building the capacities of provincial and local officials working with civil society to anticipate and respond to potentially violent conflicts.

The Kenyan government has responded positively to this support. The Office of the President has established the National Steering Committee on Peace-building and Conflict Management (NSC) comprising representatives from government, civil society, UNDP, and donors. In select districts in the more violence-prone areas, ‘peace and development committees’, consisting of local leaders, have been formed with the support of the UN and other partners. These committees assist the provincial administration in managing conflicts. Currently, the UN is supporting the members of the NSC with the drafting of a national policy on conflict management.

Hybrid local dispute resolution
some parts of the country where state presence is minimal, traditional systems are permitted by default to exist side by side with a state run justice system in order to reduce transaction costs. Kenya permitted the intermediation of customary law in redressing matters of a personal nature notably marriage and succession while criminal matters remained the negotiable jurisdiction of formal legal systems. The considered reason for this side by side ( dual) system of laws was that colonial laws were at great variance from the norms of communities that their blind adoption and replication would lead to a deeper confusion and collusion between the communities and the law enforcing agencies in the Customary law’s intervention is seen as addressing an area where ordinary criminal and civil sanctions have failed. They become particularly relevant in the North where belonging to groups is still a salient reality. The problem of this system has however been the inability of the statutes being unable to create space for redressing matters of a collective nature.

The Wajir Peace Model
In June 1993, some women drawn from the small well-educated and business elites in Wajir town were attending a wedding and began discussing how to arrest the violence that immobilized the district. The impetus was the realization that there were no winners in the two-year, low-intensity, but costly, clash between clans.
These women, drawn from different clans, agreed to work toward peace and formed a committee called Women for Peace to coordinate their efforts. Their initial activities included door-to-door canvassing for peace. They also facilitated a resolution by civil servants from various clans who, in continuing to work closely at their places of employment, contradicted the pervasive climate of inter-clan rivalry. These youthful (mostly male) civil servants came together to commit to peace and to working together as the Youth for Peace. The two initial groups—Women for Peace and Youth for Peace—formed the Wajir Peace Group (WPG). They later attracted the men and elders to what culminated to the Al-Fatah elders for peace this community realized they needed to wheel in government so as to rid away with the brutality of the government actions, grew to include the Government under the stewardship of the area D.C.

While the Women for Peace, Youth for Peace, and the Al Fatah elders work independently as separate entities, they are integral parts of the Wajir Peace and Development Committee. The WPDC, in turn, sits as part of the District Development Committee and the District Security Committee, both chaired by the District Commissioner. This gives the WPDC, which is a mix between a community-based organization (CBO) and a consortium of several government and NGO service units, a rather unique profile.
Eventually, ‘Peace and Development Committees’ (PDC’s) were established across the arid lands. They were created through bottom-up selection processes at the location, division and district levels. In some areas these initiatives were motivated by local communities, while in others – following successful examples – they were rather driven by external donors and NGOs.

The Wajir Peace Network has assisted neighbouring clans develop similar models to handle any uprisings of violence in the neighbouring communities. A classic example is the peace negotiated under the guardianship of the WPN in neighbouring Garissa between the warring Abudwak and Awlihan clans in 2000 and also between the Garre and Ajuran clans in Wajir North.

The Oromo-Boran Gaada system of Conflict Resolution
The Gaada system is an old institution developed for guiding the social, political, economic and religious life of the Oromo people in Ethiopia and Kenya (sic) and for managing resources such as water, as well as its contribution in conflict resolution among individuals and communities.
The traditional mechanisms of resolving conflicts and managing natural resources (i.e. water, land and forests) in the Borana zone is derived from the Oromo institutions of gadaa, Oromo institutions of aadaa (custom or tradition), seera (Boran laws), and safuu (or the Oromo concept of Ethics) and heera (justice) and the associated cultural administrative structure. Gadaa is a system of social organization based on age-grade classes of the male population that succeed each other every set number of years in assuming economic, political, military and social responsibilities. Every Oromo man of specific age-grade is expected to perform a certain function according to specified rules and regulations. The grades are also periods of initiation and training as well as periods of work and performance.
The roles and rules attached to the age grade system are the most important elements that regulate the gadaa system. According to gadaa, those people who have entered the Luba grade (individuals in the expected age range of 40–48) are considered to be elders. Therefore, the lubas (elders) settle disputes among groups and individuals and apply the laws dealing with the distribution of resources, criminal fines and punishment, protection of property.

