Asks a Laikipian citizen in pursuit of political office….
The failure of County and National government to address the livestock incursions into Laikipia and neighbouring counties has now reached disproportionate dimensions. We’ll soon find out if their moves are too little too late. None of the earlier inter-county meetings to forestall this situation were followed up. The mayhem, the loss of life, the loss of property, and the wanton destruction of farms big and small is overwhelming. We hear that up to 500 farming and pastoralist families have been affected or displaced.
The Laikipia County Government and the Governor have been particularly unresolved on the point, as local government tries to decide between law and order and votes.
As we travel Laikipia, working on issues of water conservation and management, working with the NDMA to distribute food supplements to community breeding stock, or attempt to get the attention of KWS to stop marauding elephants eating crops and granaries far from their forest refuge, we are asked by members – “Where is the government? Why do they allow this chaos?”
These are just some of the issues impacting our County.
Six months ago, with the able assistance of the local office of the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), more than 60 pastoralists came together to define a drought emergency preparedness plan that included livestock food supplements, a buy-off scheme, a fattening scheme, and controlled access to pasture in forests and the mountains. 6 months later the NDMA offices in Nairobi had still not acted on the plan, despite their call for proposals. 3.2 Billion Kenya Shillings had been set aside for KMC and ADC to buy off cattle when prices were good. Why has this scheme fallen by the wayside?
Two years ago, Laikipia’s Governor Irungu pledged 200M Ksh to the reconstruction of the Rumurti Forest Fence to stop the elephants from exploiting their densely packed neighbourhoods. Groups of up to 20 and 30 elephants now terrorise shambas, trading centres and school children far from the forest. Displaced by the livestock incursions, they are desperate for food. To date, despite repeated pledges of procurement of poles, wires, insulators, energisers and solar panels, the “fence” is embroiled in charges of the failure to engage the affected communities, the dysfunction of a county procurement system and widespread charges of corruption. KWS was brought in to manage the process. Two fence contractors are now battling over who has right to build a fence that is two years late. Why has this scheme fallen by the wayside?
Almost one year ago, in a grand public ceremony at the Tuala Cultural Centre at Il Polei, the Governor made another grand gesture pledging 200M Ksh to the eradication of the invasive plant “opuntia stricta” – the scourge of the Naibunga and other group ranch rangelands. Not a shilling has been released to help these communities restore their rangelands. Why has this scheme fallen by the wayside?
Despite the collective efforts of 16 Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) to develop drought management plans for our Mt. Kenya rivers; widespread disregard for these plans and their enforcement, including Illegal abstraction continues despite the best efforts to stop irrigation and return river flows for domestic use and downstream communities. Where is our County Government? Why has this scheme fallen by the wayside? Where is the Governor’s pledge of financial support for the monitoring and enforcement that must accompany river management during times of drought?
Yes, we are the victims of this first generation of devolution – the confusion that comes from “who does what” as authorities and agencies struggle to take on their new roles. Yet the citizens of Laikipia stand in stunned silence at how few promises have been kept, how few pledges has been paid, and at how little this County has done to take care of its people and engage in the future of its natural resources. County Government can no longer ignore these issues, or avoid their citizens. We will all suffer as a result.
Let’s not let Laikipia fall by the wayside. We are better than that.