The drought had not yet broken when the latest cycle of violence hit the areas surrounding Isiolo town in Kenya. This was back in October last year and at first the violence seemed to be about the scarce resources. However, in November and December, the area received good rainfall and the land flourished. There is now abundant grazing and as much water to be had as there ever is in this semi arid environment. The conflict has continued despite this abundance, clearly showing that the underling causes are not resource based, or at least not in the simple way relating to access to grazing and water.
Isiolo has been identified as the location for one of the resort cities that are planned for in Kenya’s Vision 2030 development plan. This plan also has major international road, rail and air links coming through the area. The country is due to go to the polls for a general election at sometime in the next year. The new constitution changes the political structure with a more devolved government and new political positions. All of these factors are likely to be playing a significant part in the ongoing violence in the area.
There is one certainty however, the violence here is having a sever negative effect on development. Current projects are stalled, proposed projects put on hold and resources are being diverted to various forms of ‘aid’ to help people who are caught up in the trouble.
I recently visited one of the villages that was attacked and abandoned. My photo essay about the village and the effects of the violence there can be found here – Alamash – A village abandoned to violence.