Hear the cry of women and improve security in the troubled valley of Kerio
The Kerio Valley has become synonymous with banditry, murder and violence which, according to Harvard professor Robert Rotberg, is idiosyncratic for “failed states”.
Professor Rotberg says states are considered failing when they are consumed by internal violence to the point that public goods such as the rule of law, political participation, education and healthcare cease to exist . Other indicators of a failed state include “loss of control over territory, criminal violence and the rise of warlordism”.
This is also the opinion that Kenyans living in the Kerio Valley have of the government. Not only civilians, but also security personnel were killed in the Kerio Valley. The killings have become a weekly and monthly ritual as the bandits are emboldened by lackluster responses from security guards.
The people of the Kerio Valley feel betrayed and abandoned by a government they seek for their protection. Local leaders are accused of complicity in insecurity through acts of omission and commission.
In 2019, World Bank Development Indicators showed that Kenya had 29,000 military officers. In the same year, in March, a biometric registration exercise, following the launch of the National Police Information Management System, showed that there were 101,282 police and paramilitaries. How can a ragtag band of villagers who feed on wanton killing revolve around such a trained and fully equipped force of officers?
In January 2021, Kenya signed an agreement with the Turkish government for the supply of 118 armored personnel vehicles worth 9.87 billion shillings to supplement existing equipment. It is expected that these acquisitions will contribute to ensuring the safety of citizens.
The level of insecurity in Turkana, Laikipia, Baringo and West Pokot raises the question of whether the police and military are only good at parades. Ironically, while the government recently displayed sophisticated police and military equipment, bandits were killing school children in the Kerio Valley and schools are now closed.
How the disbelievers manage to drive away hundreds of cattle without ever getting caught is beyond imagination. Hotspots will continue to experience banditry because there is absolutely no noteworthy deterrence from the state apparatus. There is no government presence except, perhaps, for the zone chief who presides over the elders and leaders of the warring community. Worse still, community policing does not exist.
Northern Kenya is largely insecure due to lack of political goodwill, operational challenges and difficult terrain. The latter, however, does not excuse laxity as helicopters and APCs can be put to good use. Thus, the police cannot continue to use the rough terrain as an excuse for not providing security. It is up to the government to find a way around this obstacle.
There have been cases where some leaders of bandit-prone areas have been arrested due to insecurity incidents, but beyond the first court appearance, nothing happens. The government must emerge from its lethargy, honor its end of the bargain and protect the citizens from both internal and external aggression.
The level of desperation and thirst for peace is evident in the very bold step taken by the women of the Kerio Valley to advocate for peace. They are tired of losing husbands, children and livestock in an endless cycle of violence. Kenyans have the right to life, they must be protected.