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WHERE PARENTS BECOME POLICE RESERVISTS TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN

Every day as dawn breaks, Esuruan Awet takes up a duty that has become his routine.

Together with other Kenya Police Reservists (KPR), he arms himself in order to guard his children as they begin their journey to Nakatong’wa Primary school in Turkana East.

The father of five, who also doubles up as the school’s Parents Teachers Association chairperson, has been keeping vigil over the minors for the past three year.

The school, situated in Katilia Ward, has been under constant attack from bandits and parents have opted to take charge of their children’s safety.

When The Standard visited the school, established by the Government in 2009, there were over 12 armed KPRs keeping close watch around the school located 50 kilometres from Lokori town.

The ‘soldiers’ seem to have perfected their new occupation as is evidenced by how they position themselves, guarding the only school that is still open in the area.

NOT DETERRED

One ‘officer’ is positioned on top of the hill and has his eyes fixed on the upper side of the terrain where bandits advance from, causing mayhem in the village and the school.

“Two days ago, we spotted four bandits on top of the hill. We believe they had come to spy on our area and there was a fire exchange which lasted three hours but they managed to run away,” Awet said.

He said the decision to join the KPR was arrived at following constant attacks from bandits believed to be from the neighbouring community.

“They came to our village one day and took all my animals, including 80 camels. It is from this painful experience that I made the decision to stop fighting hard for my animals and instead focus on my children’s education,” he said.

He also informed us that many of the parents who are now devoting their time to ensure the safety of their children as they learn, have never been to school but are determined to make sure their children have access to basic education.

“The school has been attacked by bandits more than seven times but we have always managed to repulse them,” he said.

Bernard Etaan a teacher at the school, said the pupils learn under difficult conditions with many suffering from bullet wounds while others prefer to stay at home.

“The region is not safe but these parents have taken the initiative to camp around the school the whole day to provide protection to these young kids who deserve a bright future,” he said.

Etaan said the school needs more teachers and classrooms to contain the huge number of pupils.

Akutah Eudan, a parent and member of the KPR who also keeps watch over the school which hosts more than 200 pupils, says some of his colleagues have lost their lives while protecting the young ones.

Eudan says escalating attacks have seen more than five pupils from the school sustain injuries from stray bullets.

“Recently three people succumbed to gunshot wounds after the bandits struck. Their approach has now changed and they seem interested in killing and maiming without going for animals,” he said.

Eudan however, says that even as they take this risky position, they do not have enough firearms to fight the bandits who are better armed.

SCHOOLS CLOSED

“The fire arms we were given by the Government are not adequate. Bandits normally come in large numbers with sophisticated guns to wreak havoc on the village,” he said.

The police reservists however says this will not deter their resolve to protect their children.

“We want our children to grow up knowing that cattle rustling is not the only solution to survival.

We want them to change this region by focusing on education,” he said.

Esther Asokon, a cook at the school says the five solar panels mounted by the Government are their only hope and must be guarded zealously since locals also benefit from free solar power which they use to charge their mobile phones, among other things.

Ward Rep Lawrence Lotomo expressed concern over the high number of schools that have been shut down in the area.

Lotomo said five primary schools – Kidewa, Lomunyen, Naukottem, Kaibole and Echoke – have had to relocate or shut down due to escalating attacks.

He said that safety of children as they access education has now been left to parents, yet it is the Government that has the sole obligation to protect its citizens.

“For how long will parents double up as security officers yet the Government has adequate security machinery that can provide services to schools situated in insecure areas?” he asked.

The ward rep called on the Government to practice fairness in provision of security and make it possible for children to access basic education without fear of attack.
Source: The Standard Wednesday, October 29th

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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SENATOR GIDEON MOI CALLS FOR BOUNDARIES SOLUTION BETWEEN BARINGO AND TURKANA

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi says conflicting boundary differences between Turkana and Baringo counties should be iron out immediately to avert more loss of lives and destruction of property.

Speaking in Koibatek, Baringo county Moi asked Survey of Kenya to insure that proper and original administrative boundaries are identified and marked.

