Why banditry lingers in Baringo and quest for lasting solutions

The current spate of violence has been among the most severe ever

In Summary

• Loruk residents have lived harmoniously with their neighbours from Tiaty since 1979

• As long as crime pays, the banditry arising will continue into the foreseeable future

A weapon recovered from slain men on March 30
A weapon recovered from slain men on March 30

Since the year started, about 17 people have lost their lives in Saimo Soi ward, Baringo North constituency due to banditry disguised as cattle rustling.

At the same time, more than 11,000 livestock have been stolen, homes have been destroyed and many residents maimed.

Many have fled their homes and become internally displaced persons within the county. There are more than four IDP camps across the county. These IDP camps include Moinonin, Kabaraina, Kimorok, Kaptombes and Chebarsiat.

Due to this insecurity, more than 19 schools in Saimo Soi and Bartabwa wards of Baringo North constituency were closed prematurely before the end of term one of 2024, when pupils failed to turn up for classes due to migration to safer areas.

As a result of the above situation, residents held various demonstrations, including far back on Saturday 26 last year, when the residents of Sibilo location held a demonstration at Loruk centre over the killing of a herder and the reported disruption of KCPE rehearsals at Ng’aratuko Primary School.

The situation was exacerbated by the killing of Thomas Kibet, who was the headteacher at Kagir Primary School. The murder of the teacher, who had been blinded by bandits during his childhood, led to the mass exodus of the residents of Kagir and its environs because he was a key pillar in community mobilisation and resilience.

The current spate of insecurity and banditry in Baringo began in 2005. Initially, the practice appeared cultural and economic because the bandits robbed the locals of their livestock, killing and maiming many innocent people in the process.

However, evidence from locals has since shown that there could be a political motive to the banditry menace.

The current spate of violence has been among the most severe ever. The residents have had to wonder what could be the motivation for such sustained attacks.


In their quest for answers, the residents of Saimo Soi ward have settled on two main theories.

The first is that they are being forcibly evicted to enable the creation of a wildlife conservancy in their land. This is supported by the fact that the county government signed an agreement with the Northern Rangelands Trust, which is one of the organisations that run wild conservations in Kenya.

The NRT came to the Saimo Soi ward around  two years ago, engaging the locals and seeking their support to establish the conservancy. NRT engaged both the Tugen and the Pokot communities through seminars held in schools and a baraza within the ward.

Most of the Tugen community rejected the idea of a wildlife conservancy, while most of the Pokot community accepted it. Afterwards, the NRT did a Corporate Social Responsibility project, where they dug two dams within the vicinity of the proposed conservancy, one dam to serve  the Pokot community and another for the Tugen community.

However, Saimo Soi residents believe the dam dug for the Pokot community was actually dug within the boundary of Loruk sublocation, Sibilo location, which is in Baringo North. The residents didn’t find that amusing at all.

When this current spate of violence erupted this year, the Tugen of Loruk community sublocation saw some similarities between their fate and that of all the communities where NRT established conservancies. They compared with the cases in Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit, where, according to a report by the Oakland Institute, inter-ethnic violence was allegedly linked to the introduction of conservancies by the NRT.

The residents also see a similarity between their current predicament and what happened in Rugus, Baringo South, in 2005 before the creation of Ruko conservancy in 2008.

It was preceded by vicious banditry attacks on the Ilchamus community by suspected Pokot bandits. This was similar to what the residents of Saimo Soi ward have been undergoing in the first quarter of the year.

The other suspicion the residents have concerns the alleged creation of a new county called East Pokot county. The leaders and residents of Tiaty constitutency have been vocal that they want their county and have labelled it county number 051 in most of their public forums.

This year, the government gazetted new locations and sublocations for Tiaty subcounty through Special Issue Gazette Notice Vol CXXVI-No 17 Nairobi of February 14, 2024.

One of the gazetted locations is called Lemuyek location, which is within Baringo North. The sublocations for the new Lemuyek Location include Natan, Chepirmok, all of which the Tugen community know are also in Saimo Soi ward, Baringo North constituency.

Incidentally, the killings and displacements that occurred this year were partly in the areas earmarked for the new Tiaty locations and sublocations. This has raised the suspicion that this round of displacement may have been meant to create room for the new locations and ultimately the new county.

The Loruk sublocation community believe that there are many legal ways to create new administrative units that can be followed without shedding innocent blood and displacing people, including women and children. 

It is the position of the residents of Saimo Soi ward that no life is worth losing for the sake of creating administrative and political boundaries, if indeed that could be the reason.

99 per cent of the livestock stolen are never recovered, and there are few arrests and prosecutions. The same bandits come and graze the stolen livestock in full view of those they robbed, and yet no action is taken against them


The root cause of the banditry is presence of a rewards accruing to the perpetrators and sponsors of the banditry. The rewards are fuelling more and more attacks.

To the bandits suspected to be from Tiaty constituency, the continued accumulation of wealth through robbing locals of their livestock is a key reward.

