The government on Thursday commissioned a livestock market at Kainuk near the border of Turkana and West Pokot counties as parts of its wider efforts to promote peace between the two communities by encouraging trade.
State department for Arid and Semi-arid Lands (ASALS) Principal Secretary Micah Powon officially commissioned the Sh 39.7 million project.
The project is a collaboration between the National Drought Management Authority, the County Government of Turkana and the local community.
Powon said the funding includes Sh 33.1 million from the NDMA with funding from the European Union, Sh 5.1 million from the County Government and Sh 1.5 million from the community.
“This market is a unique inter-county project whose benefits will be shared by communities on both sides of the border between Turkana and West Pokot counties,” said Powon.
He said infrastructure was a huge boost to livestock marketing in the area.
“The sale yard now offers a ready market for livestock from Lobokat Ward and other parts of Turkana South Sub-county as well as the neighbouring Masol Ward in West Pokot County,” he said.
National Drought Management Authority Assistant Director Drought Contingency Planning and Response Josephat Lotwel said the construction of the sale yard was agreed upon after it was identified as a priority in the community action plan.
Lotwel said the sale yard would not only promote peaceful coexistence of the Pokot and Turkana communities but also help in rescuing pastoralists from the situation of having to watch helplessly as their livestock succumbed to drought.
“The pastoralists will be able to sell their livestock and restock during the rainy season. It will also help achieve diversification of livelihoods,” he said.
Meanwhile the PS at the same time observed that drought had contributed to insecurity as communities migrate in search of water and pastures adding that the sale yard would promote co-existence between the communities residing in Lobokat and Masol wards.
“We want to complete this project by building the capacity of the association to co-manage the market with the county government and ensure its sustainability. We have, therefore, approved training of the livestock Marketing association on governance and financial management and I expect this to start as soon as possible,” said the PS.
The NDMA in partnership with other stakeholders, will support both intra- community and inter-county peace meetings.
“I want to thank the European Union for supporting this project and other drought risk management initiatives in ASAL counties. I’m confident that this sale yard will contribute significantly to our concerted efforts to build resilience of communities to drought,” Lotwel said.
He at the same time urged pastoralists to keep manageable herd sizes and consider adopting other livelihood diversification options as a result of climate change.
“And now that you have a market, try and sell off some animals early enough when their body condition can fetch you good prices,” he added.
He promised to ensure that the market has water supply to better serve the pastoralists and their livestock.