The senator further urged the affected communities from the two counties to respect the traditional community boundaries as they wait for the survey outcome.

“The problem we are witnessing in Kapedo is purely a boundary issue and that is why we demand that Survey of Kenya visit the place and point out the original boundaries between the two counties. We need to know whether Kapedo is in Turkana or Baringo, period”, he reiterated.

While condemning several deadly attacks directed at Government officers in the area, Moi said the country’s director of survey must tour the region and remedy the situation before it get out of hand.

The senator who is also the senate roads and energy chairman said persistent insecurity arising from cattle rustling which has led to loss of lives, destruction of property, displacement of persons, disruption of education and negative image of the county was undermining development.

“This state of affairs is no longer tolerable and the national and county leadership from all sub counties must face the issue head on, lives and property of helpless citizens must be protected by all means”, he added.

In the meantime, a dispute between Pokot and Illchamu communities is brewing over whether Mukutani Centre should be in Marigat sub-county or Tiaty with each community claiming the same.

Over the years, the contested area has been treated to be under Illchamus until early this year when suspected pokot bandits torched houses belonging to Illchamus threatening to cause an eviction.

During the raids, Mukutani location assistant chief Samuel Lecher was ambushed and shot in the leg while making his way back to home in the evening and his shop set ablaze.

On Saturday, three General Service Unit (GSU) officers were killed and a vehicle they were traveling in set ablaze by suspected Pokot bandits during a routine security patrol at Ameyen in Turkana East.

During the 2pm incident, a GSU officer and unknown woman were also injured.
By Monday, a secondary school teacher, three police officers and an employee of Tullow oil were still missing after bandits attacked a vehicle they were traveling in near Kapedo town.

Last week, eight police officers were attacked in the area and a vehicle ferrying KCSE examination materials was set ablaze with operations at Amosing and Ngamia 1oil exploration sites in Turkana East reportedly grounded.

On the same day, suspected Pokot raiders made a daring attack at Sirata in Kiserian Marigat Sub-county shooting death four Illchamus Morans before making away with 31 heads to cattle towards Tangulbei in East Pokot.

Two of the raiders were cornered at Rugus near the border of the two communities and killed.

Following the two incidences, the Inspector of police David Kimaiyo has issued a shoot to kill order on armed bandits as he directed for a massive operation to recover stolen guns and uniforms from the three murdered officers.

The IG issued the orders when he toured Kapedo and Sunday accompanied by Baringo County Commissioner Peter Okwanyo and County Police Commandant Hassan Barua and urged illegal gun holders to surrender them before the Government rolls out the disarmament exercise.

He also warned leaders who incite communities saying action will be taken against them.

Source: The Standard Monday, October 27th

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Natural resources

 

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PASTORAL COMMUNITY MOVES TO HIGH COURT TO STOP OIL EXPLORATION

Residents of Badada location have challenged the oil and gas exploration activities in the area, arguing they would not benefit.

In a petition filed under a certificate of urgency before the High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi, the community argued that the prospecting company had not put in place measures to mitigate environmental degradation after it signed the deal.

Through lawyer Mukele Ngacho, the community said their animals were at risk of losing grazing fields once the firm, Taipan Resource Incorporation, started exploration at Badada Block 2B.

“The prospecting is already having and shall continue to have adverse effects on the pastoralist community’s livelihood,” Mr Mukele told the court.

He argued that the activities by Taipan had limited the community’s freedom of movement and hampered the culture of members of the Arjuran community.

The court heard that the initiative had a likelihood of sparking clashes between the nomadic communities due to limited resources.

Holy Fields

According to Ahmed Hefow, who swore an affidavit on behalf of the community, the area where the company has been drilling was the most preferred grazing field and had been held as a sanctuary by the community that claims to be indigenous.

Mr Hefow said the area was named Badada, meaning prosperity, but this, he said would no longer be true once the company left the site.

“It is a fact that the oil drilling being done here poses potential harmful effects on the environment and livelihood of the community within the vicinity of the project,” Hefow said.

