Elders begin talks to end rifts along vast Kenya-Ethiopia border

An armed boy herding livestock along the volatile Kenya and Ethiopia border. [Bakari Ang'ela, Standard]

Leaders and elders from pastoral communities in Kenya and Ethiopia have embarked on talks to end incessant cross-border conflicts.

Elders from Turkana and Ethiopia’s Dessanach and Nyang'atom said perennial conflicts along the common border have resulted in loss of lives and livestock.

Through their leaders, the warring communities held a two-day meeting in Lodwar where they agreed on the use of local mechanisms to address their issues.

Loree Kakuta, the head of the Ethiopian delegation, attributed the perennial conflicts to scramble for pasture and water for livestock.

Leaders from Turkana and Ethiopia’s Dessanach and Nyang'atom during the two-day meeting in Lodwar. [Bakari Ang'ela, Standard]

Kakuta lauded elders from the two countries for formulating a working formula and a home-grown model to resolve the conflicts.

He said the elders’ initiative was not only encouraging, but also promising, as it covered all aspects of pasture resources and included concerns of farmers.

Kenya and Ethiopia were asked to increase the number of government administrators including chiefs and their assistants and village elders along the volatile border to enhance security.

The meeting was told that vast areas such as Kokuro and Merikuka along the border lacked chiefs.

A section of leaders from Ethiopia during the two-day meeting in Lodwar. [Bakari Ang'ela, Standard]

Turkana Governor Jeremiah Lomorukai described the latest move as noble and asked communities from the neighbouring countries to embrace the local mechanisms aimed at taming cattle rustling and inter-ethnic clashes.

"Peace is not only important for the sake of it, but also a necessary condition for promotion of trade, culture, tourism and other benefits between the Turkana of Kenya, Dassenach and Nyangatom of Ethiopia who also share cultural ties," Lomorukai said.

The governor exuded confidence that the peace-building initiatives will result in cohesion among the communities.

At the same time, the Turkana County Directorate of Peace was mandated to hold regular community dialogues in Kokuro, Merukuka and Olegech with support from both national and county governments to address emerging issues.