By ALLAN TAWAI
The recurrent conflicts between the Kamba community and pastoralists from north eastern Kenya living along the border of Kitui and Tana River counties is likely to come to an end after herders accepted to move out of the area in the next ten days.
This update follows a series of peaceful dialogues between the herders and the local leadership advocated by Kitui East MP Nimrod Mbai and Mutitu Deputy County Commissioner Banjamin Nzioka.
According to a local daily, more than 30 people lost their lives while many others were maimed and property destroyed in 2017 alone, following conflicts between herders of Somali origin and residents farming along the border of the two counties.
Accompanied by area security team, Mr. Mbai on Saturday led a fact finding operation in Endau/Malani and Voo/Kyamatu wards of Mutitu Sub-County in a bid to find a lasting solution to the intense conflicts between the two communities, most of which are occasioned by competition for pasture and water.
The legislator said that the local community intends to recuperate Nziu and Aithi community ranches which cover 40 square kilometers and have been rendered dormant by the conflicts in the area, adding that the limited resources cannot be shared by the two communities.
The ranches will leave no idle land for intruders to come and graze their livestock.
“We are reviving the two ranches. As we speak the management of the two ranches is in place and part of our resolution is to get rid of intruders from other communities who are depleting the limited resources we have. Somali herders have to pave way for the new dispensation, and that is why we have first adopted the negotiation way,” said Mr Mbai.
Leaders form the local community and elders from the herder community agreed on a ten days ultimatum to drive out their camels and goats from the area failure to which an appropriate unspecified action will be taken against them.
“The Kamba community requests you to leave their land as their pasture is almost depleted and they are currently facing acute water shortage,” said Mutitu DCC Benjamin Nzioka while addressing the Somali elders at Kinanie, some 10 kilometres from the border.
He said that the population of the Somali herders in the area has drastically increased over time.
“If they will not have left within 10 days, we will still insist they leave. There is a lot of misunderstanding between the two communities because of scramble for local resources available,” said Mr Nzioka.
Mr Mbai called on leaders from the neighbouring Garissa, Isiolo and Tana River counties to take charge and advise their people to leave the Kamba land as a way of maintaining peace and avert possible future clashes.
Earlier, Somali elders led by Mowlud Bill Aden and Mohamed Abdi had objected the request to vacate within ten days, requesting a longer stay of two months while decrying lack of water and pasture in their places of origin.
“Our livestock will die if we are flashed out of this area. I request the government to allow us a duration of two months because some camels have got young ones who cannot walk for long distances,” said Mohamed Abdi.
The Somali herders have set up temporally living structures and market centres in Kinanie , something which has angered the local community who from time to time decry insecurity caused by herders who at some point end up killing innocent farmers.
The intercommunity skirmishes have been marked for years in Kitui South, Mwingi North and Kitui East constituencies contributing to adverse insecurity, loss of lives, destruction of property and closure of schools for months.