The appointment of Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Administration Police) Noor Gabow to lead the security operation in the North Rift is laudable.
Kerio Valley is characterised by hilly and thick thickets that make it hard for people who are not familiar with such terrains to arrest or flush out bandits from their hideouts. That calls for someone conversant with the dynamics and local terrain to give a proper command to ensure the operation brings to book criminals hindering peace efforts.
Mr Gabow has spent most of his time in areas with similar characteristics and is therefore in a position to give guidance on how to accomplish the operation.
The move is aimed at streamlining the structural command of the multi-agency operation involving officers drawn from the Kenya Defence Forces and police. Past operations failed to yield fruit due to a lack of proper coordination within the command.
The residents are desperately in need of peace; hence, this operation must succeed by all means.
Local leaders and communities should cooperate with the security personnel by giving out information that can lead to the arrest and subsequent prosecution of those causing suffering to them. Security personnel alone cannot succeed without the support of the locals, who know the names and hideouts of the cattle rustlers as they live with them.
It is also encouraging that the government also plans to develop the region to ensure residents engage in farming and other income-generating activities without relying only on livestock.
The government can also change the landscape of West Pokot, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Turkana, Laikipia and Samburu counties, which are semi-arid, to agriculturally rich areas by launching irrigation schemes.
A good example of such a project is the Wei Wei irrigation scheme in Sigor Constituency, West Pokot, initiated by Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) in collaboration with Italy.
The project has provided employment to many locals and the entire community participates in the growth of sorghum, millet, maize, cassava and horticultural crops. This has made them busy all the time and, therefore, there is no room for criminal activities.
Recent research indicates that the youth who engage in cattle rustling are those who are idle and hail from drier areas not conducive for any economic activity. To attain a lasting solution to the insecurity challenge, the government just needs to maintain security, pursue and prosecute the inciters to violence and initiate development projects.
The appointment of Gabow has restored hope among the pastoralists that the operation will bring lasting peace to Kerio Valley. I wish him success.
Kimaiyo Kirop, Elgeyo-Marakwet