Deputy President William Ruto has asked leaders from the pastoral communities to work together in addressing challenges that hinder the development of their regions.
Mr Ruto said problems such as insecurity; female circumcision, school dropouts and early marriages could only be addressed if leaders worked together irrespective of their political affiliations.
Speaking during the closure of a two-day Pastoralists Parliamentary Group (PPG) meeting held at the Nyali Sun Africa Beach Hotel, Mombasa, on Sunday, the Deputy President said some cultural practices were portraying pastoralists negatively.
“People are viewing pastoralists as people who have denied their children the opportunity to go to school, people who are riddled by poverty or conflicts. We need to change this perception,” said Mr Ruto.
He urged MPs, MCAs and opinion leaders from the pastoral communities to dedicate their time in addressing such issues with a view of catching up with Kenyans in other parts of the country.
“What is clear is that all those children who are not in school are those from the pastoral areas. We must not deny our children the chance to go to school. We must be forthright about such issues,” said Mr Ruto.
He said the Government and the World Bank had set aside 8.5billion shillings to assist the pastoralist’s communities.
He said the money would be used for sinking water pans, boreholes, construction of markets, buying of hey, establishment of slaughterhouses and insurance for the livestock as well as enhancement of animal health.
The Deputy President said the Government was ready to partner with leaders from the pastoral communities to build boarding schools along the border areas to address the challenges of insecurity caused by banditry and cattle rustling incidents.
“We want to bring together all children from pastoral communities to be in one area (school) so that their parents can regard each other as brothers and sisters and thus eliminate cases of insecurity,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President, at the same time asked leaders from the region to ensure there was prudent use of resources allocated to their respective counties.
He said out of ten counties that receive huge allocations from the national government, seven were from the pastoral communities.
“The benefits of devolution in our counties can only be realized if we manage the resources allocated to us well. This can be done if you work as a team and ensure resources were well utilized,” said Mr Ruto.
The Deputy President blamed misuse of funds in some counties to employment of staff based on clanism at the expense of merit.
“I ask county governments to employ staff based on merit instead of concentrating on the issues of clan, “said Mr Ruto.
Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dulo said the primitive cultural activities like cattle rusting and FGM are giving the community a bad name.
She said they are training leaders on conflict resolution as the only way to solve the challenges facing the people.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said praised the Jubilee Administration for its commitment to solving the challenges facing the pastoralists.
“The Jubilee Administration has greatly helped solve the problems facing pastoralists in this country than any other government,” said Mr Duale.
Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuda urged leaders from the pastoral areas to work together in eliminating challenges hindering the development of girl-child including female circumcision and early marriages.
“Unless we work as a team, problems facing our communities cannot be solved,” said Ms Leisuda.