Elders quell high tension in Tana Delta after herders kill farmer

[Front from left] Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata and Coast Regional Police boss Paul Ndambuki at Galma village, where one person was killed by herders. [Robert Menza, Standard]

Tension is simmering among communities living in Tana River County after a farmer was hacked to death by herders at Galma village in Sera location within the expansive Tana Delta sub-county.

The farmer's body was discovered on his farm after being attacked by herders who had invaded his farm to graze their cattle.

Locals said the incident has caused tension between two communities that clashed in 2012.

Coast regional commissioner John Elungata asked residents to provide information on those fueling trouble in the delta region.

Addressing elders from the Orma, Pokomo, Wardei, Wailuana, Mywoyaya and Watta communities at Galma village in Tarasaa on Thursday, Mr Elungata cautioned leaders and residents from repeating the cycle of violence that has caused loss of lives and property in the region in recent years.

The administrator, who was accompanied by Coast region police boss Paul Ndambuki and senior security officers from Tana River County, blamed the frequent conflict on lack of respect between crop farmers and pastoralists and called for a lasting solution.

He observed that farmers at times attack the livestock grazing on their farms, while pastoralists deliberately let their animals roam freely on private farms.

In the 2012 skirmishes between the two communities, more than 100 people were killed and hundreds of families displaced. 

Yesterday, Elungata directed chiefs and their assistants to carry out their duties without bias.

“I have told the chief from Galma location that even if he is from the Wardei community, he should serve the Pokomo communities living in his location without discrimination,” Elungata said, adding that chiefs found to be lax in their administrative duties would be sacked.

Elungata further urged residents and local leaders to partner with Nyumba Kumi chairs and the police by volunteering information on those fueling animosity among their communities. He said the security apparatus within the county would soon carry out an operation to flush out illegal herders, propagating the conflict.

Haji Omar, chairman of the Oromo community, blamed politicians for incitement on land and political grounds.

Chairman of the Watta community, Dahir Dile, urged local administrators to work closely with Nyumba Kumi elders to address problems within the communities before they escalated into ethnic clashes.

Guyo Dalu, an elder of the Mywoyaya community, said the hostility among communities living in Tana River was fueled by migratory herders from the North East, who do not seek permission from local water and pasture committees to graze their animals in the wetlands within the Tana Delta.  

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