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North-Eastern leaders on right path with peace campaign

By Editorial | January 28th 2014

Governors from North-Eastern Kenya taking bold steps to bring peace and prosperity to their people deserve support and should be emulated in the country’s other hot spots.

The four county governors – Nathif Jama Adam (Garissa ), Doyo Godana (Isiolo ), Ali Roba (Mandera) and Abdullahi Mohamad (Wajir) – have come up with a comprehensive agreement dubbed the “Modogashe Communique”  that is both pragmatic and ambitious.

Interestingly, the communiqué is a follow-up of the 2001 Modogashe Declaration initiated by the then Kanu government of former President Daniel arap Moi to help fight banditry in the region. The declaration’s long gestation period and the governors’ willingness to own the problem, craft and implement the strategies increases the chances that peace and prosperity will finally break out in a region long known for perennial droughts, hunger and death of both people and their livestock.

The prospects of finding a lasting solution are also bolstered by the governors’ recognition that all the problems are interwoven around security for without it no meaningful development can take place.

The recognition that water, or its scarcity to be more precise, is at the heart of most communal conflicts has led the governors to champion the building of mega water resource projects. These projects will not only be used for domestic purposes but will also be utilised in irrigation projects to grow food and fodder for livestock.

Better-fed livestock would, in turn, find  ready markets across the country, region and beyond. This single development would break the vicious cycle of poverty that has imprisoned an entire region’s successive generations to the extent that the keeping of livestock and the incidence of grinding poverty have become synonymous.

The breaking of this vicious cycle will also require the construction of standard roads to take the excess agricultural produce and, more significantly, livestock products to the market.

That the governors are alive to the challenges ahead is borne out by the fact that they have prioritised the construction of two major roads. As expected, the planned tarmacking of the 700-kilometre Garissa-Wajir-Mandera and the 400-kilometre Isiolo-Wajir roads will require huge amounts of money and the Government will be required to offer technical and financial assistance as necessary. It is hoped that this assistance will be given without reservation.

Improved water and food supplies, coupled with the establishment of hospitals and health centres across the region, should also go a long way in combating the killer diseases that have ravaged the region for generations.

The worst of these are those associated with maternal deaths, estimated at between 1200 and 1,300 for every 100,000 births.

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