Call to end conflict between Lamu herders and farmers
A conflict is in the offing between farmers and pastoralists in Lamu County if the national government fails to intervene and resolve the increased disagreements arising from the ravaging drought.
Addressing members of the joint committee on National Cohesion and Equal Opportunity during the last day of their tour to the region on Friday, locals said the conflicts between herders and farmers currently being experienced in most parts of Lamu are a key threat to the peaceful coexistence among communities in the region.
The committee retuned to Lamu County this week to assess the security situation and also to find out how the residents and victims of the 2014 Al-Shabaab attacks in Mpeketoni, Kobaoni, Witu and Hindi are faring on and in essence encourage cohesion and tolerance among locals.
Residents who spoke to the committee in Mpeketoni, Mavuno, Poromoko, Pangani and Witu, mentioned constant conflicts between herders and farmers as being the biggest challenge to the achievement of total peace and cohesion among communities in Lamu.
Mr Mohamed Dika, who is the secretary of the Lamu Pastoralists Association, called on the national and county governments to come up with strategies that will ensure the conflicts do not continue.
He said the situation has escalated with the ongoing drought and that without drastic measures, the situation will become a time-bomb in waiting to explode since it might lead to clashes between the two sides.
Mr Dika proposed that alternative areas be set aside, specifically for herders to graze their livestock in order to help reduce quarrels between the two sides.
“The only solution to end the existing conflicts between herders and farmers is for the government to allocate grazing corridors for herders so that they find no excuse to cross into farmlands to graze their animals. If that can happen sooner, then these conflicts might reduce,” said Mr Dika.
The locals also urged the government to resolve the issue of lack of title deeds for land owners in the area saying it is also a major contributor to constant squabbles and a lack of peace.
The committee’s chairperson and nominated MP Johnson Sakaja, pledged to ensure all the issues raised are resolved in due time in order to pave way for lasting peace and cohesion among communities in Lamu.
Mr Sakaja said the committee will leave no stone unturned in the pursuit for peace, especially as elections approach.
“We are satisfied with the Lamu security status and the way people live with one another. Despite Al-Shabaab trying to divide you when they attacked Mpeketoni, you were able to maintain a peaceful coexistence amongst yourselves.
“We will ensure all the issues you have raised [before] this committee are forwarded to the various departments in charge for prompt action.
“With less than six months to the August 8 general election, we need effective measures to be put in place to curb violence and that also means addressing even the issues you have raised here today,” said Mr Sakaja.
Others present were Tana River Senator Ali Bule, Yatta MP Francis Mwangangi, North Horr MP Chachu Ganya, Alego Usonga MP Muluan Omondi, among others.