Remarginalizing Kenyan Pastoralists: The hidden curse of national growth and development

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Remarginalizing Kenyan Pastoralists: The hidden curse of national growth and development

Multidimensional poverty persists in Kenya, especially among its pastoralist communities of the arid and semi arid lands (ASALs). This results from the failure of successive independence governments to decisively mitigate the ASAL’s agro-ecological adversities, because these governments have hitherto considered the areas to be incidental to core national interests. The country’s long-term development blue-print, Kenya Vision 2030, also pays scant attention to the ASALs, undermining the new constitution’s aspiration for democratic, participatory governance that secures people’s basic rights and equitable development, with special attention to marginalized communities, such as pastoralists. Prior to Kenya’s recent discovery of viable stocks of natural resources, the country was cooperating internationally on the development of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor incorporating a rail, highway, oil pipeline and refinery network, to which have been added airports and resort cities—all sited in the pastoralist ASAL regions. Constitutional devolution encourages Kenya’s 47 autonomous counties to plan and implement their respective development priorities. Meanwhile, the government has undertaken little or no consultation with the host ASAL communities over the grandiose LAPSSET project and the impending mining activities which are consequently likely to swamp the host counties’ priorities, likely exacerbating their marginalization. This paper highlights the risks LAPSSET and the impending mining activities pose to the ASAL pastoralists and underscores the need for constitutionally mandated consultations over national development initiatives.

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