Communities living along the Ewaso Ng’iro basin journey with camels to advocate for the conservation of the river

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On 15th September 2017 more than 200 participants from different counties concluded a five day trek along the Ewaso Ng’iro basin. In the scorching sun the teams trekked for 240 kms from Merti county to Archer’s post, Isiolo county in a week, to raise awareness of issues affecting the Ewaso Ng’iro River.

The campaign “Camel Caravan Walk 2017” saw six communities journey across the basin. The teams made various stops along the way to promote and advocate for protection and restoration of Ewaso-Ng’iro River basin ecosystems and promote peaceful co-existence among the communities in Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu Counties who depend on this river as their lifeline.

The entourage made its grand entrance to Archer’s post, which was the final destination of the trek, at around midday on Friday to a colourful ceremony which brought together different stakeholders, key among them the county government, government agencies, CBOs, CSOs and other NGOs. Speaker after speaker called for peace and prosperity among the communities living along the river basin. Merti Integrated Development programme coordinator, Mr. Abdullahi Shandey, highlighted illegal sand harvesting, deforestation and huge development projects as key issues affecting the river. However, he urged the communities to share the resources equally, enhance cooperation and collaboration between upstream and downstream users to mitigate the threats and not to fight over water or pasture, but safeguard and restore the ecosystem.

43-year-old Abdullahi Khadija, a pastoralist from Korbesa, also expressed his worries on the drying river. According to Khadija, in the 1990s they had enough pasture and water for their animals as the river was flowing, but now their lives have changed, the river is drying and drought is rampant.

Organised in conjunction with Partners for Resilience (PfR) Alliance Members in Kenya (Cordaid, Netherlands Red Cross, Red Cross Climate Centre and Wetlands International), the 2017 Camel Caravan provided a unique platform to lobby the national and county governments for community participation, especially on mega infrastructural and communication projects such as the proposed Isiolo Mega Dam, resort city, and railway and oil pipelines, which will pass through the three counties. As the ceremony came to a close certificates of recognition were awarded to participants of the Camel Caravan Walk 2017.

The Ewaso Ng’iro River, which is now on the verge of drying up, finds its source on the north-western slopes of the iconic Mt Kenya and Aberdare ranges, and flows through the arid and semi-arid lands of Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Garissa Counties into the Merti Aquifer and Lorian Swamp, after which it passes through Somalia, joining the Jubba River. The Ewaso Ng’iro River supports the livelihoods of approximately 3.6 million people.