He claimed the company was already cordoning off large areas of the grazing fields and had started building airstrips and roads, which he added would totally alter the culture of the community.

“This poses a great danger to the survival of the Arjuran community’s ancient way of life, property and livelihood,” he said.
The firm is said to have started work last month. Hefow told the court this was done without consultations with community leaders.

Source: The Standard Wednesday, October 15th 2014

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

COMMUNITY PROTESTS OIL EXPLORATION IN WAJIR, CITES ISOLATION

WAJIR COUNTY: The quest for oil and gas exploration at Badada location in Wajir County has been met with opposition from a local community protesting lack of consultations and being sidelined by the prospecting company.

Canadian firm, Taipan Resource Incorporation, is to carry out exploration activities in Badada Block 2B.

But the local Ajuran community which claim to be indigenous of the area have petitioned the national and the Wajir County government to put on hold the explorations until their grievances are addressed.

Through their lawyer Hassan Bulle, the community is demanding full disclosure of the agreement details entered between the company and the county government.

“The issue of compensation and environmental mitigations has not been addressed”, reads petition adding that it is not clear how the indigenous community will benefit from jobs and tenders.

According to Ibrahim Sheikh Mohamud, a community leader, the company has so far not involved the indigenous community in jobs and tender opportunities.

“Virtually all jobs and contractors have been given to people who are not indigenous of Wajir West Constituency which may disrupt the fragile inter clan harmony in the area”, he said.

Wajir director of communication Yahya Mohamed when contact for comments said “Oil exploration is national government issue and any community, which feels it has some concerns over the activity, should seek redress with the Ministry of Energy, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the company involved.”

He posed: “The community (Ajuran) is not even the indigenous people in the area. The area, where the exploration is to occur is a cosmopolitan area, why are we not having other communities who are also there complaining?”

An attempt to get a comment from the company was futile as Richard Leach, the field operations manager said “I’m currently in a meeting and I can’t speak to you”.

Source: The Standard Monday, September 15th 2014

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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VILLAGER SUES GERMAN EMBASSY OVER PICTURE IN ADVER

A Samburu woman has sued the German Embassy for illegally using her portrait to market the Lake Turkana Festival.

Mrs Talaso Lepalat, a resident of Loiyangalani sub-location in Marsabit County, said in an affidavit filed in the High Court in Nairobi by her lawyer that her photograph was taken without her written consent and used.

As a result of the use of the picture to market the event, she said, her husband had physically assaulted her, calling her names because “culture dictates that before you can appear in public, you have to seek the consent of the head of the home (who in this case is the husband)”.

Mrs Lepalat said that she and her three children were then kicked out of their home and attempts by the chief to intervene had fallen on deaf ears.

Some time in 2012, the respondent and other sponsors, she recalled, organised and recorded a commercial dubbed the Lake Turkana Festival which was to take place in her village at Loiyangalani in Marsabit.

POSTED ON WEBSITE

An embassy official, Mr Lepalat said, unlawfully took her photograph and posted it on their website to promote the event.

She told the court that she was shocked to learn that the website had her photograph.

“The domain name was not disclosed to the petitioner upon inquiry by one J. Harrington, who is in charge of the webmaster. He stated that they could not release the details of their source to third parties,” the affidavit says.

The complainant said that the embassy had, despite her numerous protests, continued to use her portrait on its website, while updating it from 2012 to April 2014.

The action, she said, did not take into account her cultural beliefs, taboos and the norms of her community.

“Both my family and I suffered a lot of pain, humiliation and embarrassment in my Samburu community, whose members have shunned me as one who disrespects our culture. The result of the usage remains a source of anguish and psychological trauma in my memory,” she said.

The photograph, she said, was taken in contravention of her constitutional right to privacy and international laws and other instruments.

Ms Lepalat is thus seeking compensation for the violation of her privacy, the physical and emotional pain caused to her and special damages for the cost of medication.

The case will be mentioned before Mr Justice Isaac Lenaola on October 28.


