By Mary Koech
One of the key methodologies adopted by Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) is to carry out empirical research amongst conflicting communities. The research is aimed at identifying the roots causes of conflict in order to dispel rumors, propaganda and misinformation that can breed conflict. The research also highlights the dynamics of the specific conflict which updates the SCCRR team to be aware of the relevant trainings that is suitable for that context. The community also validates the research in an effort to ensure our intervention is accurate and appropriate.
Shalom is currently carrying out a series of research programs that will influence our intervention along the conflict lines in the north of West Pokot county and Turkana South constituency. In May 2017, SCCRR continued its data collection in West Pokot County primarily in the regions of Masol, P’Sigor, Orwa, Turkwel, Amakuriat and Kacheliba. The conflict among the two pastoralist ethnic communities (Turkana and Pokot) in this region appears to revolve around resources like water and pasture as well as state neglect. The river Turkwel seems to play a central role, as it is a major source of water for both communities and clashes over its use has been prevalent. As SCCRR begins a new intervention in different conflict zones, it was necessary to take time to carry out an in-depth data collection approach to better understand the violence dynamics on the ground and to make our intervention more suitable to the new context.
The research, led by Prof. Omoka and Francis Mwangi, MA, from our research and M&E department, was aimed at collecting data on the dynamics of conflict, economic livelihoods of the locals, local community based organizations already working on the group, the roles of various community groups in inter-ethnic peace building activities among various other questions. This would allow us to understand the roles of various groups in the conflict zone and the influence they have on peace building efforts as well as recognizing initiatives already existing on the ground to avoid redundancies. The methodology used included, questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. The SCCRR research team targeted approximately 100 respondents from each side, comprising of local government officials, religious leaders, warriors leaders, women’s groups, local business people and village elders.
As we approach the month of June, 2017, Shalom intends to conduct a similar research in Turkana County specifically in Kainuk, Lorogon, Katilu, Nakwamoru, Lorgum, Lorenkipi, Lokiriama and Naipa locations. The analysis of the data will inform our conflict transformation activities going forward. If the root causes are not well identified and understood, it is highly unlikely that one will identify the right plans and strategies to transform the conflict. For Shalom, it is of utmost importance to honor the people who need our assistance and to respect the generosity of our donors by performing our work professionally to the highest standards.