The bandits are also motivated by the fact that 99 per cent of the livestock stolen are never recovered, and that there are normally few arrests and prosecutions. The same bandits come and graze the stolen livestock in full view of those they robbed, and yet no action is taken against them.

The other reward is political in nature. Evidence has shown that once the bandits have killed and scared away the resident of Baringo North and Baringo South, the bandits and their allies move into the newly ‘conquered’ areas to graze, live and build public utilities.

For example, when the people of Loruk were displaced by bandits, the opposite community moved in and occupied the area. They also changed the names of the places they occupied, formed new sublocations and even constructed a chief’s office.

For example, Loruk Kong’asis chief’s office is built deep inside Baringo North subcounty. Another example is Lemuyek Primary School, also funded and constructed by Tiaty constituency NGCDF inside land ‘annexed’ from Baringo North.

The same fate also befell Loruk Health Centre which was constructed by Baringo North in mid 1980s but is now managed from Tiaty subcounty following the displacement of the local community.

A similar fate has also befallen the people of Mukutani division in Baringo South constituency, where people have been forcibly kicked out, centres and villages renamed, public utilities constructed and neighbours’ polling stations established in newly ‘conquered’ territory.

It could also be a means to prepare favourable ground for the next boundary review, as well as a means to rally political support and promote popularity for political leaders.

The fact that allegedly public funds are quickly mobilised and used to construct public utilities in newly ‘annexed’ areas is a testament that there could be a link between banditry, the bandits and the political class of Tiaty constituency.  


To address this menace, the residents of Loruk sublocation in Baringo North submitted a memorandum to the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security sitting in Loruk on August 5 last year.

The Tugen community believes that the government is willing and able to quell the bloodshed and has been doing their best. The community, while praising the government for silencing the guns especially this month with the deployment of a multi-agency contingent, would like to make further suggestions.

The residents, therefore, suggest the relevant authorities address at least 16 issues.

One: Degazette the new Tiaty subcounties administrative units of Lemuyek Location, Natan sublocation and others, which the residents actually believe are deep within Saimo Soi ward. Failing which will be rewarding banditry and thuggery of land expansionism.

Two: NRT should come clean on the allegations from the locals concerning their suspected involvement in this violence. NRT should seek public opinion and respect whatever the locals say concerning the establishment of the conservancy within their ward.  Conservation agenda combats climate change and the state has all the machineries to achieve the agenda with the interests of all parties.

Three: Degazette Loruk location and Loruk Kong’asis sublocation, Tiaty subcounty. These are currently established deep inside Baringo North in the lands ‘annexed’ through banditry. The existence of these administrative units legitimises banditry.

Four: Relocate the office of the chief, Loruk location of Tiaty, which is currently located inside the boundary of Sibilo location of Baringo North. The office should be moved into the territory of Tiaty subcounties.

Five: Return the management and administration of Loruk Health Centre to its rightful administrative centre, which is Kabartonjo, Baringo North. The current administration of the health facility acts as a reward to banditry because the bandits count it as ‘spoils of war’. Many women and children have since avoided visiting the facility due to the hostilities.

Six: Schools constructed by Tiaty constituency in Baringo North territory should be moved to and administered from Baringo North and not Tiaty as is currently the case.

Seven: Punish chiefs and public officers who cross into Baringo North to serve their tribesmen in contravention of administrative boundaries

Eight: Use of original provincial administration boundary maps of as early as 1958 – 1969 as well as the 1979 declaration and gazettement of Ng’aratuko Adjudication Section in determining boundaries in the region.  Authorities should enforce administrative boundaries.

Nine: Immediately arrest and prosecute known bandits, murderers and their coordinators who are roaming the area and recover stolen livestock.

Ten: Audit Tiaty constituency NGCDF and if found culpable, take measures to punish the concerned if funds are traced to have been used for funding projects across constituency boundaries, thus fuelling hostilities.

Eleven: Urgently demarcate land in Baringo North, Baringo South and Tiaty to deter the appetite for expansionism.

Twelve: The government should empower the locals to engage in alternative economic activities, such as irrigation farming using the waters of Lake Baringo or dams. This is because they have lost their livelihoods in the form of livestock to banditry and also for the fact that crop farming is not attractive to bandits. The diversification will enable them to engage in more gainful economic activities.

Thirteen: Parliament should enact laws that will provide a mechanism for compensation for lives and property lost to banditry.

Fourteen: The government should increase bursaries to students from the affected region to enable them to complete school because their parents have lost all their livelihoods and won’t be able to take them through school without government support.

Fifteen: The government should increase infrastructure development in Tiaty constituency to broaden access to school by young children in Tiaty as well as initiating alternative economic activities to benefit the residents of Tiaty.

Sixteen: Develop Loruk secondary school into a boarding national/model secondary school in the region, which will boost integration between the Tugen, Ilchamus and Pokot communities. Loruk Secondary Achool can be a uniting factor.

Chepkeitany Chemjor is the acting chairman of Loruk Sublocation Professionals Forum

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