Prosperity in northeast Kenya undermined by conflict


Over 300 people killed in Kenya during the first half of 2015 due to inter-communal conflict, says UN report

By Magdalene Mukami

NAIROBI, Kenya  – Turkana, a town in northeast Kenya, has much to offer Kenya by way of natural resources, but its prosperity is being undermined by inter-communal fighting.

The town is home to Africa’s biggest wind power project, and was where Kenya was also able to successfully strike oil.

The British exploration company Tullow Oil said that crude oil reserves in the area could produce 1 billion barrels of oil.

Kenya also recently discovered two huge water aquifers beneath the dry, drought-prone lands of Turkana.

The government says that the vast water aquifers could provide a steady supply of clean water to Kenya for over 70 years.

Many believe that Turkana has been showered by blessings, but this is not strictly the case as it is one of the driest, hottest and poorest places in Kenya.

Most of its residents are pastoralists and travel from place to place looking for water and pasture for their animals.


– Inter-communal fighting


A United Nations report which was released Wednesday showed that more than 310 people died in Kenya during the first half of 2015 due to inter-communal conflict, while thousands were left displaced.

“From 1 January to 30 June 2015, 310 people lost their lives, 195 were injured and 216,294 had been displaced as a result of unresolved border conflicts, cattle rustling and revenge attacks, competition over land and water resources, and political conflict,” the UN report said.

“The main areas of inter-communal conflict in 2015 have been the northern counties of Turkana, Baringo, Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo, particularly between the Pokot and Turkana communities as well as the Samburu and Turkana communities,” it added.

The report shows that more than 100 people were killed between the Turkana-Pokot belts in May alone.

The UN says that due to the state of insecurity in the northern region and the continuous inter-communal fighting it has been a challenge for them to deliver humanitarian aid and essential basic social services to the people of northern Kenya.

“The resulting mass exodus of teachers and health workers since December 2014 has negatively impacted the quality of education, health care and provision of nutrition assistance,” the report said.

Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok blamed the national government for ignoring their pleas for help.

“I believe that if this government listened to my pleas and the community’s cry, lives, even those of children and women, would not have been lost,” he said after the killing of 54 people during the Turkana-Pokot conflict in May.

For his part Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta issued a stern warning to those planning cattle raids in the region and said that his government would deal with them thoroughly.

“A major operation is underway in the area,” the Kenyan president said.

“These attacks are a threat to our stability,” Kenyatta said. “Such attacks are inconceivable, unacceptable and will not be tolerated at any cost by my administration.”