In Summary

  • Some of the herders have genuinely moved to that region because they faced the decimation of their animals amidst a devastating drought.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was in Laikipia yesterday, where he addressed the issue of the mass movement of herders with tens of thousands of cattle into ranches and conservancies in the area.

Many of the owners of those holdings are Kenyans of British descent so it was not surprising that the Foreign Secretary should make time to travel to the region, which also hosts one of the most important training bases for the British military.

Some of the Foreign Secretary’s comments on what needs to be done about the crisis, though, were a bit off the mark.

He said that the Kenyan government should enforce the “sanctity of the title deeds” that land owners hold.

That’s a fair point. Trampling on the rights of land owners would open a path to anarchy.

But the history of Laikipia and the economic circumstances of the herders suggests far greater nuance is needed.

Some of the herders have genuinely moved to that region because they faced the decimation of their animals amidst a devastating drought.

Politics may also have played a role in the invasions and crimes that should be punished in accordance with the law have been committed.

But the best solution is not to treat all the herders looking for pasture and water as criminals.

Instead, there should be a broader view by all those involved, led by the Kenyan government, in resolving the problem that has recurred over the years instead of merely sending in the security forces.


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