News / Africa

Kenyan Government Seeks Peace Among Pastoralists

A herder in Kenya tends to his cattle, Aug 2010
A herder in Kenya tends to his cattle, Aug 2010

Cattle rustling is a long-standing problem in Kenya. Pastoralist communities from Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia cross over into Kenya and battle Kenyan pastoralists, who also fight among themselves.  Northern Kenya is especially awash with guns, which increases the number and severity of attacks.  Months after the Kenyan government ended a disarmament program, local officials are stepping up efforts to collect more guns.

Cattle are a precious commodity in large areas of Kenya, and Turkana, Samburu, and other tribal herders often fight over them.  In the north, pastoralists from Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia regularly cross borders to raid Kenyan cattle.

Turkana pastoralist John Ewoton Ekaran said he has lost all of his brothers to armed raiders, in addition to cattle, Aug 2010
Turkana pastoralist John Ewoton Ekaran said he has lost all of his brothers to armed raiders, in addition to cattle, Aug 2010

Turkana pastoralist John Ewoton Ekaran has lost more than cattle during those raids.  "I had my gun to protect my cattle.  Our enemies attacked us all the time.  They took our animals.  They killed all of my brothers.  So, now, I do not have any brothers left," said Ekaran.

Guns rather than spears are the weapons of choice among many modern pastoralists in Africa.  To cut down on the violence, last year the Kenyan government formed a committee of senior police, military and intelligence officials to disarm pastoralist communities.  The committee instituted an amnesty program intending to collect 50,000 firearms, but gathered only about 2,400.

Patrick Muriira is the district commissioner for Turkana West.  He said the government extended the program in an effort to collect more guns.  "We have met with some success because we have been able to, first of all, sensitize people on the dangers of holding illegal firearms."

Muriira said most of the firearms come from Sudan and Ethiopia. "We cannot have development in this district for as long as people are holding illegal guns," said Muriira.

Muriira said the government's disarmament program includes community development strategies to build roads and open schools.

An armed pastoralist watches over his herd with his rifle - the weapon of choice among herders - slung over his shoulder, Aug 2010
An armed pastoralist watches over his herd with his rifle - the weapon of choice among herders - slung over his shoulder, Aug 2010

Many pastoralists, however, say they need their firearms to protect themselves.  They argue that communities in Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia also need to be disarmed for peace to come to Kenya.  Additionally, they call on the government to boost security forces in cattle-rustling areas.

Pastoralist Lotira Esinyen Abong said, "Now that my gun has been taken away, I feel like a desperate woman who is looking for any man to marry her.  I am defenseless and helpless.  The gun also helped me to hunt wild animals for food."

The Ugandan government has carried out a disarmament program in the Karamoja area for the past decade, but attacks by Karamajong in northern Kenya continue.


You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid