SCCRR’s 2019 Programs have been designed with visionary activities to strengthen inter-community relationships and empower sustainable development initiatives. As devolution continues taking root in Kenya, boundary disputes have been on the rise with inter-county border areas increasingly being prone to inter-ethnic violence occasioned by improperly marked boundaries and claims of ownership rights of real or perceived ancestral lands (International Crisis Group 2017 report on Devolution in Kenya). The resultant injured relationships largely informed the 2019 program design with much focus on the realization of sustainable positive peace as the optimum goal. For the 2019 project year, SCCRR planned to activate a total of 106 peacebuilding interventions, in tandem with development projects focusing on at least 50 schools and institutions, across 28 project areas in remote rural areas as well as the urban slum areas of Eastern Africa. The strategic peacebuilding workshops and activities are centered around major themes with the aim of either preventing, managing, transforming and mediating conflict. These themes are Conflict Paradigms, Conflict Mapping, Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict Transformation, Reconciliation, Management of Natural Resource-based conflicts, Radicalization and Extremism, and Peace Education in schools. While dialogue and community conversations are part and parcel of these interventions, a huge effort is put into sensitive community mobilization, organization, facilitation, and project and conflict monitoring. In the first half of this year, Shalom-SCCRR has seen remarkable progress in the implementation of the planned activities as the details below demonstrate.
More community leaders receive Conflict Resolution skills and Peacebuilding techniques.
Shalom – SCCRR can report that by the end of June 2019, 61 peacebuilding workshops had been successfully implemented directly impacting 1,509 influential community leaders, present consistently, spreading across 22 operational SCCRR peacebuilding groups. Figure 1 below presents the number of male and female participants trained by SCCRR between January and June 2019.
As presented in Figure 1 above, SCCRR has managed to implement peacebuilding activities in 6 counties in the North of Kenya, 4 counties in Kenya’s urban environments and 1 region at the Kenya-Ethiopia interface. The introduction of SCCRR activities in Lower Omo, South-West region of Ethiopia and the subsequent involvement of 85 key stakeholders from Nyang’atom and Dassenach tribes is a promise of better progress in cross border peacebuilding since it now provides a good opportunity to train and facilitate dialogue and problem solving between conflicting tribes living in both Kenya and Ethiopian sides of the border.
The close attention that SCCRR has been giving to the participation of women in peacebuilding is bearing fruit as demonstrated by the increasing number of women who are currently being recorded to have taken part in peacebuilding activities. Of the total 1,509 participants trained, 513 from the 10 project regions presented were women while 996 were men. Particularly the Northern Kenya Counties of Samburu, Isiolo, Turkana, Marsabit and West Pokot have recorded steady progress in the incorporation of women as part of peacebuilding decision making processes despite the communities having very patriarchal cultures.
Through their uptake of peacebuilding training and participation in conflict resolution dialogue forums, SCCRR participants have become very resourceful peacebuilding ambassadors as a result of their improved skills of analyzing the root causes of conflict and application of the acquired conflict resolution techniques. Subsequently, they are ready to engage in local conflict transformation initiatives with other community groups, individual citizens, non-governmental institutions that influence the policymaking process and Governmental policy-making institutions.
Community leaders facilitating Conflict Resolution through Problem solving approach
The involvement of the trained community leaders is gradually broadening Shalom’s outreach to even more marginalized communities as these leaders have put in place frameworks and plan to hold awareness creation forums with their fellow community members at the village level. The community dialogue forums have contributed towards the indirect involvement of 59 community groups each having an average membership of 50 people. Some of the community groups that Shalom has laid special focus on as a result of the high level of influence that they wield in local conflict intervention are religious leaders, government administrators, and police and peace club patrons. Figure 2 below presents the number of some of these selected stakeholder groups that SCCRR has engaged and is currently supporting peacebuilding efforts at the local level.
Figure 2 demonstrates the level of recognition that SCCRR has put on the vital role that government and religious groups play in peacebuilding given the wide reach and the high convincing power that they have over the community citizens because of the trust that people bestow upon them. In consideration of their influence, SCCRR project laid deeper focus on these 2 categories of stakeholders by organizing training and dialogue forums that solely targeted them. So far a total of 104 leaders comprising of 54 government administrators and 50 police as well as 217 religious leaders have been engaged by SCCRR and are consequently actively taking part in conflict resolution activities at the community level.
In order to improve on Shalom’s community outreach strategy and support the work of the trained community leaders, SCCRR has identified and built the capacities of 219 Community Facilitators (CFs) and 28 Lead Community Facilitators (LCFs) across 22 out of the 28 project areas through training on conflict and project monitoring, community mobilization, organization and facilitation. Other than supporting the peacebuilding process through conflict and project monitoring, the community facilitators also offer unreserved guidance in preventing latent conflict by operationalizing the relevant early warning mechanisms, leading community driven Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms to stop and manage manifest violence and lead their communities in dialogue forums and development initiatives aimed at transforming the personal, relational, cultural and structural challenges that have entrenched violent conflict at the community level.
