GARISSA POLITICIANS FUELING INTER- ETHNIC AND INRA-TRIBAL SKIRMISHES BETWEEN ISIOLO AND GARISSA COMMUNITIES

I humbly piece-up together the following narrative regarding the above thorny subject which has escalated to monumental scale for more than two years specifically revolving between Isiolo and Garissa. These heinous acts is normally triggered by one specific Somali clan (Auliyan) from Lagdera constituency leading to Loss of human life, property, displacements of large segments of the communities and intermittent disruption of socio-economic activities and livelihoods.

The entire plot is crafted, planned, bankrolled and executed by local politicians from Garissa County. Whilst political leaders from Isiolo specifically Isiolo South MP and Council of elders employed diplomatic approaches such as inter-community dialogue, traditional conflict resolution mechanism and enhancing peace building.

On the contrary, our counterparts from Garissa are on persistent war path by sponsoring outlawed militias and vigilante gangs in the name of Kenya Police Reservist (KPR) to take law into their own hand by causing mayhem, pandemonium and turmoil between the two counties and yet they “play victims” in print, electronic and social media. The politicians should be held culpable by relevant government security organs. Be that as it may, before I delve into the crux of the matter, I wish to apprise relevant government security agencies with some fundamental background.

 

BACKGROUND

Northern Kenya is an area prone to violent conflict. These violent conflicts between different ethnic nomadic communities and sometimes between clans have negatively affected socio-economic and political development of the region. Most Government security operations and peace initiatives have not succeeded in quelling conflict in the region. Northern Kenya had a long history of ethnic conflict, violence and marginalization, but new conflict drivers and dynamics related to devolution, terrorism and resource extraction are now exacerbating these local tensions and raising challenges for traditional peace building structures.

Violent conflicts involving pastoralists have become widespread and increasingly severe in the North Eastern regions of Kenya. This petition identifies and examines the factors contributing to such conflicts, and discusses issues and priorities for conflict prevention and peace building.

The pastoralists in the Northern Kenya are largely nomadic. They live primarily in arid or semi-arid areas and depend on livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and camels) for their livelihood. They rely on access to pasture and water, for the survival of their livestock. Such resources are scarce and under increasing pressure. They must be shared amongst the pastoralist’s communities.

Conflicts involving pastoralists associated with resource competition, cattle rustling and wide availability of small arms are widespread and of increasing concern. The patterns of conflict in North Eastern regions are complex. There are many factors contributing to the risk of violent conflict involving pastoralists, and these have tended to become mutually reinforcing.

Traditionally, major causes of conflict among the pastoralist include but not limited to intensified cattle rustling, proliferation of illicit arms, inadequate policing and state security arrangements, diminishing role of traditional governance systems, competition over control and access to natural resources such as pasture and water, land issues, political incitements and ethnocentrism.

CURRENT STATUS QUO AT PLAY

Current political Face book posts (Garissa County page) and pronouncement by local politicians (Hon. Mohamed Hire and Governor Ali Korane) and some errand bloggers (Rashid Amin and Ahmed Rageah)from Garissa are fuelling inter-and intra-tribal and clan tensions. In Garissa County, for example, political competition over the control of local government is exacerbating existing conflicts over boundary disputes and natural resources. These localized conflicts could lead to ethnic clashes, violence, and the emergence of local militias, recruitment and infiltration by Al-Shabaab terror group.

PRESENT SITUATION CRISIS

√ For the past one year Isiolo South has borne the brunt of persistent skirmishes deliberately orchestrated by our neighbours from Garissa County;
√ Seven people died as clashes between warring communities in Garbatula Township, Isiolo County. Nine people were also injured. Somali herders from Lagdera, in Garissa sparked a fierce gun battle.
√ Several towns and settlements have been deserted due to intermittent attacks from invaders drawn from Garissa County.
√ In another incident more than 10 people were killed and another 13 injured in the conflicts in less than two months as the herders search for pasture and water due to biting drought. This has been exacerbated by forceful entry of herders from Lagdera in Garissa into Isiolo South Constituency.
√ Erection and building of illegal structures beyond their boundaries by the Somali expansionist population and consequently displacing Isiolo South people from Gafarsa, Belgesha, Modogashe , Eldera and Garbatula.
√ Many livestock have been lost due to deliberate incursion by Somali insurgency from Garissa County, Particularly Lagdera Constituency.
√ Several schools in Isiolo South Constituency have been closed or learning interrupted due persistent attacks from the Somali herders.
√ Settlements along Isiolo – Modogashe road by Somali herders serve as illegal armoury for firearms and other sophisticated ammunitions. √ This Boundary regions illegally occupied by Somali herders squarely belongs to the people of Isiolo South Constituency. Much worse, security organs have failed miserably in mitigating this menace.

INTERVENTIONS BY ISIOLO POLITICAL LEADERS

~ Isiolo South MP Hon. Koropu in conjunction with Council of Elders have initiated a campaign to reclaim our land invaded over time by expansionist Aulian neighbours from Lagdera.
~ They met former North Eastern Regional Commissioner Amb. Mohamud A. Swaleh and Eastern Regional Commissioner at Harambee House. They resolved to dispatch a team to clearly identify and put beacons on the boundary we share with Garissa County and to ensure that the expansionist will be relocated to their county.
~ The political leaders in collaboration with the area elders also organized a group of Wazees to go round the whole of Isiolo South to emphasize importance of peaceful coexistence with our neighbours.
~ The salient reason behind this occupation is due to mega projects initiated by national government.
~ The Isiolo South MP also lobbied for more Kenya Police Reservists to assist in ensuring security of these lands being reclaimed by expansionists who are grabbing it using guns and bullets.
~ It’s the area leaders and elders’ view that this uncontrolled influx of armed herders can be stemmed by pushing back the expansionist Aulian neighbours beyond the boundary thereby creating a buffer zone between the two communities.
~ Despite the efforts by the local elected leaders, there was no improvement and therefore we urge the national government to move with speed to restore normalcy in this hostile region.
Further in the North, the same problem is experienced owing attacks between Turkana and Samburu neighbours. Though the government employed excessive forces against the Turkanas.

THE AXIS OF EVIL

It is evident that, immediately after the Lagdera MP Hon. Mohammed Hire deployed his 60 militias, as stated in his Face book post on 5th July 2018, Isiolo South residents from Eldera location were cornered and their houses burnt to ashes, with scores injured on 6th July 2018. The riff raffs, dubbed “KPR Officers” were to patrol the hotspot zones and ensuring safety and security of lives and properties of Lagdera people. Strange as it may be, these atrocities occurred right in the territory of Isiolo South.

The displaced and injured residents of Eldera are currently camping at Garbatula Sub County as internally displaced persons. The Government should come up with a lasting solution to this menace, and not arming the already hostile communities superintended by the supposed Lagdera legislator Mohammed Hire. Therefore, the buck stops with the Lagdera Member of Parliament.