In conclusion, the use of traditional dispute resolution systems has been very alive and so in the Northern Kenya. These institutions form rules and regulations that determine the access and the rights that a group has to natural resources. These institutions are supported by networks of kin, and institutionalized in meetings and rituals. Natural resource access is governed by the combination of these different institutions, which are also conflict-resolution institutions.

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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in News briefs



600 Forest Squatters Yet To Receive Cash For Land

At least 600 Embobut forest squatters listed as beneficiaries of Sh1.1 billion that was disbursed by the government have not received their cash to buy alternative land.
They face eviction from the water tower. Some 2,874 people were to benefit from the funds whose disbursement was presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto in the forest three months ago. A number of them have not opened bank accounts. Kenya Commercial Bank said the beneficiaries were asked to open accounts to access Sh400, 000 each, but so far 200 people have not yet approached the institution.
It is either the individuals are not aware that they appear on the final list, which was dogged by controversy, or they lack transport from the forest to Kapsowar town, where the bank’s nearest branch is located.
Elgeyo-Marakwet county commissioner Arthur Osiya, who is in charge of the reclamation of the Embobut water tower, yesterday said the 200 individuals had not visited the bank. “The final and approved list of 2,874 beneficiaries was given out to the public and it was publicized extensively across the area but to our surprise 200 of these people has not visited the bank so that they can use the money to buy alternative land to settle. Mind you they are now facing eviction,” he said.
The county commissioner told the Nation that 400 other beneficiaries had not been paid due to some technical problems. He said they failed to access their money at the bank because of errors regarding their names and national identity card numbers.
At the same time, an Eldoret court has ordered the suspension of the evictions of squatters from Embobut forest. Mr Justice Sila Munyao issued the order after three petitioners moved to court on Saturday saying the evictions contravened the rights of the Embobut forest dwellers.
Earlier, the Sengwer community had moved to court saying the matter should be referred to the National Land Commission, which is tasked with addressing historical land injustices in the country.
Last year, Mr Justice Fred Ochieng ordered the Kenya Forest Service to stop interfering with the petitioners’ occupation of the water tower as there was a pending case in court.

Source daily nation 21/01/2014

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in News briefs



How Turkana pastoralist leaders paid for protests:

Turkana leaders actively participated in organizing recent protests against Tullow oil, The Standard has learnt. Investigations reveal that a day prior to the demonstrations that rocked the oil fields of Turkana and led to the suspension of exploration activities, some leaders from the county paid residents of Lokichar and Lokori to protest against the British oil company. Residents from the two areas said they were paid to participate in the demonstrations. “We were given Sh100 each and promised a similar balance. However, we did not receive the remaining amount. I took part in the protests because I was paid,” said Josephine Loperot. Ewosit Ekai, a resident of Lokichar, said he took part in the demonstrations because of money. “At first we were promised some good money. This later changed to Sh100. The leaders used us to hit Tullow,” said Ekai.

There have been allegations of leaders having vested interests, key among them pushing for business deals. Residents of villages around Ngamia I, the main oil field, said they were not involved in the protests. The demonstrations held in October last year were led by MPs James Lomenen (Turkana South) and Nicholas Ng’ikor (Turkana East). The leaders marched to the oil fields to protest alleged discrimination in employment, tenders and transport contracts by Tullow Oil Company. The protests prompted immediate suspension of oil drilling in blocks 10BB and 13T for fear of employees’ safety. Tullow had struck oil in Ngamia 1, Etuko, Twiga 1, Ekale 1, Wildcat and South Well wells.

