Peace and Cohesion Architecture in the FCDC Region Analysed

FCDC has initiated a review of the institutional, legal & policy framework for peacebuilding and conflict management in its member counties. This process involves statistical analysis of persistent conflicts, and emerging conflicts linked to devolution, large projects involving large scale land acquisitions, mineral prospecting among other factors.

FCDC region is characterized by a myriad of conflict drivers, and existing community responses are being challenged by new and changing nature of conflicts including those relating to devolution, terrorism and resource extraction. From statistics reviewed on typologies of conflicts across the FCDC region for the period 2011-15, it is evident that livestock rustling is the most prominent form of conflict in the North and North-West part of the FCDC and while terrorism is most prominent in North East and Lamu.  In both areas, inter-ethnic/clan conflicts are widespread and responsible for severe casualties and loss of assets.

Other relevant typologies of conflict include criminal activities and banditry, while armed attacks by militia groups are often associated to political and/or terrorist motivations. The situation is exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and regional instability especially the conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan and the Great Lakes Region. Turkana and Mandera are the counties with the highest incidence of conflicts.

The North Eastern cluster

A key source of insecurity in Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit counties is violent extremism. Instructively, insurgents are no longer foreigners from Somalia but locals. The insurgency continuously threatens religious leaders, the local administrators and elders not to report their activities and preach counter messages.  The factors underpinning the insurgency include perceived marginalization in sharing of county resources (recruitment and tenders), obstacles to acquisition of documents of citizenship, human rights abuse by the security forces and the general unemployment in the youth

An important element in emerging conflicts is the question of tenders where residents often demand ‘their share’ from clansmen who have been awarded tenders. This is a new type of conflict that is not amenable to the traditional elder-based conflict resolution mechanisms.

Other sources of conflict include border securitization (wall), the marine dispute between Kenya & Somalia and its impact on the cross-border community relations, quarry mining – closure, stagnation of development projects, business rivalry between quarry owners, locals vs non-locals in the quarry extraction, mega projects in Marsabit e.g. Lake Turkana wind power as a source of land-related conflicts, drug trafficking – Moyale-Isiolo highway becoming transit for drug trafficking and drug abuse, resource-based conflicts; cross border/ inter-county conflict.

Amaya Triangle area

The Counties of Samburu, Isiolo and Laikipia, have experienced multiple and overlapping conflicts at different levels. While the conflicts vary from place to place and have changed over time, they are underpinned by competition over natural resources (water and pasture), land use and identity differences. Most of these conflicts involve cycles of attacks and counter-attacks and have not been helped by, among others, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons from neighbouring countries, the minimal presence of national security agencies and the politicisation of local grievances.

The appropriation of violence by the youth and the changing nature of the conflicts have weakened the traditional conflict management systems. Most of the suggestions from the field pointed to the need for overarching peacebuilding and social cohesion framework that can facilitate partnerships (civil society-public-private) that promote at the level of FCDC but also remain alive to the specific needs of each County.

The field survey revealed that that relevant policy and legal provisions to promote peacebuilding and social cohesion remain largely unknown. As a result, the levels of utilisation of relevant policy and legal frameworks remains low.

From the study, common running themes

The FCDC’s peace and security landscape is characterized by a myriad of conflict drivers such as ethnopolitical competition for power, poverty, youth unemployment, transnational crime, terrorism, recruitment of vulnerable youth into militia groups and criminality, and proliferation of small arms and light weapons among others. This situation is exacerbated by regional instability especially the conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan and the Great Lakes Region. This has resulted in refugee influx and the compounding challenges of screening refugees to counter terrorists, trafficking of small arms, radicalization – impacting on the government’s ability to provide adequate security to counter the threats of terrorism and transnational crimes.

This vast frontier region, however, has a long history of ethnic conflict, violence and marginalisation, but new issues are exacerbating local tensions, porous borders and proliferation of small arms and light weapons which raise new challenges for traditional peacebuilding structures.

Devolution, for example, has further exposed the delicate relationship between conflict and development which is complex and multifaceted. The development process itself generates new conflicts by changing the dynamics of economic, financial and political power. The inevitable competition and conflict over the direction, resources and distribution of development, if not well-managed, can impede development and at worst, can reverse it if violence breaks out.

In addition, drought and climate change contribute to increasing conflicts over natural resources, as pasture and water availability decline dramatically and herders needs to move further to insecure areas.

Politics have a great impact on peace and are often a major contributor to conflicts. Supremacy battles and political control of the county is a major driver of these tensions.  Politicians have often been accused of fuelling hatred and dividing the residents along tribal lines in order to gain political mileage (politicised ethnicity).

Key factors for consideration

  • The need for county governments to play a more critical role in security matters as they are the first line of defence.
  • Think strategically about coming up with a regional framework that can bring all players under one roof be also be alive to specific county needs.
  • Need for peace programming to also focus on hardware (it has previously emphasised software).
  • Need to underscore politics as a driver of conflicts.
  • Consider treating livestock rustling (legally) as equivalent to terrorism.
  • Consider a study on the socio-economic impact of livestock rustling and use it as a leverage to lobby government and development actors to treat the phenomena with the seriousness it deserves (i.e Central government is, broadly, not investing sufficiently in peace and security in the FCDC regions – case of only 500 police officers in Isiolo).
  • Consider the possibility of funders conditioning county governments to invest in peace i.e for County governments to receive support, they need to allocate a certain percentage of their budget to peace.
  • Explore the option of systematising the use of technology in early warning and early response.

It is clear that political use of conflict cannot be addressed unless there is an overall shift in the country on how politics is conceived: a noble endeavour geared towards the overall benefit of people and equitable development of the country.

At the same time, it is important to strengthen the capacities of the judiciary to prosecute politicians who are fuelling conflict and violence for their own interests. In this regard, the role of the NCIC should be enhanced by providing the institution with the means necessary to put on trial politicians involved in crime.

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