In parts of northern Kenya, the recent rains have caused some of the pastureland to spring to life after many months of severe drought. But now ethnic groups in the region are fighting for control of the grazing land for their livestock.
Rev. Joseph Murupus has just visited the region. He’s moderator of the Reformed Church of East Africa and national vice president of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. From the town of Eldoret, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.
“I was able to be in Pokot region and also in Turkana region and I found that three-quarters of the people are still in need of food, and that the rains had just come, and the grass is beginning to grow and some vegetables are also beginning to be found. But it is just only on some small areas.”
But what might be considered a blessing has become a trigger for violence. “One of the difficulties is that when rains had begun the tribes begin also to fight. Now there is a big tension between Pokot and Turkana, between Pokot and Samburu, between Pokot and Karamoja of Uganda. So there are a lot, a lot of problems and people are fighting all through,” says Rev. Murupus.
He says the Kenyan government has sent troops to the area to try to disarm the various groups and there’s much tension between the military and the groups.
The drought in East Africa has devastated livestock, evidence that could easily be seen during his visit. He says, “There are very few animals that are left.” Sending the remaining animals to Nairobi for sale was ruled out because it was unlikely they could survive the trip in lories. And the animals are so thin and sickly that people are afraid to use them as food. He says the people in the region are very weak and warns that much more food aid is needed in the next month or so. If it does not arrive he says, “It will be very difficult.”