Members of the Turkana community living in Ngaremara Ward, Isiolo County have appealed to the government to help them recover more than 40,000 hectares of land they say is theirs and which is occupied by the military and several reserves.
The community leaders and residents, while presenting six historical land injustices complaints to the National Land Commission, lamented that the illegal occupation of their land had subjected them to a lot of suffering and threatened pastoralism which is their main source of livelihood.
They complained that Buffalo Springs and Sarova Shaba National Reserves and two Kenya Defence Forces camps, namely School of Combat Engineering and School of Artillery, illegally acquired a huge part of their land between 1974 and 1985, leaving them with smaller portions inadequate to accommodate the growing population.
Led by MCA Ekwam Teru and County Water Executive Josphine Eregai, the residents said the establishment of the facilities had subjected them to a lot of risk from the explosives used by the soldiers during trainings and exacerbated human-wildlife conflicts resulting to loss of lives.
Ms Eregai said the community had donated part of the land to the military but the facilities took more land, displacing thousands of families and leaving them with nowhere to graze their animals.
“Some of the schools, dispensaries and watering points have been enclosed in the camps and our people cannot access the services,” she complained.
Due to the illegal acquisition of their land, they said, Longetei natural spring was demolished, forcing residents to trek for several kilometres in search of water.
Mr Zacharia Sileti, a youth leader, said the State should ensure their concerns are thoroughly looked into and their grievances addressed so that they get justice.
“We do not have a place to graze, forcing us to do it in neighbouring wards sparking resource-based conflicts. The government should ensure a thorough probe is done and recommendations strictly implemented,” Mr Sileti said.
They also alleged that 640 hectares of their land was taken by Nyambene Game Reserve at Ndumuru within the Isiolo-Meru border, insisting that the community was not consulted and that the area is for livestock keeping and crop farming.
Addressing journalists in Isiolo town, they asked NLC to probe alleged illegal acquisition of 38,000 hectares of their community land by a private investor without consultations with local leaders and elders.
Mr Stephen Edu, a cleric, appealed for degazettement of the land and its reversion to the community.
“We will stay put while we wait for the government to respond to our grievances. We will not allow the continued oppression,” an agitated John Longole said.