Turkana County

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The recent oil finds by Tullow were struck in Turkana County, Kenya's largest[1], but also least developed county.[2]

Geography and Climate

Geography

Kenya openData
Turkana County is one of Kenya's 47 counties, located in the country's former Rift Valley Province and spanning an area of 68,680 km2.[3] It is the largest and also the north-western most county in Kenya,[4] bordered by Uganda to the west, South Sudan and Ethiopia to the north and northeast and Lake Turkana to the east.[5] To the south and east, neighbouring counties in Kenya are West Pokot, Baringo and Samburu counties, while Marsabit County is located on the opposite shore of Lake Turkana.

Most of the county consists of low lying plains with isolated mountains and hills.[6] The altitude is about 900 m at the foot of the escarpment marking the Ugandan border to the west, and then falls to 369 m to the shores of Lake Turkana in the east. The altitude of the mountain ranges are between 1500m and 1800m in the east reaching the peak at Loima, which forms undulating hills for a stretch of some 65 km. Lake Turkana is situated in the eastern side of the county, with fishing being the major activity on the lake. The county also has several rivers with the major ones being Turkwel and Kerio, both originating in the highlands to the south. These rivers are the most important ones in the county and the only perennial ones. The other rivers are seasonal.

Climate and Droughts

Turkana county has an arid climate and has frequently been affected by heavy droughts since the 1970s. [7] The temperatures range from between 24°C to and 38°C with a mean of 30°C. There are two rain seasons. The long rains normally occur between March and July and the short rains between October and November. The rainfall ranges between 120 mm and 500 mm per year. The western parts and areas of higher elevation in the District receive more rainfall. While the 1940s and 1950s were normal years, droughts became more common from the late 1970s. According to Oxfam, as of 2013 the region of Turkana has gone for over five years without a good rain capable of making the grazing lands grow enough grass to feed the region’s livestock.[8]

The most recent drought in 2011 severely affected Turkana's population.[9]

In September 2013, Environment Minister Wakhungu Kenya announced the discovery of two large aquifers in Turkana following the release of a map detailing water reservoirs under Africa in 2012.[10] The aquifers were found in the Turkana and Lotikipi basins using satellites and radar and hold an estimated 250 bn cubic metres of water.[11] According to Wakhungu Kenya uses about 2 bn cubic metres of water per year, which means that the discovered sources could supply the country for up to 70 years.[12]

History

Pre-colonial

The area of Turkana County is known to have been inhabited for at least 12 000 years.[13] However, the Turkana people are thought to have migrated to the region only 300 - 500 years ago from modern-day Uganda.[14] Numerous myths and legends recount the tale of how this unfolded.[15]

Colonial

Due to its location inland, and its harsh and inhospitable climate, for a long time the Turkana region was of little interest to the British and was less affected by colonialism than the rest of Kenya.[16] But Turkana became an area of strategic importance for the British, as a launching pad to fight the Italians in Abyssinia,[17] and to secure access to Uganda, known as "the pearl of Africa."[18] The British designated Turkana a "closed district", dispossing the pastoralist Turkana of much of their lands.[19]

Border disputes with Ethiopia

Turkana County's northern border with Ethiopia has seen several conflicts and disputes. The northern tip of Turkana is known as the Ilemi Triangle, an area governed by Kenya but also claimed by South Sudan.[20] This border dispute dates back to colonial times. More recently, Ethiopia's construction of the Gilgel Gibe III dam on the Omo river has been a cause of conflict, with Kenya concerned that the dam would deprive Turkana County of water reserves.[21] The Omo river flows into Lake Turkana. However, mediation efforts conducted by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) have been successful, and an agreement has been signed by the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments.[22] In 2011, fighting broke out between the Turkana and the Daasanach or Merille people in Ethiopia in a conflict over land, food and resources.[23]

Demographics, Language and Culture

Turkana has a total population of 855,399 people (52 % male, 48 % female) according to the 2009 Kenyan Population and Housing Census Report, published in August 2010 by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).[24] With 13 people per km2, Turkana is one of the least densily populated counties in Kenya.[25]. The age distribution is as follows: 0-14 years (46.0%), 15-64 years (51.6 %), 65+ years (2.4%)[26]

The populations of Turkana's constituencies are as follows:[27]

  • Turkana North Constituency: 166,786 people
  • Turkana Central Constituenc: 134,674 people
  • Turkana South Constituency: 135,913 people
  • Turkana East Constituency: 90,466 people
  • Turkana West Constituency: 207,080 people
  • Turkana Loima Constituency: 120,480 people

The population figures of its main cities of Lodwar, Kakuma and Lokichogio are 48,316, 36,875 and 17,695 respectively.[28]

Turkana county is inhabited by the Turkana people, a semi-nomadic Nilotic people.[29] According to the 2009 Kenyan census[30], the Turkana poeple only make up 2.50 % of the Kenyan population, making Turkana the third largest Nilotic ethnic group in Kenya, after the Kalenjin and the Luo, slightly more numerous than the Maasai, and the tenth largest ethnicity overall. Although this figure was initially controversial and rejected as being inflated by Minister for Planning Wycliffe Oparanya, a court ruling in February 2012 by Justice Mohammed Warsame stated that the Kenyan government accepts the 2009 census figures for Turkana.[31]

The language of the Turkana, an Eastern Nilotic language, is also Turkana. Their own name for it is ŋaTurkana or aŋajep a ŋaTurkana.[32]

