Sunday, July 27, 2008


At the launch of the Ministry of Northern Kenya & Arid Lands Development Vision at K.I.C.C, Nairobi, Minister Hon. Mohammed Ibrahim Elmi played down a very good public relations exercise that explained many key issues that affect Northern Kenya and its environs.

Elmi, Himself a Northerner, was born in Wajir, in 1950 during the height of british colonial government administration. He has studied in Garissa High School before proceeding to Masters Liverpool University for his University education.

Elmi talked of how Northern Kenya has been marginalized by succesive governments of Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki and understands well as he has been working with NGO's in the area.

The Ministry of Northern Kenya was a product of Grand Coalition cabinet commitment to create Cabinet positions out of a genuine desire to address the needs of regions and populations that have been left behind over the years thus the creation after the agreement..

Kenya Somalis neglected over the years, became a huge issue during the presidential campaigns last year.

Raila Odinga's party, the Orange Democratic Movement had promised to create a ministry to specifically deal with the development needs of that forgotten part of Kenya.

Elmi spoke of issues connected with chronic poverty, insecurity, recurrent drought, starvation, lack of basic infrastructure, marginalisation, social and economic exclusion. He said, The Ministry for the Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands has been mandated by the government to turn these plights around and help in bringing development to the people of these regions and that it has vowed to support all efforts to bring positive change and put its hand on the plough of development of Northern Kenya and other arid lands.

In his address, Elmi said, since this was the first time people of Northe Eastern Province got a ministry to develop NFD alone, it will bring together all the target groups, stakeholders,community and opinion leaders and tap their views to assess needs and set priorities.

The mandate of the Ministry will includes the development of infrastructure, the planning of settlements, strengthening livestock marketing and livestock related industries, water supply and irrigation, natural resource management, mineral resources exploration, opening up the arid lands for tourism, human resources development and tapping solar and wind energy to fuel development.

Elmi says, The ministry will adopt a holistic and multicultural approach to development, working with all ministries in the sector. It will ensure that the beneficiaries themselves will be able to say, “Yes, there is a change, a real change for the better in our lives.”

Now that, we have a vision described by the minister, we have new challenges ahead and many residents of NEP are asking, Why should the Ministry of Development of Northern Kenya in the first place, be based in Nairobi while it's sole purpose is to develop Northern Kenya?

NEP residents argue that since the ministry was specifically created for northern Kenya, there is little logic having its headquarters hundreds of kilometres away. "We want proof that the ministry was not created to marginalise the region even more," writes Hillow, in an e-mail from Garissa.

What we are saying is that, Many NEP residents are now skeptical and anxious about what roles the ministry is supposed to play given that we have been marginalized for the past 30-40 years of the country's independence?

Residents complain having seeing any signs of the ministry’s activities.

The seeds of doubt are probably justified by decades of neglect and false promises. Politicians from NEP concurs that ‘real’ decentralisation by moving headquarters to Garissa, Wajir or Lodwar would be a refreshing sign of commitment to developing the region. Setting up satellite offices in such towns is hardly enough.

NEP residents will not forget how previously the then Minister for Water resources, Hussein Maalim aka Maendeleo, in whose constituency passes the biggest river in Kenya, Tana River, could not help his own residents access water, not even clean water from the river. He was accused of not initiating or for not having put mechanism for his people to access water by providing pump machines or sourcing assistance to help them. The Garissa residents upto now rely on donkeys to draw water from the Tana river that passes inside the town.

Well, a question for Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Elmi.......

Do you think the Ministry will work magic for the people of North Eastern province

Do you mind relocation to have your headquarters in northern Kenya instead of Nairobi.. to serve us well.

What did you achieve or are you planning for NFD since your business trip to Britain with PM Raila Odinga?