Source: Daily Nation Monday, October 6, 201

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

FARMERS TO ACCESS INTEREST-FREE LOANS

Livestock farmers can now access interest-free loans courtesy of a Sh300 million project launched by the county government.

They will also be able be entitled to free artificial insemination services in the programme, which is a partnership between Baringo County and KCB.

The project aims to increase the revenue generated from the livestock sector from the current Sh3.1 billion to Sh10 billion annually in the next five years.

According to the Agriculture and Livestock County Executive Luka Rotich, the initiative dubbed “Livestock value Chain Development Program” will among others, start a system of storing hay.

“We have also introduced fast maturing hybrid Sahiwal and Boran bulls which can weigh up to 800 kilogrammes. Thirty bulls have been bought for each of the selected wards in the pilot programme,” Mr Rotich told the Nation.

He said that the use of modern technologies such as A.I. Services, Improved Bull schemes, de-hiders (flaying machine) will turn around the livestock sector.

MONTHLY GOAT AUCTIONS

Mr Rotich said that the famous Kimalel Goat Auction, which was re-opened last year, will host monthly goat auctions.

“We are in the process of setting up two new slaughterhouses and renovating five more. We will thus start selling meat instead of animals,” said Mr Rotich.

A meat processing plant will be set up where animals will be processed and exported to the Middle East.

The factory will also be open to farmers from the neighbouring Laikipia and Samburu.

He said that the county government has plans to introduce Dorper and Galla Bucks sheep breeds.

However, the county is grappling with challenges like perennial drought and diseases like Foot and Mouth and East Coast Fever.

“Marketing, poor quality breeds, limited livestock management knowledge and lack of value addition remain a problem,” said Mr Rotich.

He said that the county government’s partnership with KCB Foundation will particularly focus on marketing and value addition.

Source: Daily Nation Tuesday, October 7, 2014

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

NEW LAND TENURE MAKES LIFE MORE DIFFICULT FOR PASTORALIST FAMILIES

Baringo, Kenya: Conflicts related to livestock theft are not new among pastoralists in Baringo County. Traditionally, among some  pastoral communities, these raids were a means of restocking herds, especially after periods of drought or outbreaks of diseases.

However, in recent years, livestock raids have become more frequent, violent and destructive. Security experts and victims of the violence believe wealth acquisition and dowry payment are the main motives behind these attacks.

Tiaty Sub-county Commissioner Daniel Kurui says the conflict poses a significant threat to pastoral livelihoods, which are already under pressure from recurrent drought and diseases.

The impact of the violence has been felt in terms of loss of human life and property, reduction in livestock numbers, limited access to water and pasture, and forced migration.

“In pastoral communities, livestock is essential for payment of dowry, compensation of injured parties during conflicts, symbol of prosperity and prestige, store of wealth and security against drought, disease and other calamities,” he said.

So far, more than 5,000 cattle and thousands of residents have been driven out of Mukutani and Arabal areas.

Hundreds of civilians also have been maimed, others killed and expelled from their ancestral land as the attackers lay claim to large chunks of land on which to graze their livestock.

A local human rights network says pastoralism has been made practically impossible by the modern boundaries and geographical demarcation of lands into districts, divisions and locations.

As a result, community development and empowerment forum executive secretary Kipruto Kimosop explains that each community has found itself restrained to a certain geographical territory, unlike in the past.

The raids and revenge attacks have turned some former settlements into ghost villages.

Recently, Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim sought Tiaty MP Asman Kamama’s support in fighting cattle rustling. Kipchoim claimed she had sought ways of collectively tackling the menace but Kamama had not backed them.

Kamama, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security and Administration, declined to comment on the matter.

“The situation is truly serious. We expect further raids and displacements this rainy season as groups try to restock,” says Mukutani Member of County Assembly Renson Barkei.

Barkei was forced out of his Rugus Location home and is now camping with other displaced persons in Kiserian area of Baringo South.
Source: The Standard Monday, October 13th 2014

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

PORT PLAN ESCALATES MERU, ISIOLO ROW

The building of a railway on land claimed by both Meru and Isiolo counties has escalated tensions between them.

