Hundreds of pastoralists in Turkana County are living in abject misery after returning from Uganda.
The pastoralists camping at Lokiroam border in Loima, who had moved to Uganda last year in search of water and pasture, want the Ugandan government to reconsider their decision to order them out.
The pastoralists moved to the border months ago after the Ugandan government launched a security operation in response to the killing of government officials.
Michael Etoot, 35, told The Standard that he is slowly losing his livestock since he returned to Lomokori village, on the Kenya – Uganda border, owing to the severe drought that is still hitting Turkana.
“Not of all of us knew of the attack, as it was alleged by the Ugandan authorities. We are serving undeserved punishment,” said Etoot.
He added, “I have lost half of my livestock to drought. I don’t know whether I will remain with anything because it is not raining here in Lomokori.”
The drought in Turkana has vastly left pastoralists in dilemma, not knowing where else to go to get pasture for their livestock.
They also complained of lack of water, which forces them to trek for over 14 km daily to the border town of Lokiriama in Loima sub-county. Women have suffered the brunt of the water scarcity, as they are forced to search and carry luggage for their families with little help from men.
Elizabeth Naibach said though she was married to a Ugandan, she was forced to cut short her stay and move with her three children to the border, leaving behind her husband fearing arrest.
“Since Ugandan authorities issued the order, I have never seen my husband. It is too hard to stay here, our livestock was stolen owing to the rush to beat the deadline,” she explained.
The residents also complained of a lack of medical services and schools for their school-going children. “We have been encouraged to take children to school so that we can secure their future, but unfortunately there are no schools here,” Naibach added.
They said that they have been forced to transport patients using donkeys as ambulances to seek medical treatment.
Loita Ekadeli, the vice-chairman of the village, called on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to organize diplomatic talks to allow Kenyans to go back to Uganda to save their livestock.
“We pastoralists have really felt the effect of drought in Turkana. We want to be allowed back to Uganda to graze our animals,” Loita appealed.
He added, “This is all that we have, and we don’t depend on anything else. We were born pastoralists, and we will die pastoralists.”
The residents have also expressed fears over the August polls, saying that majority did not enlist as voters as they had moved to Uganda before the IEBC opened the window for voter registration.
Alice Nachoke, 34, narrated that being in Uganda without any identification is stressful. “Ugandan authorities are strict on foreigners, when we go for grazing, and you don’t possess any document you are always mistreated,” said Nachoke.
Turkana Senator Malachy Ekal blamed the Turkana County government for not prioritizing matters of health within the borders and yet billions of shillings were allocated to the county to address such issues.
“We don’t expect much to happen to our people because we have lots of money that can build access roads, buy ambulances and send more doctors to safe lives of our people,” Ekal said.
The Pastoralist Community Initiative Development Assistance (PACIDA) has since come to the rescue of residents by donating relief food. Each family receives 10 kg of maize, 7 kg of beans, 5 kg of maize flour, and one litre of vegetable oil.
“Turkana people are really suffering, and we call upon other stakeholders to lend their hands to safe the lives of these pastoralists,” said PACIDA programme manager Samwel Lentor. –The Standard