Special Report

Thirst in the midst of plenty

2015-05-20 15:24:25 melissa-maimuna

She stops briefly to catch her breath as sweat flows down her dusty face onto her bare chest. Her eyes scan the horizon, taking in details of the rough terrain she is yet to negotiate with her tired legs before she finally reaches home.

Pangs of hunger gnaw at her tiny stomach and a cold shiver runs through her anatomy albeit briefly. Regina Akai, has become inured the treacherous life of hunger, thirst and fatigue she has to endure daily to bring home a jerrican of water for family use.

She left her home at the break of dawn to walk for many kilometres to a dried up riverbank. Several women with jerricans were already there by the time she arrived. For hours they silently dug into the sand then waited for water to collect before scooping it into their containers.

The journey back home was more tedious. The blazing Turkana sun was burning the earth and its inhabitants with almost malicious fury. Although her feet had trekked through the rocky and sandy paths that weaved through the wilderness, they had never really been used to the heat. The sand, by this time of the day was like burning coals.

Regina always prayed to God before embarking on the journey that she would not meet wild animals that prowl the land and that God will spare her attacks from bandits and cattle rustlers that are known to strike with lightning speed. By now she was used to the numerous poisonous snakes that hide in the rocks and the sand.

“I have hoped and prayed that one day a miracle will happen and water will be brought to our manyattas. My prayers made me smile when I heard news from my son that plenty of water had been discovered under the earth in Turkana. Now we have water and oil. But that seems to be just that, a dream. I hope it becomes a reality in my lifetime.” She says gently as she squats to pick up her jerrican and complete her journey home.

Despite the fact that water is the most common substance on earth; it actually covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface; residents of Turkana County have never had easy access to it.

For years, Turkana, the second largest county in Kenya covering 77,000 square kilometres, was known for its encounter with drought, hunger and perennial insecurity from violence perpetrated against its people by cattle rustlers from neighbouring communities. Then suddenly, a research by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) revealed that the county sat on more water wells than any other county in Kenya.

The discovery of water came fast on the heels of that of oil from underneath the burning sand.
Regina, a residence of Nakaparaparai Village near Lodwar town is among those who were delighted by the news. Her neighbours from the small Lobei Kotaruk ward in Loima sub-County suffer similar fate. They have to fetch water from killer wells where 6-7 people have to line up from top to bottom to get the supply, it is deep and dangerous.

When UNESCO announced the discovery of two aquifers in Northern Turkana, Regina was elated. The study showed that the region is home to a reserve of 250million cubic meters of water, which is naturally replenished at the rate of about 3.4 billion meters cubic per year.

Many believed this wealth could provide the solutions to water problems not just in the drought – wrecked region in northern Kenya but for the entire country.

She still hopes that with good governance and management, the water and oil discoveries will transform Turkana from its medieval status into a civilized 21st Century economy.

The 2009 Census report showed that estimated 60% of residents in Turkana are pastoralists who have long struggled with seasonal drought. The potential for further environmental degradation in already fragile ecological condition is a concern for those living near the oil zones.

Reserves of land will be appropriate for mining activities and risks of air, soil and water pollution are significant.

The Director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Richard Kering said that they have received environmental impact assessment report to help monitor the drilling process.

Although Tullow Oil Company assures that horizontal drilling will not affect water in Lake Turkana it is feared oil exploration around the region might interfere with ecosystem.

According to Dr Alain Gachet, a French scientist and President of Radar Technologies International, Oil will naturally be found above the water and drilling could affect the water tables. Both resources are vital to transforming the livelihoods of Turkana people and joint research with oil companies could establish how one could be affected by the other.

For the economic stakeholders, there is a responsibility to ensure that the exploration and exploitation of all of the regions resources is an inclusive process, which is subject to inflexible control.

It is Regina’s prayer that soon she will be able to sleep in peace and use her energy for other homemaking chores instead of fetching water. It is her hope that soon she won’t have to risk her life in search of this life-giving commodity.

