My Background and why I joined politics

Joyce Emanikor's background

I am a Legislator and a development specialist with an MA in Development Studies and a BA in Community Development and Peace studies. I am currently undertaking a PhD in Environmental Studies. I have previously worked in the fields of Education and development for International NGOs, the Government of Kenya and UN.

I was born to a pastoralist family in the Eastern part of Turkana County. Located in the North western part of Kenya, Turkana County has a total population of 855,399 persons (48% female and 52% male). It covers an area of 77,000 sq km, being the largest county in Kenya.


The Turkana people are often ravaged by severe drought, famine, cattle rustling and have endured years of marginalization by all the four successive governments and was viewed as a low potential region and not contributing to the economy of the country. The semi-desert region is both geographically and politically isolated from the rest of the country. According to the Kenya Commission of Revenue Allocation report of 201, Turkana was ranked the poorest County with 94% of the population living below the poverty line. The dependency ratio is 89.4. All social indicators are unacceptably low: 65% of children are out of school with an average teacher-pupil ratio of 1:100, child mortality rate is 60/1000 and under-5 mortality is 12/1000 with doctor-population ratio at 1:52,434. Acute malnutrition is rampant not just among children but the elderly as well. Turkana people have been dependent on food assistance for decades. Turkana Community, like the rest of Kenyan have anchored their hope on devolution for delivery of basic services, development Projects and poverty reduction.

Having been part of all the above problems and being a victim of the injustices of poverty, I always desired to be in a position where I can effectively influence policy, legislation and practice towards reducing the suffering of my people. I had worked in both civil society and public but I still felt it was not enough. This is how my political ambition grew.

Campaigns were too expensive to manage but the role I played in the civil society in terms of interacting with the communities and implementing many development projects including provision of physical facilities in schools, capacity building of women groups and youth, provision of bursaries, helped me gain immense popularity with the people that my lack of finances did not matter.



My role and responsibility

Committees and Caucuses

In the Kenya National Assembly, I serve in various parliamentary committees and caucuses, namely:

  1. House Business Committee.

  2. Powers and Privileges Committee.

  3. Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

  4. Co-chair of the Parliamentary Conservation Caucus, Kenya chapter.

  5. Pastoralists Parliamentary Group (PPG).

  6. Turkana Parliamentary Caucus.

My role as a County MP is to represent the 850,000 people in Turkana at the National Assembly through legislation and policy work, oversight at national, county and grassroots level of all public resources and representation in terms of voicing the needs of people and ensuring that they all the services.Being one of the 47 women MPs elected on affirmative action, I endeavor to uplift and empower affirmative action groups; foster social change through championing better inclusive development and social service provision, transformative leadership, strategic policy engagement and pursuit of the broader goals of affirmative action, for instance women would benefit through capacity building and ensuring that they access skills, knowledge, linkages and resources to increase their participation in development and poverty reduction.

Aware that Women Representatives have no provision of significant resources for direct service delivery and physical projects for communities, I put more effort and focus on two areas namely a) Advocacy, policy influence and legislation that is favourable to my people. I have hence substantially contributed to laws on security, petroleum and gas exploration, energy, community land, education among others; b) Partnerships, networking and collaboration for purposes of empowering women and youth and securing development projects. I have since worked closely with JoyWo organization, International Republican institute, Women Democracy Network, UNWOMEN, FIDA, KEWOPA, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Ministry of Education, Turkana County Assembly, Save the Children, Dettol Kenya, Media, Kenya Football Federation (Turkana chapter) among others.

As reported in this website, a number of projects have been implemented through the Affirmative Action Social Development Funds including bursaries, civic education, youth talent nurturing, table banking and value addition projects. I have also played part in ensuring various national government projects are funded and implemented in the County, including water projects, Technical institutes and roads among others. Details here.

Current challenges

  1. Though elective, the Kenyan affirmative seats do not attract much funding from the Exchequer. So financial resources are such a big challenge. The real challenge is managing the expectation of the electorate. You may be doing well as an MP in the core duty of legislation, oversight and representation – but without implementing development projects on the ground; your work is brought to nil. There is need for civic education to sensitise people on what to expect from a legislator.

  2. The vastness of the County and the poor road network makes it almost impossible to traverse the whole County as expected. In a weekend I am only able to visit two or three villages in a ward. Four years down the line, there are a few places I have not visited.

  3. The high levels of poverty, inadequate infrastructural development, low levels of education and economic investments have compounded and raised the level of needs to such overwhelming levels that the little AASDF resources are overstretched and only able to fund all proposals brought.