Two years after commercially viable oil reserves were discovered in Turkana County, the intensity of ethnic militancy has sharply increased. There has been a spike in the number of violent inter-communal conflicts in the region in recent months. The most lethal of these tribal conflicts has been between the Turkana and Pokot communities – a fact that has been confirmed by an influential Turkana elder, Losinyono Kotol.
The armed pastoralist communities which inhabit the region have occasionally engaged in cattle raiding activities against each other, and each cattle raiding expedition attracted a retaliatory attack; but the resultant low-scale tribal warfare was checkmated by the government. However, recent attacks have seen tribal militias overrun villages and massacre civilians.
The inter-communal conflict in the region had also been ignited by competition to scarce water and pasture resources. However, with the advent of oil exploration and its subsequent drilling; brutal armed conflicts have broken out between communities in a far greater frequency; and this has resulted in general security breakdown in the entire Turkana region.
The cause of the recent conflicts has been traced to competition over access to the oil wealth in the area. Tribal militias from the Pokot community are currently seeking to displace Turkanas from Southern Turkana and push them beyond Lokichar.
In light of this development, SIS advises both the county and national governments to put measures in place to ensure security in the region is guaranteed and that there is equity in the sharing of the region’s oil wealth. The tribal militias must be disarmed, and their political and insurgent leaders apprehended.