Over the years, conflict and war has ravaged Laikipia County with neighbouring communities fighting for scarce resources as they seek to feed their families and livestock too.
The County is inhabited by both farmers and pastoralists who occupy its northern, eastern and western constituencies.
Most of the conflict, therefore, happens to the north of the county, but it frequently extends to the west and the east.
The Laikipia seasonal violence can be attributed to a range of factors which include its location and geography as well as the cynical manipulation of politicians.
Surprisingly, almost 50% of Laikipia county land mass is owned by large scale ranchers – less than 30 of them.
The county borders the pastoralist counties of Baringo, Samburu and Isiolo, where farmers own large herds of cattle and the herders perceive a lot of land owned by the ranchers as being idle.
In Kenya, pastoralists take pasture, water and grasslands for their livestock wherever they can find it because pastoralism is livestock driven and herders go to extremes for their animals.
This, consequently, explains why they habitually invade Laikipia in the dry months of January to April, creating conflict every time they do so.
The county borders semi-arid Isiolo, Samburu and Baringo counties, which are all inhabited by pastoralists where drought forces the herders to search for water and greener pastures in Laikipia leading to bloody clashes which recur every dry season.
To combat that, a fertiliser company has moved in to provide solutions and control the runaway violence by introducing revolutionary farming techniques which not only help in regenerating the region’s soil but also providing food to the communities and greatly reducing the tensions and fight for resources.
The GPC Carbon Farming Group, whose carbon fertilizer has been in use in the area for at least a year, has started bringing communities together, solving the endemic issues, bringing an end to blood-letting and even physically introducing sworn enemies to each other.
On February 2, GPC’s CEO Joe Kariuki brought together over 600 people drawn from some of the most bitterly-fought communities to the same table as they enjoyed a feast, exchanged pleasantries, made peace and vowed to end their animosity towards each other.
The event was held at Kariuki’s massive Laikipia farm in the Rumuruti area where different tribes – Kikuyu, Samburu, Maasai, Meru and Turkana – all gathered for the bull-eating ceremony as well as sensitisation on carbon farming and the need to protect, preserve and regenerate the soil.
“For years now, this area’s soil has not been producing results. Farmers actually stopped farming and this explains the constant fights and bloody battles amongst the communities here. Since we moved in here more than a year ago, alot has happened. We’ve witnessed the magical transformation of the area as well as people going back to the farms, putting an end to the violence and senseless fight over resources,” Joe Kariuki said.
Laikipia’s charged environment also means that residents have become easy pickings for manipulative politicians – Politics comes into play in the region as a result of poor, marginalised communities feeling forgotten by the state, therefore becoming easily influenced.
“We’ve noticed how easy to is for politicians to take advantage of these people and incite them to clashes,” Joe added. “This is one of the things we talked about and cautioned the people against. We are happy that these communities, who normally don’t see eye-to-eye, were able to all come together, share a meal, forgive each other and purpose to forge ahead with a renewed sense of brotherhood.”
GPC fertilizer and it’s subsidiaries were introduced to the Rumuruti farm early 2023. So far, thousands of farmers have benefited from the firm’s programs as well as walked away with handful of harvests in a scheme which has been lauded as changing lives and restoring harmony in the area’s volatile situation.
Additionally, the farmers drawn from various communities were all given free bags of maize, beans and other assorted farm produce, with GPC actualizing their promise of changing lives and restoring communities.