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Insecurity affects Kainuk

2015-03-13 14:30:58 Turkanaguardian
Stranded passengers prepare to be evacuated by Red Cross at Kainuk. PHOTOS: ROBERT KARIUKI

Stranded passengers prepare to be evacuated by Red Cross at Kainuk. PHOTOS: ROBERT KARIUKI

BY ROBERT KARIUKI
Kainuk trading centre and its outskirts have become dangerous places to live in. More worrying is that insecurity is scaring away potential investors in the area. Kainuk trading centre is the gateway to Turkana County and is recognized by visitors and tourists.

Ng’irong’otuk village on the outskirts of Kainuk, Lobokat ward, has existed since time in memorial. But the village population today is lower than the population during the 1990’s and early 2000s.
This reduction in population is partly attributed to violent deaths blamed on insecurity. Today, Kainuk trading centre is marked by an uneasy calmness. The centre has a potential to grow, but residents say that it is trapped in insecurity, which eats away at its potential.
Breadwinners contributing to economic production are perishing, leaving behind a vulnerable population that cannot sustain itself. Ng’irong’otuk village is dominated by graveyards more than human settlements.

If no actions are taken Ng’irong’otuk village or as it is now known ‘Village of death’ will soon be a memory to many, with children becoming orphans, mothers widowed and youths lonely because their friends and colleagues succumbed to enemy bullets. The residents plead to Government for protection and disarming communities, preventing highway robberies and ambushes, and flushing     

out      

Pokot     

bandits      

in  Turkana  

County.

Mary Ng’ilimo, a resident of the village who also holds a position at the Kainuk Maendeleo ya Wanawake organization took me on a guided tour recently.
She pointed to the graves that exist in the village some of which have overgrowth, with thickets and shrubs.
“The mother arrived home late in the evening and she headed to the river to fetch water, after fetching water she went back to the house and started preparing supper for her husband and children. When the food was ready she sat outside the house and began eating as the rest took their meals from inside the house. Moments later suspected Pokot bandits paid a deadly visit to the home and killed the entire family, the spot am standing on right now are their graves,” Ng’ilimo narrated. She added: “What we are witnessing right now is a revolution of cattle rustling,
Pokot and Turkana communities are no longer doing cattle raiding, they are now fighting for the discovered resources and minerals and this is far more dangerous.” The Pokots who were flashed out of Uganda settled inside Turkana territories and they have formed 12 kraals in
Kaarun. This is where they drive livestock stolen from Katilu, Kalemung’orok, Kaptir, Kaakong and Kainuk, Ng’ilimo explained.
According to Ng’ilimo the number of residents who have lost their lives since 1992 to early 2014 are 32 people and those who have lost their lives since July last year to date are 30 people including 2 children. Daniel Ekuwom says that nowadays, the bandits aim at killing people and not stealing cattle. “They are no longer looking for livestock; they are now after killing people and making others suffer. The villagers fall asleep only when the river is filled with water that’s when the bandits can’t crossnly a few of them will have the courage to pass through Kainuk Bridge to come raid the village. The bandits kill anyone whom they come across be it a child, an elderly person, a youth or even a male or female adult, they don’t care,” Ekuwom explained.
Another elder, Mzee Kericho said,

