Wajir, 26 July 2012 - Parts of northeastern Kenya, which are experiencing an early drought after poor March-May long rains, have seen deadly clashes over water and pasture, say officials.
Migrant pastoralists from parts of the northeast and subsistence farmers in the neighbouring eastern and coastal regions of Meru, Kitui and Lamu have clashed, with several deaths reported in Meru and Kitui after the destruction of crops there by large herds of migrating livestock.
“We should be assisted rather than being harassed. Two herders from Garissa were killed when they moved to Kitui. They were attacked with arrows and they in turn shot and killed three farmers," said Hussein Futi, a local leader from the Ijara area in Garissa.
The government, he said, should facilitate peace meetings and use elders to negotiate with communities in areas where pastoralists are migrating.
Tension also remains high in the Isiolo-Wajir border region (central-northeastern Kenya) after the community in Isiolo’s Sericho area mobilized youths to repulse a group of migrant pastoralists from Wajir last week. One herder was killed in the clashes.
Herders in areas close to the Somali border have also been forced to move due to insecurity.
"We have asked those families living close to the border areas to move… They must heed our advice or face the risk of starvation. It will be impossible and risky for us to make an assessment or offer relief in such areas," said an aid worker who preferred anonymity.
Cases of wildlife attacks have also been recorded, according to Bishar Maalim, a village elder in the Kanchara area of Wajir. "Two children were mauled by hungry hyenas here. People are fighting each other while wild animals are fighting us all.” The Kenya Wildlife Service confirmed the deaths.
Little food, water
"The situation is grim. Many households are currently struggling to survive. They have no food, no milk, and they cannot afford to buy food if it’s available due to the high prices," Omar Abdullahi Maalim, an official with the Wajir Education Welfare Organization, told IRIN .
"We are providing 64,000 litres of water to 800 families in Kanchara [Wajir South District] and a nearby village. We are getting more requests from neighbouring areas. It has been worse since late June," said Maalim.
“We only have one donor and the cost of water trucking is high. We tried to ask the community to help but it was shameful since they were the same people whom we offer relief food.”
He said cases of waterborne disease have been reported. “People need mobile health services now."
For the complete article, please see IRIN.