The dangers of pastoralism

With increasing drought, the Turkana have to take their livestock further away in search of pasture and water with people interpreting migration to mean aggression. This has increased conflicts between the Turkana and neighbouring communities like the Toposa.

Turkana herds men Photo: Iris du Pon

According to IRIN, Pastoralist regions in Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia, where few other economic activities are practised, have long been neglected by their governments, not just in terms of infrastructure such as roads and water, but also of protection. The absence of police partly explains the prevalence of small arms.

"Because of insecurity, even at five years old you learn to use a rifle," said Emmanuel Lukwanok, one of a dozen horn-blowing Turkana youths who, in quasi-military formation and proudly brandishing AK-47s, swept down a hill in the no-man's-land between Kenya and Sudan to greet the fact-finding mission.

"We have guns because of fighting the Toposa," he added, referring to one of the main pastoralist communities across the frontier.

"We have experienced cattle raids many, many times. It is permanent and getting worse, less secure. We have lost a lot of livestock. So we suffer a double onslaught - drought and raids. These days we have to take our animals further for pasture. This is the main reason for conflict," he said. "We cannot give up our guns because then the
Toposa would come and steal our animals."

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