PASTORALIST INVASIONS

Correct to deploy army in Laikipia

In Summary

• Pastoralist invasions have flared up again in Laikipia since July forcing local people to flee their homes

• The NSAC has decided to deploy the army to support local police who are outgunned by the armed militias

Residents of Kisii Ndogo village in Ol Moran, Laikipia West, look at what's left after 50 houses were set ablaze on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
DESTRUCTION: Residents of Kisii Ndogo village in Ol Moran, Laikipia West, look at what's left after 50 houses were set ablaze on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Image: ELIUD WWAITHAKA

The National Security Advisory Committee has ordered the army to restore security in Laikipia (see P23).

Armed militias recently invaded Laikipia seeking pasture during the dry season. They have torched homes and killed local people.

There is a myth that Laikipia is exclusively owned by large foreign ranchers and conservationists. But many conservancies belong to local communities such as the Maasai and they have borne the brunt of the latest attacks.

There is also a myth that these armed groups are pastoralists blocked from traditional migration. Often these large herds are owned by powerful politicians.

Livestock in northern Kenya have increased with the population. The land has passed its carrying capacity. In a drought, either the cattle will die or the owners will have to invade any place where there is grass or water.

The government has promised to buy 1,000 cattle a week in Laikipia but much more is needed to make cattle management sustainable in northern Kenya.

In the meantime, gunmen cannot take the law into their hands. Society has to identify mutually agreeable solutions to structural problems. The government is right to send in the army to restore security in Laikipia.

Quote of the day: "God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road."

Karen Blixen
The Danish writer died on September 7, 1962