COPIED FROM (GARISSA COUNTY) FACEBOOK BY one RASHID AMIN

“The Emboldened Borana.
The recent political success of the Oromo people in Ethiopia has emboldened their brothers the Borana across the border in Kenya. The Election of H.E Abiy Ahmed as Prime Minister of Ethiopia was successful culmination of 35 years of struggle by the Oromo people. The changes that are happening in Ethiopia is having an effect on the region including Garissa County.

It’s my believe that what’s happening at Garissa and Isiolo County borders is indirectly connected to the changes happening in Ethiopia. The Oromo speaking people including the Boranas in Kenya are somehow convinced that their time has arrived to take over the region and assert themselves politically and financially as a force to be reckoned with.

You can see this from the brazen public speeches by their elected officials and their Council of Elders. No doubt the Oromo speaking people in the Horn of Africa are the undisputed majority in the region. But the way they are going about their new found political fortunes at the ground level is cause for concern and should raise alarm bells with Governments and Administrations in the region.

The Borana in Kenya are out to settle political score with Somalis over perceived none existent historical injustices. They are also through their Council of Elders (Gadaa System) pressuring their elected officials in Isiolo County and throughout the region to evict Somalis from land they falsely claim belongs to them i.e Moyale in Marsabit County and Lagdera in Garissa County. The Boranas who for decades were mostly uneducated and somehow lagging behind Somalis both politically and financially are now flexing their muscles thanks to Devolution in Kenya and Revolution in Ethiopia. Garissa County Government and our elected officials at the National level should not take lightly what is happening at our border with Isiolo County.

The County Government should also be aware of the regional changes that are taking place so that our people are not taken by surprise. The amount of propaganda being spewed by Borana bloggers on social media is also alarming.

To my surprise Borana bloggers are manning Garissa County page and other pages associated with Garissa County to get an insight on our local politics for their own consumption and to formulate strategy. We have to be cautious at this time in our history since the regional changes that are happening are big and historic.”

A piece by another warmonger by AHMED RAGEAH posted on GARISSA COUNTY PAGE FACEBOOK

“Notice is hereby given to all youths drawn from various part of Garissa county especially Lagdera constituency that inshallah tomorrow there’s a media briefing which will be conducted by youths to strongly condemn the recent attacks that was carried out by bandits from Isiolo South.. The press meeting will be held at The Clarion Hotel, opposite jeevanjee gardens exactly at 11.am. We are therefore appealing to all the youths in Nairobi and its environs to come and attend the press conference & show solidarity…..come one come all.”

In this regard, it is an open secret that the primary responsibility for developing and implementing the programmes and security measures rest with the Kenyan government, local, national and international stakeholders. International community also has a responsibility to do what it can to assist manage the problem of insecurity, conflicts and the ensuing displacements. There are many windows and entry points to reduce the pressures generating conflict and to promote sustainable prevention and enhancement of the pastoralists’ communities’ resilience. Subsequently, the government should swing into actions and arrest the Lagdera MP for masterminding ragtag militia, incitement and flaming ethnic jingoism among communities who have been harmoniously coexisting amicably.

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PASTORALISTS LAND POLEMICS BORDERS ON TRAGEDY OF COMMONS

Kenya’s Vision 2030 and all its flagship projects are envisaged to spur rapid economic growth and steer the country into a middle income economy by the year 2030. The LAPSSET Corridor Projects (LCPs) which includes a port in Lamu, resort cities, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and upgrading of the Isiolo Airport to international standards among others, is part of the programme. This paper sought to examine the effects of project on economic and socio-cultural rights of the communities living along the corridor in Isiolo County.

A mixed approach was employed with multi-stage, snowball and purposive sampling techniques to generate both quantitative and qualitative data. Life experiences and issues of concern raised by the concerned respondents were raised by communities’ expressions. The communities along the North Eastern Transport Improvement Projects had not been sensitized about the projects. They were not informed about the impacts that the project would have on their lives.

In addition, they were not adequately involved in various stages of project implementation. Although information dissemination forums were organized occasionally in Isiolo Town, majority of the residents are still speculating on the main route the corridor will be taking, who among them would be affected and how they would be compensated. This paper established that the mega projects had not enhanced any basic social services; instead, these services are further threatened through effects like noise pollution and strained access to basic services due to the influx of people.

Public participation and information dissemination in the project should be heightened to assist in addressing speculation that is straining the peaceful co-existence of people in this region. There has been no public sensitization and engagement, which explains why most members of the community are still not aware about the projects. In fact, some people learned about it through newspapers. To date, some leaders do not know the exact layout of the project in our county. They are only hearing rumours about this project

Critiques however sees non-tariff barriers and lack of political will as major impediments that could slow down the pace of project implementation, besides tedious Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements to secure funding for the projects.

Isiolo County is largely an arid and semi-arid region where the main economic activity is pastoralism. Other activities undertaken on a smaller scale include farming, fishing and hunting. This county is considered among the poorest in Kenya and is characterized by inadequate access to basic services such as water, food and social security. It is known to have experienced historical injustices by successive governments since independence. This is attributed to the colonial government policies that marginalized the Northern corridor that was perpetuated by the successive post-colonial governments. Evidence has further shown that there has been no genuine public sensitization, involvement and participation which has not only discriminated the local communities from taking part in the projects from an informed point of view, but also excluded them from their national duty and responsibility to make informed decisions on any development activity that affects their destiny.

The preamble of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 acknowledges that “All sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya”, inferring that the people of Isiolo are supreme, and deserve their rights, including the right to inclusion and information. The Constitution ascertains that, the state shall provide economic and social rights and avail appropriate social security to persons who are unable to support themselves and their dependents. The Land Act, 2012 states that communities have a right to own and have land registered in their name. The Lands Acquisition Act, 2013 clearly highlights the procedure of land acquisition for development investment. The procedure and management of land issues are further discussed in the Land Laws Amendment Act of 2016.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property”. The law in this case articulately states that in no case shall people be deprived of their property. In case of spoliation, the dispossessed people shall have the right to the lawful recovery of their property as well as to an adequate compensation in case any of the steps articulated in the procedure were violated.

Core stakeholders such as county government, civil society groups and local community should embark on the following; that the county government should demand for social service provision (water, health care facilities, education institutions, employment for the locals and fair compensation alongside projects to ensure that the people of Isiolo are not de-marginalized by such mega investment projects. They should also consult the public and create awareness before they make key decisions that affect the people’s destiny like re-routing of the LAPSSET Corridor so that the public may give their opinion. On the other hand, civil society agencies, including religious movements, should be the true representatives and eye-openers of the marginalized voiceless members of the public whilst the local communities have a right to know where the corridor projects pass, who will be affected and how they would be compensated in good time to avoid situations where they would be forcefully evicted without prior arrangements on where to go.

