|A child is fed on aid food|
The report argues that the expansive area in question is too important to ignore, and that turning herders into sedentary populations is not the answer. Nomads do not like sedentary lifestyles; it makes them miserable and pushes them to abject poverty. They have survived for generations in these types of environment and one would think that they would be involved in discussions concerning their welfare. In Kenya, for example, efforts to settle the pastoralists have been going n since independence in 1963. It is as if that was the only solution, settling down everyone to practice agriculture. Yet, the greater part of the country (80%) is either arid or semi-arid. Each time there is a drought, the whole country is affected.
One wonders what we would be seeing today if major investments had been made to develop these desert areas right from the start. Exploration oil and minerals could have started a long time ago, to create both jobs and wealth. Also, rather than wait to focus on this region only when there is severe drought and people are moving, an earlier focus could have been on how to convert it to a favourably habitable environment, into a mega city, for example. What a great tourist destination that could make! Would we be seeing pictures of starving children if these types of investments had been made earlier? Would Kenya still be depending on foreign aid for its development? Who knows, maybe and just maybe, the now desolate, “non-productive” region might be the one providing Kenya’s wealth, instead of the “burden” it has become. Successive Kenyan governments have tried to do something meaningful for the people of North Eastern Province, but the distance from the centre, the harsh climate, and the now porous and insecure borders make it a difficult region for the government to commit adequate resources to develop it even halfway.