Donor agencies and the Kenyan government on Saturday organised a peace sensitisation meeting for communities living in Marsabit County as part of the Ethiopia-Kenya Cross Border Peace Programme, which covers the Moyale border region.
The initiative led to local leaders led by Governor Mohamud Ali resolved to support the government’s on-going security operation to mop up illegal guns in the hands of civilians saying that it was the surest way of pacifying the region.
The meeting held at Moi girls secondary school saw the European Union (EU) through UNDP give tangible peace dividends to residents of Marsabit in a bid to strengthen unity and cohesion.
The programme, dividends of Cross Border Cooperation between Ethiopia and Kenya for conflict prevention and peace building donated jikos and motorcycles to women and youth valued at Sh9.8 million in a function presided over by Devolution and ASALS Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa.
The donation included 70 motorcycles worth Sh8 million, which Mr Wamalwa said, would provide youth with a source of income as an incentive to dissuade them from violent activities and radicalization.
CS said in a speech read on his behalf by Chief Administrative Secretary in the ministry Amb Hussein Daddo, that the 500 energy saving stoves (jikos) given to women were environment-friendly as they use less wood and are almost smokeless.
He added that it was expected that promotion of the energy saving jikos would help reduce incidences of pollution-triggered diseases besides lessening the pressure on forests.
Wamalwa expressed hope that the multi-agency partnership alongside the local communities had put in place precautions that would ensure there was lasting peace in the region after the lapse of the program in a year’s time.
The Sh330 million three-year integrated peace programme has also seen 1,000 persons both from the communities and governments trained in conflict management.
“Beyond the financial value, we envisage that with appropriate training, the motorbikes shall accord a steady income to families and keep the young people from the false appeal of radicalism and other violent activities,” Mr Wamalwa said.
The CS disclosed that more livelihood interventions have been planned in the remaining one year of the peace pact that include a Computer training centre for the youth, a tailoring institute, small scale irrigation, installation of milk cooling equipment and training of small-scale entrepreneurs.
The EU deputy ambassador to Kenya Ms Katrin Hagemann said the union was committed to the peace initiatives that would ensure harmony and transformation of lives of the people.
The ambassador said that under the programme many socio-economic projects of development that include a fish factory, the Isiolo-Moyale highway,the lake Turkana wind power project among others were being funded by the EU in order to change lives.
Participants drawn from all corners of the county supported the decision taken by the government to mop up illegal guns in wrong hands.
Ailo Adan who spoke on behalf of women said that the government should be accorded the opportunity to execute its mandate of providing security to the residents and their property.
She said that the on-going disarmament was not bearing fruits as expected because those possessing the firearms amongst communities were playing games with the security agencies.
“There is a cat and mouse game going on with those possessing guns shifting locations to dodge security personnel,” she said and asked the authorities to change tact.
Governor Ali lauded the European Union and the other partners for their commitment to the peace process and stimulation of the county economy.
The governor underlined the importance of peace which he said facilitates development that equally fortifies harmony.
He called on the government security apparatus not to relent on the crackdown on individuals behind ethnic conflicts that has claimed many lives in the recent past and ensure that they are punished.
The governor appealed to residents of Marsabit to eschew acts of violence and instead concentrate on productive activities in order to better their lives.
The programme aims at ensuring that there was lasting peace in Marsabit County and the Ethiopian’s lower zone of Borana- Dawa.
Apart from the Kenya-Ethiopia initiative, the government has also entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Uganda for joint collaboration to promote peace and development among the border communities of Karamoja, Pokot and Turkana.
Principal Secretary for devolution Micah Powon called on women to assist in eradicating the outdated cultural practice of cattle rustling which he said was a major source of conflict among pastoralist communities.
The head of cross border program in ministry of devolution Dr Florence
Bett, UNDP resident representative Mr Walid Badawi and UN resident coordinator Mr Siddharth Chaterjee took part in the sensitization.
By Sebastian Miriti