• Kenya and Uganda have negotiated a legal framework which will usher in an MoU for an integrated peace project.
• PS says problems along international boundaries require joint solutions.
A planned peace project between Kenya and Uganda aims to provide a lasting solution to border conflicts involving the Karamojong, Pokot and Turkana communities.
ASAL department PS Micah Powon yesterday said Uganda’s Ministry for Karamoja Affairs and Kenya’s Devolution and ministry have negotiated a legal framework which will usher in an MoU for an integrated peace project by the end of next month.
The talks have been on for one month. Powen spoke at Makutano township, West Pokot, where he launched a four-day public baraza on the proposed long-term drought-mitigation programme for the county. He said problems along international boundaries require joint solutions because they can easily spill over to either side. He cited terrorism, famine, drought and disease outbreaks.
“A country going it alone on such issues would be attempting a clap with one hand. This jointly negotiated formula presents a realistic chance to peace,” Powon said.
He added that the integrated programme, which is supported by the UNDP and IGAD, will focus on sharing of resources, including infrastructure, across the border.
It will involve joint construction of roads, water and health facilities, and schools.The warring communities will also engage in joint cultural festivals and entrepreneurial projects for the youth.
Powon said the chronic and often deadly conflict between border communities had, for decades, stifled development, particularly in the arid regions. The Kenya-Uganda agreement will take the form of the MoU that Kenya signed with Ethiopia in December 2015 for integrated peace in the border town of Moyale.
Powon said the ongoing public participation forum will give due regard to the County Integrated Development Plans of the six arid regions where a resilience programme — Empowering Communities Against Drought (ECORAD) — will be piloted.
The counties are West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Isiolo, Baringo, Samburu and Marsabit. As part of the feasibility study, members of the public are expected to suggest resilience projects that would cushion the region from drought and reduce reliance on relief food.
“Gone is the era when governments or partners would parachute into a community with presumably handy solutions. The result of this overlooked public engagement was a misapplication of resources and collapsed projects,” the PS said.
He said the State Department for ASAL will regularly convene forums of donors who fund projects in the 29 arid counties. The forums will enable information sharing and equity in distribution of projects.
Powen added that the annual ASAL conference inaugurated in Kilifi last year will be a platform for community members, donors and the government to review challenges and reassign priorities.
ECORAD programme head Monica Kinuthia and director of administration Leonard Ngaithe are coordinating the documentation of public views.
(Edited by F'Orieny)