Kokuselei village is located 35 km west of Nariokotome Mission, in the valley between the Lapur and Morueris mountain ranges. The people are semi-nomadic pastoralists, very isolated due to lack of roads and communications. It can also be reached from Lokitaung in a 40 km trip passing through the village of Riokomor. The distance from Lodwar depends on the road used: through Lokitaung it is 260 km, and through Nariokotome only 165 km but from Nariokotome to Kokuselei the road becomes very rough and doesn’t allow for the movement of lorries.
The population of Kokuselei Valley consists of many different communities such as Kokuselei, Kabosan, Erus, Alagama, Riokomor etc. and the majority of them are semi-nomadic families still living in deep isolation and following the traditional lifestyle of the Turkana culture. Their sole resource is their herds of camels and goats. Therefore, and because the area is a good grazing zone, many shepherds from other locations use it during times of drought; the lack of watering points becomes then an important threat to their livestock.
According to the data provided by the Minister of Health in 2013, the population in Kokuselei Valley is 9,416 people.
Main Activities and Future Plans
It is impossible to develop any other activities that seek to improve the living conditions of the families until access to clean water is guaranteed both for the people and for their cattle.
This is done through the construction of rock dams; we have already built more than 10. This process benefits hundreds of families both for the allowances and the knowledge that they get during the construction work and for the water reservoir that they create which usually lasts for long periods of time.
From Kokuselei, we expect to continue building more rock dams in the mountain areas of Lapur and Morueris.
These rock dams help to fill the ground water, and hence allow the drilling of boreholes and the installation of hand, solar and wind pumps. These new systems imply greater amounts of clean water available for the population and make it possible to start other development activities such as agriculture.
Due to the recurrent and long drought and the lack of food in this area, the children are very vulnerable to malnutrition. Therefore, from Kokuselei we have set up and maintain 8 Infant Nutritional Units to guarantee that children under the age of 6 can at least receive two meals a day. Even if the main focus is the nutrition of children, these units are also conceived as reference points for the development of the whole community. With the joint work of the people and the MCSPA it is possible to organize its daily maintenance through the parents’ committees, conduct other activities such as vaccination, deworming and growth follow-up with the help of Nariokotome Health Program, and implement agricultural initiatives, catechesis, women’s promotion projects etc.
These Infant Nutritional Units are located at Kokuselei, Kabosan, Ebur Angataruk, Ngameriyek, Alagama, Small Erus, Loalany and Kalomeu. During this year 2015, we would like to open a new unit in the village of Riokomor.
In relation to healthcare, our role from Kokuselei is to support and complement the work done through Nariokotome Health Program. Therefore, we want to improve the infrastructures of the existing dispensary, to build a place for the nurses and health agents to live, to educate a group of women on everything related to pre and post natal care so that they can became agents in the communities that are far away from the dispensary and to supervise the nutritional status of the children that attend all units.
Once we have guaranteed access to a reliable source of clean water, we tried to start implementing agriculture in this pastoralist community. The main point for that is Kokuselei Mission where formation activities and try-outs of different plants and crops take place. Also at the other points where there is water such as the infant nutritional units or other village centres, we are trying to promote women who want to start their own agricultural programs.
Another important area of development that will help these families come out of the circle of poverty in which they are now trapped is education. On that matter, we are trying to implement pre-primary education in some of the infant nutritional units through the sponsorship of different candidates to study Early Childhood Education at the same time as they are teaching. In addition, we are acting as sponsors of the Primary School in Kokuselei through the construction of 4 classes, staff rooms, teacher’s quarters, latrines, a kitchen, a store, etc., through our participation in the School Management Board and through the extra-curricular activities that we organize for the students of the Primary School (classes, sports, trips etc.). As Kokuselei Valley lacks basic infrastructures, human resources and experience in relation to education, we also contribute to the formation of the population by taking several students to primary, secondary, university or vocational schools in other parts of the country.
Additionally, we are conducting literacy classes for more than 40 persons in our “Kono-kono” Formation Hall. There, they are learning the basics of reading, writing, and maths.
Another vulnerable group in this area is the elderly, especially women who become widows at an early age. We now have a program that covers 83 elders from the lake zone and the mountains. They receive food, health assistance and help with their houses during our monthly home visits.