Ukur was born in 1967 in Forole of North Horr sub-county to Yatani Kanacho, a prominent Gabra elder. Two of his family members; Wario Yatani and Sharamo Ali were respected colonial chiefs in Marsabit.

When Ukur Kanacho was 8 years, his brother Wario, took him to school in Maikona, 40 kms away from home. He was later transferred to North Horr Primary school in 1978, a missionary school with good boarding facilities. He sat for his Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) in 1981 and emerged the top student in the then Marsabit District. He was given a scholarship by Jomo Kenyatta Foundation and he joined Garbatulla High school where he equally performed well and later joined Kabarnet High school for his A-levels between 1986 and 1987. He joined Egerton University where he graduated with a B.A Economics.

Yatani received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology from Egerton University in 1991 and recognizing his dedication to public service he was appointed a District Officer. Hard-working, focused, and committed to service delivery, Yatani quickly rose through the ranks from District Officer Cadet to a Senior District Officer and then promoted to a District Commissioner in July 2002. In this position he successfully coordinated state business, managed government resources, maintained law and order, directed disaster relief operations, and implemented long term strategic plans that improved government services and the lives of local residents.

In 2005, Yatani received a Masters of Arts in Public Administration and Public Policy at the University of York, United Kingdom. He was then called home by his constituents and elected as the Member of Parliament for North Horr constituency in 2006.

During this time the Marsabit North District was created and M.P. Yatani spearheaded the formation of several administrative units across the constituency, leading to more independence and general improvement of service delivery.

Yatani was then appointed as the Assistant Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology. In this position he offered policy direction to the ministry, represented the government in local and international talks and negotiations, and assisted the Minister in performing of all ministerial and government functions

In 2009, Yatani began a multi-year mission to advance the interests of Kenya on the international stage. He was named Ambassador to Austria in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vienna. As the Ambassador to Austria, with accreditation to Hungary and Slovakia, he provided support and consular services to Kenyans living abroad and promoted trade and economic cooperation with a variety of European nations and thereby contributed to the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

Amb. Yatani also served as the Governor of the Board for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which works to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy around the world. Among the many accomplishments of the IAEA during Yatani’s tenure, was the strategic use of strength and diplomacy to deescalate and safeguard Iran’s nuclear capacity.

In addition to this, Amb. Yatani held senior leadership positions at various diplomatic and international agencies at the United Nations and also chaired the African Group of Ambassadors.


Representing Kenya Internationally       

  • Ambassador to Austria, Hungary and Slovakia
  • Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Vienna
  • Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
  • Board of Governor of International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Permanent Representative to United Nations Organization on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC)
  • Vice Chairperson of United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC)
  • Vice President of Convention on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPJ)
  • Permanent Representative to United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
  • President of Program and Budget Committee of UNIDO
  • Permanent Representative to Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
  • Permanent Representative to Office of Outer Space Agency (OOSA)
  • Member of Non Aligned Movement -African Group, G-77 and China
  • Founder Board member of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA).
  • Member of Austrian Anti-Corruption Academy
  • Chair of the African Group of Ambassadors

In 2013 Amb. Yatani was elected to pioneer the devolved County Government becoming the leader of the largest county in the nation. As the Marsabit County Governor he was tasked with building the newly formed county from scratch, and as the chief executive he brought peace, development and economic prosperity to the region.

During his time as Governor, Amb. Yatani provided strategic leadership, guidance and oversight in setting up devolved governance structures, competent financial and human resource infrastructure and shaped the development agenda of Marsabit County. Throughout his term he promoted harmonious coexistence and cohesion among the 15 indigenous ethnic communities and made Marsabit County one of the most peaceful in the country.

Governor Yatani set out on an ambitious development journey and steered the roll-out of the County Integrated Development Plan (hailed as the best in the country by the UN) which included a variety of major initiatives, including the construction of new county offices, a four storey modern market, a modern stadium, over a dozen health centers, and new tourist resort facility and 200 ECD classrooms.

The Yatani Government upgraded 5,000 kilometers of gravel roads, tarmacked Marsabit town roads, and drilling & operationalizing over fifty boreholes. During his tenure he established two referral hospitals, and purchased two dozen ambulances. He oversaw the installation of solar-based street lighting and drainage systems and stimulated an economic revival through investments in agriculture and livestock. Throughout his term he heavily supported cultural festivals and the Lake Turkana Cultural Festival was nominated for India’s prestigious TAGORE International Award.

Governor Yatani created strategic partnerships with the national government and major investors to bring two new roads to the county, as well as the largest wind power plant in Africa. In addition, he spearheaded a UNDP funded unique cross border program bringing jobs and billions of shillings of investment to the region. He also gained major external funding from the African Development Bank to create a livestock quarantine zone, modern abattoir and to develop international export markets for Marsabit’s livestock products.

Major Bilateral High Capital Investment Agreements

  • United Nations: Kshs 50 Billion Kenya-Ethiopia Cross-Border Development Project
  • Africa Development Bank: Kshs 1.6 Billion for water and sewerage systems
  • Africa Development Bank: Kshs 200 million towards the establishment of Livestock Quarantine Station
  • World Bank: Support to various county projects including the Abattoir
  • Government of Germany: Kshs1.5 Billion Drought Resilience Project
  • Government of Germany: Kshs 1.5 Billion Off-grid Energy Project


Key Developments in Marsabit County

  • Construction of New County Office
  • Four storey Marsabit Modern Market
  • Modern Marsabit hospital Amenity facility
  • Tarmacking of Marsabit Town Roads
  • Drilled & operationalized over 50 boreholes
  • Upgraded 5,000 kilometers of gravel roads
  • Established two Referral Hospitals
  • Built and refurbished over a dozen health centers
  • Constructed a new Tourist Resort Facility
  • Constructed over 200 ECD classrooms
  • Initiated the process of establishing the Marsabit University
  • Began construction of a modern Stadium
  • Installed solar-based street lighting and drainage systems in most urban centres in the county

Along with his wife Dr. Gumato, Amb. Yatani founded the Kanacho Nomadic Educational Foundation in 2009. This charitable community development agency was first setup to address education and rural poverty challenges in northern Kenya. As such it has rehabilitated classrooms, distributed sanitary towels and books, and sponsored hundreds of children.

Building off this success the foundation moved to further empower the pastoral communities and began efforts to reduce poverty and vulnerability among pastoral communities through transformational and sustainable development. These efforts have lead to significant improvements in the sectors of water and health.


Kanacho Nomadic Educational Foundation Successes

  • Reached 30,000 primary pupils through enrollment campaigns
  • 200 secondary students provided with full scholarship
  • 7,000 beneficiaries from peace and livelihood initiatives
  • 10,000 people reached through FGM campaign
  • Seed capital provided for dozens of micro-business startups

In December 1994, he married Gumato, and they are blessed with two sons, Ibrae and Ali. Ibrae is studying Law at the University of Kent, and Ali is studying Business Management at Exeter University. Dr. Gumato is currently a Commissioner to the National Gender and Equality Commission.