Kilifi locals burn grass to chase away herders

Ganze Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani (centre), Ganze MP Teddy Mwambire (left) and Ganze OCPD Patrick Ngeiywa during a public Baraza at Rima Ra Pera Primary. [Maureen Ongala/Standard]
Residents of Bamba are setting grazing fields ablaze to ward off pastoralists from Garissa and Tana River counties.

Those who spoke at a public baraza said they took the decision after the Government failed to evict the herders, who they accused of causing insecurity in the region.

The residents blamed the herders for the recent deaths of two brothers who were reportedly killed in a row over land.

To date, more than 100 acres of grazing land have been set on fire by the residents.

The main causes of conflicts between the herders and locals are water and pasture.

The Monday baraza in Mitangoni was called by Ganze Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani and area MP Teddy Mwambire as an attempt to find a solution to the dispute.

Those who spoke during the baraza on Monday accused the Government of ignoring their pleas as the herders trespassed on their farms and destroyed crops.

They told the leaders they took the decision to destroy the pasture to end the frequent clashes with herders.

“We are concerned that we are being crucified because of our resources. Why is it that no leader is willing to listen to us? We do not want these people here because they do not mean well for us. We have said this so many times but you do not want to move them out of here,” said Ramadhan Mwambogo.

“All the Government has done is give ultimatums, which have not stopped the herders from invading our farms and attacking our people. Clearly, the herders do not respect the administration and definitely, we do not expect them to respect us or our property,” he added.

“We will continue burning the grazing fields so they have nowhere to graze their livestock. We believe this will eventually push them out of our land.”

The residents accused the herders of going beyond the land they had leased to graze their livestock and claimed the local administration, in particular chiefs, had entered into agreements with Somali herders who later resorted to oppressing the local community.

Kahindi Chula, who has leased his farm as a grazing field to the herders, said they had violated the agreements.

“They want to graze beyond borders and become violent when you question them,” he said.

“They take their animals into people’s farms and destroy the crops. When I question them, they tell me not to bother them. We cannot allow this to continue. These herders must leave our farms.”

The herders have leased Mnagoni, Giriama, Mapotea and Birya ranches in Bamba. Some have reportedly been in the area for more than seven years.

But Mr Mwambire warned the residents against burning the grazing fields.

“In your homes, you do not burn down houses after quarrelling. And if you do, then you will have to build new houses, at a cost, after settling your disputes. Don’t destroy your grazing fields because you also have livestock that depends on them,” said the MP.

“None of us knows when the rains will come for the grass to grow again. You might achieve your goal of driving away the herders but where will you take your animals when all the grass is burnt? You need to rethink your decision as it could also hurt you.”

Mwambire also faulted the area chiefs for sanctioning agreements between herders and some elders without involving other stakeholders.

He also took issue with the herders for going against the agreements.

“Everyone must be involved in the agreements, not just a few people. In the meantime, all of us must work on bringing a lasting solution to the crisis,” he said.

“We cannot have such agreements without involving the county government since land and agriculture are devolved functions. We have quarantines in some parts of the county yet you are moving animals without permits from the county government. The herders do not respect boundaries as stated in the agreements and this is unacceptable.”

Mr Karani warned the chiefs against entering into agreements that threatened security.

“We must involve the county government but in the meantime, I urge you to maintain peace,” he said.

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grazing fieldspastoralistsherdersland dispute