Lamu pastoralist communities want legislation introduced to ban herders from neighbouring counties from grazing freely in the county.
They complained that it had become difficult to control livestock diseases because of the thousands of animals, including cows, sheep and goats, entering Lamu every year.
For decades, every time a drought hits, herders from Tana River and Garissa flock Lamu in search of water and pasture for their animals.
Speaking to Nation.Africa, local pastoralists urged the national government to intervene and stop the inflow of animals before the situation gets out of control and leads to conflict.
Lamu Pastoralist Community Association chairperson Muhumed Kalmei said invasions of Lamu pasturelands by herders from Ijara in Tana River and Masalani in Garissa had depleted pasture corridors.
The numbers of animals entering Lamu need to be established beforehand, he said, so that specific areas are identified for them instead of being allowed to roam freely across the county.
“We have been pushing for the county and national governments to adopt some guidelines on how these herders will be operating here. We need them to be in separate places and their numbers established and controlled,” he said.
The areas of Lamu most affected by the influx of livestock from other counties include Witu, Pangani, Koreni, Dide Waride, Chalaluma, Moa, Nagelle, Idhidho and Pandanguo.
Kenya Livestock Marketing Council Lamu branch director Zainab Gobu pleaded with the county government to consider creating grazing corridors, saying this will help reduce constant conflicts between herders and farmers every dry season.
Ms Gobu noted that due to drought and the ever increasing number of herders, Lamu continues to struggle with limited pastureland.
Controlling the number of animals entering Lamu and allocating grazing corridors, she said, will reduce pressure on farmers, who clash with pastoralists to protect their farm crops from destruction by livestock.
“There is adequate land here. Let them give us grazing corridors. I’m positive even these conflicts between herders and farmers will stop,” she said.
Lamu County Livestock Marketing chair Khalif Hirbae, however, accused herders of invading pasturelands and disregarding the concerns of farmers.
Pasturelands in Lamu, he said, diminish almost every year as itinerant herders occupy land without considering the needs of local herders.
He urged local administrators to help them recover their grabbed pasturelands.
“Our pasturelands are now scarce due to the ongoing encroachment and land grabbing. People have in recent times been invading our grazing lands and leaving us with nothing,” he said.
Abdi Hassan, a pastoralist in Mkunumbi, said they are experiencing hard times finding pasture for their cattle as most areas have been encroached on or grabbed and fenced by private developers.
He said they had been depending on areas like the Amu Ranch and Boni forest as their grazing corridors.
He expressed disappointment that wealthy people had taken land and established settlements and fences, denying them access to pasturelands.
The herders also pleaded with the Lamu County government to issue a common title deed for all grazing corridors once established so as to curb future conflicts between them and encroachers.
“We are tired of individuals always claiming to own our grazing lands, knowing very well that we don’t have the means or the power to fight them since we don’t have the ownership document,” Mr Hassan said.