Providing nomadic people with health care
The Kenyan government and medical charities are fighting hard to deliver good health care to the people of Kenya. Deborah Cohen looks at the particular difficulties involved in providing care to the nomadic people of Turkana, in the north west of the country
The Turkana are nomadic pastoralists in northwest Kenya who raise camels, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys to provide milk, meat, and blood for nourishment. Under British rule the Turkana district was virtually cut off from outside contact; the government had declared it a “closed district” and restricted movement.
When the region experienced famine in 1961, missionaries were granted access by the British to provide support for the population, and missionaries are still a large presence there.
According to Gezaghen Kebede, Oxfam's country programme manager for Kenya, this political and social isolation from the mainstream still exists today. The Turkana are barely represented in the political system, nor have they benefited from programmes implemented to aid development. Moreover, pastoralists have come under pressure from governments and development agencies to become sedentary and adapt to the more manageable urban way of life.
Inwani Malweyi, Merlin's (a UK medical relief and healthcare charity)