Words & Pictures from Northern Kenya

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

Focusing on the violent attacks against white ranchers in Kenya is a dangerous mistake

Guns and Cows

The shooting of Kuki Gallman was a terrible thing and it made international news. It was not terrible because she is white, or Italian (though now a Kenyan citizen) or because she is famous (Kim Basinger played her in the movie) or because she is rich (I don't actually know if she is but it certainly appears that way). It's not even terrible because she has made an important contribution to wildlife conservation in Kenya. It's terrible because it was a violent crime and all violent crime is ... Continue Reading

At least 43 people killed in 5 counties in the last 2 weeks

Armed herder in Northern Kenya

According to my timeline I have tweeted reports of 43 violent deaths and 22 violence related injuries in the last two weeks. These reports have all originated from mainstream media or sources such as KPR, rangers or doctors. The deaths occurred in just 5 counties. Turkana County - 5 dead, 2 injured Baringo County - 12 dead, 5 injured Laikipia County - 5 dead, 3 injured Samburu County - 2 dead, 1 injured Isiolo County - 19 dead, 9 injured This number is likely to be lower than the true ... Continue Reading

Living on Rubbish in a Bright Red Dress

Girl at the dump

I met the girl in a bright red dress at the municipal rubbish dump one day, her eyes were smarting from the smoke and dust but she was excited to see me, or rather, to see what I had brought. There are no rubbish collections here in northern Kenya. You have to manage all your own rubbish yourself. It is a very good exercise in understanding just how much waste we produce on a daily basis. Here, as yet, there is not very much in the way of packaged foods. A few tinned items, some things in ... Continue Reading

It’s not drought that is causing the violence in Laikipia

Moving Livestock

Drought years are happening more and more frequently in Kenya, especially in the northern half of the country. Weather conditions are more variable than they once were, but perhaps more significantly there are a lot more livestock than there used to be. Either way, drought like conditions are now occurring every few years. Every time there are drought conditions pastoralist struggle to find enough grazing for their animals. I am married into a northern pastoralist family and over the years I ... Continue Reading