New UN programming for Marsabit and Turkana counties

The UN, together with leaders from Turkana and Marsabit.

THE UN system in Kenya, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, has selected Turkana and Marsabit counties as models for development assistance under the Delivering as One framework. The cross-border and area-based development project is a major milestone in development efforts, particularly targeting some of the far-flung and marginalized regions of Kenya.

Turkana County was selected as the pilot county for Area-Based Programming, due to its low ranking in terms of human development indicators, including higher poverty levels, lower literacy rates, poor infrastructure and social amenities, among others. The UN also has considerable presence in the area providing relief and emergency support to the community. Under the devolved system of governance, the county governments have a duty to ensure that citizens’ voices are taken into account in decision and legislation-making processes that will positively impact their lives. It is for this reason that the UN and the County Government signed the Joint Programme document to support the implementation of the Turkana County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), which is a comprehensive blue print that will guide the County to realize the social-economic transformation.

Support to Marsabit County is however unique as it requires cross-border regional cooperation. The two UN country teams in Ethiopia and Kenya, in partnership with the two governments, collaborated to support the county find lasting peace on the border of Marsabit and the southern part of Ethiopia. The conflict between Borana and Gabra communities is mainly due to competition over scarce natural resources, where the population in the largely nomadic community transcends the international boundaries of Ethiopia and Kenya. This has led to proliferation of small arms, and harmful cultural practices such as cattle rustling. The project will assist in the revival of traditional conflict resolution mechanisms of both communities and at the same time, come up with effective and amicable means of resource utilization that is acceptable to all sides. This is expected to encourage cross-border trade, employment-creation and income-generation.

To this end, the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Kenya brought together leaders from Turkana and Marsabit counties, development partners, and representatives from government, private sector and philanthropy, to round-table discussions on how to come up with innovative and coordinated ways of addressing the counties’ priority needs.

 Speaking at the event, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, said: “it requires a ‘business unusual’ approach to address the needs of the region, by supporting communities to harness opportunities and address their needs in a holistic manner, through the involvement of the various stakeholders.”

The county governments lauded the support from the UN saying the joint programme would ensure faster delivery of services to the people. “If implemented, this programme will lead to harmony between the communities living on the border and help transform the social economy of this region,” commented Governor Ukur Yattani of Marsabit County.

His sentiments were shared by the Turkana County Executive in charge of finance and economic planning, Paul Nabuin: “We want to strengthen systems and minimize duplication because we have shared responsibilities and accountability for resources we receive, both from the county government and development agencies, to the people we serve”.

The UN in Kenya has recruited and deployed joint program coordinators in both Turkana and Marsabit to provide technical guidance to the UNCT and the county governments on the effective implementation of the joint programme as a necessary mechanism for development support in the marginalized areas.