Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative
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Kenya should ratify the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance

By Jarso Mokku

The Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) protocol on transhumance is an important legal instrument for the pastoralist people in Kenya to access cross-border water and pasture in the IGAD region. I believe it is time for our country to join the other four member states: Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, and South Sudan in ratifying the protocol on transhumance.

The protocol has come into force after the first four (4) member states have ratified it. Other states that have not yet ratified the protocol are my country – Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea, and the Republic of Somalia. IGAD was established by the agreement that created IGAD in 1996 and Kenya is a signatory. Among other things, IGAD was established to do is allow a cross-border free movement regime for persons, trade in goods and services, customs, right of residence and right of establishment within the member states.

The IGAD region covers an area of 5,209,722KM square and with an estimated population of 239 million people. Livestock is the major driver of the IGAD region’s economy and contributes about 57% of agriculture’s Gross Domestic Product AGDP. Livestock supports 70% of the transhumance population, in terms of their livelihood and employment. According to IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) estimates, the IGAD region has more than 520 million livestock, of which 242 million (35%) are small ruminants.

IGAD has developed the IGAD protocol on transhumance to facilitate the free movement of people and livestock across the IGAD region along with the road map for implementation of the protocol on transhumance that is spread over the period of ten years (2021- 2030) to be implemented in five (5) phases.
1. Adoption, Popularization & domestication
2. Strengthening of good governance for the IGAD cross-Border Clusters
3. Mapping and designation of Cross-Border Corridors and Resources
4. Investment in Transhumance areas and Complementary livelihoods resources

5. Monitoring of Cross- Border Mobility, Community Engagement along Regular pathways, and Reporting.

IGAD protocol on transhumance is a very critical regional pastoralism policy initiative that will enhance the development and production of mobile livestock keepers in this vast IGAD region. The conception of the protocol was guided by the key principles, aims and objectives of the IGAD as enshrined in the agreement that established the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) 1996 itself in pursuant to Article 17 (a) of the IGAD Agreement. The Member States are expected to execute the delivery of IGAD aims and objectives within the member states areas with substantial livestock and natural resources including artisanal minerals and non-wood forest products that form a critical part of the economies of the IGAD Member States, this protocol is offering the most unique cross border potential for IGAD citizen’s wealth and employment creation, food and nutrition security and economic growth.

The unrestricted mobility of the pastoralist people and livestock is essential for safeguarding and increasing the production and productivity of livestock in response to climate change, variability, and the pressure on existing resources in the Member States that will facilitate the pastoralists to legally cross the borders during the periods of rain failures. The mobility of the pastoralist is the cornerstone of pastoralism production and critical development policy for livestock production in drylands areas. Pastoralism is the main livelihood of the most vulnerable people in the IGAD region who are facing negative climate change impacts, armed conflicts, and environmental fragility. in Kenya, the pastoralist people are facing the worst drought ever recorded in 40 years. the people are facing severe health, security, social, environmental, economic, and political challenges.

Machakos Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi speaking during the IGAD meeting.

The recognition of pastoralism as a viable system of livestock production in drylands of IGAD is timely action as the protection of pastoralism production is already recognized in other regional policy initiatives; the Nairobi Declaration on Ending Drought Emergencies in the Horn of Africa (2011), the IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (2002) (CEWARM), Climate Prediction as conducted by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum Climate Prediction (GHACOF), the Nairobi Protocol on the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (2004), the Protocol on the Prevention, Combating and Eradication of Cattle Rustling in the Eastern Africa Region (2008). These regional policy initiatives say, strengthening pastoralism as the most viable livelihood in the drylands areas will go a long way in improving livestock production and the value chain.

The IGAD protocol on transhumance fully appreciates the African Union’s goals and priority areas of Agenda 2063 which includes working towards environmentally sustainable and climate resilient economies and communities, the African Union (AU) role of pastoralism in Africa and developing a Policy Framework on Pastoralism in 2010 that aims to secure, improve, and protect the lives, livelihoods, and the rights of African pastoralists, without prejudicing the existing social and cultural systems.

The protocol re-affirms the sovereignty of each member state and its commitment to supporting the existing informal agreements between the border communities. During the recently concluded workshop organized by IGAD in Mombasa that was attended by various parliamentary committees in the Kenya national assembly. The pastoralist leaders called for all the members of the Parliament to pass this protocol as its objective is very important for livestock production in Kenya. They requested members not to focus on text mistakes and other small process omissions on how the protocol was introduced to the Kenyan parliament. Because the parliament has only the option to approve or reject the protocol, the leadership of the Pastoralist Parliamentary group persuaded their colleagues to consider other multiple ways of solving the small process problem of domesticating the IGAD protocol on transhumance to Kenya.

The PPG leadership are concerned that the rejection of this protocol is not good for the pastoralist people of Kenya. acknowledging the issue of process, they said that Kenya could demand specific amendments to this protocol after the parliament has approved it. The members said the parliament must always find out the most productive path to solving a problem than blocking any such progressive policy initiatives that are aimed at benefiting marginal groups like the pastoralists people of Kenya. This is one situation that requires smart work. It is not a sign of laziness if parliament passes this protocol as it is because it is highly applicable considering the huge merit of this protocol than any further delay due to small process issues.

The executive members of the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group meeting to discuss the IGAD Protocol on Transhumance.

The members of parliament attending the workshop said, there is a need to appreciate and demonstrate that the members of parliament know how to think out-of-the-box in finding an alternative way of solving problems to save time, and money, and boost the overall benefit of such an important legal instrument for the pastoralist people. The challenge with the protocol includes the text that reads wrongly like, the pastoralist is moving around in searching for water and pasture and the wide use of the word ‘pastoral’ to define the pastoralist people. The argument and counter-argument are that pastoralists never move in search of water and pasture when they move when they already know where the water and pasture are. the pastoralist movement is a strategy for accessing the water and pasture resources in the rangelands not for searching. If searching is the reason for movement, it was noted that most pastoralist people and livestock would certainly die if they do not find water and pasture where they move to.

On the use of the term ‘pastoral’. the pastoralist leaders felt this term is not appropriate to define the pastoralist in the IGAD region. What is a pastoral and what is a pastoralist? These two words do not necessarily mean the same thing. Pastoral is a term used in Australia to mean, land, used for the keeping or grazing of sheep or cattle in scattered farms. The second meaning of pastoral is a Christian Church definition that is concerned with giving spiritual guidance, a pastoral Christian doctrine. It was noted that amending even these two words is a long process as the protocol has been ratified by four member states. It may take almost the same time it took to develop the draft.

Therefore, the members persuaded each other to look at alternative options than the path of pursuing further amendment as an appropriate path to finding a better way of solving the problem than rejecting this important regional legal instrument. The national parliament members agreed to focus on the objective of the protocol than focus on issues that may create new obstacles to the ratification of the IGAD protocol on transhumance. Members said, this protocol will get majority support and it will be passed as it is when it comes to the parliament for ratification and domestication. We look forward to our parliament passing the IGAD protocol on transhumances.

Jarso Mokku is the CEO of Drylands Learning and Capacity Building Initiative DLCI & Secretary to the Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) Secretariat based at the Parliament Building, Nairobi, Kenya