RESOLUTION ON NORTHERN KENYA’S POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC FUTURE
Today, Thursday 02 September 2021, we the leaders from the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) gathered to discuss matters that touch on our region and the Nation at large. Fiftyeight years after independence it is timely that we reflect together as leaders and a people from ASAL areas, on the achievements, current and future aspirations as well our collective contributions to development of our country, Kenya.
Upon concluding these deliberations, we resolve as follows:
Recognising the shared history, heritage and destiny of the communities of ASAL areas, shaped by arid climatic conditions, deprivation and systemic marginalisation,
Aware that Kenya is currently grappling with an important discourse on political transition and succession ahead of the 2022 elections,
Appreciating that unity of purpose remains fundamental to the future hopes and aspirations of the communities in the region,
Mindful of the likelihood that the socio-economic emancipation of ASAL areas will remain a mirage unless leaders from the region speak with a united voice,
Noting with great concern that despite ASAL areas constituting a vast land mass with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and culturally diverse population, it has suffered from political and socio-economic marginalisation over the years, only being regarded as a ‘swing vote’ region,
Convinced that changing the tide of marginalisation under which ASAL areas have laboured for decades requires establishing a strong political movement that can galvanise the numbers, negotiate with like-minded regional political leaders and bargain for inclusion of the ASAL areas agenda at the national level,
Noting that since independence in 1963, development has been a key issue for the region and that before the new constitutional dispensation in 2010, this had been pursued through initiatives such as the National Government’s Local Authorities Trust Fund (LATF) as well as successive Ministerial appropriations,
Further noting that the onset of devolution changed the narrative and has resulted in over KES 400 billion in resources being allocated in the last nine years to the region through the respective county governments,
Appreciating that while devolution should have been a game-changer, development challenges still persist across the entire ASAL region, and while they are unique and different from the rest of Kenya, the region still lags behind in infrastructure such as rural roads, water resources and healthcare facilities, among others.
Taking into consideration that much more still remains to be done in order to alleviate the effect of decades of systemic marginalisation, and that this remains the priority of the region’s national and county leaders,
Having considered that despite the challenges in ASAL areas being common to some parts of Kenya, their challenges remain unique in terms of need and scope, as this is the region with the lowest coverage of tarmacked roads and uptake of electricity connectivity and national grid coverage and is also beset by insecurity especially in the border areas,
Having further considered that the region is in dire need of increased investment in livestock production and marketing coupled with affirmative action for the youth and women in terms of access to education, employment and business opportunities,
Deeply convinced that effectively dealing with these challenges will take much more than just devolved funds through county governments, but will also require a national blueprint with meaningful input from the region’s leadership, we resolve and
1. Affirm that the leaders of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands recognise the need to speak with one political voice on behalf of their respective electorate;
2. Further affirm as leaders of ASAL areas the embracing of our new model of compassionate leadership or Uongozi Wa Utu.
3. Declare accordingly the formation of a united political movement to be known as UPYA movement;
4. Proclaim that the UPYA movement will unite residents from ASAL areas to articulate a common political position and objectives for the 2022 elections, and more specifically negotiate for greater socio-economic investment and development in the region;
5. Further proclaim that the UPYA movement will bring together like-minded leaders keen on seeing ASAL areas develop as an integral part of Kenya;
6. Confirm that the UPYA movement will be a grassroots-oriented and participatory movement which listens to the region’s residents and affords them the opportunity to articulate their views in order to formulate strategies aimed at narrowing ASAL area’s development gap;
7. Emphasise that the UPYA movement will provide ASAL areas with a unified and powerful voice at the national level and assure the region of a seat at the national negotiating table;
8. Further emphasise that the UPYA movement will be the primary vehicle through which ASAL areas engage in national political negotiations;
9. Acknowledge that while times and political realities may have changed, the interests of the people living in ASAL areas are and will always remain central and paramount to the UPYA movement;
10. Welcome all like-minded leaders regardless of party affiliations to unite towards a common agenda for the continued development of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and the Republic of Kenya at large.
NAIROBI, Thursday 02 September 2021.