WATER OF PEACE

Turkana herders benefit from Kenya-Uganda border peace deal

Shortage of water forces herders to trek many kilometres into Uganda, causing conflicts. Dams promote harmony.

In Summary
  • President Kenyatta ordered a Sh250 million dam project for Turkana, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot and Marsabit counties for pastoralist communities.
  • Leaders commissioned the Sh16.5 million water piping Peace Dividend Project.
Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok with other leaders mark the anniversary of the Kenya-Uganda cross-border peace and development accord in Urum, Loima subcounty, Turkana, on Sunday, September 13.
BORDER PEACE: Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok with other leaders mark the anniversary of the Kenya-Uganda cross-border peace and development accord in Urum, Loima subcounty, Turkana, on Sunday, September 13.
Image: HESBORN ETYANG

Herders in Urum, Loima subcounty, near the border are benefiting from the peace pact between Kenya and Uganda, especially through water projects.

Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa, Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok and West Pokot Senator Samuel Poghisio led Urum residents on Sunday to observe the anniversary of the Kenya-Uganda cross border peace and deveopment deal.

It was signed in Moroto on September 12, 2019 by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Yoweri Museveni. It aimed to end cross-border conficts involving the Turkana, Pokot and Karamoja communities and to promote development.

 
 

President Kenyatta had directed Turkana and West Pokot to construct a dam like the one in Kobebe, Uganda,  to reduce the competition and migration of herders in search of water and pasture.

He also ordered Sh250 million dam project for Turkana, Baringo, Samburu, West Pokot and Marsabit counties to help pastoral communities.

The leaders commissioned the Sh16.5 million Urum water reticulation system of piped and treated water. It is a peace divident project, a partnership by the county and the UN Development Programme.

It received technical assistance from the Ministry of Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands.

CS Wamalwa also signed the pact with Uganda’s Minister for Karamoja Affairs John Byabagambe. He said the state had released Sh250 million to construct a multipurpose dam at Namoni-ang’ikaala in Loima.

He said experts from the Ministry of Water would iron out technical issues before construction begins.

Wamalwa called the project a dividend of cross-border peace, modelled on a similar investment by Uganda in Kobebe that benefited communities on both sides of the border.

 

“When Presidents Kenyatta and Museveni signed the MoU, we found Kenyan herders were migrating to Uganda in search of water and pasture," causing conflict, the CS said.  Kenya's dam like the one in Kobebe will serve pastoral communities and promote peace, he said.

“We have been constructing water pans for pastoral communities as many of them don’t have water. As leaders signing the peace deal, we agreed to address the challenges facing herders along the border by providing water for domestic use and for livestock," Wamalwa said.

Once the dam is constructed, communities will not have to trek many kilometres to Uganda in search of water.

The CS announced his ministry will construct a peace school for communities in the area.

Governor Nanok said border communities had identified water shortage as their biggest problem, prompting the President to order construction of dams for Turkana, West Pokot, Marsabit, Samburu and Baringo counties.

The governor urged the national government to hasten construction of the Namoni-ang’ikaala dam to end conflict over water by pastoralists.

Poghisio said since the peace deal was signed, people are experiencing peace along the border, allowing children to attend school freely and safely.

UNDP's chief technical adviser for the cross-border programme in Kenya, Asfaw Kumsa, said the programme's main objective is to foster peace between countries and among communities.

He said the UNDP would work closely with the Devolution ministry and county governments to ensure sustainable peace and improve livelihoods.

(Edited by V. Graham)