By: Austin Macharia MA,

For years, we lived in fear and distrust. Now, we sit together, plan, and resolve our issues without violence. Shalom-SCCRR has given us the skills and knowledge to forge a peaceful path jointly for future generations.” These words from John Ekaru, an elder from the Turkana community, highlight the profound transformation from fear and distrust to peaceful coexistence. They underscore the potential for change and the hope that Shalom-SCCRR’s work brings in promoting sustainable peace and cooperation between the Turkana and Pokot communities. He observed that Shalom-SCCRR interventions had significantly impacted the two communities. “Ethnic mistrust and violent conflicts were largely replaced by community-led conflict resolution resulting in reconciliation and peaceful coexistence,” he remarks.

Shalom-SCCRR Executive Director Fr. Oliver Noonan presenting the Shalom conflict intervention strategy to community members at Loreng’ekippi.

In the year 2015, Shalom-SCCRR initiated comprehensive interventions that sought to address a long-standing violent inter-ethnic conflict between the Pokot and Turkana living in Lokitonyala and Loreng’ekipi areas. The two areas are located in northwestern Kenya and border Uganda on to the West. Most community members are traditionally pastoralists and often on the move in search of pasture and water for their animals. Large areas of the rangelands are characterized by arid and semi-arid climates.

According to Devine (2016, 2024) {Persistent Conflict Between the Pokot and The Turkana: Causes and Implications}, the three underlying causes of conflict were identified as core resources, political economy, and infrastructure insecurity. The causes are not mutually exclusive. For example variables water and pasture which are core resources causing conflict is linked to the lack of infrastructure security; there is no denying the existence of state institutional marginalization in the Turkana-Pokot conflict environment when compared with other parts of Kenya.

There are numerous effects of this violent conflict between these two ethnic communities.  Both communities have suffered from loss of lives and injuries. Over the years, a large number of people have been displaced, and their livelihoods have either been destroyed or significantly disrupted. Conflict-induced displacement has had a significant impact on school-going children because of the inability to continue their schooling, and often, they suffer from psychological and psychosocial effects. Most economic infrastructures (schools, health centres, markets, etc.) are destroyed, thus increasing economic hardships within communities.

Shalom-SCCRR Interventions and Impact

Based on the research findings of Devine (2016) and Noonan & Kevlihan (2018), {Managing conflict in north-west Kenya: the siege of Loregon and its aftermath}, the Shalom-SCCRR intervention was activated through a sustained participatory process of identifying and engaging critical influential opinion shapers through a series of community-based forums. The intervention framework included workshop training on conflict paradigms and analysis, conflict mapping, facilitation of inter-community negotiation, conflict transformation, schools/educational projects (infrastructure and learning equipment support), and peace education in schools, among other critical areas of capacity building and development.

Loya Primary School, one of the most affected by conflict in the area, has enormously benefitted from Shalom-SCCRR school educational development projects. These projects include fencing the school compound, solar systems, and writing and reading materials. Fr. Oliver, Shalom-SCCRR’s Executive Director, with a few pupils during a community visit in the area.  

Shalom-SCCRR school/educational projects have benefited more than 39,000 pupils and students by providing infrastructure, learning, and teaching materials along the Pokot-Turkana borderline. This has supported over 70 primary and secondary schools and other community-based informal learning institutions along the conflict-affected borderline.

Mr. Buluma, head teacher at Loya Primary School, and Shalom-SCCRR’s Judith Akedi and Austin Macharia engage Peace Club members at Loya Primary School.

Mr. Bumula, the head teacher of Loya Primary School, says, “Shalom-SCCRR’s support has transformed our school. Shalom constructed a fence, installed solar panels, and provided essential reading and writing materials. This support has created a safe, conducive learning environment for our pupils who for many years bore the brunt of the Pokot-Turkana ethnic conflict. Shalom-SCCRR, indeed, has given our children hope for a brighter future.”

The community training on conflict analysis paradigms helped members apply analytical skills to understand conflict and its causes. Through conflict mapping, communities could understand conflict’s nature, context, and dynamics. The training also focused on early detection and prevention of conflicts. The negotiation and mediation training developed the two communities’ capacity to actively participate in initiatives that aimed at resolving and transforming conflict issues identified in training workshops and community peace forums. The following diagram (Devine, 2018), {Submission to Public Consultation on the Irish Aid White Paper}summarizes the Shalom-SCCRR conflict transformation and peacebuilding intervention process.

