Over 250,000 acres of land in areas affected by banditry and cattle rustling in the North Rift region will be put under irrigation, Deputy President William Ruto has said.
He said the National Treasury, Lake Victoria Basin Authority, Water Services Board and the Kerio Valley Development Authority have been asked to jointly ensure the project is implemented in the next two years.
“A feasibility plan has been done and that it is possible to put 250,000 acreage under irrigation in the entire Kerio Valley comprising Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu and Elgeyo-Markwet,” he said.
Mr Ruto said the move will help in the fight against banditry, cattle rustling and perennial food shortage in the region.
He said irrigation schemes are among key projects that will tame insecurity and food shortages in the region.
“We have asked all the concerned government agencies to move with speed and use the available resources to begin the first phase of 5,000 acres of land each in Baringo and Marakwet under irrigation by next year,” he said.
The Deputy President made the remarks Friday when he addressed locals at Kerio Bridge on the Baringo-Egeyo-Marakwet border after a tour of Tot and Kolowa integrated farms.
The Tot and Kolowa integrated farms were initiated by the Kenya Red Cross and serve residents of Marakwet East and Tiaty constituencies.
Mr Ruto commended leaders and residents living at the Marakwet-Baringo-West Pokot borders for upholding peace.
“What the leaders and people of Marakwet and Pokot have done is a model of peace that should be emulated by all communities in this region,” he said.
The Deputy President said the Government is engaging local youth through the National Youth Service to assist police in stemming the security challenges facing the region.
“The local youth are being used to construct roads, schools and irrigation among other development projects. This means they will be no room for acts of lawlessness as they will be busy round the clock,” he said.
Mr Ruto said the Government has resolved to recruit youth with clean record as Kenya Police Reservists to supplement the work of security officers to fight cattle rustling.
He explained that the involvement of the youth in assisting the police in the region was the only way to guarantee safety of life and property in the area.
“There is no debate about this. What we need is peace, “said Mr Ruto.
He said Kerio Valley is sitting on vast resources ranging from rich minerals to arable land that would easily turn into one of the most productive region if fully exploited.
“We have enough resources for all of us here that we can share and satisfy our needs and live harmoniously among ourselves and with our neighbours,” he said.
MPs who accompanied the Deputy President included Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo-Marakwet), Asman Kamama (Tiaty), Beatrice Elachi (nominated), David Kangogo (Marakwet East), John Waluke (Sirisia), Peter Shehe (Ganze), Ferdinand Waititu (Kabete), Rachel Shebesh (Women Rep, Nairobi) and Susan Chebet (Women Rep, Elgeyo-Markwet).
Others were Elgeyo-Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, Kenya Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet and Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board chairperson Linah Kilimo.