Camel Caravan Walk 2017: the Ewaso Ng’iro basin journey with camels to advocate for the conservation of the river while promoting a peaceful co-existence

On 15th September 2017 more than 200 participants from different counties concluded a 5 day trek along the Ewaso Ng’iro basin. Withstanding the scorching sun in an almost bare ground the teams trekked for 240 kms from Merti county to Archer’s post, Isiolo county in a week, to raise awareness on issues affecting river Ewaso Ngiro. The campaign dubbed the “Camel Caravan Walk 2017”, saw 6 communities’ Journey across the basin, the first team making its way from the upstream area-Nanyuki and the second from the downstream area-Merti. Making various stops along the way to teams promoted and advocated for protection and restoration of Ewaso-Ng’iro River basin ecosystem and promote a 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 Archers 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 iNGOs. Speaker after speaker called for peace and prosperity among the communities living along the river basin. Merti Integrated Development programme coordinator, Mr. Abdullahi Shandey, speaking at the ceremony 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 who hails from Korbesa, some 20 kms from Merti sub-county, also expressed his worries on the drying river, saying he is a pastoralist and heavily relies on the river, according to him 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.

Organized 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 on community participation especially on mega infrastructural and communication projects under LAPSSET 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 edition.
The Ewaso Ng’iro River which is now at the verge of drying up, finds its source on the north-western slopes of the iconic Mt Kenya and Aberdare ranges, and flows through 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 livelihoods of approximately 3.6 million people.

Story and photo by: Joy Kivata (Wetlands International)

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