LAPSSET CORRIDOR – ISIOLO COUNTY, LET US AVOID THE PITFALLS

There is a ravenous mad rush for land and resources in Isiolo County just like it is evidenced in other counties in which the LAPSET Corridor passes through. Isiolo county is 25,600 sq. km which is real and constant factor of production for the over 200,000 population. Strategically the LAPSSET project will take up the Isiolo central which is already crowded by other projects thanks to the duplication of other actors in project implementation.
If managed prudently and in consultation with the local people the LAPSSET project is arguably the single most important thing that has ever happened to this marginalized county since independence, thanks to the sessional paper 2 of 1965. In the absence of the above and on the flipside, it can lead to widespread escalation of poverty, social – economic disfranchisement and apathy amongst the people. This is therefore a breeding ground for conflicts and displacements.

Lapsset route

There is a long standing historical injustice by the state favouring our giant neighbor; the Meru who are farmers as opposed to Isiolo people who are pastoralist, the expansionist tendency of this farmers and their population growth rate further displaced the Isiolo populace. The geographical maps and trigonometrical measurement have been redrawn and manipulated to annex Isiolo county boundaries.

The Districts and Provinces Act of 30th October, 1970 where an amendment motion that; – was initiated by the then iconic MP for Isiolo South; Hon. Adan Wako Bonaya and vehemently supported the then MP for Isiolo North, Hon Abdikadir Mohammed.  Hon Bonaya stated that there is a political barter trade that was going on with the Meru giving their votes as it is a vote rich region and the government in Nairobi giving them Isiolo Land in exchange.
With the advent of the county government, the Meru county administration has planned projects in the disputed territory is currently establishing new settlements.
It negates international law to annex the county without the people’s participation and without the latter’s historical or contemporary attachments to it.

There is myriad of projects that are planned for in Isiolo like the international Airport, abattoir, pipeline, inland container terminal among others which will take up most of its land. We are grateful to the civil society actors like Isiolo Professional Caucus and Waso Trust Land Project for increasingly empowering the communities in natural resource governance.

The select ad-hoc committee of the first Isiolo County Assembly which tabled a report before the house to redress the problem posited the Assembly to unanimously pass it only for it to be shelved by the concerned officials of the executive wing.

The LAPPSET corridor passes through Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, ISIOLO, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana,and Baringo Counties. The former LAPSSET chairman, Amb. Francis Muthaura and his board is not a representative of the diversity of the communities who inhabit that corridor ,it is  case of blind justice and the people being displaced as the management of LAPPSET Authority do not understand the aspirations of the people which is the most important resource – human capital ?.

A conflict emerging from the projects like a case in point Isiolo International Airport goes unresolved as the people are not involved, they do not even know where it falls. It has been in Isiolo all through only to be told it is in Meru because it is now more resourceful. The employment and contracts policy is skewed to favor other politically correct people. The sum total of all these is that the people of these counties remain the losers and there is a high possibility that these pitfalls that are left open by the concerned authorities will escalate into the “next LAMU”

It is my humble submission that the government through the KENYA VISION 2030 secretariat, LAPSSET Corridor Authority, President’s Delivery Unit and Delivery Board organizes a conference of all the concerned counties and stakeholders to deliberate on the benefits of LAPPSET projects. Most importantly to the pastoralist communities occupying the LAPPSET corridor to shun the perennial conflicts and persistent cattle rustling and pick up education and entrepreneurship to fully benefit from this opportunity.

I would like to recognize lobby group like Isiolo Professional Caucus (IPC) and urge other civil societies to follow suit and play their civic role in this counties to ensure it is a people – centered activity.

There is a clear contradiction in how vision 2030 projects are conceptualized, pundits argue that it is a desktop consultant document  as opposed to an empirical document that originates from the ground.

How it is possible to cut off Ewaso Nyiro River downstream to the wildlife and livelihoods to build a dam and expect to have a flourishing tourism industry.

To land speculators of the gold rush to  Isiolo which otherwise is  known within the  circles people of Isiolo as the “New Found land” of Meru that it is not a wise thing to do, while investments are encouraged, let it to go through the establishment due process for us to be able to co-exist peacefully.

SUPREME COURT DATE WITH THE gods!

Supreme Court of Kenya

Four things that belong to a Judge:

To hear courteously; to answer wisely;
To Consider soberly; and to decide impartially. (Socrates 399-469 BC)

NASA Chief-Principal; Raila Odinga

NASA Chief-Princpal has chosen to go to Supreme Court. Supreme Court has two alternatives only: re-affirm or invalidate the election of Uhuru Kenyatta. In arriving at this decision, the Supreme Court has two paths.
On one path, it can follow the footsteps of the Supreme Court under Dr. Willy Mutunga and be guided by the jurisprudence of Nigeria and Ugandan Courts, and like a witch make its decision in thPrincpal

I don’t know which self-respecting lawyer will use Nigerian and Ugandan decisions as stare decisis on Presidential Elections! The results for Presidential Elections in Uganda and Nigeria are known well in advance by the President, the Electoral Commission and the Deep State! There, Elections are a choreographed dance to launder money! Or it can take the high road, and follow the Supreme Court of United States. In the US, the Supreme Court proudly makes its decision when the sun is up! We all know the US Supreme Court during the reigns of the great Chief Justices John Marshall and Earl Warren. Under Marshall, the Court decided Marbury vs Madison that forever laid the independence and exclusive jurisdiction of the Judiciary. Under Warren, the Court decided Brown vs Board of Education that forever officially ended racial segregation.

Our Supreme Court under CJ David Maraga can choose to be night-runners and give us a decision we will never use anywhere; or stand in the public square when the sun is up and give us a decision that binds our Nation-States of Kenya forever. Lightning doesn’t strike twice the same spot. ~By Lawyer Donald Kipkorir

RULES AND PROCEDURE OF FILING OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PETITION 

FILING OF THE PETITION:

Article 140 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that all petitioners who intend to file petitions challenging the presidential elections have seven days from the date of declaration of the results by the commission within which to file such petitions.

SERVICE OF THE PETITION:

The Rules provides for two modes of service. Under Rule 10 (1) the petitioner is required within two days of filing of the petition, to serve the same upon the respondent directly or by advertisement in a newspaper with national circulation. Rule 10 (2) further requires the petitioner to electronically serve the respondent within six hours of filing of the petition.

RESPONSE TO PETITION:

Similarly, Rule 11 gives the petitioner who wishes to oppose the petition four days within which to respond to the petition.

CLOSE OF PLEADINGS AND INTERLOCUTORY APPLICATIONS:

The pleadings shall close upon filing of a response or notice of intention not to oppose. Interlocutory applications shall be made one day after the close of proceedings and shall be determined before the hearing commences.