“The only disease we are suffering from is the bullet syndrome. No grave in this village belongs to a person who succumbed from a disease like Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS or even Malaria; they are all victims of frequent raids and attacks. The population of Kainuk is greatly reducing while the government is doing nothing but watching.
It is even worse inside this village because we are registering a high death rate, so we keep wondering where we will go from here because as we can see we will soon be forcefully evicted.”
If no actions are taken Ng’irong’otuk village or as it is now known ‘Village of death’ will soon be a memory to many, with children becoming orphans, mothers widowed and youths lonely because their friends and colleagues succumbed to enemy bullets.
The residents plead to Government for protection and disarming communities, preventing highway robberies and ambushes, and flushing out Pokot bandits in Turkana County. Lobokat ward MCA Nicodemous
Aguman is not only worried about the safety of his ward residents which also includes Ng’irong’otuk village but also the supply of basic needs to the people.
According to Aguman, the region is surrounded by bandits from all corners and soon it will be difficult for the residents to survive, as the supply of food will be cut off.
“If the government does not take any action in the shortest time possible we will hear cases of people dying due to
starvation and diseases. Right now we are A grave covered with matress. surrounded. It’s hard for residents to fetch water or even do agricultural activities.
So both the county and the national government should do something about this because we as local leaders and as a leader I have tried but I have not been successful,” said Aguman.
He added, “It will be difficult for parents to take their children to school because the community depends on agriculture,
livestock keeping and small business ventures, all the livestock have been stolen and highway robberies makes it hard to
transport goods from Kitale so sooner or later we will have no activity taking place in this region and the big issue is that the national police reservists have been killed too who could offer protection to the residents while in their farms.”
Recently at the burial of an administration policeman in Kainuk, Turkana south MP Hon. James Lomenen said there have been meetings with leaders from both sides to come up with resolutions.
“The other time we had a meeting with all the leaders from the northern part of Kenya and we passed resolutions which were to spearhead the restoration of peace.
But the feedback is the exact opposite in fact the situation has worsened,” said the legislator.
“We went ahead again and called another meeting at the Aturkan hotel in Kitale. We involved church leaders from the catholic and Anglican churches, the governors, senators and MCA’s from both communities were in attendance, we passed resolutions again but it was the same story because we are still witnessing raids in Kainuk, Kaptir, Loyapat and Katilu,” Lomenen lamented.
The leaders now claim that the national government should take over as they have tried rescuing the situation but efforts are fruitless.
Recently, Pokot bandits destroyed and stole construction materials from an upcoming Sh. 100 million Eco-lodge being constructed by the ministry of tourism, trade and industrialization under the Turkana county government. The state of insecurity is killing development besides reducing the population.

Posted in: KenyaNewsSpecialReportUgandaTagged in: InsecurityKainukNg’irong’otuk villagePokot 

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Amudat patients walk 80 kilometres for X-ray service

2015-01-12 11:32:22 Turkanaguardian

Amudat patients walk 80 kilometres for X-ray service

She said Amudat hospital serves more than 10,000 cases that are referred from remote health centres in Amudat district and appealed the ministry of health to consider giving Amudat hospital the x-ray machine and scanner so as to rescue Ugandans people from walking long distance to Kenya.

 

BY STEVEN ARIONG AMUDAT, UGANDA
Hundreds of patients in Amudat district have to walk a distance of 80 kilometres to Kenya to access x-ray services due to lack of an x-ray machine in the only district hospital, Amudat authorities have said.
Mrs. Becky Acocor, the Amudat district LCV women councillor representing Amudat district town council said lack of an x-ray machine in the hospital was a disgrace to Amudat community.
She said the hospital, which was established by Church of Uganda missionaries in early 70’s before it started receiving full support from government was well equipped but it’s not clear how the hospital equipment disappeared.
“Our people walk several kilometres to hospitals such as Alale, Kacheliba and Makutano in Kenya to access x-ray services and this is a shame to us leaders in Amudat yet the hospital used to have all these machines and we are not even informed how these machines disappeared,” she said.
She said Amudat hospital serves more than 10,000 cases that are referred from remote health centres in Amudat district and appealed the ministry of health to consider giving Amudat hospital the x-ray machine and scanner so as to rescue Ugandans people from walking long distance to Kenya.
She called upon government to consider upgrading some of the health centres II to health centres III and create more health centres in the parishes were health facilities are far way.
Mrs. Acocor also appealed the team from the National Medical Stores (NMS) to always consult the district leaders before taking drugs to the hospital.
“We thank NMS of being active in delivering medicines to Amudat hospital but they should always consult leaders before delivering drugs to the hospital because we have noticed that they give Amudat a lot of drugs including those whose diseases are not found in Amudat and later on ost of these drugs are destroyed. This is wastage of government drugs,” she said.
Ms. Sarah Akello the Amudat hospital administrator confirmed the hospital has no x-ray machine but declined to give details.
“What I know is that we don’t have an x-ray machine in the hospital and Amudat hospital is fully receiving support from government although it was a private founded hospital,” she said.
Mr. Stephen Nsubuga Bewayo, the Amudat resident district commissioner said he was shocked over lack of an x-ray machine in the hospital and wondered why the hospital administration had been keeping quite.

