Members of the Turkana community living in three villages of Salama Ward in Laikipia West constituency, Laikipia County are an unhappy lot.
Residents of Bondeni, Kieni and parts of Karuahu villages feel marginalized by the county government through their area MCA Wilson Wakahiu.
According to the residents, they are underrepresented and lack many of the social amenities that their neighbours in other villages enjoy.
Mary Lowiweneor said they only have one water source, a dam, despite calling for at least one more, like boreholes.
“We have raised the issue with the MCA’s office but nothing has been done. We have to walk many kilometres to fetch water in other villages, some of which have more than four water sources,” said Lowiweneor.
Members of the Kikuyu community predominantly inhabit Salama Ward.
The Turkana feel they are being handled like second-class citizens.
The road network in the three villages is poor, except for parts of Karuahu, which has some semblance of development.
Kieni village borders Kibuku Ranch, whose owner closes the path that links the village to the main road where they can access social amenities, by 7 pm.
“You have to spend the night where you are and continue with your journey the next day,” said one of the residents.
Kieni is at the border of another village that is predominantly inhabited by the Kikuyu community.
This has made the village enjoy some support from the authorities in terms of development and social amenities.
Francis Loter, a resident of Kieni, said they do not have a single Early Childhood Development Centre in the village.
Getting ID cards for their youth is a nightmare, Loter said.
“We have been living here for decades, but still, for one of us to get a national ID card you will be taken round in circles and until you give up,” said Loter.
In the past, the Turkanas lived a nomadic life, moving with their animals from place to place in search of pasture.
However, because of constant raids by members of the Samburu community, they gradually abandoned the nomadic lifestyle and settled in areas like Karuahu and Kieni to do subsistence farming.
Most of them then got jobs at the Mutara ADC Farm where they worked for many years, enabling some to even buy land in Kieni, complete with title deeds.
James Ekuru, a Kieni resident, feels the lack of national ID cards for most of their youth is the reason for their marginalization.
“Our political leaders feel even if they do development projects here, they will not get many votes because most people here do not have voter’s cards because of the lack of ID cards,” said Ekuru.
Gladys Kabira, a farmer in Kieni, said their children suffer more when they get sick because there is no health facility nearby.
The nearest health facility and even public school are at least 10km away.
However, MCA Wakahiu is not responsive to the plight of the residents, who have now petitioned against him.
Efforts to reach him on the phone have proved futile.
His handlers in the office say all areas in Salama ward are treated equally.
The residents aired their frustrations during a screening by InformAction (IFA) in Kieni village.
The IFA Central Base took the residents through their basic human rights, which they should be enjoying.
A Community Action Team (CAT) was formed to lead the process of petitioning the county government, with support from IFA.
Through the petition, the residents want the county government to establish an ECDE Centre in the area.
They also want the community to be allowed to fetch water in a nearby river, which has been fenced off by a private rancher.
The residents want at least one dispensary constructed in the area to cater to their medical needs.
They say they have encountered several challenges with stray wild animals and want the Kenya Wildlife Service to control them.
Story by the IFA Central Team