Ekwam Philip, a resident, noted that the demonstrations did not achieve much, but helped to create a security scare and disrupt residents’ livelihoods. “The protesters were self-seekers. They did not represent us at all; our concerns were not even captured in their protests,” observed Ekwam. However, in defense of the demonstration that led to unease in the region, MP Lomenen said constitutionally the demonstrations were legal and pressure from his constituents forced him to act. “I invite any investigations into whether I have vested interests. My interests are those of the community. Even so, Tullow is a private company and anyone in the community could have an interest in its affairs without it being perceived to be a conflict of interest,” said the MP, who did not comment on claims of leaders paying residents to take part in the protests. Graze cows though they were not part of the demonstrations, some residents said they are not happy with Tullow Oil and its operations.

“We do not understand how they came here. They hoodwinked us with a few water tanks, which have run dry,” said a resident. Others said grazing land has diminished as oil explorations take centre stage. “We cannot graze our cows freely anymore. There are cars all over. You have to be cautious lest your animals get hit by vehicles,” said Ekai. Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok noted oil exploration activities in the region should not be interrupted since they are of economic benefit to the county and country. “We are blessed with oil and other resources, which should be tapped to uplift the community,” he told a leaders’ forum

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in News briefs




The stand-off between Tullow Oil Plc. and the Turkana community in Northern Kenya is not just a shame; it is also a bad sign, a very bad telltale sign of things to come. Remember, strictly speaking, all operations in the area are still exploratory. Your bet is as good as mine on what to expect once (if) limited production starts next year as projected.
The unfortunate incident of protest by locals expressing dissatisfaction with Tullow’s ‘failure’ to employ enough locals leading to the latter suspending its operations and evacuating its workers brings to fore serious issues relating to security, investment viability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment. Questions now abound on whether the Turkana region is secure enough to carry on the operations; whether the success prospect is worth the risk and of course whether the IOC is doing enough to meet the legitimate expectations of the local communities.
Much as such stalemates are not new to any oil and gas operations world over, I dare say they are avoidable if communities and operators are willing to make certain structured commitments and concessions. This has been done elsewhere through formalized social contracting tools known as an Impact Benefit Agreements (IBAs) or Benefit Sharing Agreements (BSAs).
Tullow’s operations (and all the other operations of oil companies) in Kenya is governed by a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) between it and the national government. A look at Clause 13 of Kenya’s standard PSC reveals that the Company is under an obligation to ‘employ Kenya citizens in the petroleum operations, and until expiry or termination of [the] contract, train those citizens’. Two things stand out in this provision.
The clause is non-specific on proportions and is grossly generic in speaking of Kenyan citizens and not necessarily ‘local communities; probably for a good cause. It follows therefore that even though Tullow has now come out and declared that in fact 57 per cent of her employees are from Turkana, there is strictly speaking no legal obligation on the company to source any given proportion of its work force from the local community.
That said, the company cannot run away from the reality that locals have legitimate expectations to have the lion’s share of jobs at the operations sites. Whilst such expectations might have no basis in law, Tullow knows better than to turn a blind eye to the grievances voiced. Tullow knows that irrespective of the safety it might find in statute or the PSC, it needs social acceptance of its operations in the area.
It must address itself to the demands of the Turkana people. Such conflicting interests exist in realms beyond what is provided for in law and must be looked at broadly as those affecting an international company’s stature as a responsible corporate citizen. Specifically Tullow by committing itself to the international (US and UK) Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights as adopted by companies in extractive and energy sectors has an enduring interest in pursuing an approach to the problem that addresses the root cause thereof (poverty, unemployment and lack of capacity) as opposed to a strict legal obligation. However there is the problem of ascertaining the scope of demands that the local communities might pose in proportion to what the company is genuinely capable of doing.
On the other hand as things stand there is no framework within which the local communities can negotiate, measure or quantify the impact benefits from the operations. The option adopted by industry players and communities in other countries in such circumstances is the use of IBAs and BSAs which are recognized by the united Nation’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as acceptable practice in resource benefit sharing.
An IBA is a written quasi-legal agreement that is the outcome of a consultation process about a proposed resource extraction, project or development that has the potential to impact the rights or interests of local communities. Though usually not required by law, it is a tool often used by companies in extractive industries to secure social acceptance of upstream projects and ensuring certainty in the demands of the local communities.

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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in News briefs