Community members are now able to apply knowledge and skills acquired from Shalom-SCCRR facilitated training workshops, in situations of conflict within and between communities. Chief Sammy Ekal of Loya Sub-Location in Turkana County recounted an incident in 2021 where a conflict over water and grazing fields was successfully resolved. This intervention led to the establishment of shared regulations for water and grazing fields, resulting to a significant decrease in conflict incidences in the area.

National Police Reservists (NPR) and Community Policing Members participated in a conflict transformation and reconciliation community forum facilitated by Shalom-SCCRR in Nauyapong, West Pokot County and Loya, Turkana County.

Shalom-SCCRR’s approach to conflict resolution and transformation has been practical and empowering. Chief Okwara of Lokitonyala Location in West-Pokot County, in his endorsement of Shalom-SCCRR, highlights the shift from short-term, externally driven solutions to long-term, grassroots-based structures. This shift has resolved conflicts and empowered the communities to take charge of their peace-building interventions.

The work of Shalom-SCCRR has been at the center of empowering communities to resolve conflicts non-violently and to be architects of their interdependent future. The impact is evidently noticeable, given the decrease in conflict incidences and improved relations between the two communities. Both communities have peace resource persons trained by Shalom-SCCRR who continue to implement conflict transformation and peacebuilding initiatives in the absence of Shalom.  “The future of peace and inter-communal development is in our hands”, remarks Chief Okwara. 

Chief Stephen Okwara leading a session during an evaluation of community peace forums facilitated by Shalom-SCCRR trained resource persons.

Maria Lokorio, an opinion shaper in the Pokot community, observed that the Shalom-SCCRR conflict transformation and peacebuilding training had positively impacted both communities and substantially changed their attitudes and perceptions. She described Shalom-SCCRR as a “Blessing” to the communities.

A significant aspect of the Shalom-SCCRR intervention was the formation of a Community Resource Management Team in each community. This team included community opinion shapers, youth and elders, who facilitated conflict resolution through negotiation and mediation committees. They worked to prevent violence and settle conflicts peacefully by advocating for early intervention and analysing potential contentious issues while keeping track of resource use and management to prevent conflict escalation.

Shalom-SCCRR’s Executive Director, Fr. Oliver Noonan, and Project Officers, Mrs. Judith Akedi and Mr. Austin Macharia, with trained peace group members from Nauyapong, West Pokot, after the presentation of certificates. The peace group members are the resource persons tasked with leading conflict transformation and peacebuilding interventions between the two communities.

The teams have achieved successes, such as establishing culturally acceptable water-sharing formulas and grazing land patterns for the Turkana and Pokot herders. Chief Okwara, one of the influential opinion leaders working with Shalom-SCCRR in Lokitonyala, recounts a conflict over the Kaemanik grazing area, which was resolved by agreeing on a rotational grazing system between the two communities. The success story of Shalom-SCCRR in Loreng’ekippi and Lokitonyala is a testament to the power of collaboration in managing conflicts related to resource management. It underscores the importance of community-led approaches in responding to the causes of conflict among ethnic groups, and focusing on participatory community-based solutions for sustainable conflict resolution. This collaborative effort, where all stakeholders play a crucial role, fosters a sense of unity and shared responsibility.

Shalom-SCCRR’s Executive Director, Fr. Oliver Noonan, with trained peace group members from Loreng’ekippi, Turkana County. The group members were presented with certificates and tasked with continuing to implement conflict transformation and peacebuilding interventions in their communities.

These successes underline the significant impact of effective and inclusive decision-making in building empathy, social cohesion, and positive interactions. Through the development, support of community resource management teams and the equal participation of stakeholders, common goals have been aligned, paving the way for mutual prosperity despite past enmity. The journey of Loreng’ekippi and Lokitonyala inspires other communities entrenched in conflicts, showcasing the inherent goodness of human nature in its ability to create structures for cooperation and a shared future.


Austin Macharia MA, Shalom-SCCRR’s Projects Officer, Ilemi Triangle.

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