Pastoralist Meetings Promise A Brighter Future for Herders
Pastoralists are recognized as one of the marginalized groups by the constitution of Kenya 2010. This is based on their minimal participation in the social and economic life of Kenya as a result of colonial and post-independence discriminative policies. These pushed them far from the mainstream economy by not recognizing the potential in ASAL areas which are mostly pastoralist habitations. After a number of decades marked by economic downturn a number of legislations have been put in place as a countermeasure to recognize pastoralism as an important way of life which if boosted can contribute greatly to realization of Sustainable Development Goals and the Vision 2030.
Although, policies and legislations have improved, bringing pastoralists together to engage with local and national government as well as showcase their work has not been an easy walk. With financial support from Christensen Fund, RECONCILE has organized and facilitated many forums of different kinds with the aim of bringing together pastoral communities, local and national leadership to discuss and chart ways of addressing issues affecting pastoralists. ASAL Stakeholders Forums and Kenya Pastoralist Weeks are some of the events that have been at the center of RECONCILE’s effort to bring together these participants. RECONCILE focused on strengthening County Stakeholders Forums which act as platform for participation in decision making processes at county and national levels.
KPWs have been conducted and hosted in Nairobi since 2003 locking out many pastoralists who cannot afford the expenses associated with attending the event in Nairobi. To bring these dialogues closer to the target beneficiaries, RECONCILE sponsored members of County Stakeholders Forums to attend KPW and National ASF. In collaboration with other partners, RECONCILE also managed to negotiate for integration of KPW at county levels so that there is rotational hosting of the event by different pastoral counties. Isiolo county government supported last year’s (2017) KPW which took place in Nanyuki while Kajiado county government supported this year’s (2018) KPW that was held at Maasai Technical Training Institute. In 2019 this event will be hosted by Garissa County and the governor has already promised some budget allocation for the event. This is an indication of successful integration of KPW at county levels. Pastoralists now have a sense of ownership of these events given that they are focal point and hosts of the same. Mr. Kabello said “Participation of the locals in Kenya pastoralist weeks has improved with members from Isiolo attending the last and this year’s with the support of RECONCILE. In the past years we were not attending because county governments were not aware of the pastoralist weeks due to poor mobilization at the national level. In addition, the expenses associated with attending this event at National level are not affordable to most people, but RECONCILE has sponsored some of us and made it possible for us to take part in this important event among pastoralists”.
Mr. Mwalimu “Kenya Pastoralist Weeks have opened our eyes. We managed to get updated on how devolution is working in the other counties and how we can participate in public affairs. Personally I was challenged by the way devolution is working in Makueni, I feel that all counties should emulate Makueni county where the leaders are committed and engaging with community members freely and in a transparent way. We were also enlightened on how we can engage with our local leaders”
Through these meetings pastoralist communities have been able to interact with people from other counties and catch up with developments happening in those counties as well as showcase their products to a larger audience. They have become more enlightened on issues of interest to them and become empowered to engage their leaders on the same. For instance, Isiolo communities have given media interviews calling for deployment of civic educators in different wards to educate the public on matters of public interest.