Eastern Africa


By January 23, 2024 February 21st, 2024 No Comments

By Arthur Magero Abonyo MA,

Mr. Wesley Yano, a farmer at Arror in Marakwet, observes, “The sound of a gunshot is chilling, yet here in Kerio Valley, it’s like a normal thing. We live in fear every day because we don’t know when the enemy will come. He pauses and sighs; who lives, who dies, and who tells your story.”

The inter-ethnic violent conflict between the Marakwet, Tugen and Pokot communities in Kerio Valley has for decades created an environment of fear and mistrust among them. Due to the frequent bloody violent conflicts, Kerio Valley has been labeled as “the valley of death”. These inter-ethnic conflicts have brought untold suffering and never-ending tension between the three communities living in this sort of topographical triangle. The triangle is located in a ragged terrain with poor physical infrastructure. This further worsens security due to poor roads, inaccessibility, and unreliable mobile communication networks.

At the beginning of the year 2023, Shalom-SCCRR received a plea from the Eldoret Catholic Diocese of Kenya and the local government actors, to intervene in the Kerio Valley to address the protracted violent conflict between the three ethnic communities. 

Shalom-SCCRR Project team engaging influential community leaders to establish the root causes, dynamics, and context of the Marakwet,-Tugen-Pokot interethnic violent conflict.  This bridge is recognized as the boundary between the three communities, and it’s a dangerous hotspot where several ethnic killings have happened.

This recurrent violent conflict has further resulted in the closure of schools and markets, the destruction of both private and public property, stalled development projects, and capital and investor flight. Other effects of this horrendous ethnic violence are directly affecting families and individuals in the form of physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.   

Moreover, the availability of illicit firearms among civilians has created an environment where even the security and administrative personnel have been targeted with a number of them losing their lives and others left with catastrophic injuries. 

Mr. Christopher Kiptoo, a retired local government administrator (Chief), presenting to the Shalom-SCCRR team the history, causes, and effects of inter-ethnic conflict along the Kerio Valley.

In the initial investigatory engagements, the Shalom-SCCRR team comprised Fr. Oliver Noonan, (Ph.D. Candidate), the Shalom-SCCRR Executive Director, Geofrey Okoth MA, Senior Project Officer, and Arthur Magero Abonyo MA, Project Officer, and the Project Team Leader. They strategically met key local community leaders (including women and youth) and opinion shapers, religious leaders, government administrators, and other relevant peace and security actors. 

Shalom-SCCRR’s Fr. Oliver Noonan MA (Ph.D. Candidate) Shalom-SCCRR’s Executive Director accompanied by Godfrey Okoth MA, Senior Project Officer, and Arthur Magero, Project Officer/team leader engaging key community leaders to establish some of the best strategies for conflict transformation intervention in the Kerio Valley.

In the subsequent workshops, we have been engaged in community entry/insertion activities, conflict analysis, and intervention mapping. Some of the just concluded activities included baseline study and community mobilization interventions with the view of implementing conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and inter-communal development.

Shalom-SCCRR’s project is also reaching schools within the Kerio Valley which have been adversely affected by conflict and have remained marginalized from national educational infrastructure development.

Orusion Primary School grade one and pre-primary one pupils under acacia trees as their classrooms. The shalom-SCCRR team visited the school which lacks proper infrastructure and learning materials and a needs assessment and application for educational support were conducted

The initial workshops have succeeded in securing the community buy-in, and willingness of both the community members and their leaders to commence a journey of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and inter-communal development.

Mr. Godfrey Okoth MA, Shalom-SCCRR Senior Project Officer, facilitating a session on Shalom-SCCRR’s Methodology on Conflict Transformation, Peacebuilding and School/Educational Development Interventions and establishing the conflict issues, causes, and context.

By engaging locals across the three ethnic communities, the Shalom-SCCRR team mapped out some of the main causes of the inter-ethnic conflict which is fueled by: the scramble for resources such as water, pasture, and land; livestock rustling and theft; poverty resulting from lengthy marginalization; disputed communal land boundaries and proliferation of illicit firearms, among other factors.

Mr. Arthur Magero MA, Shalom-SCCRR Project Officer, facilitating a conflict analysis session in Kinyach village along the Kerio Valley. The session involved key opinion leaders in the community.

Shalom-SCCRR is committed to journeying with these three communities in their quest to find long-lasting peace and to employ jointly found peace as a platform for inter-communal development. Further, having established the gap in terms of school/educational development along the Kerio Valley, Shalom-SCCRR seeks to mobilize every support to build schools and renovate those that are extremely dilapidated in terms of infrastructure and equipment for teaching and learning.

 “We are happy to start this journey with Shalom-SCCRR, I believe these communities will benefit from the expertise that the Shalom team has demonstrated. We look forward to a future where these three communities in this triangle can learn and apply non-violent techniques of resolving conflict and working together for common good.” alludes Mr. Michael Kakuko a local administrator (chief) of Pokot community Kipnai location. 

Author: Arthur Magero Abonyo MA, Project Officer & Team Leader Elgeyo Marakwet-Baringo Project

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