Political Administration

Block 10 BB and 13T where the oil findings, as of November 2013, have been made, are located in the Turkana East and Turkana South sub-counties, respectively.[33]

With Kenya's new Constitution in 2010, the provincial administration that comprised the province, district, division, location and the sub-location (and were in turn headed by the provincial commissioner, district commissioner, district officer chief and sub-chief respectively) were restructured into counties and sub-counties or constituencies.[34]

The former eight provinces: Central, Coast, Eastern, Nairobi, North Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley and Western were replaced by 47 counties that comprise the second level of governance after the national government. Turkana is one of Kenya's 47 counties and subdivided into six constituencies: Turkana North Constituency, Turkana Central Constituency, Turkana South Constituency, Turkana West Constituency, Turkana East Constituency and Loima Constituency.[35]

The County Assembly consists of members elected by voters of the wards.[36]

Each of Turkana's constituencies is composed of the following wards:

Turkana North Constituency[37]

  • Kaeris Ward
  • Lakezone Ward
  • Lapur Ward
  • Kaaleng/KaikorWard
  • Kibish Ward
  • Nakalale Ward

Turkana Central Constituency[38]

  • Kerio Delta Ward
  • Kang’ototha Ward
  • Kalokol Ward
  • Lodwar Township Ward
  • Kanamkemer Ward

Turkana South Constituency[39]

  • Kaputir Ward
  • Katilu Ward
  • Lobokat Ward
  • Kalapata Ward
  • Lokichar Ward

Turkana West Constituency[40]

  • Kakuma Ward
  • Lopur Ward
  • Latea Ward
  • Songot Ward
  • Kalobeyei Ward
  • Lokichogio Ward
  • Nanaam Ward

Turkana East Constituency[41]

  • Kapedo/Napeitom Ward
  • Katilia Ward
  • Lokori/Kochodin Ward

Loima Constituency[42]

  • Kotaruk/Lobei Ward
  • Turkwel Ward
  • LoimaWard
  • Lokiriama/Lorengippi Ward

The executive authority is exercised by a county executive committee comprising the governor, deputy governor and members appointed by the county governor with the approval of the assembly.[43] The county governor and the deputy county governor are the chief executive and deputy chief executive of the county.

As of the latest elections in March 2013, Turkana's executive is composed of the following members until the next elections in 2018:[44]

  • Govenor: Josapahat Nanok
  • Deputy govenor: Peter Ekai Lokoel
  • Senator: John Munyes Kiyonga
  • Womens rep: Joyce Emanikor Akai

The MPs of Turkana's constituencies as of 2013 are:[45]

  • Turkana East Constituency: Nicholas Ngikor Nixon
  • Turkana South Constituency: James Lomenen Ekomwa
  • Loima Constituency: Protus Ewesit Akujah
  • Turkana West Constituency: Daniel Epuyo Nanok
  • Turkana North Constituency: Chrisropher Doye Nakuleu
  • Turkana Central Constituency: John Lodepe Nakara

Economy and Economic Development

Economy

Kenya openData
The climate of Turkana is very harsh and there is not enough rainfall to sustain the growing of crops. Accordingly research conducted in 2000 shows that approximately 70% of the human population inhabiting Turkana is nomadic or semi-nomadic, depending on pastoralist livestock production for their survival.[46] Five

species of livestock are managed: cattle, camels, donkeys, goats and sheep.

In addition to oil, Turkana potentially has quantities of graphite corundum, chromite, asbestos, nickel, sillimanite, vermiculite, garnet, tourmaline, copper, beryl, talc, magnesite, gypsum, bentonite, trona, rare earths and gold.[47]

Poverty

Turkana is the poorest county in Kenya with 94.3 % of the population living below the national poverty line.[48] (see graph) According to an article on Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) the difference in wealth between Turkana and Nairobi is so great that the Turkana people talk of "Kenya" as if it were another country, and barely think of themselves as Kenyan.[49] The Turkana people also refer to Kenyans from Nairobi as "the people with the long trousers."[50]

Education

Number of Institutions (2007): Primary (202), Secondary (19)[51]

Population with primary education (%): 71 % (Kenyan average: 66.6 %)[52]

Population with secondary education (%): 9.5 % (Kenyan average: 12.7 %)[53]

Teacher to Pupil Ratio in Public Schools: 1: 27.7[54]

Tertiary Institutions: At least 2 Institutions[55]

Adult Literacy Classes: Enrollment (562 adults)[56]

Infrastructure and Service Coverage

Electricity

Electricity coverage as a percentage of households (in 2009): 2.4 % compared to the Kenyan average of 22.7 %.[57]

Roads

9.3 % of all roads are paved roads compared to a Kenyan average of 10 % (Bltumen Surface -319.2 km, Gravel Surface - 296.7 km, Earth Surface -2030.5 Km).[58][59]

59.5 % of all roads are categorised as "good/fair" roads compared to a Kenyan average of 43.5 %.[60]

Health[61]

Health Facilities: District Hospitals (3), Sub-District Hospitals (2), Dispensaries (91), Health Centres (6), Medical Clinics (19), Health Programs (3), Others (3)

Doctor to population ratio: 1: 52,434

Infant mortality rate: 60/1000

Mortality rate for children under five: 12/1000

Prevalent health issues: malnutrition

Notable Hospitals: Lodwar, Katilu, and Lokitaung District Hospitals

According to UNESCO about 17 million out of 41 million Kenyans lack access to water.[62]

References

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