Friday, 13 September 2013

Water For Turkana

Huge groundwater reserves have been discovered in Kenya. This is a huge discovery for a nation almost constantly battling drought in some corner of the country. This good analysis from Simon Allison highlights the problems with assuming that this will solve all of Kenya's water problems.

What this article doesn't focus on is the massive and game-changing impact this discovery could have for the particularly vulnerable groups living in the Turkana region. Turkana has been ignored for years and has all-too-often been the site of conflicts. Some of these conflicts have, unsurprisingly in that part of the world, been conflicts over natural resources, sometimes between nomadic pastoralists and more settled groups or between different pastoralist groups. Some of these conflicts have been about what is probably the most precious resource for any group of people trying to make a living out of livestock farming: water. The Turkana water discovery is huge and massive and could probably be used for other things but its immediate value, just as soon as it can be brought to the surface, should be the immense potential it has to support and protect the livelihoods of thousands of nomadic herders, as well as more settled small-scale farmers in the region. Poverty is so often reduced to national averages and income measures. This shouldn't be just one more wasted opportunity to recognise and directly address the structural factors preventing a particular vulnerable group (or groups) from thriving in their particular chosen livelihood strategies.

BBC link which mentions, but doesn't expand on, the nomadic herder population of the region.

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