West Pokot residents demonstrate against stopping an irrigation scheme.

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Some of the demonstrating residents

Residents of Orwa   area in West Pokot  County on  Tuesday demonstrated against   a move to stop the starting of the Kshs.25 million Parasany Irrigation scheme  project courtesy of  Northern Rangelands Trust[NRT] with funds from European Union.

The 13,000 hectares irrigation scheme under Orwa Group Ranch  in Seker ward  is aimed at promoting peace  along the West Pokot and Turkana  border counties through food security.

The  irrigation scheme will benefit more than 1000 residents and was scheduled to start in March,2021.

However, the  Kitale High Court two weeks ago ordered all NRT programs in the county to be stopped for a while pending investigations  after a section of residents petitioned the organization for allegedly moving  them and  selling off their ancestral land.

There has been a  row has   between a section  West Pokot county residents ,leaders  and Northern rangeland trust [NRT] asking the organization to terminate their conservancy operations in the county as they accused them of aiming to push them out of their ancestral land and exhibiting poor leadership.

Residents accused the organization for drawing maps on their lands saying that this might erupt  conflict among neighboring communities. A group of community members living in Masol and Songok sub Locations where Pellow and Masol conservancies lie accused NRT for failing to include locals in consultation and decision making based on the people’s fair and informed consent.

However, residents of  Orwa   who carried twigs and placards marching in  the  villages  supported the operations of NRT organization in the area. Led by  the chairman of the scheme Mr. Joakim Molemosya said that the  Parasany land  has  an official  title  deed and the court should  allow the organization to continue with starting the irrigation scheme. “More than 200 households will benefit from the irrigation scheme,”he said.

He  dismissed claims that the land was sold  calling on NTR to speed up and start cultivating the land because it is planting time. “ That is cheap propaganda because  no one sold the land,” he said. A farmer Mr. Julius Lonyangatile  said that they  have realized relative peace in the region.

“We thank NRT for bringing the irrigation scheme .We are staying with our  neighbours   in Turkana in peace. Our women are now getting pregnant because of the peaceful coexistence. This is a semi arid area .We want our children, women and elders to eat the crops ,”he said. He said NRT was clean and has made no  mistake adding that  the  conservancies have transformed the lives of area residents and promoted peace among the warring neighboring communities in the region.

 Another farmer Michael Kibet we have suffered for a long time because of the conflict along the border of the two communities.

“Our land is fertile and the irrigation will serve other  neighboring counties like Turkana ,Trans-nzoia and Nairobi ,”he said.