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE:

Rule 15 provides for the pre-trial conference. This shall be done on the eighth day after the filing of the petition.

HEARING OF THE PETITION:

Immediately after the pre-trial conference the court shall commence the hearing of the petition under Rule 18 of the Presidential Election Petition Rules.

FINAL DETERMINATION:

By the fourteenth day the court will be expected to deliver its verdict. In this regard, the court may give its decision and reserve the reasons for the decision to a later date. This has been provided for under Rule 23 of the Presidential Election Petition Rules.

DECISION 2017: Blatant rigging schemes in a poll that never was

I agree with the NASA coalition leadership that the 2017 general election was a sham.

In the run-up to the 2017 elections, a friend advised me against contesting as the governor of Isiolo County. I was surprised at his suggestion. When I asked him why, he replied, “Are you able to buy the returning officer and the agents of your opponents?” I was kind of taken aback. In this time and age, elections should reflect the will of the people.

Of course, I disregarded my friend’s advice and proceeded with my quest. I was fully aware of the demands from our electorate, including being paid to attend campaign meetings and other exorbitant but sometimes unavoidable costs that run into millions of shillings.

On the campaign trail I did what every ordinary politician does; go and see people, talk to them about my plans, manifesto and how I planned to improve their lives.

MONEY

Most often these messages were received positively. Later I realised the  average Kenyan voter does not really listen to the messages leaders bring them. The most attractive thing to a voter in a campaign meeting is the money that people receive. In fact, during the campaign period, there are people who shut down their business only to wait for politicians. Lots of money is spent just for people to come out to listen to a politician.

The reality of my friend’s advice hit me when I saw a presiding officer at a polling station assisting an elderly and unlettered voter.

The agents were all staring away as the presiding officer kept on assisting the unlettered voters.

To my utter shock, I realised more than 70 per cent of the voters in the rural areas are assisted voters, meaning they don’t possess even the most basic form of education. Most elderly voters voted for a candidate they did not even know.

Uneducated voters don’t have enough information on how to vote. Presiding officers have lots of power to influence elections once they are compromised. The concept of using agents is not really working.
The agents themselves easily get compromised. The presiding officer I saw in fact was marking the wrong candidates for the voters.

This aspect really shocked me and confirmed the fears that our electoral process is a sham.The saddest part though is the counting of ballot papers. My impromptu visit to a number of polling stations confirmed my fears.

As the former Russian dictator Joseph Stalin once said, “It is not enough that the people know there was an election.

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” The methods I saw in several polling stations suggested an agent cannot really confirm with certainty that the process is fair and transparent.

POOR LIGHTING

Some of the polling stations do not have proper lighting system so agents sometimes cannot verify the results. The whole process looks very unfair. The presidential tally was the most inaccurate.

The NASA coalition has been lamenting about votes being stolen. Scores of people have so far been killed by the security forces.

The worst part in my observation is the buying of voters on the polling queue. Without blinking, candidates were openly giving money to voters in the presence of the police officers.

The electoral process as it is now cannot reflect the wishes of the people.

The best solution would be to use mobile phone applications for people to vote. Since most adults in Kenya today can vote, IEBC should invest in an APP that can be used to elect the leaders we want.

If an illiterate voter needs to be assisted, then it is better if assisted by relatives they trust rather than a stranger.

The elections of 2017, despite the orderly and peaceful manner in which they were conducted, did not qualify for the “free and fair” description.

IEBC needs to initiate a new set of reforms to inspire confidence and ensure a candidate feels comfortable with the process.

As things stand now, it looks like elections in Kenya are determined way in advance and there is no need in taking part in an election in the first place.

By Mohamed Gulleid- Courtesy of The Standard newspaper

DEVOLUTION ON TRIAL: A CASE STUDY OF ISIOLO COUNTY

 

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By Salad Malicha Guyo

@msaladus

For the first time in the history of Kenya, the public is keen in participating in policy and legislative development as well as holding leaders accountable as opposed to the past where citizens were mere recipients of laws and Isiolo County Government is not an exception to this. Unlike the past when Isiolo was County was both inaccessible and rife with banditry, the road to the Isiolo, through picturesque Mt. Kenya, is a joy to experience. As for safety, the County trumps most of Kenya and one can traverse the entire expanse of the County without a worry. Secondly, the people of Isiolo are extremely hospitable. They share from their obvious material paucity with humbling abandon. Nonetheless, Isiolo County is in dire need of proper governance and capacity building in legislative development which continues to derail all functions at the county level

DEVOLUTION ON THE ROPE IN ISIOLO COUNTY

Reality of Isiolo County Governance is tossing out spontaneous unexpected scenario. It will certainly shift in the way we relate to each other and do business of politics in Isiolo County. Quality leadership matters. Isiolo County Government team is effectively suffering under burden of untried political leadership. People expect their lives to leap forward, social relations to improve and negative politics disposed. The team opposing current leadership made one point clear. Dread. Fear –it is horror, run away.

There is now more confusion than light, disorder at County Offices, deceit on past relations, lack of information and growing elusion. Things were not going in the right direction from onset, early intervention was sabotaged; and justice crawled in the woods
Isiolo County government is real theatre of absurd; Management by chaos, pressure on establishment and strain to the limit of governance and social structures. Everything seems to work through a chaotic process and behind schedule. People’s expectation and dreams were shuttered. Tribe, Clan or Sub clans’ talks are the order of the day. Court sanctions, Court injunctions are daily affairs.

Isiolo the County Assembly which is mandated to do oversight on the executive, representation of people and making of County Bills have performed miserably due to persistent political patronage by the Executive arm of the county government. The buck stops with the measure of wisdom and ingenuity of the County leadership.
The County leadership hides and influence the public views behind curtain, ethics and social relations flow through resistant mode and manipulations. Change becomes slow and invisible. Any shifts that happens break lose rapidly and become erratic event.

Governance institutions often respond in single rigid way, leaders expose weaker side of human face, new rules are set to enhance exclusion, transformation path is obstructed, unmanageable stress become order of the day, social order is exposed to series of crisis that open path to conflict and violence. The pressure on system and structures break down. New path open to scare-free for all. Disorder and stalemate takes centre stage. This grossly prejudices the ability of officers to deliver on their responsibilities. Even more worrying for past two years, the assembly had only passed one Bill (Isiolo County Appropriation Act). The County Assembly however, managed to make trips to inter alia Japan and the Emirates.

Another worry was the low expenditure on development by the county. In the last published report by the Controller of Budget, the entire resources in the county were spent on recurrent expenditure, with no monies going to development. There are structural challenges that counties generally encounter on expending on development but we would have expected Isiolo, being a county in so much need of development, to seek innovative avenues for absorbing development expenditures. This has happened in counties like Bomet, which during the same season had expended 41 per cent of their revenue on development!