Although the boundary dispute has been simmering for years, the stakes were raised after it was confirmed that part of the Lamu Port and South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor will pass through the area.

The forming of county governments last year heightened the row as each of the devolved unit laid a claim to the disputed area seen as key to their development.

REMOVED ROAD BLOCK

The animosity between the two groups took a new twist last Friday when Meru Governor Peter Munya removed a road block erected by the Isiolo government at Shika Adabu area, saying the region was in his county.

Mr Munya’s convoy was later on Saturday attacked as he returned from Isiolo and a driver was injured.

Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo also led irate youths in removing four roadblocks erected by the Meru government in the disputed area and replaced them with his government’s.

Last month, a security team from the two counties evicted hundreds of people living on the disputed land.

The people had taken advantage of the dispute to invade and demarcate the land.

Meru County Commissioner Wilfred Nyagwanga said: “We agreed with the two DCs from Meru and Isiolo, the security team and leaders from the two counties for the illegal occupants to be removed and status quo maintained until relevant government agencies and Ministry of Lands determine the boundary.”

Meru and Isiolo counties have disagreed over boundaries at an area measuring more than 500,000 square kilometres at the Nyambene Conservancy. Meru leaders insist the area belongs to them and it had only been leased to Isiolo during former President Daniel Moi’s regime.

DECONGEST MERU 
They said a number of development projects to decongest Meru town had been planned for the area.

In a meeting in Nanyuki last December, leaders from the two counties resolved to stop any development until the Interior and Lands ministries demarcate the boundaries.

Source: Daily Nation Monday, September 29, 2014

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

VILLAGES TENSE AFTER FOUR HERDERS SHOT DEAD IN FRESH RAIDS

Tension has gripped border villages in Turkana after raiders suspected to be from the region shot dead four herders and stole over 400 animals in separate incidents in Baringo and West Pokot counties.

According to local administrators, the fresh attacks caused herders and their families to flee the area on Tuesday night for fear of revenge attacks.

Residents who had settled in Kapedo Location in Turkana East Sub-County can no longer access Sukuta River while those in Kaputir Village cannot fetch water from Turkwel River.

Chief Josephat Lopalal said two boys were killed in the raid on Silale Village, occupied by Pokots from Baringo.

“Kapedo is a border village and expects a retaliatory attack after news spread that the raiders had come from Lomelo,” Mr Lopalal said. Area county assembly member Didymus Chegem said Kapedo is an easy target as it is surrounded by Pokot herders.

“We demand more police officers to protect innocent residents as well as the immediate arrest of the perpetrators,” said Mr Chegem.

He said residents of Kapedo had declared that anyone raiding a Pokot village would be arrested and disowned by the local people in a bid to end conflict in the region.

AVOIDED GRAZING

In Turkana South Sub-County, Kaputir Chief Charles Lopuya said after a raid near the Turkwel Hydro Power Plant that also left two people dead, Turkana herders yesterday morning avoided grazing fields used by their Pokot neighbours.

“Nakwomoru and Kaputir herders are avoiding grazing their livestock along the Turkwel River in groups as large herds can easily attract an ambush,” said Mr Lopuya.

Turkana County Commissioner Julius Mathenge urged leaders from the hot spot regions to encourage herders to surrender their guns and assured them of protection from the government.

Mr Mathenge said as long as residents were armed, there would never be peace in the region.

Source: Daily Nation Wednesday, September 24, 2014

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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HERDERS INJURED IN LIVESTOCK RAID

Two herdsmen were injured in a raid in Namoruakwaan Village in Turkana East yesterday. Parkati assistant chief Gedion Ikaal said that 450 goats and sheep stolen were driven towards East Baringo sub-county. He said there were no police officers in the area and appealed for the deployment of reservists to protect the remaining animals. Tension remained high yesterday due to fears that the raiders may strike again. Katilia Ward representative Lawrence Lotomon called on the government to intervene for the animals to be recovered.

Source: Daily Nation Thursday July 17, 2014

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in News Briefs