For a long time Marsabit, Baringo, Isiolo, West Pokot and Samburu counties have been the epicentres of cattle-rustling and ethnic and human-wildlife conflicts worsened by rampant unemployment.
This is overlain by four critical issues — pasture for the pastoralists’ livestock, scramble for water sources, food security and survival resources.
At the heart of the conflicts is the strategic importance of restoring trust, tolerance, peaceful co-existence and increased understanding among the feuding communities in order to achieve reconciliation.
To achieve this dream, the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) has rolled out phase two of its plan to mitigate the contributory factors fuelling the ever-deepening and broadening valleys among the antagonistic communities or between locals and wildlife.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Marsabit Governor Mohamud Ali, NRT CEO Tom Lalampa revealed that the trust has set aside over Sh200 million for boosting the community conservancy modules.
“We’re pleased to see lives improved among at least 39 community groups in the four pastoralist counties as a result of our People2People programme whose main aim is to improve the residents’ socio-economic status,” Mr Lalampa said.
The modules are tailor-made to find permanent solutions to the teething problems through conflict analysis and mapping, peace ambassadors’ programme, instituting peace building committees, involvement of women and youth in the peace process, government engagement and development of water infrastructure.
The programme has been lauded for boosting linkages between the investors and communities through the establishment of facilities that promote marine, terrestrial, forestry, wildlife and ecotourism facilities in the named conflict areas.
Mr Lalampa explained that since 2013, more than 39 community groups have benefitted from the projects such as healthcare facilities, classrooms and bursaries for needy learners and acceleration of access to water in the regions synonymous with endemic water shortages.
Economically, the conflict hotspot counties have had weak markets and have few or lack alternative livelihood opportunities due to poor infrastructure, high poverty levels, illiteracy and general insecurity.
The community conservancy’s programme has to that effect tried to remedy such economic risks by diversifying their local revenue resources through trading in tourism, carbon-market, livestock market and beadworks.
Due to these societies’ predominantly patriarchal nature which promotes male dominance hinged on moranism, beading of girls, religion and exclusive male leadership structures, women have been subordinated and are only seen in the household circles, thus contributing largely to their socio-economic unproductivity.
However, the People2People programme, which began in 2013, has largely empowered women by focusing majorly on promoting their education, training, and increased inclusion at all critical stages of decision-making.
The programme also focuses on addressing the risks that harm women and girls by endeavouring to find permanent solutions through interventions hinged on awareness creation, human rights, accountability and gender consideration within the male and female youth population.
Governor Ali hailed the programme for playing a great role in reducing poaching of elephants in the county.
“As a matter of fact, the presence of NRT has been felt in our county since 2013 when you began your operations here. Many lives have been impacted and I can attest to that,” he said.
He added that the programme has had great impact in areas such as Songa, Shur, Jaldesa and Badasa which were notorious for poaching.
Jaldesa Conservancy Manager Geodfrey Godana said that since the start of the programme, many needy but bright students have achieved their dreams through bursaries.