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Kuria Nyumba Kumi initiative

Nyumba Kumi elder guards of Kuria in Migori County have always augmented efforts by the formal security agencies to maintain law and order in that region.
Although it is a policy in Kenya for every town estate, village and households to organize themselves in platoons of ten houses each to run their own security issues, the concept has however not picked up well in some areas of the country putting Kuria land ahead of every region.
The work of the Nyuma Kumi guards in Kuria land is to ensure that none of the bad elements are allowed to jeopardize the safety of the people and their property wherever they live.
“It means that every person living or coming to stay within your neighbouhood is well known to you and you can account for his or her character if asked to do so,” says John Meng’enyi, Migori County Nyumba Kumi chairman.
Mr. Meng’enyi says when the character of every person or visitor is known, the room for one engaging in criminal acts becomes very limited due to the fear of instant arrest.
The guards in Kuria, who include men and women, have played a greater role in promoting security in villages in the recent years.
They have helped contain the age-old cattle rustling practiced within the community by sharing details of perpetrators to police, leading to their arrests and prosecution in courts.
The elders have also proved their worth in fighting retrogressive cultural practices of female genital mutilation commonly referred to as FGM and early marriages that have been cited as serious drawbacks to the education of the Kuria girls.
“The elders have effectively fought the vice of FGM and early marriages to the point that the practice is now slowly diminishing within this community,” stressed Mr. Meng’enyi in a statement he forwarded to KNA.
Migori County Commissioner Joseph Rotich says that Kuria is now fast developing because of the good security put in place through the cooperation between the people and the guards and, between the guards and the formal security agencies around.
“My office fully supports the guards but with the condition that they stick to the guidelines put in place by the government for their operations,” he pointed out.
The work of the group has also been hailed by religious leaders from Migori County who now want other areas to take the cue and recruit their Nyumba Kumi guards to assist in fighting insecurity in their regions.
Pastor Samuel Maheri of Apostolic church says the group has helped reduce cases of armed robberies that used to occur deep in villages, some of which have been fatal when thugs hit the region.
“Daring armed gangsters working in cahoots with insiders in villages used to raid Kuria villages and markets almost every month. But since the establishment of the Nyumba Kumi guards, the region has witnessed relevant calm, thanks to the cooperation between them and the police,” said Pastor Maheri.
Cases involving illicit weapons and hard drugs like bhang as well as contraband goods smuggled across the Kenya Tanzania common borders have become part of the group focus, leading to a sharp reduction of the cases.
The uniformed guards visible in all kuria villages have also been engaged in issues to do with domestic conflicts and have greatly assisted in bringing peace in the region.
Migori County police commander Joseph Nthenge says they have been keen to ensure that only men and women of good characters are recruited to work as Nyuma Kumi guards to avoid cases where the same ‘watchdogs’ become law braking agents among the community.
“We are aware that individual residents are being thoroughly vetted before being admitted to join the Nyumba Kumi group guards with a view to recruit acceptable characters only,” said Mr. Nthenge.
By George Agimba

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