Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation [SCCRR] (Shalom) in transforming most conflicts in Eastern Africa pegs its strategy by focusing on the transformation of the root causes of conflicts rather than dealing with mere symptoms. With clear set of strategic goals geared towards achieving its Vision and Mission Statements, SCCRR has continued to make enormous strides in peacebuilding as demonstrated by outcomes achieved every other year.
SCCRR works with ethnic communities and schools especially in conflict environments. Our activities focus on empirical research, training geared towards conflict resolution and peacebuilding techniques, problem-solving workshops, peace education and development projects targeting schools and health facilities in areas of entrenched violent conflicts. Our programs reach out to 8 counties in Kenya and bordering areas of South Sudan and Ethiopia. The 8 Counties in Kenya are: Marsabit, Samburu, Nairobi, Nakuru, Tana River, Embu, Turkana and West Pokot.
In the year 2017, Shalom conducted 83 workshops aimed at equipping influential leaders, opinion shapers and community groups with knowledge and skills for peacebuilding. The approach focuses on key influential people at the various levels in the society. This includes government functionaries, political leaders, religious leaders, women groups, peace and development practitioners and community members.
In 2017, the key thematic areas for the workshops were around election preparedness, Conflict Early Warning and Early Response, Inter-ethnic Community Dialogue, Negotiation, Problem-solving, Peace Education for Peace Clubs Patrons, Action Plan Design and Implementation for conflict interventions targeting the SCCRR consistent groups and selected individuals. Below are statistics for workshops conducted and are presented based on thematic areas of focus.
As a way of supporting and sustaining the progress towards positive peace, 8 peace committees and 4 Natural Resource Management (NRM) committees have been formed in target areas. The committees are a link between the people and institutions such as the government, Church, and other peace practitioners. Of great significance to mention is the successful establishment of structures meant to support conflict prevention, management and resolution. SCCRR programs have helped establish communities’ driven Local Early Warning and Early Response mechanisms in several conflict prone areas. The peace and NRM committees supported by Shalom have played a crucial role in the implementation of intra and inter community dialogues. These structures have been effective in the management and resolution of inter-communal conflicts. This approach of creating community supported structures has been noted to be crucial for sustainability and increased local ownership of the peace process.
Outcomes realized from SCCRR’s peace initiative have led to: 1) Improved relationships between conflicting ethnic communities; 2) Establishment of common markets between communities, therefore impacting on their socio-economic well-being; 3) Reduction of violent conflicts; 4) Reduction of livestock raiding incidences; 5) Sharing of resources (water and Pasture); 6) Reduced disruption of schools, hospitals and other institutions and 7) Reduced conflict-related human displacements.
Through our workshops in the year 2017, we successfully trained 2,094 participants in 8 Counties in Kenya and at the borders of South Sudan and Ethiopia. SCCRR continues to empower women in decision making. Among communities in the northern Kenya, women are discriminated by cultural norms and practices in decision making within the societal structures. In order to counter this challenge, SCCRR’s strategic peacebuilding approaches managed to achieve 42% women participation in the peacebuilding initiatives. Below are the statistics based on age and gender.
Supporting Peace Education
More than 6,500 pupils (primary) and students (secondary) have been reached through SCCRR’s Peace Education Program. There are more than 12 active Shalom Peace Clubs supported by SCCRR’s program both in primary and secondary schools. The principle behind SCCRR’s peace education for schools is to promote a culture of peace in pupils and students to communities; ultimately leading to inter-ethnic and inter-religious peaceful co-existence.
The pupils and students have been peace ambassadors who are an irresistible influence on their families that have not known peace for years. In an interview with one of the parents, she had this to say “when my children come back from school every day, they tell of their experiences of new friends from other ethnic communities whom they knew as enemies before. They now play together, sit together, share meals, plant ‘peace trees’ together… but they say, they have learnt this new way of co-existence through the peace clubs. For us elderly people, this is inconceivable but SCCRR has made the impossible possible, and we are thankful to SCCRR for the transformation we see in our children and the community’’.
Peace and Development
In 2017 SCCRR implemented 56 development projects emerging from and supporting its conflict transformation and peacebuilding interventions. SCCRR supplied schools with solar units, lockers/chairs and desks, text books, exercise books, construction of: classrooms, dormitories, latrines/toilets, tents, double decker beds, mattresses, water tanks and laboratory equipment. These projects have benefited more than 11,200 pupils in primary schools and 4,550 students in secondary schools. Health centers, universities and other institutions were supplied with solar units, construction materials and microscopes. The statistics below show how SCCRR has supported various institutions with materials in the year closing.
This has created better teaching and learning environment to enhance: enrolment, retention and academic performance. SCCRR has special preference for inter-ethnic and interreligious schools because in this way it promotes co-existence through learning and shared activities.
SCCRR development approach is participatory in the sense that the beneficiary communities contribute in the implementation process. Furthermore, joint development has benefits of change of perceptions, shared-visions and institutional implementation at the ideological and functional project levels – this is realized in schools, markets and medical centers.
An effective early warning architecture must have the local people at the center of it. Conflict originates from communities however they must be empowered to know the early warning signs and respond in good time.
The impact of peace education that targets pupils and students is a long-term approach given its investment especially in terms of time, but it is more effective and has sustainable peace outcomes.
Women, despite being disadvantaged by cultural norms and societal roles, they are also perpetrators of conflict through the same culture. Nonetheless, when violent conflict occurs women are more vulnerable. Therefore, a constructive and sustainable peace process must have women at the center.
SCCRR is grateful to all who supported their work of conflict transformation, peace education, and development projects for schools, institutions and communities. This support has continued to strengthen SCCRR’s resolve and commitment in working towards restoring a peaceful co-existence among conflicting communities in Kenya and neighbouring Eastern Africa countries.
By SCCRR Program Management and M&E Departments