Turkana banks on 1973 peace pact to drive development (Business Daily (Kenya))


Ms Mercy Erupe, is a beneficiary of a 42-year-old peace pact signed by four pastoral communities living on the Kenya and Uganda border.

She is a trader at the newly launched Lokiriama Cross Border Market in Turkana where the county used Sh12 million in its expansion and constructed of a warehouse to attract traders from other towns in the two countries.

Ms Erupe started her business last year after selling two goats for Sh 8,000 to a Ugandan trader and now sells various household commodities.

“I sell cereals, sugar, vegetables in my Kapis village in Lokitela. I buy them from Nakiloro market in Moroto District, Uganda and supply fish and goats from Turkana to my Uganda customers,” said Ms Erupe.

Lokiriama market is among the latest projects that have come up after peace between the Tepesi, Pokot and Karamajong communities. The communities are banking on adherence to the 1973 pact to drive development in the largely undeveloped area.

Besides the market, the communities, through local and state government funds have also invested in roads, schools, border revenue collection posts, health centres and dams under what was christened the Lokiriama Peace Accord of 1973.

The peace agreement is currently enjoying the goodwill of local leader following months of peace caravans in the region in an effort to drive development.

Leaders from Turkana, Baringo, West Pokot and Samburu counties embarked on a peace drive to engage pastoralists in finding a solution to terminate cattle raids and banditry that before May used to claim over 100 lives every two months.

While launching the Lokiriama market last week, Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok said the investment would attract traders from other towns in the two countries.

The governor said that Nakiloro market in Uganda and Lokiriama market, both on the border, were encouraging social interaction among the four pastoral communities in a bid to diversify livelihoods.

And the fruits of such projects are already bearing fruit. Ms Erupe plans to expand her business.

“My business will grow bigger with this new market as I expect more traders and customers from more towns in Turkana and northern Uganda during market days,” said the mother of one.

Governor Nanok encouraged traders to embrace a saving culture, individually or through groups that will see them reap maximum dividends from the cross border trade.

“We rarely encounter acts of lawlessness along this border region and those who engage in crime are punished under communal acts,” said Mark Ajon Lokwawi, Lokiriama Assistant Chief.

At the Lokiriama village some 150 kilometres South West of Lodwar town is Lokiriama monument that signifies the peace pact negotiated by elders and local administrators from Kenya and Uganda.

It is at the site where weaponry, including guns, spears, arrows, traditional razor blades and knives, was buried as a sign of settling of animosity dating back to 1959 caused by rampant cattle raids and conflict over pasture and water.

The fight involved the Turkanas and Pokots from Kenya, Tepes and Karamojong of Uganda, Merille, Nyangatom and Toposa from South Sudan.

“The fight took place between Mt Moroto in Uganda and Mt Loima in Kenya before elders initiated the peace agreement that has proved beneficial to all communities,” said Mr Emmanuel Imana, Turkana County peace ambassador.

The monument bears the names of the leaders from the two countries who facilitated the peace drive.

The Kenyan team was led by then the Turkana District Commissioner David Olocho and six elders while the Ugandan team was represented by Matheniko Chief Akwalem Tioko and five elders.

Since it was officially opened by then minister of state in charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration Dr Chris Murungaru in 2003, pastoralists from Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia have held annual commemoration at the site to review the peace pact signed held in September.

Among measures put in place to sustain the treaty is stiff penalties imposed on communities believed to be aggressors and compensation for anyone killed during an attack.

LOkhako@ke.nationmedia.com

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