Northern Kenya has a long history of ethnic conflict, violence and marginalisation, and in the last few years, the region has experienced a spike in political and social tensions, threatening the wider peace and stability of the region. Existing communal and locally based tensions have been exacerbated by new and complex challenges such as devolution, terrorism, major development projects and extractive resources. These new conflict drivers and dynamics have negatively impacted on the effectiveness and resilience of the peacebuilding architecture of the region.
In 2017 we launched a new strand of work in Garissa County, northern Kenya, extending our programme in the Horn of Africa. The new project aims to tackle these inter-connecting conflict drivers and strengthen community-level, national, and cross-border peacebuilding.
The project is working with members of Local Peace Committees (LPCs) - peacebuilding committees that have developed over time out of traditional structures. LPC members, including women, youth, elders and religions leaders, are receiving training to increase their capacity to undertake peacebuilding initiatives that effectively manage existing and new conflicts. This includes arranging learning visits to other peace committees – both in Kenya and internationally – and connecting local peace committees to county, regional and national government. In 2017, the groups led the way in the de-escalation of post-election violence in the county.
Somali clan linkages across the state borders of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia mean that local conflicts in northern Kenya cannot be resolved in isolation, which is why this project is also working to support cross-border peacebuilding initiatives. This includes co-ordinating cross-border meetings with the regional body Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, Kenya, Somalia Conflict Early Warning Units and local communities.
The project is funded by the Institute fur Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa),with resources provided by the German Federal Foreign Office.