When the terrorization of the Horn of Africa by the Al-Quaeda linked Al-Shabaab could no longer be ignored, Kenya responded by sending troops into Southern Somalia in October 2011, but even that could not put an end the threat upon the local populace, including fishing communities. Political turmoil in the coastal region has seen attacks carried out in the name of religious and ethnic beliefs, with local Christian pastors and worshippers shot, killed and maimed.
Lately, attacks have been focused along Kenya’s coastline, with the Lamu and Tana River counties suffering the intolerable loss of 94 local lives. With the escalation of violence within the region, tensions have risen between the Jubilee government and the opposition, each laying the blame at the feet of the other, only resulting in the continued anarchy along Kenya’s coast.
The ramifications of such upheaval bring about concerns on both the local and national scale. The coastal communities are experiencing disruption within both their day to day fishing and economic sustenance activities as well as a slow down in local business takings. Customs and local practises that have sustained fisheries management and governance for generations have become threatened in this process.
In a bid to ascertain some form of control again, the Jubilee government has put into place a number of initiatives that are focused on the short term security of the region. In conjunction with a mass media campaign to fight the feelings of security, curfews have been brought to the coastal stretch and more security officers recruited to enforce and oversee such curfews. But with corruption rife amongst the security forces and with no real retribution being brought to those who are inflicting such pain within Kenya, it seems that the politicians and bureaucracy are entrenched in an uphill struggle.
The Elmolo Forum champions the people’s rights, looking after the interests of the marginalized and uniting the people in decision making processes. Elmolo believes that the politicization of this struggle between Jubilee and CORD (Coalition for Reform and Democracy) merely sidetracks the efforts needed to fight such insecurity. The Elmolo Forum recognizes that whilst political support and intervention is important, the security of the region, including the local fisheries, falls upon every citizen to unite against and fight the forces that are causing such issues and upheaval.