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Poverty eradication in Northern Kenya requires a developmental approach



Garissa and Mandera have been ranked among the poorest areas in the country according to the latest data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. (Courtesy)

Friday Bulletin

Two of the three counties in North Eastern region, namely Garissa and Mandera have been ranked among the poorest areas in the country according to the latest data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

This negative revelation– which has put the region once again in the national spotlight during the recent times owing to bad reasons– could be shocking to some people, but to a discerning eye on the region the depiction is a true representation of the poverty situation on the ground, and calls for an urgent paradigm shift in how the malady is being addressed.

One of the major reasons for the unrelenting poverty in the region is historical in nature. Kenya inherited its non- development strategy for the region from the British colonial government which used the area mainly as a security buffer.

The white man concentrated development in areas where the land was agriculturally fertile like
Central Kenya.

The first postcolonial National Economic Development Strategy, namely Sessional paper number
10 of 1965 captured the borrowed attitude very well.

The aftermath of the abandonment and marginalization of North Eastern Kenya by the successive regimes was the curtailment of the region’s development for a number of decades, leading to a state of deprivation and poverty in the whole sense of the words.

That’s why news from the region has always revolved around poverty- related problems such as
resource- based conflicts, deplorable infrastructure, poor educational and health standards.

The billions funding devolution in the region, the smaller kitties the local leadership receive such Constituency Development Fund, and the locally generated revenues however small are supposed
to be geared towards uplifting the lives of the residents in a meaningful manner.

The path to a better and more prosperous North Eastern region is well captured in the Vision
2030 development strategy for Northern Kenya.

Implementation of the important document is unfortunately what is lacking at the moment.

I nowadays hear about another creation called the Frontier Development Cooperation Council ( FCDC) which is just a talking shop since no one is telling the residents what tangible results it has brought to the area since it was established.

The other mistake that encourages poverty in North Eastern region is the difficulty that
residents have in getting the citizenship documents, particularly the national identity card.

Many youths in the region can’t travel, get jobs, or do businesses because their hands have been tied due to lack of ID card. Even receiving monetary help through platforms like M- Pesa is hard for many people in the area. This setback end up confining many of the residents in a perpetual state of poverty.

Poverty is not the absence of food on one’s table only. It also means that a person has been made incapable to pursue his or her fullest happiness through various productive opportunities such as job, business and education.

The despair resulting from poverty in North Eastern has caused many young people to engage in
destructive activities such as crime and drugs.

Time is of essence for the institution of a developmental approach to ending poverty in the region since no amount of relief food or other humanitarian solutions will solve the problem with a long lasting impact on the lives of the people. The residents must also be mentally empowered to be able to choose leaders on the basis of the effectiveness of their policies and not which clan or how much wealth they own, because ultimately those things are not going to help the average voter.


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