Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

After years of violence and drought there is a renewal of hope in this small community in northern Kenya.

Rainbow over Olng'arua School

The last 2 years have been very difficult for the community surrounding Olng'arua School. Violence has resulted in two thirds of the people who lived here being displaced, houses and possessions destroyed, livestock stolen and lives lost. The community was totally unprepared for the violence. Although there have been occasional periods of insecurity in the past (the last of any significance was more than 20 years ago), nobody can remember anything as bad as this. They were also left totally alone in dealing with it. A collection of mostly forgotten villages on the border of Isiolo and Laikipia counties, there was very little support from the police or either of the county governments. Shortly after the fighting first broke out the community watched around 70% their livestock die from drought, carcasses littered the area, and there were some families that lost every animal they had. A few families managed to restock only to lose ... Continue Reading

The Great North Road – A trip through the wild splendour of northern Kenya.

DSC_6807

The 'great north road', also known (less romantically) as the A2, links Nairobi, and the rest of East Africa, with Ethiopia. It does so by traversing some of the most dramatic and inhospitable parts of the northern half of Kenya. The 507kms between Isiolo and Moyale take you through the Kaisuit Desert, over 1500m of volcanic mountain (topped by thick forest) and on through the Dida Galgalu Desert and the Shinil Plains, before climbing again into the low hills around Moyale, where the road passes ... Continue Reading

An uneasy silence has settled over the village as we wait to see if the election will bring peace or chaos.

Taking the livestock home

In the village on the border of Isiolo and Laikipia counties the last two weeks have been relatively quiet. With just a few minor livestock raids in the area and whole days without the sound of gunfire, by the standards everybody has become used to, this has been a peaceful time. It is a blessed relief to be able to walk a short way beyond the homesteads without searching the bushes constantly to see if a gun is trained on you. To even step outside at night, almost casually. The days are ... Continue Reading

Brazen and deadly: Today’s livestock raiders are often acting with extensive support and powerful backing.

Cows Guns and Trouble

This morning's livestock raid in Burat, Isiolo County, was unusually brazen and ambitions. At around 7am a group of men attacked bomas at the western end of the hills that make the fine backdrop to Isiolo town. Reports suggest that there may have been as many as 100 involved in the raid and subsequent ambushes. Over 200 head of cattle were taken. Certainly they needed both a significant number of well armed men, and a great deal of confidence, to pull off such a large scale raid in broad ... Continue Reading

Could community buyouts help deal with the land problem in Laikipia?

Storm over Laikipia

In an in-depth article for The Elephant I discuss whether the kind of community buyouts that have helped to deal with a history of land injustice in Scotland could work in Laikipia and elsewhere in northern Kenya. https://www.theelephant.info/dispatches/2017/05/18/land-reform-could-the-scottish-model-work-in-kenyas-northern-rangelands/ ... Continue Reading