The governments of Kenya and South Sudan have entered into an inter-governmental co-operation on cross border peace and development programmes which will end decades of animosity among the border communities.
The inter-governmental initiative is between the Turkana County Government and the South Sudanese Equatoria state.
The Salva Kiir led South Sudan administration has nominated Peace Building Minister Marko Lokidor Lochapio for the Sudanese Equatoria state to run cross border Peace-building docket and development programmes and the other bordering Countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.
The four countries have been experiencing ethnic conflicts especially along the borders of the neighbour states.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok on Wednesday morning hosted a delegation of officials from South Sudan at County headquarter in Lodwar where the officials agreed to initiate cross border peace programmes that will end tribal conflicts along the Kenya –South Sudan border.
“I am still waiting for my approval to be fully in charge of the cross border Peace-building docket. I promise once I take over the office, I will extend the collaboration to promote peace between the state and the Turkana communities. I will continue with the peace legacy left by my predecessor Loius Lobong Lojore and Turkana governor,” said Lochapio.
Turkana community and their Toposa counterparts from the neighbouring South Sudan who speak the same dialect and share common cultural rites under the ‘ateker’ Karamojong cluster have been in engaging in cattle rustling along their common borders.
Lochapio commended Nanok for his exemplary leadership which he said other leaders in the region needed to emulate.
The nominee minister agreed that regional peace was the focus for sub-national governments in the Ateker region.
He noted that physical borders had never constrained the movement of pastoralists, a factor that underlined the need for investing in better relations between communities.
The nominee promised that his office will carry out sensitization to build public support from cross border projects and assured that he will work closely with the County Peace Directorate once in office.
Nanok, however, congratulated the minister for his nomination and lauded the South Sudan government for implementation of the 2018 cross border peace agreement under the unity government that was formed last year.
“As Turkana community, we had already felt the impact of the civil war in South Sudan that had also put pressure on the meagre resources we had after we agreed to host fugitives from the war-torn region in South Sudan. We are very optimistic that the stability in South Sudan will be achieved and it will create a positive impact on both communities who peacefully co-exist along the borders,” said Nanok.
The Turkana county chief said the peace-building initiatives between state and the County had assisted to minimize ethnic conflicts among the cross border communities who share water and pasture for their livestock.
“The goodwill was key to build public support for peace programmes and ongoing infrastructure development projects along with Kenya –South Sudan border which will benefit both sets of the communities,” added Nanok.
The projects include the Lokichar-Nakodok road, 144 core fibre optic cables from Nadapal-Eldoret, a livestock sale-yard and dispensary in Nadapal under Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) Corporate Social Responsibility projects as well as a planned water infrastructure by Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
Nanok insisted that ongoing border demarcation and delimitation by the Kenyan and South Sudanese government should not undermine support for the implementation of these projects as they will benefit all the communities.
Deputy governor Peter Lotethiro said the shared ancestry heritage between the Turkana and Toposa communities was a strong basis for continued cooperation that will build peaceful co-existence among them.
“As ateker communities who have been enjoying common cultural background, I urge them not to allow conflicts impede development progress in their region,” Lotethiro said.
Deputy County Secretary Robert Loyelei said communities in the region needed to shift their mentality and overreliance on pastoralism, which is under threat due to global warming, urbanization cutting off the migration route.