Kenya, Tanzania – Cross-Border Dispute

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Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been strained over the seizure and sale of cattle belonging to Kenyan Maasai herders.

A Tanzanian court has auctioned 1,305 Kenyan cows whose herders had driven them across the border, said Tanzania’s Daily News on November 14th.

Four Kenyan herders were charged with being in the neighbouring country without valid travel documents. Tanzania remains the only East African Community (EAC) country that Kenyans need a passport and visa to enter, even while travelling by road.

Meanwhile, Tanzanian authorities recently burnt 6,400 chicks from Kenya on suspicion they could spread bird flu.

The auctioning of the livestock has stirred anger in Oloitokitok, which borders Tanzania.

The Kenyan herders sought the government’s help to secure the release of their animals before the auction, but the Tanzanian authorities remained adamant, the East African reported.

According to Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira, the auction followed the law after the herders failed to raise a fine imposed on them.

Easing tension

The herders along Kenya’s border with Tanzania now want the government to show a much firmer hand even as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls for dialogue with Tanzania to resolve cross-border issues between the two countries.

Tanzania is in the process of auctioning another 2,400 cattle for crossing into Mount Kilimanjaro National Park in search of pasture, the East African reported on November 11th.

Kenya is asking the EAC to formulate a policy guiding relations between border communities because the Maasai from either side traditionally cross the border in search of pasture.

1117 serengeti herder
Maasai herder in the Serengeti, Tanzania. CC 2015

In a letter dated November 3rd to Tanzanian authorities, Kenya’s EAC Minister Phyllis Kandie said since August, Kenya has allowed in 4,000 cattle from Tanzania.

“We have tried our best to cool down the Kenyan community at the border and we hope Tanzania will play its part in promoting good neighbourliness,” Ms Kandie said.

However, Tanzania President John Magufuli has asked the country’s herders to brand their animals for easy identification and monitoring. He said the seizure was within Tanzania’s laws and key to conservation, adding that Tanzania was not a grazing field for cattle from other countries.

Kenya has said it will compensate herders whose animals were auctioned to the tune of $530,000.

‘Flimsy grounds’

Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku accused the Magufuli administration of harassing Kenyans on flimsy grounds.

Former Tanzania prime minister Edward Lowassa, a Maasai, asked the governments to address the matter diplomatically.

“The Maasai have co-existed in harmony. When we start having such issues then we are threatening that same peace. We should try and sort out this issue at the national level so as to guarantee co-existence at the local level,” Mr. Lowassa told the East African.

However, the Permanent Secretary in Tanzania’s Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Maria Mashingo said that seizure of cattle would continue.

“It is important for our border communities to not allow, for any reason, herders from other countries to bring their cattle into our pastures as this is economic sabotage. We are also urging our herders to avoid crossing the borders into other countries by any means possible to overcome similar problems,” Dr Mashingo said.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

KENYA: Economy Slows
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 9, pp. 21852C–21853A

Kenya – Tanzania :Trade War
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 7, pp. 21773C

TANZANIA: Graft Scandal
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 6, pp. 21747B–21747C

Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Kenya – Pastoralist Land Dispute

Incidents of violence involving herders highlight the increasingly precarious situation faced by pastoralists. 

A recent upsurge in attacks by herders on white-owned ranches and wildlife conservancies in Laikipia has led to an outcry, with some describing the pastoralist herders as primitive with no respect for private property or wildlife.

According to the Independent around 10,000 nomadic herders with around 135,000 cattle have invaded ranches and conservancies in Laikipia over the last four months.

In Kenya the white-owned ranches have full support of the government and many are funded by influential donors through the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), controlling around 10.8 million acres of land; around 8% of Kenya’s total landmass.

In an example of the influential funding support, the Tullow Oil Company from Turkana County has donated US$11.5m to the NRT to establish further conservancies.

According to some commentators the land was acquired with the help of politicians who subsequently have hailed the NRT as a success, protecting both wildlife and the environment.

The CEO of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA) stated: “Conservancies amidst the increasing complex social and economic pressures, have been used as an avenue to bring together warring communities to co-manage resources, develop enterprises to enhance livelihoods, diversify tourism, secure grass banks for livestock during the dry seasons and create jobs for the local communities.”

However issues relate to pastoralists not being able to use the land during drought periods, when water is scarce. According to journalist John Mbaria, as the conservancies are United Nations (UN) protected, they are largely insulated from public scrutiny, reported the Daily Nation

The conflict also has highlighted prevalent attitudes towards pastoralists, who are perceived as damaging to the environment. Such a perspective ignores the fact that for centuries herders such as the Maasai and Samburu have lived relatively harmoniously with wildlife.


Herder in Samburu County – CC 2014

In the colonial period settlers turned Kenya into a hunting ground, while after independence and the ban on poaching, settlers needed to justify their ownership of property and thus established wildlife conservancies. Much of the land dates back to the 1904 Anglo-Maasai Agreement when locals “willingly” gave their land in the Central Rift Valley, according to the Daily Nation

Attempts by pastoralists to reclaim land have largely failed. In 2004 herders who drove their cattle into a ranch in Laikipia, were shot at by the police.

A British-Kenyan rancher, Matthew Voorspuy was shot dead while riding to inspect cottages that had been torched on his land earlier in March; a Kenyan politician Matthew Lempurkel was arrested and later bailed in connection to the incident.

In Kom, Isiolo County, a clash between armed herders from Isiolo and those from Samburu led to the deaths of ten people. Reports suggested that the Isiolo herders attacked the Samburu after they entered their grazing areas without permission, reported the East African.

On March 20th the Daily Nation reported that two people were killed in Baragoi after clashes between Samburu and Turkana communities, after four cows and around 300 goats were reportedly stolen from the Samburu.

The situation also highlights the precarious situation of pastoralists, caught between state repression, communal infighting and persistent drought. According to the Kenya Land Alliance (KLA), more than 65% of the arable land in the country is in the hands of 20% of the population.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

KENYA – UK: Reparations Claim [Free to Read]
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21271B–21272C

CONSERVATION: Kenya
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 3, Pp. 20948A–20948B

KENYA: Deadly Attacks
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol. 51, Issue. 11, Pp. 20358C–20360A

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