The other worrying thing in the county was the continuation of the marginalization discourse. Despite the county being the second highest recipient of revenue per capita, the citizens and indeed some leaders still engage in marginalization narrative with the same vigor as that prior to devolution. Granted, Isiolo has been marginalized for long and even ten years of devolution will not erase the impact of marginalization. But the cure for marginalization must start with the county using the funds it has been allocated innovatively and prudently.

Whereas, it is unforgivable for any county, or indeed the national government to spend the bulk of its resources on wasteful expenditure, for needy and previously marginalized Counties like Isiolo, to waste this rare opportunity to erase the injustices of the past through waste is almost criminal.

Finally; the minimal investment in education in this county leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, education is a function of the national government. The county government must however look for more ways to raise the education standards of Isiolo if this county is to emerge from its dark past, bottom line. Devolution has presented an opportunity for Kenya to correct its past misdeeds, if the new leadership of the counties does not exploit these opportunities and instead invest their time in unnecessary drama and showbiz, it will be the worst betrayal of a desperate public.

CURRENT STATUS AT PLAY IN ISIOLO COUNTY

  • There is a need for an extensive community awareness and participation to usher in county government and resort city project through stakeholders sharing ideas, views and setting common goals.
  • Isiolo county has an economic potential but was ranked as among the worst towns to do business in and its time that stakeholders come together to identify the core problem hindering business growth, enterprise development and why investors are shying away.
  • The roles of different sectors in promoting economic growth especially those that facilitate the growth of dependent sectors are not well defined and are not up to task to pave way for economic empowerment of local people.
  • There is a missing link between community, public sectors, Non- governmental organization and corporate sectors to collaborate and spearhead common agenda for development and growth.
  • There is lack information among small business owners that resulted to many people closing their businesses after few months, therefore there is need for relevant sectors to provide training on enterprise management, micro-finance initiatives to help them grow.
  • Isiolo town need strategic business hub oriented strategic plan to promote missing business diversity among the business community.

MALFEASANCE AND FINANCIAL IMPROPRIETY

  • Kshs 62 Million was given to Isiolo County Government by the Transition Authority from April-June, 2013 which was meant for the establishment of County government offices. The fund was grossly misused without any due tendering process hence flouting Public Procurement procedures (Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2013.
  • Arbitrary hiring or leasing of private vehicles by the Governor and the Deputy governor from their close ally in the name of one Abdi Viazi at the rate of Kshs 25,000 per day after election till to date. The Deputy Governor hires his own vehicle; Nissan Navara double cabin at the rate of Kshs 10,000 per day.
  • Refurbishment of County offices furniture through donation from the Turkish Government via their Kenyan Embassy but information from reliable sources had it that County money was used to pay for the same donated items which can be found on the website of Turkish Embassy.

GREY AREAS IN THE SAID FULLY PAID PROJECTS (FINANCIAL YEAR 2013/2014)

  1. Murraming of roads within Isiolo town was single sourced by the Executive for Finance who happens to be sister in-law to the deputy Governor at a whopping Kshs 20 million to Shibli Construction Company owned by the family of Deputy Governor. This project was never advertised, no procurement procedures was adhered to and it was over inflated.
  2. Proposed hydrological studies was not advertised, there was no public awareness & participation if it all it was carried out. The report of the alleged studies was never shared out to the members of the Public. The cost of the said studies was Kshs 6,972,000
  3. Malka-daka Mogore road was done at a cost Kshs. 200,000. This road is located in Isiolo South Constituency and does not require any upgrading. It was properly murramed previously through Isiolo South Constituency Development Fund kitty before 2013 General election. This project was never advertised and it was done through single sourcing. The cost of the project was extremely over-inflated
  4. Installation of KVA stand by Generator was done at a cost of Kshs 6,897,000. Just like other projects, it was never advertised and proper procurement procedures was never followed.
  5. Handling of area for fisheries was done at a cost of Kshs 751,622. This project was never advertised, procurement procedures was never adhered to and it had no sustainable impact on the lives of the people.
  6. Renovation of Livestock Marketing Departmentwas done at a cost of 650,000. It was never advertised and no procurement procedures was followed.
  7. Murraming of drive way and park area at the County office was done at a cost of Kshs 675,000.It was never advertised. Interestingly, it the County office yard was carpeted at an unknown amount.
  8. Consultancy for Environmental Impact Assessment was done at a cost of 4,184,700 Million. There was no advert, no competitive bidding, no citizen participation and the alleged concluded report was never released to the public.
  9. Award the improvement of Isiolo township car parking bays at a cost of Kshs 19,380,109 Million.This project was single sourced and it was given to the cronies of the Governor. The job was shoddily done by cowboy contractors.
  10. 8 Second hand tractors with plough (Kshs, 30, 000,000 Million) and 5 ambulances(Kshs 29,667,000) The said tractors and ambulances were donated to the Isiolo county government by USAID and UNDP and a colossal sum of money was withdrawn from the county exchequer for purchase of the same donated items. To date those tractors have not been utilized and are at the parking yard of the County government offices. All the ambulances have broken down.
  11. Kshs 121 Million meant for famine relief was approved by the County Assembly. The tender was single sourced and it was awarded to the famous crony of the Governor called Abdi Viazi who is the owner of Wajir Vegetable Ltd. The shocking thing is, out of the Kshs 121 Million, 30 Million was given to elected County representatives to buy and distribute food to drought stricken wards. Several parts of the County wards did not get the said food items. Much worse, from the 30 Million, it was alleged that the County representatives and the suppliers looted it. 91 million was pocketed by the Governor in connivance with the rogue supplier. Information from reliable sources intimated that the Governor used the same money to impeach the Speaker by buying some of the County Reps.
  12. Purchase of Medical drugs at a cost of12,000,000 Million. This is absolutely outrageous!!! There was no advertisement and there are no drugs in all the health facilities in the County. In fact Medical Superintendent of Isiolo General Hospital resigned due to frustration (Dr. Al Amin). As we speak, there are no supplies of food to the in-patients.
  13. Purchase of certified crop seeds was done at a cost of 5,000,000. Million Interestingly, the naïve and ignorant people of Isiolo County have never had of this project, therefore this was a white elephant project.
  14. Purchase of Veterinaries supplies was done at a cost of Kshs 4,000,000 Million. This was once again like all other projects, it was never advertised, no competitive bidding and the resilient pastoralists have never seen this supplies!!!!!!!!!

