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Banditry in Laikipia Kenya, pain in the neck.

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Laikipia county, just like other northern region counties, for the last decade has been appearing on news headline because of banditry; with recent attack at Musul location where a group of armed young men(rustlers) allegedly drove away herds of goats belonging to some of the resident in the area end of September. This has been a common incident among locals in these areas always fearing for their properties and most importantly their lives. Some of the causes are highlighted and discussed below.

  1. Scarcity of resources.

As we all know Laikipia is an arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) hence residents are pastoralists, the fight for the few water points and diminishing pastures and grasslands near borders most of the time escalates conflicts among different communities living in the areas. The prolonged droughts, overstocking leading to overgrazing can be blamed for such situations. This might be a greater force driving most youths into banditry.

2. Poor leadership.

Being a remote area, bad terrain and underdeveloped infrastructure has given bandits space to operate their insane uncalled-for acts. The legal enforcers in this region most of the time fear to counter attack this bandit attacks. “Police usually wait till morning when everything has settled, that’s the time they come to pretend they are carrying out operations” one of the residents lamented.

Locals are urging Government Authorities to return fire arms to local home guards as that was a better solution than the coward police men.

figure below showing home guards or local KPR taking cover and returning fire to bandits in Tiaty Baringo bordering Laikipia County.

3. Economic disparity.

Most of the youth in the region are uneducated, either due to few schools in the region, ignorance about education and different cultural beliefs. This resulted into joblessness or unemployment. Youths find a good reason to join banditry as an economic activity. They steal animals from neighboring communities and sell them to powerful political cartels who in turn finance the illegal activities.

Consequences of the banditry menace.

Such an outdated practice has far reached effects, being; likelihood loss of lives, destruction of properties and displacement of locals.

The involvement of people, in banditry in Laikipia is a result of various interconnected factors. The high levels of unemployment and limited access to quality education leave individuals with limited opportunities for a better future. When there are avenues for economic progress the allure of quick financial gains from criminal activities like stealing livestock and invading properties becomes increasingly tempting.

Another driving force behind youth banditry is the problem of land disputes and competition over resources. In Laikipia, where land and water sources are often contested, tensions among communities and ethnic groups can escalate into violent confrontations. These conflicts are worsened by factors sometimes manipulated by political actors for their own gain.

To tackle the issue of youth banditry in Laikipia it is crucial to take an approach. This should involve not only strengthening security measures but also addressing the causes that push young people towards criminal activities. Initiatives focused on providing education and vocational training, creating opportunities and resolving land disputes are essential. Additionally, promoting dialogue and conflict resolution mechanisms, within the community can contribute to building a stable environment in Laikipia benefiting both young people and society as a whole.

The challenge ahead is certainly intricate. By tackling the underlying problems that contribute to youth involvement in banditry, Laikipia can strive towards a more prosperous future, for all its inhabitants.

Addressing banditry in this region should be considered as a main solution to it. This is by ensuring proper resources management, strengthening legal enforcement, creating awareness as well as promoting education among such cultures. There is also need for the national administration to establish military training camps in bandit hotspots so that they can offer quick responses to such attacks.

Laikipia’s problem of youth banditry demands a holistic solution that does not just rely on beefing up security measures. Instead, we must work on the root causes that compel young people to resort to criminal activities. This can be achieved by facilitating access to education and vocational training, creating sustainable economic prospects, and finding resolutions for land disputes. E­stablishing a peaceful and stable e­nvironment for both the youth and society at large­ can be facilitated by promoting dialogue and conflict resolution mechanisms within the community.

Addressing systemic issues concerning youth engagement in banditry is crucial for a safer and more prospe­rous future in Laikipia. Without a doubt, this task is multifaceted.

About The Author

Moses Sampeke
Moses Sampeke
Community Journalist, Laikipia County, Kenya, Africa.

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