The community members of Kakuma Ward have unanimously pleaded with the Turkana County Assembly to consider renaming the proposed Kakuma-Kalobeyei Municipality to Kakuma Municipality, following the public participation exercise conducted today in Kakuma, Lopur and Kalobeyei Wards.
The public participation exercise was to seek the views of the communities regarding the conferment to Municipal status of the Kakuma-Kalobeyei town.
The participants expressed fear that by proposing the name Kakuma-Kalobeyei Municipality, Kakuma town is likely to lose its status, history and identity.
They added Kakuma is the oldest town that over the years, has facilitated the development of the nearby Kalobeyei, Lopur, Letea, Oropoi and Nakalale.
The 100 participants were drawn from the refugee community, religious leaders, people with disability (PWD, business community, women, youth, CBOs and CSOs.
Before the establishment of the integrated settlement camp, the elders said, Kakuma and Kalobeyei existed as two distinct jurisdictions though with different administrative status. They argued, the new practice of double-naming Kakuma-kalobeyei is likely going to distort history and eventually lead to perpetual confusion altogether.
Additionally, the women members present noted that Kakuma is strategically placed and most importantly, privileged to host UNHCR sub office and other international humanitarian agencies and therefore, Kakuma is secure and accessible to all local and international investors.
Further, the community leaders stressed the fact that Kakuma has a large surface area per square kilometre for expansion and development and the proposed municipality therefore, is geographically largely within Kakuma Division.
Kevin Ekal, the Chairperson of Turkana West Professionals Association (TWEPA),said that they are cognisant of the fact that all opportunities arising from the establishment of the municipality shall be equally and fairly shared among people in Kakuma and Kalobeyei.
He said, they acknowledge the significant role the KISEDP and the support UNHCR, and other Development Partners are offering as well as appreciating the collaborative effort of both national and county governments.
Chair Ekal reports, “the people of Kakuma in full awareness of their alienable rights do hereby plead with the Turkana County Assembly to adopt the community’s prayer that the proposed Kakuma-Kalobeyei Municipality be renamed as Kakuma Municipality.
The County Assembly’s Committee on Lands, Physical Planning Housing and Urban Areas Management, Patrick Esekon, who moderated the sessions, said they have noted the suggestion to change the name of the proposed Kakuma-Kalobeyei to Kakuma Municipality.
He told them to be thankful, a new municipality has been born in Turkana West.
Hon. Esekon briefed Kakuma residents of the enormous benefits that will come with the municipality status that will bring a new development outlook of Kakuma and its environs.
Dorcas Epusiye, who is the vice chair, said Kalobeyei after the integrated spatial plan, will also be conferred with the town status if it will meet prequisite requirements.
Leader of Minority, Samuel Lomodo who was in attendance, said the Constitution of Kenya gives its sovereignty to the people of Kenya and through public participation, people are empowered to make their own decisions in issues of the public interest.
Hon. Lomodo promised that the Committee will lobby to pass the report with amendment when presented on the floor of the House.
Eliud Emoni, the Kakuma Member of County Assembly echoed the prayer by TWEPA Chair to have the proposed municipality named to Kakuma Municipality.
Hon. Emoni has asked the Lands Department to review the Kakuma Spatial Plan which he says, was approved in the last seven years which has become irrelevant and many things have so far changed with time.
The refugee leader Abdi Jama raised a concern over the unavailability of a fire engine in Turkana West in case of fire outbreaks.
Deputy Director, Urban Areas Management Peter Ngala who represented the Lands Department told the community members that after the recommendations of the ad-hoc Committee in a report on February, 2022, Kakuma-Kalobeyei town indeed meets the laid down criteria and therefore qualifies for conferment of municipal status.
Collins Naweet (UNHCR), Mitchel Ambasu (Refugee Consortium of Kenya), Joseph Wekesa (LWF) and Francis Edome (APIR) spoke during the public participation.
Hon. Julius Edung and Hon. Gilbert Topos led the rest of the honourable members, secretariat and the members of the public during the exercise in Kalobeyei and Lopur Wards respectively.