A United Nations (UN) agency will set up Africa Borderlands Centre (ABC), to provide research, policy, analysis and programming dedicated to Africa’s borderlands in Turkana County.
The centre to be launched on February 11, by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be used to develop and offer expert knowledge and technical advice for stakeholders in cross-border peace initiatives, for better implementation of the programmes.
ABC’s Team Leader Zeynu Umer and UNDP Cross border Advisor Asfaw Kumsa met Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok to brief him on the UNDP’s new program.
Governor Nanok said the choice for Turkana as a host for the Centre was a recognition of the County Government’s investment in cross-border peace, development and unity of communities.
“Events such as the annual tourism and cultural festival, Toboung’ Lore, had given communities and leaders confidence for engagement. The Kenya-Uganda MoU on cross-border peace and development is a fruit of close contact,” said Nanok.
The Governor agreed that despite their huge economic potential, borderlands in Africa were characterized by cattle rustling, illicit trade, the proliferation of illegal small arms and light weapons and home to some political rebels.
He said the solution had to be found to turn the areas into thriving economies and centres of cross-border trade and movement.
He said the development of mechanisms to ease movement by breaking down restrictions of national boundaries was a key focus for government to build cohesion of the communities, as they shared a common ancestry, culture and spoke the same language.
The county boss called for the convergence of cross border initiatives, for better results and increased benefits to communities.
He commended the upcoming Borderlands Centre for its objective to develop a targeted approach and expressed hope that the centre will support the pooling of resources by stakeholders to target specific initiatives.
Mr. Umer on his part said current and past borderland programmes lacked dedicated programming at the regional level in policy development, with more focus on national development plans.
“The Centre will offer a new model for borderland programming, create evidence-based policy and support governments and partner organizations to mainstream borderlands issues,” said Umer.
Mr Kumsa said the Centre will encourage empowering of communities as they believed full participation was critical for the sustainability of initiatives.