Puzzle of Iresteno village that belongs to two counties


Residents of Iresteno village on September 7, 2021. Locals have been living in confusion as they are politically represented in Mandera but administered from Wajir county. 

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo I Nation Media Group

Residents of Iresteno settlement on the border of Mandera and Wajir counties are calling on the national government to have them settled in either of the devolved units.

Since 2013, more than 2,000 households have been voting for politicians drawn from Mandera but they are governed by the Wajir North national government administrator.

“We have been abandoned by both the national and county government because it has never been clear where we belong. We are registered voters in Mandera county but when it comes to administration, we fall under Wajir county,” Mr Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, a resident said.

According to Mr Hassan, Iresteno settlement was started in 1996 and a year later, it became a location.

“We have a chief reporting to Wajir North sub county. We feel we belong in Mandera because we have been voting to be represented there,” he said.
Iresteno is now under the Dandu ward represented by Mr Ibrahim Wario of the Mandera County Assembly.

“The current boundary confusion is causing a lot of harm to the residents of Iresteno as they are denied relief support from humanitarian organisations,” Mr Wario said.

According to the MCA, most organisations responding to the drought in the area have neglected the village.

“Those providing relief support from Wajir say the village belongs to Mandera while those originating in Mandera have left the village to be supported by Wajir,” the MCA claimed.

Ibrahim Wario

Mr Ibrahim Wario on March 8, 2023. He has challenged the national government to clearly define the boundary between Mandera and Wajir counties.

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo I Nation Media Group

On Tuesday, locals protested the continued neglect by both levels of government and threatened to settle in Ethiopia.

The village also neighbours Ethiopia’s Kadaduma district that is a stone’s throw away.

“We have been forced to come to Kadaduma for food support since our government has turned a blind eye to our plight,” Mr Ahmed Hussein, a resident, said.
Iresteno Primary school, which was built by the Mandera West constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) but gets teachers through Wajir County, was closed for lack of food for learners.

“We crossed with our children to Ethiopia to seek relief support. We are asking the national government to come out and define the border between Mandera and Wajir so that we know exactly where we belong,” Mr Hussein said.

Wajir North Deputy County Commissioner Kennedy Mwang’ombe confirmed administration and representation confusion faced by residents of Iresteno.

“It is true Iresteno is in Wajir county administratively but in Mandera politically. We have been providing all services to the residents as a national government,” Mr Mwang’ombe said.

The national government administrator revealed that residents of Iresteno were enjoying services from both county governments and even from Ethiopia.

“These are the same people from one community in Mandera, Wajir and in Kadaduma in Ethiopia. They cross to Ethiopia to join their relatives in getting relief support just like their counterparts also cross over,” he said.


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