OTHER PROJECTS

  1. Town Public Park at a cost of 31,513,862 Million. It is located opposite Jamia masjid (Mosque) along Isiolo –Nairobi road was also single sourced and awarded to one Abdi Viazi, who is a crony of the Governor.
  2. The solar powered street lighting project was a donation from a non-state actor but a proxy company was single sourced by the Executive. It was allegedly allocated Kshs 120 Million from the County government coffer for the said projects. The project was single sourced. People have christened the street lights as lamp posts because it emits light like that of a candle. County government spends a whopping 5, 00,000 paid to security guards in the name of protecting of the said street lights. As we are speaking most of those street lights are not working.
  3. The recurrent expenditure for fuel is arbitrarily given to private and personal cars without official approval by the designed authority.
  4. Kshs 46 Million was withdrawn from the County Government exchequer for bribing some Members of the County Assembly to impeach the Speaker. The scheme was hatched and crafted by the Governor and supported by both Senators (Elected Nominated)
  5. Kshs 12 Million was withdrawn on 30th June, 2014 in the name of legal fees for the lawyer representing the Governor. 10 Million Was later reverted to the Governor from the lawyers account through proxies hence the flow of that money necessitated investigation by the Ethics and Ant-Corruption Commission
  6. Within a period of a year the Governor has enriched himself and acquired several properties registered under the name of his close families including his father in-law of his first wife. These properties include;
    • Gadhisa Hotel-(74 Million)
    • Lavish house in Lavington
    • Nursing Home in Tullu Roba, Isiolo
    • Luxury house in Nanyuki for his second wife whom he married mid last year- call it devolved families!!!!!
  7. All the Executive Committee attend workshop organized by N.G.O’s and Government and they are paid night out allowances and per-diem by both Government and Non-state actors
  8. Kshs 800 Million Equalization fund meant for road projects in the entire County was grossly misappropriated by the Executive for roads in connivance with Governor. Further investigations need to be pursued in relations to their bank accounts and also close relatives
  9. Saud Arabia and Qatar governments are said to have partnered with the Isiolo governments on various projects. This donation has never been disclosed to people of Isiolo County contrary toCounty Government Act, 2013, Section 87 (a-g) on Citizen Participation.
  10. Fencing of perimeter wall of Isiolo General Hospital which was financed by German Government through the defunct Ministry of Medical Services (Prof. Anyang’ Nyongó was the Minister). The project again, like all other contracts was single sourced and given to politically correct contractor. The same projects was financed by the County Government again
  11. The outstanding imprests by members of the Executive which is unaccounted is huge. This was also reflected in the Auditors General’s report
  12. Kshs 8.4 Million was spent during Isiolo county’s anniversary celebration without the approval of the County Assembly
  13. County Assembly representatives were allocated Kshs 750,000 for the 10 wards in the name of staff salary for the year ending June, 2014 which contravenes Public Finance Management Act, 2010. To date none of the wards have working staffs and offices.
  14. On numerous occasions some Members of the County Assembly were bribed to bring statements and motions to the Assembly in favour of the Executive. Such fraud trickster approach has always been bank rolled by the Governor.
  15. Over payment of sitting allowances above the normal ceilings as set by Salaries and Remunerations Commissions.
  16. Unnecessary trips by the entire Members of the County Assembly to Dubai where each of them were given Kshs 500,000. The trip had no value to the mandate and activities of the Assembly whether in terms of oversight or parliamentary practice. Two (Charri & Garbatulla Ward) of the county Representatives never went for the trips but they were also given the said amount.
  17. The Governor rarely comes to the office and as such some pundits call him absentee Governor or ‘MH370’ (missing Malaysian plane). Most of the time he spends working hours in Shamz Hotel (owned by his chief campaigner; Abdi Viazi), Sarova Hotel, Ashnil, Simba Lodge and Laico regency in Nairobi. All these, at the expense of taxpayers’ money.
  18. In the month of May (2014) the Governor paraded a group of women to sing for him some political songs in praise of his mediocrity leadership. Their bill was also footed by taxpayers’ money. Is he copying the scripts from the late Iddi Amin or Gaddafi?
  19. Several ghost workers are employed arbitrarily by the Governor, particularly from his clan hence ballooning the wage bill of the County
  20. Handpicking of individual contractors who happen to be his cronies( Wajir Vegetable Ltd & Baretu Construction Company) or political foot soldiers without meritocracy or following proper procurement procedures
  21. County Government money is badly misused for fundraising, Harrambees and weddings to those who supported the said Governor.
  22. The County Executive and the Assembly is embroiled in myriads of litigations which has extremely hampered the delivery of much required services by the people of Isiolo County.
  23. A section of the County Assembly Members allied to the Governor snubbed the Speaker, made their own make-shift Mace made of wood and without substantive staff purportedly approved the supplementary budget which was declined by the Controller of Budget and subsequently injuncted by through the Court. To date, the supplementary Budget has neither not been approved legally by the Assembly.
  24. As things stands the Governor has proved to be crafty, slippery, cunning and indecisive. The last resort to this ugly scenario is to petition the President to dissolve the County. Seemingly, being a Jubilee County the government is not keen on taking Makueni way

ABUSE OF OFFICE

The Isiolo County Government logo is illegal. It was designed and used without the approval of the County Assembly which contravenes County Governments Act, 2012- County symbols.

  1. (1), (a,b,c)

(2) The County Executive shall develop the symbols of the county through a consultative process for approval by the county assembly by legislation.

(3) The county legislation enacted under subsection (1) shall provide for the use of the county symbols in the same manner as provided for in the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act (Cap. 99).

(4) A county symbol shall not be the same as, or bear a likeness or similarity to a National symbol.

  1. Blatant misuse of County vehicles by the Executives to attend to personal matters and entertainment spots beyond working hours, public holidays and weekends. More so they drive themselves. In certain instances convoy of County Government vehicles are used to ferry people as far as 300Kms to grace the weddings of Governors kinsmen with full security detail accompanying Governor’s wife, the best example was on 24/4/2014 in Garbatulla.
  2. Hiring of Mediocre personnel (drivers) from the Governor’s clan while the Ministry ones are left idle with no work to do
  3. Skewed Appointment without following due process of law: The Constitution of Kenya stipulates: Article 179. (1) The executive authority of the county is vested in, and
    exercised by, a county executive committee. (2) The county executive committee consists of—
    (a) the county governor and the deputy county governor; and
    (b) members appointed by the county governor, with the approval of the assembly, from among persons who are not members of the assembly.
    (3) The number of members appointed under clause (2) (b) shall not exceed—(a) one-third of the number of members of the county assembly, if the assembly has less than thirty members; or (b) ten, if the assembly has thirty or more members.
    (4) The county governor and the deputy county governor are the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the county, respectively.
    Was Article 179, clause 3 (a) and (b) followed?
    County Governments Act, No 17 of 2012
    Appointment of county executive members
    (1) The governor shall, when nominating members of the executive committee—
    (a) ensure that to the fullest extent possible, the composition of the executive committee reflects the community and cultural diversity of the county; and
    (b) take into account the principles of affirmative action as provided for in the Constitution.
    (2) The county assembly shall not approve nominations for appointment to the executive committee that do not take into account—
    (a) not more than two thirds of either gender;
    (b) representation of the minorities, marginalized groups and
    communities; and
    (c) community and cultural diversity within the county.
    (3) A person may be appointed as a member of the county executive committee if that person—
    (a) is a Kenyan citizen;
    (b) is a holder of at least a first degree from a university recognized in Kenya;
    (c) satisfies the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution; and
    (d) has knowledge, experience and a distinguished career of not less than five years in the field relevant to the portfolio of the department to which the person is being appointed.
    (4) A member of the county executive committee shall not hold any other State or public office.
    Was Section 35 of the County Government Acts followed to the letter?

