Hope Amidst Adversity

Hope Amidst Adversity: A Glimpse into Kapedo’s Challenges and Progress

Nestled in the North Rift Valley of Kenya lies Kapedo, a region steeped in natural beauty yet marred by persistent conflict and severe poverty. Known for its breathtaking landscapes including the Suguta river and Silali Volcano, Kapedo has long been a hotspot of tension between Turkana and Pokot pastoralists. This conflict, fuelled by competition over scarce resources like water and pasture, as well as rampant cattle rustling and easy access to firearms, has left the area underdeveloped and marginalized in national development plans.

Location of  Kapedo town in Turkana County

Despite these challenges, recent initiatives have begun to sow seeds of hope in Kapedo. One such initiative is the ‘Let Girls Learn’ project, launched by the Girl Child Network in partnership with Aidlink. This project aimed at improving access to education, especially for girls and children with disabilities, who are among the most vulnerable in the region.

As a development worker tasked with overseeing this project, I embarked on a journey to Kapedo in July 2022. The mere mention of Kapedo invokes fear due to its history of violence and instability. Driven by a desire to make a difference in the lives of children who have been denied their rights to education and a safe upbringing I decided to take this challenge

The road to Kapedo, though only 88 kilometers from Marigat, is fraught with challenges. It transitions from smooth tarmac to rough gravel, a stark reminder of the region’s isolation and lack of infrastructure. Armed escorts were necessary for our journey, highlighting the persistent security concerns that grip the area.

Arriving in Kapedo, I was greeted by a scene that spoke volumes about the daily realities faced by its residents. The once bustling trading center resembled a ghost town, with few signs of economic activity. At the local General Service Unit (GSU) camp, where we received our briefing, stories of past attacks and the ongoing insecurity painted a grim picture of life in Kapedo.

A photo of Kapedo town and Kapedo mixed primary school

Visiting the local schools was a poignant experience. At Kapedo Girls Primary School, I learned firsthand about the hardships faced by students and teachers alike. The school had been relocated following an attack, leaving scars of trauma and fear among its young pupils. Despite these challenges, the resilience and determination of the students to pursue their education left a lasting impression on me.

Throughout my time in Kapedo, I witnessed the profound impact of external interventions. The construction of new classrooms and gender-responsive sanitation facilities under the ‘Let Girls Learn’ project has provided a glimmer of hope. These improvements aimed not only to enhance educational outcomes but also to create a safer and more inclusive environment for children, especially girls.

The provision of school meals has proven to be a game-changer, boosting enrollment and attendance rates significantly. In a region where food insecurity is rife, these meals not only nourish young minds but also encourage families to prioritize education over immediate economic needs.

Beyond infrastructure and meals, community engagement has played a crucial role in shifting social norms. Community conversations on harmful cultural practices such as early marriage have fostered greater community support for education, paving the way for long-term change.

Looking ahead, there are reasons for cautious optimism. The Kenyan government’s plan to establish Suguta Sub-County in Kapedo promises to bring much-needed services closer to the community. This move could potentially improve access to markets, healthcare, and security, addressing some of the root causes of conflict and underdevelopment.

As I reflect on my time in Kapedo, I am reminded of the resilience and strength of its people. Their unwavering spirit in the face of adversity inspires hope for a brighter future. While challenges remain, the progress made through initiatives like ‘Let Girls Learn’ demonstrates that change is possible, one classroom at a time.

In closing, Kapedo’s journey is a testament to the power of community, perseverance, and collective action in overcoming hardship. As we continue to support and invest in its future, we must recognize and celebrate the small victories that pave the way towards a more inclusive and prosperous society for all.

By Patrick Kibe, Project Coordinator at Girl Child Network


Leave a Reply