|Nkatha Mercy, Program Officer, Friends of Nomads|
She doesn’t stand out in a crowd, but Nkatha Mercy should. Not with all the knowledge she has about the local community she serves. Nkatha is part of the caravanites who are headed to Durban, South Africa.
Situated in upper Eastern in Isiolo county, Friends of Nomads, the organization she works as a program officer, has a vision of empowering pastoralists for a better life. I begin what ends up being an intense and animated 10 minute chat about what she does and why climate change and climate justice is intertwined with governance.
Climate change and good governance
Climate change and climate justice are cross cutting issues that are intrinsically tied to governance. Bad governance caused the drought and famine that Kenya experienced. In days past, they had ways of telling the seasons and had ways of working them out amongst themselves. Now, when drought happens in this area, you have leaders pitting communities against each other as they fight for natural resources.
Of Killings over Natural Resources
Matters are handled fast when it is a tourist who is shot but when it is locals it takes them time to even recognize something happened. As l was leaving for the caravan, 3 people got killed but the authorities didn’t do a thing. People fight for natural resources all the time. The media doesn’t capture this. Extreme poverty, clan politics coupled with illiteracy make for a deadly combination. There is a lot of Clanism here. It doesn’t help that the society is not exposed. They also have minimal interaction with the outside world. Throw in the different dynamics that all these communities bring with them and you have a deadly mix.
So, what does good governance mean?
Good governance means participation and engagement of the communities. It also means that leaders are held accountable and communities experience equitable distribution of resources. Good governance must not just be heard but it must be seen to be happening. Borana are majority in this area and more specifically the Sekuyes, which is a clan within Borana community. Top positions in this area are occupied by this community which automatically causes conflict among the other communities.
Marginalized getting Marginalized by the Marginalized
Biggest issue in the environmental area is land. Isiolo is an area that is full of national parks. It is the second richest after Narok. Yet the riches serve only a few. This is marginalization within marginalization. The community as it is already marginalized by the outside world and the situation trickles down to among themselves.
Marginalization by government policies is deliberate which is seen in Sessional paper Number 10 of 1965 by the late Tom Mboya. In essence, the policy advocates investment of resources in areas with potential of high returns and hoping it will trickle down to the populations, which obviously does not. 20% of Kenya constitutes of high potential while 80% is Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, ASAL. 90% of all livestock comes from ASAL areas. There is also cash from the game resources. These areas are also tourism areas because of the national parks which means more revenue by this community. That Sessional Paper was really bad for this community.
Read Part 2....
Compiled by Maria Wanza enroute to Malawi