Wayyu Community – Challenges


The Wayu have suffered discrimination from other communities including the Gabbra, Borana, Orma, the Somalis and other Coastal tribes who consider them to be lesser because of their hunting and gathering practices. The government is also involved in discriminating against the Waayu. They cannot access economic opportunities including contracts with the county governments where they reside. This is partly caused by the fact that the Waayu are not represented in political spaces therefore there is no one to push the agenda for them. They are therefore excluded from the very resources that ought to help solve some of their economic issues.

  • Also, hunting and forest areas outlawed without compensation for alternative income and the Wayyu community were left impoverished and utterly poor in towns and trading centers doing charcoal burning and other income generating activities that they are not used to.
  • High poverty levels caused by factors including that they are not able to access loans hence have no way out of their poor living conditions.
  • The Waayu people are not involved in policy and decision making in the counties that they occupy. Within the 9 counties that they occupy, there is no representative of the Waayu community in either elective or appointive seats. When members of the community contest for political positions, they are usually not elected because of their few in numbers hence lack political strength that comes with numbers. The problem begins when members of the Waayu community apply to join political parties but they are not considered despite the fact that they fill forms and applications to join political parties.
  • Opportunities to access education are a problem since members of the community cannot access bursaries. In cases where the members have access to education, because of underlying factors like poverty are not able to perform well in school or complete school on time and as a result they drop out of school.
  • They do not have personal security-Elections in the areas that the Waayu occupy are highly contested sometimes to the extent of attempting to kill those from minority tribes who want to lead the people through a political seat. A case in point was the 2017 election where the lives of two politicians, Dr. Chris Galgalo and Nuria Gollo threatened and a chief was killed just because he attended a Waayu inauguration ceremony of code 046. This also shows the efforts that are being made to discriminate against members of the Waayu community.
  • Unemployment levels are also high in the Waayu community. Part of this is because they are discriminated by the Public Service Commission (PSC)-This has been seen in many spheres of employment including the army as well as the police and other sectors due to failure of Public Service Commission (PSC) not updating the ethnic code 046 of wayyu into their biometric data as one of the communities in Kenya.

Consequently, when members of the Wayyu community go to apply for jobs their information cannot be found in the list of PSC data and they are denied employment opportunities.

A practical example is when Dr. Chris Galgalo was interviewed for a position in the National Land Commission (NLC) as a member of this commission. When asked which community he was from he indicated that he was from the Waayu community and the interviewer’s response was to ask him “who are the Wayyu people?” That also goes to show that there is a serious lack of awareness on local communities and even by officials within the same government that is supposed to come to the aid of the indigenous and marginalized communities. Dr. Galgalo later found out that the code for Waayu people had not yet been updated.

Even more saddening is the fact that whether or not a member from the Waayu community is qualified for a job a lesser qualified member of another community will be selected for a particular employment position based on factors e.g. family ties. Consequently, people from marginalized communities who are already underrepresented do not have a fair chance.

  • Lack of access to resources within the Counties and at National Governments: -the Wayyu are faced by various ailments including COVID-19 pandemic, HIV and Malaria. Despite the problems that face them they have no access to personnel, masks or sanitizers and yet there is money that has been allocated for such purposes. The money has however been distributed to the major tribes while the minority tribes like Wayyu has not received any type of relief. They also suffer displacement from the areas they occupy for grazing and water points for their use.
  • The Youths, within the Wayyu Community are also struggling with issues including drug addiction, alcohol, early marriages, FGM and lack of employment opportunities. This has contributed to the high drop-out levels among members of the community.
  • The Waayu were prohibited from exhibiting their cultural artifacts in 2018 and 2019 at Loiyangalani festivals when all other tribes including Borana from Ethiopia were involved in their cultural affairs.
  • The Waayu are excluded from any bursary disbursement and committees both at county Government and Constituency levels due to lack of political representation in the county of Marsabit, Isiolo and Tana river.
  • The Wayu people have been restricted from accessing their ancestral lands due to government policies that changed the forests to a game reserves and National Parks.

Note: There is a likelihood that the Wayu language might disappear and be replaced with the Borana language which is the dominant group in areas that the Waayu live. As unique as they may be the Wayyu are staring to extinction due to intermarriages with other communities and marginalized.