Come up with a Marshal Plan for Northern Kenya

Wajir North MP Ibrahim Abdi Saney. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Armed conflicts in Northern Kenya counties have been with us for decades and no regime since independence, has cracked the puzzle. Lives, livestock, livelihoods and education have been destroyed by the spate of insecurity.

Indeed, many residents from this region are amazed when they venture into Nairobi and other safer counties. This should not be the case, because Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Tana River, Laikipia, Marakwet, Pokot and Samburu residents deserve government protection from internal or external aggression.

They should not fear sending their children to school, going to the market, venturing into their farms or tending their livestock. They do not deserve pity or empty promises by security and government officials after deadly incidents.

The Kenyan police force and the army have at one time or another ventured into the region to flush out the bandits. This has not registered much progress.

The government has also tried to hire and arm more police reservists in the region, but sometimes this has become counter-productive. This is especially so after majority of the reservists come from one community and they are set up against another community. They then terrorise the unlucky community because they have more guns.

Today, bandits have access to sophisticated weapons and they can plan attacks anytime they want. Indeed, the conflicts are nowadays not just about stealing livestock but also about killing people and revenge missions.

Despite the introduction of devolution, a decade ago, Northern Kenya counties have not improved their lot, largely because of armed conflicts and general insecurity. But how can the Kenya Kwanza government make a difference? Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has made several tours to the troubled regions and again promised to annihilate the bandits. However, so far, the attacks are still happening.

I suggest that we put up many police posts in the region, recruit many of the local youths, especially reformed cattle rustlers and involve the military too. Why should we send the Kenya Defence Forces to troubled Somalia and other countries while our own people keep worrying about their safety here?

The local youths are hardened to handle any local battles. I dare say they are brave than the average policeman. Besides that, they are well conversant with the rough terrain.

For lasting solutions, we must also come up with viable economic activities like increasing feedlots in the region where the Kenya Meat Commission and other organised traders buy livestock for beef at attractive prices. We can also invest heavily in irrigation and encourage residents to take up farming.  We need a Marshal Plan for this region to conclusively deal with insecurity. Over to you Mr President and your Interior Cabinet Secretary!

The writer is Wajir North MP

The Standard
Get unlimited access to The Standard website!