The mighty Ewaso Nyiro River is an iconic feature of the north Kenya landscape. In a semi arid environment, the Ewaso provides a critical water source to more than 3 million people, most of them pastoralists, and their 5 million head of livestock. It also supports a rich diversity of wildlife; from elephants, giraffes and Grevy’s zebra to lions, leopards and antelope.
However, a changing climate and unregulated sand and water extraction are having an unprecedented effect on the Ewaso. At the same time, populations of humans and livestock are increasing, and so too is their demand for water. This puts them in direct competition with each other, and with wildlife, which can have devastating consequences.
To create awareness of the link between natural resource management and peace, Impact Trust Kenya collaborated with NRT and others to organise a 5 day 'camel caravan', starting 15th September. With camels to carry luggage, the procession covered 250 kilometres, and engaged community members from Oldonyiro, Meibae, Westgate, and Kalama conservancies. Each day, a community peace meeting was held at a different stop point. These meetings also raised awareness about natural resource management and wildlife conservation. The campaign was supported by donor agencies and partners for resilience: DANIDA, USAID, Cordaid, Wetlands International, MID-P, Ewaso Lions, Grevy’s Zebra Trust and others.
“Fair sharing of natural resources is key to keeping the peace among communities that depend on the Ewaso River,” said Joseph Lejeson, Program Officer at Impact Trust Kenya.
The consortium said the camel caravan trek was a "remarkable event that marked the beginning of a new initiative and fresh approach towards protecting the resources and livelihood of pastoralists." The procession ended at Archer's Post; where walkers were received in a colourful ceremony. Guests included media representatives, development partners, non-governmental organizations and representatives from both Isiolo and Samburu county governments.
Leaders took to the podium one after the other congratulating the walkers for their efforts and promising to fight and frustrate any effort that would jeopardize the Ewaso Nyiro catchment area ecosystem. “We should stop fighting one another, we have our common enemy, let us face those who are threatening our lifeline jointly,” said George Natembea, Isiolo County Commissioner. Apart from the conservation message, Natembea emphasized the need for peace among the different communities living in Northern Kenya.
The donor community expressed their commitment to participate and promised to support in efforts to help the people cope with effects of climate change. “We will continue to participate in every effort to help the people in resilience climate change,” said Madam Makena, in a message from the Danish Embassy.
People who completed the 250-kilometer walk received certificates to recognise their contribution. ” I feel very good about the certificate because I have walked to raise awareness of the river and that will help me for many years, and future generations” said Henry Lesumante, a Samburu warrior. He emphasized the purpose behind the struggle: “The river is dying and something must be done, If the river dies, we will die as well with our livestock.”