Insecurity and economic marginalisation in Marsabit County

Author Muthoni Nyuguto

ISSN: 2521-2613
Affiliations: TBC
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 1, p. 199 – 211


Ten years after the inauguration of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the communities of Marsabit County are still living on the periphery of society. They remain systemically excluded from the nation’s mainstream social, political, economic, and cultural activities. Communities living within the North Frontier Districts (as it was known then) and within the Counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Isiolo and Marsabit are still considered ‘hostile tribes’ by the ruling elite since colonialisation and are treated as such. The colonial government enforced this isolation by enacting a series of Ordinances between the years 1901 to 1933 that systemically isolated and marginalised communities from this geographical area. The Ordinances largely criminalised the community’s main economic activity of pastoralism by allowing arbitral seizure and detainment as well as collective punishment for offences of members of the community. This negative and suspicious perception, systemic exclusion by the laws and policies, condensed economic activities limited to pastoralism, political under-representation, poverty, distance and inaccessibility have exacerbated the marginalisation of the communities living within Marsabit to date. Unfortunately, independence did not liberate these communities within the Northern Frontier Districts from systemic exclusion. They were still treated as a ‘special group’ within the context of section 19 of the Kenya Independence Order in Council. This section provides for the modification, qualifications and exceptions of laws and policies to be applied in respect of these communities. The state felt there was a need to subject these communities to screening, profiling, and overregulation in these areas in comparison to the rest of the nation. State institutions were further unable and unwilling to penetrate these areas. The application of different laws to these communities was carried forward during the post-independence where the Presidency was granted the power to govern these communities by decree. Despite the goodwill of the Constitution 2010 to reduce the levels of marginalisation within this county, there is a need to carry out a case study to assess whether the current legal, political, social and economic frameworks have reduced marginalisation within Marsabit which has been for a long time an ungoverned territory.