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Will Northern Kenya Counties Become Developed?
Northern Kenya has always been associated with suffering, poverty, starvation and lack of infrastructure. The residents of this area have time and again said that they are not part of Kenya and believe that the government has forgotten them. Currently, northern Kenya is facing a major drought after rains failed with locals starving and relying on food aid. Where relief food does not come, residents are forced to eat wild fruits which are poisonous. They boil these fruits for hours to remove the poison before they consume it.
The food shortage has reached alarming levels forcing learners in both primary and secondary schools to stay away from school to assist their parents in the unending search for food pasture and water. School feeding programmes are not adequate to feed the very hungry children and most of them are forced to abandon schools for the search for food.
The story of northern Kenya has always been the same for many years. Many wonder if their will ever be a change. But change has indeed come to Turkana and it is just a matter of time before the residents start enjoying the benefits of these changes.
Major discoveries have been made in Northern Kenya, the biggest of which is oil discovery. The oil discovery, estimated at more than 1 billion barrels, has led to the entry of major foreign oil companies, with production expected in the next couple of years. Because of this, the government plans to build an oil pipeline connecting Lamu port to Turkana. This could potentially change the infrastructure of northern Kenya. Another major discovery was ground water which is now in the process of being harnessed. This discovery could end decades of searching for water for the residents. It could also lead to farming since most locals were nomads due to lack of water. Irrigation of crops if embraced could mean more availability of food, ending cycles of starvation over the years.
A number of projects initiated by the government are already underway. These include three resort cities, Isiolo airport, pipeline, railway and road. Construction of container depots in two towns on the border that is Lokichogio on the Kenya-South Sudan border and Moyale on the Ethiopia border and another one in Isiolo, which will act as the central post. Three free trade zones are to be built in Moyale, Lokichogio and Lamu, adding to the proposed Mombasa Free Trading Zone. Four Export Processing Zones, which are soon to be converted to Special Economic Zones under a new law, will be set up in Isiolo, Lamu, Wajir and Garissa. Plans to lay a high broadband Internet cable to support other intended projects are also underway. Once these projects are complete, the corridor will inject growth of approximately three per cent of GDP into the economy.
These vast natural resources have the potential to ease the plight of the long-suffering people of Turkana, who live in one of Kenya’s driest areas.