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Herders flee Sudan in search of pasture

Tuesday March 8 2011

By BARNABAS BII [email protected]

Hundreds of Southern Sudanese herdsmen have crossed into Kenya in search of water and pasture.

And a team of provincial administrators and senior security officers from the two countries are to hold a consultative meeting to avert clashes between the Toposas (Sudanese) and the Turkanas, according to Turkana West district commissioner Patrick Muriira.

“The Toposa pastoralists have migrated to the country with their animals and mixed freely with some Turkana resulting in theft of animals from either side,” said Mr Muriira.

“The meeting is to deliberate on how to manage grazing fields, which are the main cause of violence among members of the two communities,” said the DC.

“Both communities have lost some animals including goats in the recent past but security has been beefed up to ensure it does not degenerate into animosity.”

The two communities have been involved in recurrent conflict caused by dispute over pasture and watering points.

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Hundreds of Turkana herdsmen have moved to Todonyang’ and Kibish on the border with Ethiopia posing a security threat with their Merille counterparts.

“Vegetation in the low lying areas has been exhausted by livestock, forcing herdsmen to migrate into the most insecure areas in search of pasture and water,” stated a Kenya Red Cross Society report.

Conflict over water and pasture has led to animosity between the pastoralists.

According to the report, the most vulnerable groups include widows, orphans, the elderly and children who have resorted to eating wild fruits following acute food shortage.