IPS – Kenya’s Water Wars Kill Scores | Inter Press Service
[of course the history of religion is also the history of clan warfare between pastoralists, farmers, and urban dwellers - thus dietary laws and other clan markers...]
“These are nomadic pastoralists who depend on livestock for survival. They rustle livestock and fight over water and the few grazing fields,” he said.
Water scarcity is fuelling deadly inter-ethnic wars that continue to claim lives in Kenya, according to government officials. And if nothing is done to educate communities on how to conserve the valuable resource, the situation will escalate, governance experts and environmentalists warn.
On Sunday, Sep. 9, 38 people were killed in revenge attacks in the Tana River Delta district of Kenya’s Coast province. The deceased include eight children, five women, 16 men, and nine police officers.
The incident occurred as the government announced it would conduct a disarmament exercise in the Tana River Delta following clashes over water and pasture that have left more than 80 people dead.
Coast province police boss Aggrey Adoli told IPS that about 500 raiders from the Pokomo ethnic group attacked the Kilelengwani village, in Tana River Delta, and torched a police camp and several other structures at dawn. On Monday, Sep. 10 the area was inaccessible and police officers were flown in by helicopter to quell the violence.
“This was in retaliation to Thursday’s incident in which 13 Pokomos were killed when raiders from the Orma (ethnic group) struck the Tarassa village in the area,” Adoli said.
The attacks are in retaliation to an Aug. 22 incident over water and resources that resulted in the death of 52 people, including 11 children and 31 women. The attack occurred after cattle owned by the Orma ethnic group strayed onto farmlands belonging to the neighbouring Pokomo community and destroyed their crops. Both communities have a long history of conflict over resources.
Political leaders, human rights activists and environmentalists are calling on the government to address the problem urgently.Mwalimu Mati, the chief executive of Mars Group, an NGO that deals with governance, told IPS that the government must provide equitable resources to end the clashes.
“Resource conflict will be with us for a long (time) because the government policies that promote timber harvesting have resulted in deforestation,” said Mati, who is also a lawyer. Scanty forest cover has resulted in the reduced rainfall here, according to water experts.
Peter Mangich, the director of water services at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, told IPS that due to the effects of climate change, the country now only received one quarter of its previous rainfall....
Conflict will not only be in dry areas. Climate change is real and even countries that share the River Nile are quarrelling over it. Let the government adopt other means to solve this problem,” he said.
Mati explained the need for water had resulted in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan calling for the revocation of a 1959 treaty, brokered by the United Kingdom, that gave Egypt, and to a lesser extent Sudan, historical rights to the river’s resources....
“Since last year, we have partnered with NGOs like World Vision to sink boreholes in the affected areas so that residents can have enough water for their livestock and domestic use. We also encourage them to use the water to grow vegetables and maize to complement livestock keeping,” he said.
But Mati said that nomadic pastoralists should be encouraged to engage in other economic activities that are more vialable and suggested that the government encourage urbanisation.
“This will allow many people to live in towns that have social amenities and to farm on land as a group, not as individuals,” he said.
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