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Karimojong pastoralists demand ministry

2015-01-12 11:28:07 Turkanaguardian

Karimojong pastoralists demand ministry


Mark Logit, a Karimojong
pastoralists from Acherer in
Nakapiripirit district observed
that the challenges surround-
ing Karimojong pastoralists
can be fought if government
could create special minis-
try in charge of pastoralisim.
This ministry would deal with
crosscutting issues affect-
ing pastoralisim, including
approving a separate budget
for pastoralisim.

BY STEVEN ARIONG
KARAMOJA, UGANDA

Karimojong pastoralists demand ministry

Karimojong pastoralists
demand ministry

Karamoja region is an agro-pastoralist region located in the north east of Uganda. The region’s main economic
activity is livestock rearing mainly cattle
but also includes camels, donkeys, sheep
and goats.
The Karimojong pastoralists preferred
rearing livestock because livestock has
an advantage over crops and animals
can be moved from place to place in
search of water and pasture depending
on the season.
But because of the regions’ aridi-
ty and unreliable weather pattern, the
Karimojong pastoralists in the region
have faced several challenges includ-
ing drought, lack of water and pasture
for their animals. The region’s rainfall
patterns are low, with an average of 500-
700 millilitres of rainfall per year.
Although traditionally the pastoral-
ists community in Karamoja used to
obtained water through traditional water
catchments but still the challenge is that
the traditional water catchments do not
normally last very long at any one place
and therefore prevent overgrazing as the
cattle have to be moved from one water
hole to another.
Government constructed several water
dams in the region but it is unfortunate
that most of these dams only few like
Arecek in Napak district, Kobebe in
Moroto and Lotirirr dam in Kaabong
which always keeps some little volume
of water but the rest dry out completely
when rains disappears. This leaves pas-
toralists stranded in the region.
However, pastoralists who spoke to
the Turkana Guardian were confident
that the current challenges that they
are facing can be addressed if govern-
ment could only pay serious attention to them.
Mark Logit, a Karimojong pastoralists
from Acherer in Nakapiripirit district
observed that the challenges surrounding
Karimojong pastoralists can be fought if
government could create special min-
istry in charge of pastoralisim. This
ministry would deal with crosscutting
issues affecting pastoralisim, including
approving a separate budget for pasto-
ralisim.
“All these challenges that we are fac-
ing as pastoralists is just because gov-
ernment is reluctant to address them,”
he said.
He said creating a ministry for pas-
toralisim would serve as a vision and
practical in recognizing the needs of the
pastoral development.
Timothy Louke, another pastoralist in
Kotido appealed government and devel-
opment partners to recognize pastoral-
ism as a viable livelihood system that
needs to be supported and developed.
The Napak district chairman Mr.
Joseph Lomonyang said in order to
improve the pastoral sector government
has to improve on five measures, which
include, improving water, pasture and
animal health care as a priority through
subsidies and promotion of indigenous
institutions.
He said others things are improving
livestock markets through provision of
marketing information and the necessary
infrastructure; review of the national
food policy in order to enhance pastoral
food security.
“We received information that gov-
ernment is planning to discourage rear-
ing of animals and pastoralists should
embark on growing crops but this won’t
work in Karamoja. Well crop-growing
can be there but livestock rearing will
remain the first priority in Karamoja,”
he said.
Mr. Simon Nangiro, the opinion leader
in Moroto said the Karimojong pasto-
ralists are used to living in the harsh
weather and appealed the experts not to
be deceived with unpredictable weather
in Karamoja.
“Karamoja is not suitable for agricul-
ture because of its weather even the few
people who try to grow crops they lose
crops to sunshine but they don’t lose
livestock,” he said.
Mr. Jimmy Lomukol, the Karamoja
private sector promotion centre director
said pastoralism is economic activity
for the people of Karamoja and that it’s
the only activity which matches with
drought in the region and called upon
government to modify it by putting more
infrastructure.
He said every four years Karamoja
region experiences serious drought that
cannot even allow crop-growing but
pastoralists have got used to it because
they move with their animals.
Karamoja region is lagging behind in
terms of education the region has only
11 per cent literacy level compared to
the national average of 67 per cent.
The survey by the Uganda Bureau of
Statistics shows that literacy rates in the
region is at 21 percent compared to a
national average of 68 per cent.
The effort to the comment from the
State Minister of Agriculture and ani-
mal industries Mr. Bright Ruwamiriama
were futile as his phone was switched
off.

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