CONCLUSION

All the actions above breaches the Constitution of Kenya and the relevant statutes!

Chapter 11 of the Constitution, Transition to Devolved Governments Act, 2012, County Government Act, 2012, Public Finance Management Act, 2012, Transition County Appropriation Act, 2013, Intergovernmental Relations Act, (No, 2 of 2013) and Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2013

NRT UNMASKED: A CONSPIRACY IN THE WILD

 

For over 10 years, the Northern Rangelands Trust, a Kenya-based conservation initiative, has been acquiring land in the arid north of the country. Today, it controls almost 10% of Kenya’s land mass. Environmental journalist John Mbaria investigates. (Courtesy of the New African Magazine)

In its dying days, the Obama Administration pumped massive amounts of money into supporting a powerful NGO accused of using below-the-radar tactics to control a huge amount of Kenyan land, thereby using conservation as a subtle tool for dispossessing tens of thousands of pastoralists, who have unwittingly participated in their own dispossession.

Much of the land, whose control is enforced by local well-armed militias, has recently been granted UN-protected status. And with financial backing from powerful Western donors, the Northern Rangelands Trust’s (NRT) activities are largely insulated from public scrutiny.

Unless the new Trump administration discontinues the US government’s support to wildlife conservation in Africa, the NRT is set to continue having a say over vast, mineral-rich lands in the north and coastal areas of Kenya.

Most of these lands have been identified, in official documents, as areas of immense potential capable of becoming the very basis of the country’s future economic progress. These areas are also crucial to the maintenance of the extensive livestock husbandry practised by millions of pastoralists in northern Kenya.

Today, the NRT effectively controls 44,000 km2 (or 10.8m acres) of land – that’s roughly eight per cent of Kenya’s 581,309 km2 landmass. Interestingly, the organisation appears to have acquired a decisive say over these lands by co-opting the local leadership. Consequently, NRT’s control of the lands in Kenya’s Upper Rift, North and Coastal areas is facilitated by local political and community leaders, some of whom are co-opted as members of the organisation’s Board.

This has been done through community wildlife conservation, a model in which landowners assert the right to manage and profit from wildlife on their lands.

Conservancies have proliferated across pastoralist, wildlife-rich areas in northern and southern Kenya. They are also an extremely attractive funding prospect for Western donors in the conservation sector.

All the cash is handed over, not directly to the landowners, who have constituted themselves into 33 community conservancies, but to the NRT, which acts like a middleman and which has taken up not just conservation, but other roles (including security arrangements) that are ordinarily performed by national governments.

Among the biggest financial supporters of NRT, the former Obama administration consistently extended tens of millions of dollars to the organisation through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid). As if to underscore how important the NRT’s work was to the Obama Administration, the organisation’s Chief Programs Officer, Tom Lalampaa, and its founder, Ian Craig, were among the people given the privilege of making short presentations about their work when the former US president visited Kenya last July.

America’s latest support to the organisation was announced in a press statement released by the US Embassy in Nairobi in late November 2016. In the communiqué, the US Ambassador to Kenya, Robert F. Godec, said
the US’s new 5-year, $20m support was meant “to help expand” the NRT’s operations in Coastal
Kenya.

He hailed NRT’s partnership with the communities, terming it “a shared vision of protecting ecosystems and promoting peace for a better future”. He added that the cash would be used to support the work of community rangers, to conserve wildlife and fisheries, improve livelihoods, and advance women’s enterprises.

For its part, NRT, through Craig (who signed off as the organisation’s Director of Conservation), said the cash would be used to fund the opening up of new conservancies and create a conservation trust fund.


The former Obama administration consistently extended tens of millions of dollars to the NRT through USAid.


Though the US government believes that the NRT shares “the visions of protecting ecosystems” with the communities in Upper Rift, the North and on the Coast, recent developments in Kenya have proved otherwise. Indeed, the US support comes at a time when some well-armed herders, from some of the same communities the NRT has helped to form community conservancies, have invaded sprawling private ranches in Laikipia and elsewhere, leading to human fatalities, the killing of wild animals and forcing the deployment of specialised security units from the Kenya police.

The work of NRT and the West’s support to conservation in some of Kenya’s arid-and-semi-arid lands has altered the human/ wildlife dynamics in some areas. This has also invited curious concern from conservation experts, who believe that the US and other countries in the West have been supporting a controversial organisation that has been usurping the role of Kenya’s human and wildlife security organs, as well as destroying the age-old ability of tens of thousands of herders to live off their land.

As New African found out in extensive visits and interviews with different people in the affected areas, the NRT-inspired community-conservation model is simple and can be quite attractive for anyone ignorant of its implications, especially for the lives and livelihoods of local people.

After co-opting the local leadership, the NRT appears to have crafted MOUs with the communities owning the vast tracts of land. In most cases, the communities’ land-ownership claims are based on the most rudimentary rights – an ancestral claim to the land.

Community members are also reputed to retain significant respect for, and allow themselves to be guided by, local leadership which, in most cases, uses its standing in communities to advance, and persuade “lesser” members of communities to conform with the wishes of the NRT.

This is not so difficult as the organisation has come up with quite an attractive package for the  communities, including securing for them investors interested in developing lodges and other tourism facilities, once they agree to set aside some of their lands for exclusive use by wildlife and the investors.

NRT also promises bursaries for school children, employment for community members, a ready market for the livestock and the setting up of a grazing plan to prevent livestock deaths through drought in the drylands of Kenya.

“NRT’s approach is quite attractive to communities who have been neglected by successive governments in Kenya since the country attained independence from the British,” says Daniel Letoiye, a Samburu County resident who previously worked as a programme officer with NRT.

However, hidden in the fine print are consequences that are considered grave for the pastoralist groups in Northern Kenya. “Even when droughts occur, many of the pastoralist groups [who have signed up to the agreements] cannot access part of their lands that are now set aside for wildlife conservation and which constitute community conservancies,” says Michael Lalampaa, an official with the Higher Education Loans Board who hails from Samburu County.