In 13 project areas alone located in Samburu, Nairobi, Nakuru and Kisumu, SCCRR targets to reach out to additional 1,740 community members through its training, community dialogue and problem solving forums to be conducted by the skilled community facilitators in the second half of 2019 project year.
The 28 conflict environments that SCCRR has been intervening through conflict analysis, peacebuilding training and problem-solving initiatives have made remarkable progress towards the prevention of manifest violence. So far SCCRR has assisted 11 out of the 28 project areas to establish and manage community-owned and managed peacebuilding committees. These committees have become very proactive in conducting inter and intra-community negotiations to address current and previous aggressions. The interventions have also put in place communication arrangements that prevent any external aggressors and dissidents from committing attacks that might derail the already gained peace. This has emerged as a great expression of empowerment among grassroots communities and a guarantee for sustainable positive peace in the future with the growing reduction of dependence on external support for peacebuilding activities.
Peace Clubs and Peace Club mentors working for peace
Young people and children are emerging as strong voices that can highly complement the peacebuilding efforts that the elderly generation are involved in. According to the UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2250 of 2015, young people are key stakeholders in development, sustaining peace initiatives, democratic governance, and peacebuilding interventions and as such, there is a need for an integrated and inclusive approach that involves empowering young men and women as decision makers, so that they can continue to participate actively and meaningfully in peace processes. SCCRR keeps operationalizing this global resolve through its peace education program in schools. In the first half of 2019, SCCRR has delivered 5 Peace Education training to 560 pupils, members of Shalom’s Peace Clubs in 14 schools across the conflict environments. Additionally, SCCRR has equipped 30 teachers with peacebuilding skills and enabled them to be peace club mentors offering the required guidance on Conflict Resolution to the pupils and peace club members (Figure 2 above). The peace club members have become very proactive in enhancing interethnic cohesion through their constant involvement in conflict resolution activities at the school level. The peace club members have also helped in increasing enrolment in schools through their initiative of visiting families in villages and urging the parents and community leadership to allow the young ones to go to school. The girl child has been one of the major beneficiaries of the peace club’s activities since the community visits and talks at community forums have helped in minimizing early marriages by changing the mentality of the parents to give opportunity to the girl child to be in school.
Peacebuilding through Development
In the fulfillment of its development objectives, SCCRR has in the past 6 months implemented 26 development projects in 11 primary schools and 2 secondary schools across the conflict environments. These projects entailed fencing of schools, construction of classrooms, dormitories and latrines/toilets, establishment of solar lighting systems, supply of lockers/chairs, textbooks, exercise books, double-decker beds, mattresses and laboratory equipment. These projects have so far benefitted 8,354 pupils and students by availing them with improved learning environments. The improved infrastructure of the schools has provided an opportunity for increased enrolment, high retention and improved academic performance in the beneficiary schools while availing space for inculcating a culture of peace in the young ones through SCCRR’s peace education initiative.
The work that Shalom has accomplished in the past 6 months and even beyond has bolstered communities’ progress in their path towards improved intercommunity relationships manifested in the joint sharing of resources and social amenities, socio-economic development manifested in the less disruption of institutions delivering social services and the free exchange of goods and services across communities. This being the reality, there are prospects of there being an even further reduction in conflict and in the raiding of livestock in more villages over and above those that have recorded similar reductions in the past.
…looking at the next half
In order to grow towards strengthening these long-term outcomes, the SCCRR activities for the next half of 2019 are geared towards the implementation of intra and inter-community dialogue and mediation forums. The planned activities are central to the implementation of integrated problem-solving workshops. The dialogue and mediation forums will be conducted at the very grassroots (villages) in 19 project areas and, are to be facilitated by Shalom Peacebuilding groups under the leadership of SCCRR-trained Community Facilitators (CFs).
The problem solving workshops are expected to be a great milestone for communities in their firming up of sustainable intercommunity relationships upon which their mutual concern and interdependent future and development can be entrenched.
Shalom-SCCRR acknowledges the role of each of its highly qualified program team who have made tremendous contributions in realizing the results with the communities in the conflict zones. The Program Management team led by Fr. Oliver Noonan, MA, the Country Director, dynamically directed, supervised and interweaved together different results of SCCRR grassroots peacebuilding. Fr. Patrick Devine, Ph.D. (Chairman -SCCRR) through his tireless visionary work of international promotion among generous donors, and his technical mastery guidance on SCCRR peace and development interventions has facilitated the results. These achievements are reflected by the conflicts transformed, and the inter-ethnic/interreligious schools developed. Working in 28 conflict environments demands expertise, commitment, generosity and passion; it is not a place that the arm-chair general or faint-hearted would embrace!
SCCRR is grateful to all our donors, partners, and stakeholders who continue supporting the work of peacebuilding, peace education, development projects for schools, teacher training colleges, universities, and other welfare institutions. This support has continued to strengthen Shalom-SCCRR’s dedication and professionalism in working towards restoring peaceful co-existence among conflicting communities in Eastern Africa countries.
Mr. Godfrey Okoth Onyango, MA, SCCRR, Director of Programs
Mr. Francis Thuita Mwangi, MA, SCCRR, Monitoring Evaluation, and Learning Coordinator
SCCRR-Shalom Communications Department