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Impact of drought on Kenya's internal security : strategies for action
By Gerald Minishi Mutebesi, Maseno Univesity,
Department of International Relations, Kisumu Kenya.
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Environment is a security issue in global politics. Climate change has transboundary effects and can only be solved through cross boarder coordination. Kenya just like many countries globally is facing this externality. The overwhelming drought in Kenya and specifically in Laikipia county has posed a serious threat to it's internal security. This problem has been quite elusive to deal with because Kenya has failed to address historical cross - cutting issues such as ; land reforms, historical injustices and ethno - politics. Kenya needs to effectively actualize the land reforms Act, deal with historical injustices through a transformative approach among other robust mechanisms so as to end drought, improve it's internal security and realize her vision 2030 agenda.
On the 9th of September 2021, president Uhuru Kenyatta declared drought a national disaster in Kenya. It is apparent that this is not the first time Kenya has declared drought a national disaster because unfettered evidence from the pages of history indicate that Kenya has been grappling with this challenge for a lengthy period of time. For example between 1993 - 2010, the government of Kenya declared 7 national disasters of which 5 were drought related ( Huho M.J, Mugalavai E ; 2010). The pervasiveness of drought especially in the northern parts of Kenya and the rift valley region has posed an existential threat to Kenya's internal security. Laikipia county exemplifies one of the few counties which has been negatively affected ( Njeru B ; 2021). Something to ponder is that the sporadic killings and unrest that has ensued in Laikipia county was instigated by drought. Jason Burke ( 2017) argues that hundreds of poor tribesmen seeking grazing lands for their cattle have invariably galvanized violence in Laikipia county. This policy brief solely aims to explain the impact of drought on Kenya's internal security and possibly give relevant recommendations and strategies for action. Kenya must adopt robust strategies to end drought which will ultimately improve Kenya's internal security. Nevertheless, Kenya will also leverage on achieving her vision 2030 agenda of ending drought emergencies and food insecurity.
Approaches and Results
Cases of insecurity in Laikipia county have been skyrocketing in direct proportion to the increase in drought in the region. The Rift Valley Regional Commissioner Mr. George Natembeya while addressing the press on 8th of September 2021 alluded that the Morans were the main instigators of conflict in the region. He further reiterated that due to drought, the rich who had more cattle hired bandits to evict innocent civilians from their land so that they could graze on the land ( Njuguna S ; 2021). According to ," The New Humanitarian", 2009, the raids over grazing lands in Laikipia are always motivated by drought when the rains are inadequate to accommodate the grazing needs of the pastoralists. The death tolls flaring up from these wrangles has left many families hopeless and homeless ( Phakathi M ; 2017). In a recent report released by Mr. Martin Wambora, the chair of the council of governors, it stated that the current drought has affected 946,494 people in Kenya. It is imperative to note that the rising cases of sporadic attacks especially in Laikipia county has put Kenya's internal security on the line.
It is indeed palpably clear that drought has negatively affected the internal security of Kenya. Climate change in Laikipia county has induced tensions between pastoralists and farmers hence the consequences of this bitter struggle has left many innocent civilians to be homeless and millions of other Kenyans to live with apprehension. It is important to note that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Laikipia. Deployment of military and other security personnels will only be a temporary solution and this is evident as witnessed from past skirmishes. A range of issues such as ; land reforms, historical injustices, ethnicity among others need to be addressed with a sober and robust approach.
Key Policy Recommendations
a) The short term policy recommendations to address the challenge of drought vis à vis Kenya's internal security include :-
i) Drilling of boreholes across Laikipia county
ii) Reinstating curfew from 6:00pm to 6:00am for a period of six months.
iii) Arresting bandits and political leaders behind the unrest in Laikipia county.
b) The medium to long term policy recommendations includes :-
i) Implementation of the land Reforms Act of the Constitution of Kenya 2010
ii) Addressing historical injustices by adopting transformative justice model.
iii) Re - afforestation and mass adoption of irrigation schemes in dry areas.
The following are the implications if the above recommended policies are adopted :-
i) Drilling boreholes will be time consuming and costly
ii) Curfew time from 6:00am to 6:00pm will inconvenience business traders hence will reduce economic output in the region.
iii) Arresting politicians connected to Laikipia political enigma can fuel ethno - politics.
iv) Adopting a transformative approach to historical injustices will need a revolutionized independent judiciary system.
Much appreciation to the works of ; Burke J, Njeru B, Njuguna S, Phakathi M, The New Humanitarian, Huho M.J and Mugalavai E. Without their insightful works maybe writing this policy brief won't be possible. This policy brief was broadly guided by their robust arguments backed with statistics.
1)Burke J ( 2017)." Inequality, Drought and the deadly fight for precious grazing land in Kenya".
2)Huho. M. J, Mugalavai E ( 2010)." The effects of drought on food security in Kenya". The International Journal of Climate Change Impact and responses. 2 ( 2) : 61-72.
3)Njeru B ( 2021). " Laikipia insecurity : Eight killed in a month". Retrieved on 8th September.
4)Njuguna S ( 2021)." Kenya : Locals flee as bandits torch 50 houses in Ol Moran, Laikipia."
5)Phakathi M ( 2017)." Violence spreads ahead of election in drought - hit Kenya".
6)The New Humanitarian ( 2008)." Kenya : Tracing roots of conflict in Laikipia".
Kenya's Foreign Policy and the UN Security Council Seat
On 18th June this year when Kenya garnered 129 votes to secure a non - permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council and outshined Djibouti on a tight contested race, there was a lot of euphoria and optimism especially among Kenyan political elites. Nonetheless, there were some sorts of goodwill from the climate of public opinion. However this is not the first time Kenya has been elected to serve as a non - permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, her recent victory goes down in history as her third time. In retrospect, Kenya first served as a non - permanent member between 1973-1974 with her second time coming in the years between 1997-1998.
Maintaining a low profile in global politics in pursuit of quite diplomacy has been part and parcel of Kenya's Foreign Policy as seconded by Professor John Okumu, Professor Samuel Makinda and Professor John Howell who are experts in Kenya's Foreign Policy. With Kenya's recent victory to represent the continent of Africa at the center of global politics, perhaps it's time for Kenya's policy makers to reassess their foreign policy so as to maintain a high profile in matters International relations. However, it's uncertain whether Kenya will have a more radical stance to global politics and most likely tamper with her policy of non - alignment especially considering the fact that among the 15 members that make up the composition of the United Nations Security Council, only 5 permanent members have considerable influence on decisions of the council, with weapon of veto power bestowed upon them. This has left the other 10 non - permanent members of the United Nations Security Council at the vulnerability of being bossed around by the P5 especially on sensitive matters of national interests. Another point of consideration is in the aspect of voting. Kenya has several allies at the United Nations Security Council such as USA and Britain ; just to name a few. Will Kenya vote on key decisions of the security council under the influence of her allies or will Kenya stand independent and vote on what it believes suits her interests, the interests of Africa and for the common good of all? That's a food for thought.
All said and done, despite all the challenges that comes with her position at the United Nations Security Council, Kenya still holds a chance to gain. Leveraging on multilateralism, championing for global peace and security and lobbying for other key security issues in global politics of the 21st century will not only make Kenya realize her Foreign Policy agenda but also make her the epitome of global consciousness.
Article written by :- Gerald Minishi ( Student of International Relations and Diplomacy with Information Technology at Maseno University).