Agency pushes for durable solution to Laikipia insecurity

Security officers assess property torched by raiders at Sosian ranch in Laikipia on March 6, 2017. A lasting solution to such an action needs to be found. PHOTO | STEVE NJUGUNA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Laikipia North MP Matthew Lempurkel blames the crisis on the long, persistent drought.

The government has been asked to seek lasting solutions to the raging security crisis in Laikipia County, which has seriously affected the country’s second biggest tourism circuit and resulted in the deaths of dozens, including 10 police officers.

A new report by the International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention organisation, blames the killings and fighting in the region on a combination of political incitement, historical grievances and changing weather patterns. 

The agency's commentary calls on authorities and donors, who have poured billions of shillings into conservation efforts in the area, to do more to support pastoralists to adapt to changing circumstances that have made traditional semi-nomadic pastoralism increasingly difficult to sustain.

“The national and county governments should invest resources in helping pastoralists by improving extension services, establishing breeder farms and offering funding for research to help locals improve the quality of cattle, thus allowing them to raise smaller, more productive herds,” the Crisis Group briefing says.

The report says the roots of the crisis are complex.

It points to changing weather patterns and consistently disappointing rains, which have resulted in the devastation of pastures in Laikipia’s neighbouring counties of Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo, three counties where many of the pastoralists who have driven their cattle into ranches and farms come from.

But the report says politicians have taken advantage of the situation to incite their supporters.  

“You have politicians whose whole platform revolves around inciting pastoralists to forcibly occupy land in an effort to win votes,” Mr Ndiritu Muriithi, an independent candidate for the position of Laikipia governor, is quoted as saying.

However, Laikipia North MP Matthew Lempurkel, who has been charged several times with incitement, denies instigating the clashes, blaming the crisis on the “long, persistent drought”, saying he had nothing to gain through incitement as “most of the pastoralists have no voters’ cards or ID cards”.