Samburu comunity elders discuss their perspectives with the author in Samburu County

Lalampaa complains that the NRT compels communities to set aside the best portions of their lands for the exclusive use of wildlife and the tourist investors. Lalampaa says that the organisation usually identifies leaders and elites within relevant communities who aid in persuading the pastoralists to set aside big parcels of land for conservation purposes. “Once the agreements are put in place, it becomes impossible for the herders to access some areas with pastures in the conservancies … they are confronted by armed scouts who evict them.” He adds that it is “sad that at times, livestock ends up dying simply because the owners cannot graze the animals in what used to be their own lands.”

This has proven problematic especially since vast sections of the relevant rangelands have been depleted year-in, year-out by overgrazing and are inhabited by people who have become increasingly vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of livestock end up competing over the remaining patches of grasslands and dwindling water sources such as the Ewaso Nyiro River.

This happens, as copious reports show, in an area largely ignored by the Kenya government, inhabited by

morans, have taken up cattle- rustling as a traditional pastime.

Claims have also been made that NRT’s activities have far-reaching implications on the entire country and therefore need to be handled with more than casual attention by Kenya’s allies across the world, the government as well as the people of Kenya.

“The sheer geographical, financial, cultural, and political scale of this intervention calls for a lot more thought than has been given to it thus far,” said Dr Mordecai Ogada, a conservation consultant based in Laikipia County.

Dr Ogada believes that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has “abdicated” from its responsibility to inspire the formation and sound management of conservation activities outside Kenya’s protected areas. But top officials at KWS – which has lately been experiencing financial difficulties – deny this, saying that they see no problem with the operations of the NRT.

However, KWS appears critical of recent moves by foreign governments to fund the NRT. “Conservation NGOs like NRT have recently benefited from funding from development partners, following the paradigm shift where development partners and other governments prefer to fund communities through NGOs rather than governments directly,” said Paul Gathitu, KWS spokesperson and head of corporate communications.

Attempts by New African to elicit comments from NRT met with no success. Nevertheless, on its website, the organisation – which calls itself a “movement” – announces that it has been raising funds to aid the formation and running of conservancies.

NRT also says that it supports the training of relevant communities and helps to “broker agreements between conservancies and investors”. It claims that it provides donors with “a degree of oversight” by participating directly in how community conservancies and incomes accrued are managed. This was evident as New African toured eight conservancies in Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia, where NRT has appointed its own managers who are in charge of the day-to-day running of the conservancies.

Besides the managers, there are the members of the Board and grazing committees who are, on paper, supposed to be making decisions that suit the needs of the true owners of the land.

However, there is evidence that main decisions are made by NRT and that the organisation has maintained little or no engagement with the owners of the land and local public institutions.

Besides the US, NRT’s activities are funded by a host of other private companies and bodies in the West. Some of the principal donors to NRT include the Danish Development Agency (DANIDA); the Nature Conservancy (a US-based international NGO); and Agence Française de Développement (AFD) of France. NRT is also bankrolled by other donors who fund its long-term programmes – including Fauna & Flora International, Zoos South Australia, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ of Germany), US Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego Zoo, International Elephant Foundation, Saint Louis Zoo, Running Wild and others. These latter donors have boosted what NRT terms a pooled conservation fund that has a lifespan of more than five years.

The Tullow Oil Company, that has been involved in oil prospecting in Turkana County, has funded NRT to the tune of $11.5m in a five-year project meant to aid the latter in establishing and operating new conservancies in Turkana and West Pokot counties.

Seventy per cent of the money was meant to go directly to community conservancies’ bank accounts for meeting operational costs (i.e. staff salaries, the purchase and running of vehicles, the acquisition of computers and other equipment), while 30% was to enable the formation and management of the conservancies.

The NRT has maintained little or no engagement with the owners of the land and local public institutions

But this did not go down well with the Turkana County government, which declared the relevant conservancies illegal, with the County Executive for Energy, Environment & Natural Resources ordering NRT to stop its operations there.

Later, the County Governor, Josphat Nanok, termed NRT’s move to establish conservancies in Turkana as “ill-advised with a hidden agenda”.

Josephat Nanok, Turkana County Governor

Dr Ogada believes that the millions of dollars in grants given by the US and other countries in the West have made NRT a “launch pad” for what he terms “a new conservation paradigm” in East Africa.

“NRT has championed this model of conservation very actively for the last decade [resulting] in a situation where challenges or mistakes aren’t spoken about by donors or implementers because of the sheer scale of professional and financial investment in an institution [which like all others] does have inherent weaknesses,” he added.

The NRT’s security function is considered one of the most controversial aspects of the community conservancy movement in Kenya. Usually, maintenance of security within countries is a preserve of governments. But on its website, the organisation says that it inspires community conservancies to “tackle insecurity holistically”.

This includes conducting anti-poaching operations, wildlife monitoring and providing what it terms “invaluable [support] to the Kenya Police in helping to tackle cattle rustling and road banditry”.

The organisation says that by 2014, it had facilitated the training of 645 rangers who operate in the conservancies while Dickson ole Kaelo, the chief executive of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, reported that over 2,300 community rangers have been trained so far.

Normally, the organisation selects community members and takes them for training by the KWS’s personnel at the wildlife agency’s Manyani Training School, close to Kenya’s biggest national park, Tsavo.

Here, the rangers are taught “bush craft skills, as well as how to effectively gather and share intelligence, monitor wildlife and manage combat situations”. The involvement of KWS in the training of the community rangers was confirmed, but downplayed, by Michael Kipkeu, KWS’s Senior Assistant Director in charge of the Community Wildlife Service. “The KWS law enforcement academy provides tailor-made community scouts’ training.”

After being trained by KWS, the rangers are given more advanced training than what is posted on the NRT’s website. For instance, according to the Save the Rhino NGO, the rangers are given Kenya Police Reserve accreditation and “sufficient weapons handling training”.

Such advanced training involves tactical movement with weapons, ambush and anti-ambush drills, handling and effective usage of night-vision and thermal-imaging equipment, and ground-to-air communications and coordination.

There are also suspicions that the bigger scheme is to ensure that Kenya unwittingly “forfeits” some of the lands under the NRT by getting them declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

The scheme to have UNESCO declare some of the biggest private game ranches and wildlife conservancies in Laikipia, Samburu, and islands in the Coast as World Heritage Sites is now being pursued in earnest.

“Legally, the move may not amount to much but knowing how lobbying is done, if the government were to [seek to] change ownership, listings would be put up to demonstrate how special these ranches are and why they should remain with the present landowners,” said Njenga Kahiro, a former Programme Officer with Laikipia Wildlife Forum. The aim, Kahiro avers, is “to create a super-big protected area … all of it [covered by] the World Heritage Convention.”