Northern Kenya is a Muslim majority region in Kenya. Because of its proximity to Somalia has been classified as a hotbed of violent extremism and thus subject to an overtop security response. Instead of addressing the root causes, security agencies' response exacerbates the already fraught relations between the community and security agencies and, by extension, the state. But there is a change in response and a realization that a security-only focused approach will do more damage. The Elephant in conversation with Dr Halkano Abdi Wario, Assistant Director at the HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies.
The depth of knowledge that the pastoralist communities possess provides an opportunity for its integration with scientific observations for their improved adaptation to climate change.
Ten years after Kenya’s military foray into Somalia began, what have been the significant achievements of the intervention?
Northern Kenya already lags behind the rest of Kenya in most educational data. But the pervasive insecurity, including Al Shabaab, has seen a mass exodus of nonlocal teachers and educators, exacerbating the already difficult situation. However, simple technology that uses the local language can bridge the education divide if deployed at scale. The Elephant in conversation with Abdinoor Alimahdi, an educational technologist and founder of M-Lugha - a multilingual education app for rural communities.
The Northern Rangelands Trust has been active in the pastoralist region, setting up "Community Wildlife." Some have argued that these conservancies are a trojan horse for taking away pastoralist land. With the coming into force of the Community Land Act 2016, securing pastoralist land has become even more urgent. The Elephant in conversation with Adam Dalacha, a lawyer and human rights activist.
The people residing in Marsabit and Isiolo counties share ancestral relations with the Oromos living in Southern Ethiopia. When Abiy became Prime Minister in April 2018, many rejoiced. When conflict broke out in November 2020, many were afraid their region would also be affected. The Elephant in conversation with Wario Malicha, a public policy expert.
The Kadhi court has been part of Kenya's legal architecture, but it tends to be misunderstood by Muslims and non-Muslims, and thus controversies. A more nuanced understanding of the court could prevent arguments, including the place of female Kadhis. The Elephant in conversation with Tito Kunyuk, Khadhi - The Judiciary of Kenya.
Northern Kenya Counties account for more than half the landmass of Kenya. The entire region faces complex challenges which weaken its communities’ ability to withstand shocks and adapt to changing circumstances. The Elephant in conversation with Tahira Shariff Mohamed, an anthropologist and a doctoral researcher at Sussex University.
The Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) is the caucus that pursues the pastoralists' policy agenda inside and outside parliament. In the 12th Parliament, the caucus has registered some success in pushing the pastoralist agenda. But some of their issues have been a victim of a fallout between the president and his deputy. Since some members support the president's side of the coalition while others have joined the Deputy President's side, shepherding such a diverse coalition requires delicate dancing. The Elephant in conversation with Jarso Mokku, a community land rights activist, public educator and Head of the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group.
If done well, education can play a critical role in upward social mobility. But in Northern Kenya, despite early childhood education being free, many pupils do not attend school because of myriad challenges. Instead of attending school, the children are involved in domestic chores like fetching water, collecting firewood, and looking after their parents' livestock, thus denying them education. Ahmed Kura leads the Kenya Dryland Education Fund, which is tackling this issue through enrollment, attendance, retention, and transition. The Elephant in conversation with Ahmed Kura, Country Director - Kenya Drylands Education Fund (KDEF).
Socially, the pastoralists are patriarchally organized; men take most of the powers, and women are to be seen and not heard. That combined with the climatic shocks, where women are disproportionately affected, has made them incredibly vulnerable. However, economic empowerment through programs like Ushanga - an endeavour that was mostly undertaken by women, is improving their lot. The Elephant in conversation with Kulamo Bullo Ikimire, CEC - Tourism, Culture and Social Services in Marsabit County, Kenya.
Kenya's mainstream media covers northern Kenya, the way Western media covers Africa. In Kenya's popular framing, the north is a place of banditry, conflict, a place nothing good can come from. But increasingly, albeit on social media, and in large urban settings, a counternarrative pushing back against this received wisdom is emerging. The Elephant in conversation with Osman Mohamed Osman, a PhD student in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. His work has been published by The Elephant, Al-Jazeera English, CNN, Quartz, among others.