Pastoralists say they don't need money, just water

In Summary

Say they are forced to go to the dangerous border with South Sudan and Uganda for pasture 

A Turkana woman digs a hole to draw water for goats
HARD LIFE: A Turkana woman digs a hole to draw water for goats

Turkana pastoralists blame poor governance for the drought and subsequent famine. They say the county government has failed to put in place measures to mitigate against drought.

Reports from the National Drought Management Authority show most parts of Turkana county are currently experiencing a severe drought and majority of residents are in dire need of food.

County government statistics show around 805,000 out of 1.2 million residents are facing starvation. The county has not had rain for 12 months and the water table level has dropped.

Paul Ewaar, a resident of Nanam ward in Turkana West, says the county government receives billions from the National Treasury but has failed them by not providing necessities such as water, pasture and relief food on time.

Ewaar says water shortage is a perennial problem that has forced them to travel to dangerous places in search of pasture and water for their livestock. He accuses the county government of being busy distributing relief food instead of putting in place measures that will end the problem once and for all.

"If the county government cares its people, it would have built big dams to harvest more water when it rains so that when drought comes water is not a problem in Nanam. But the county government has not even constructed a water pan," Ewaar says.


Emmanuel Ekiru, a pastoralist from Nanam, says the county government has neglected their interest. He urges the county government to allocate money for construction of dams.

"We travel with our livestock for more than 147km to look for water and pasture at the border of Kenya and South Sudan, which is insecure because of cattle rustling," he says.

Ekiru accuses the county government of taking advantage of the drought to solicit funds from humanitarian agencies and yet it has the potential of mitigating drought.

James Erupe, a resident of Kakuma, accuses the county government of not factoring pastoralists in its agenda. 

"We don't need money or other facilities. We only need water. We have been promised many times since devolution that the county will build big dams to curb water problem but it has never been done. We blame our leaders. They have failed us," he says.

Hard-hit areas include Kaeris, Kaaleng’-Kaikor, Lapur and Upper Lake Zone in Turkana North; Kibish, Naanam, Songot, Letea and Lopur in Turkana West; Kerio Delta and Upper Kalokol in Turkana Central; Lobei-Kotaruk and Turkwel in Loima; Lobokat, Kalapata and Upper Lokichar in Turkana South; and Kapedo, Lokori-Kochodin and Katilia in Turkana East.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya

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