SCCRR has been working in Samburu County since 2012 implementing two main programs – Peacebuilding and Development Programs. For the last 5 years, SCCRR’s intervention has been mainly concentrated in areas of Morijo, Suguta MarMar, Marti, Baragoi, Tuum and Parkati. These areas were chosen because of the intensity and frequency of conflicts pitting Samburu, Turkana and Pokot pastoralist communities.
Through the Peacebuilding Program, Shalom has been able to conduct rigorous academic research on the underlying causes of conflict as well as conflict analysis on the emerging causes of conflicts between the three communities in the area; conducted over 70 peace trainings equipping key influential community leaders with knowledge and analytical skills of peacebuilding; and, facilitating problem solving workshops with key community leaders both at the grassroots and middle levels. The trained Peacebuilding groups from these communities have spearheaded the drawing and implementation of practical action plans that have contributed to positive conflict transformation in their own communities.
In the Development Program, Shalom has engaged children in schools in the area through peace education, establishing 15 peace clubs in 15 targeted schools, conducted peace education trainings with 500 peace club members and 50 peace clubs’ patrons, and, guided in the drawing and implementation of over 10 practical peace-related action plans by the peace club members. These activities have positively influenced the learners both from personal and relational levels hence fostering a culture of peace and cohesive relationships among children in both primary and secondary schools. In general, Shalom has assisted 24 local-based institutions in the form of schools, health facilities, peace centers, and religious institutions in the county. In schools in particular, SCCRR has provided 15 local-based inter-ethnic and inter-religious schools with learning materials such as books, desks, chairs, solar panels and building materials. As a result of this generous provision, over 8,000 pupils are now studying in better classrooms, have lockers and chairs, enough and relevant books and can be able to study in the evening because they have lighting in their classrooms.
It is, therefore, important to note that SCCRR’s methodology is steadily contributing to the transformation of conflict-ridden ethnic communities in Eastern Africa. An evaluation done by SCCRR’s team in April 2018 has revealed and confirmed that SCCRR’s intervention strategy has contributed to peace in Samburu North Sub-county, particularly among the Turkana and Samburu ethnic communities living in the areas of Tuum and Parkati. The key influential stakeholders of Shalom’s Peacebuilding Groups in the two places presented that the two communities have been enjoying peace for a long period now. “We have not experienced any violent conflict between us and our brothers from Parkati for a long time now. We have been living in peace and harmony all because of Shalom’s genuine commitment to work with our communities in this area,” argued Pastor Sebastian Lekasuyan, a Samburu from the PCEA church of Tuum. Mr. Jonathan Esekon, a Turkana village elder from Parkati presented that “the peacebuilding skills we have gained through a series of peace trainings and inter-community dialogues organised and facilitated by Shalom have really helped us to settle our disputes and disagreements in a peaceful manner. Thank you Shalom for helping us to positively transform our relationships in this area.”
The existing ingrained peace enjoyed by the two communities is attributed to the peacebuilding and development programs implemented by SCCRR in the area since 2012 that have gone ahead in impacting positively the work of Shalom’s Peace Groups in both Tuum and Parkati. Through the knowledge and skills accumulated as a result of their engagement with SCCRR, the local Peace Groups have influenced the working together of the local leadership in the two places; they are leading the constant analysis and dissemination of conflict early warning signs between the members of the two communities; and, they have also been in the forefront in discouraging revenge activities which could have escalated the conflict in the area.
The ongoing stability of peace in the area has improved the relationship between the communities of Tuum and Parkati currently rated at an average of 58% by both sides up from 2% in 2012; enhanced better communication; contributed to the sharing of vital and normally contested natural resources in the form of water and pasture; improved insecurity along Tuum – Parkati road; increased free movement and interactions of people in the area; declined revenge and retaliation cases; and opened employment opportunities to the members of the two communities. More importantly, the communities currently use peaceful intervention such as inter-community dialogue and negotiation to settle their disputes and address the underlying causes.
The present peace experienced by the members of the Samburu and Turkana communities in Samburu North Sub-County gives hope and confirms that the work of Shalom is steadily bearing fruits in the ethnic communities previously entrenched by cycle of ethnic violence in Eastern Africa. Shalom will continue, to commit itself to the process of sustainable peace and development in conflict-ridden ethnic communities in the region. Supporters from San Diego, Austin-Texas, Cleveland-Ohio, New York, London, Manchester an Ireland are part of this positive process.
Authors: Fr. Julius Chelanga (SMA) & Paulson Erot (Assistant Program Manager, Peacebuilding Program)