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Research Report

Policing the Periphery: Opportunities and Challenges for Kenya Police Reserves

Kennedy Mkutu
Gerald Wandera
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2013
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 86

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-3)
  2. (pp. 4-5)
  3. (pp. 7-7)
  4. (pp. 8-8)
  5. (pp. 10-10)
  6. (pp. 11-18)

    More than 80 per cent of Kenya consists of arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) (WRI, 2007; MSDNKAL, 2008) (see Map 1), and across much of this area the main visible security force is not the police, but the Kenya Police reservists (KPRs).¹ The Kenya Police Reserve (KPR) is an auxiliary force detached from the Kenya Police Service and is made up of volunteers operating within their own localities. KPRs are armed by the state to supplement the role of the police in providing security where police presence is low. They often guard pastoralist cattle kraals (enclosures)² and move with cattle...

  7. (pp. 19-23)

    Kenya is no stranger to localized conflict (Mkutu, 2008, pp. 13–33), particularly in the northern ASAL, where pastoralism is the most common source of livelihood. Cattle raiding, disputes over grazing land and water sources, and human–wildlife competition are widespread and intensified by high rates of civilian firearms possession—Kenya has an estimated 530,000–680,00 civilian firearms, with an estimated 127,000 illicit guns in Turkana alone, replenished by the illicit flow of weapons from its conflict-affected neighbours: Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan (Wepundi et al., 2012, pp. 35, 88; Mkutu, 2008).11 In May 2011 more than 40 Turkana...

  8. (pp. 25-41)

    Turkana is Kenya’s second-largest county, with an area of 77,000 sq. km, situated in north-east Kenya and bordering Uganda, South Sudan, and Ethiopia (Kenya, 2002)18 (see Map 2). The population is small (900,000) and the predominantly pastoral Turkana are widely dispersed across the arid region. Seasonal groups takes place across local and international borders, including the Karimojong (from the west), the Dodoth and Toposa (from the north-west), the Merille and Nyangatom (north-east), the Samburu (south-east), and the Pokot (south-west).

    Turkana suffers from high levels of resource-related intra- and intercommunal conflict, cattle raiding, and road banditry, as well as the spillover...

  9. (pp. 43-58)

    Laikipia County lies in the east of the Rift Valley Province, occupying an area of 9,500 sq. km (see Map 4). The total population was estimated to be 399,227 in 2009 and over the past ten years has increased by nearly 20 per cent, or 2 per cent per annum on average (Kenya, 1999; 2009).

    Laikipia is an interior, rural, semi-arid county where resource-based conflicts occur among a variety of land users, including pastoralists, horticulturalists, agriculturalists, and ranchers. The development of fenced wildlife conservancies over the past nine years, merging former ranches, groups of ranches, or communal land, has increased...

  10. (pp. 59-67)

    There are around 1,630 armed KPRs in Turkana, with an additional 900 applicants waiting to be processed by a system that has been described by a senior government officer as inconsistent and subject to arbitrary decisions by individuals.148 In Laikipia there are 1,137 KPRs working in conservancies, of whom 279 are currently armed with an unknown number of firearms licensed to conservancy owners.149 The number of KPRs working outside conservancies in Laikipia is not recorded.150 The role of KPRs in Turkana and Laikipia has evolved from (often unpaid) community security guards into various paid roles, including working for commercial entities...

  11. (pp. 68-69)

    This paper has highlighted that resources are often lacking for the training, payment, and proper supervision of KPRs, allowing indiscipline to flourish and leading people to turn to the private sector or other grassroots militias for protection. Local paramilitary forces require a livelihood, and if the state does not pay them, as noted in this paper, they will seek that livelihood with the use of their weapons. Paying local defence forces would give them an additional stake in the government. The case of the Mayi-Mayi noted in Box 4 illustrates how the loyalties and objectives of groups and individuals may...

  12. (pp. 70-76)
  13. (pp. 77-81)
  14. (pp. 82-86)