16 November 2012

Kenya: Addressing Insecurity in Samburu


The recent unfortunate massacre of more than 30 security agents in Samburu is a wakeup call to the government, constitution implementation institutions and the general public on the need to address certain aspects of governance that have either created or perpetuated this sad state of affairs.

Whereas the slaughter of security agents in the notorious Suguta is a national tragedy and shame, it is a fact that these areas where cattle rustling, proliferation of small arms, development aggression, thuggery and insecurity thrive, suffer corresponding deficiencies such as, illiteracy, lack of infrastructural and communication development, lack of markets for their produce and a feeling of neglect from the affairs of mainstream Kenya.

This is demonstrated by how most pastoralists view themselves vis-a-vis other Kenyans. It is not uncommon especially among pastoralists resident in the far flung northern regions to state that they are going to Kenya each time they have to travel southwards past Isiolo, Mwingi and Kapenguria.

There exists a glaring lack of security in these areas and often security agents posted to there, view such deployment as punitive hence lack of morale coupled with debilitating poor equipment.

To fill the void existing in security, communities acquire guns and with these, a feeling of infallibility is created. Due to lack of security presence, young men engage in criminality with abandon buoyed by a hostile terrain, porous borders and ready markets for their loot.

Life in these areas is lived one day at a time due to the multi-faceted challenges faced by the residents. Each day lived through is viewed as a reward from the creator and prevailing circumstances.

In the face of the negative experiences these communities with nation building and mainstream development, the establishment of their own County governments if sufficiently supported could help bring about policy changes and deal conclusively with the insecurity menace.

These would be shifting away from colonial- paternalistic approaches which regard them as primitive or perennial consumers of aid to inclusive and participatory development in the areas of education, infrastructure and communication, support and market opportunities for pastoral production, benefit sharing from commercialization of intellectual property, landscapes, cultures, oil, gas, solar and wind energy, geothermal, tourism as well as carbon trading which would rid the areas of cattle rustling.

As noted by American trial lawyer Gerry Spence in his book; how to argue and win every time, our government, media, development actors and leaders, could adopt the court room strategies in conclusively addressing this menacing threat.

This would include; disarming pastoralists by listening to their side of the argument, realizing that words are often weapons of combat, deciding when to talk big and when not to chest thumb, embracing the soul and arguing out of the heart zone and unlocking the internal prisoner that prevents both sides from achieving victory for both government and pastoralist communities.

It is only by integrating a sense of belonging to pastoralists and providing practical pre-occupations with tangible benefits through the constitutionally proposed equalization fund and County budgets and rule of law with specific time bound outputs that part of insecurity in pastoralist areas shall be effectively addressed.

Santeto Ole Tiampati is the national coordinator of the Pastoralist development Network of Kenya.

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