Turkana declares six conservancies illegal over permit

Turkana County Energy, Environment and Natural Resources executive Rhoda Loyor, Turkana Central MP John Lodepe (centre) and Commissioner for Petroleum Martin Heya at a conference on oil and gas in Lodwar last June. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA

The county government has declared six community conservancies operating in the area illegal, saying the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) running them is not licensed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

County Energy, Environment Natural Resources executive Rhoda Loyor said her office has since ordered NRT to stop operations, which include recruitment of rangers in Turkana East and Turkana South sub counties, until the conservancies are licensed.

“Kenya Wildlife Service, responding to our request to confirm existence of any conservancy in the county said it was not aware of any licensed conservancies in Turkana”, said Ms Loyor.

The letter from KWS read in part: “We have not received a processed application of registration of any conservancy in Turkana County.”

She said it appears the conservancies are ignoring the county government as even the county assembly intervened by tabling a Motion seeking clarification how the conservancies came into existence in the county.

The hired rangers protested on Monday in Turkana South paralysing transport along Lodwar-Kitale highway at Kalimngorock for close to two hours. The protesters asked the county not to interfere with operations of the conservancies.

“The protests showed unhealthy relationship between NRT and county government depicting a high level of incitement,” said Ms Loyor.

“We just think that NRT should stop all the operations or if they so wish to continue working in the county they must consult with the county government that will ensure the law is followed as the government is there for its people, property and resources.

Before formation of the six conservancies, a section of elders in January 2014 visited Community Conservancy Model of West Gate, Kalama and Nasuulu at NRT headquarters to learn about the importance of conservancy.

In press release dated October 28, last year, Tullow Oil and Africa Oil entered into a five-year agreement with Northern Rangelands Trust to support communities in Turkana and Wes Pokot to establish and operate six conservancies with an aim of transforming livelihoods, securing peace and conserving natural resources.

Ms Loyor said after the formation of the six conservancies, her office was notified of only Lokichar conservancy but she did not have information about the other six.

The county plans to establish a conservancy in Lotikipi where wildlife migrates between South Sudan to Kenya. The county has even set aside funds for hiring 120 rangers.

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