Who shall finally bridge the development gap In Kenya?
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50 years after independence some counties in Kenya are marginalized and far from mainstream development. Article 204 of the Kenyan constitution provides for an equalization fund of 0.5% of the national budget to cover service provision and infrastructure development in marginalized areas. However, the rift of development between counties in Kenya is still wide, and this begs the question; who is to blame for the cases of insecurity, food insecurity, poverty levels of up to 84%, poor infrastructure and low literacy levels that define the better part of the Northern Kenyan Frontier?
In Samburu County, rampant incidences of insecurity have been a bane for far too long, not forgetting the intermittent harsh climatic conditions that have impacted negatively on food security region. Limited access to sufficient water and other basic needs continues to escalate inter-ethnic conflicts in the region. The killing of 42 soldiers in November 2012 by heavily armed cattle raiders is a clear indicator that there is a worrying pattern of insecurity in the region.
Samburu County is beautiful and endowed with an enormous potential of minerals and other natural resources. This region has immense opportunities for growth especially in the tourism sector, with breath taking sceneries and a rich wildlife in various national parks and game reserves. Diverse cultural practices of the nomadic communities living in the county are also an attraction to high end tourists whose interest is to study different cultures in the world. Bird Watching is also an attraction here, with the county boasting of numerous bird species. The annual Maralal International camel derby attracts both local and foreign tourists, with some of them coming to take part in the international event. In the Agricultural sector, the Lorroki plateau if developed, it has the potential of becoming a strategic food basket for the county and surrounding regions.
Factors that hinder sustainable development in the region are noteworthy. In 2014 some areas in Samburu County are out of mobile telephone network coverage, don’t have electricity, and during the onset of heavy rains the roads become impassable. The road that leads to Samburu from Nairobi is unique; the tarmac road ends at Rumuruti. The infamous Rumuruti Maralal road always makes it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Every time it rains, trucks and Lorries ferrying goods to and fro Maralal get stuck for days just to cover a distance of 162 KMs.
NGOs and FBOs, in partnership with the Government and other stake holders have identified the need to intervene and provide possible solutions to communities that live in Samburu. A needs assessment conducted by the Caritas Maralal, in collaboration with CAFOD (Catholic Aid for Overseas Development) reveals that the gap lies in the capacity available to community members. The economy of the region is largely dependent on livestock and animal husbandry; there is a need for skills transfer in areas of modern farming technologies, marketing, preservation technologies and environmental conservation. So far interventions by the Caritas Maralal in Partnership with its donors have seen an installation of 12 greenhouses in Samburu North Sub County.
Through engaging communities in Income generating activities, focus gradually shifts from highway banditry, politically instigated violence, and negative cultural practices which manifests itself in the discrimination of women in the ownership and control of resources to best marketing strategies and learning from each other regardless of gender and ethnicity. These projects have also seen increased social interaction among warring communities. Through selling the produce from the green houses, beneficiaries of these projects are able to increase disposable income at household level.
However, these interventions are not enough. With adequate funding, Samburu County has the capacity to develop in every sense of the word. In 2009, the World Summit on Food Security stated that the “four pillars of food security are availability, access, utilization, and stability”. If people cannot access food or markets for their produce because of poor infrastructure such as bad roads, then these factors make it difficult to achieve sustainable development in the northern frontier. The Government, in partnership with Key stake holders in this region, should strengthen their ties to ensure that this region grows economically, politically and socially. It is also not possible to develop without security. Once insecurity issues are addressed, roads are rehabilitated, funds are channeled towards adult education and the agricultural sector, things shall gradually fall in place.Espila