For over a century in Turkana, Kenya, young men have been raiding their neighbors’ cattle. This tradition has been slowly changing thanks to government programs, humanitarian aid, and the work of farmers.
Turkana raiders are called warriors. They had been known to return from raids with thousands of cattle stolen from others. But this tradition also had its costs. Raids resulted not only in the loss of cattle in some communities, but in the loss of human lives on both sides as people fought to take or protect livestock.
In the past decade, through collaborative efforts by the Kenyan government and humanitarian organizations, this tradition of theft and violence has been less prevalent. Working together, the government and humanitarian organizations have implemented initiatives geared towards achieving peace. This has included setting up alternative livelihood projects and conducting disarmament exercises in all conflicting communities. World Renew has been part of the effort.
Since 2013, World Renew has implemented a number of projects in the area, particularly in the Katilu ward. These projects have included livelihood and peacekeeping programs as well as drought responses. Through village savings and loan associations, for example, people with similar skills and interests are brought together to learn new skills for their livelihood and to save for the future.
In the Katilu ward, the Nachacha Young Farmers Village Savings and Loans group has over 50 reformed warriors. This group has had opportunities to learn new skills that have equipped them to earn a living from farming instead of cattle raiding. The members now farm 50 acres of cultivated land that had previously been a cattle raiding battleground.
Together, these farming warriors have grown a variety of grains and vegetables to sell at a nearby market. From the income they have earned from farming, many of them have been able to help their children achieve their academic dreams.
Unfortunately, in the past year, the region has struggled with the effects of two consecutive failed rainy seasons. With funding from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, World Renew provided 1,200 households in the Katilu ward, including the members of the Nachacha Young Farmers group, with food kits containing 50 kilograms of maize flour, 10 kilograms of beans, three liters of cooking oil, and a half kilogram of salt every month for ten months.
“We are not going back to fighting with our neighbors! We have decided to use this land to make our living,” said Benson Nachodo, the Nachacha VSL group chairperson. “We are glad to work with World Renew, who have shown us the way and walked with us in every step. They have taught us farming skills, VSL, and the need to come together to save; they have donated various seeds to us; and now, because of the drought, (they) are giving us relief food.”
Praise God for bringing peace to the hearts of the farming warriors.