Years of peacebuilding in conflict environments of Turkana, West Pokot, Samburu, Nairobi, Nakuru, Embu and Tana River Counties in Kenya and at the borders of Kenya-South Sudan and Kenya-Ethiopia have provided both success and challenges. These are renowned conflict areas catalyzed by negative ethnicity, long-standing animosities, cultural differences, resource competition, institutional deficiencies, and political-economic interests just to mention a few. Shalom has a rich knowledge-base provided by empirical research and a ‘paradigm of intervention’ (strategy) which focuses on peacebuilding training and practical involvement in problem solving workshops.
In its work, Shalom inserts itself into the conflict terrains for prolonged periods, responding proactively and creatively with its qualified personnel to settings of deep socio-economic and institutional related conflicts by engaging in initiatives that generate conflict transformation and promote durable peace.
People often ask how you measure success in peacebuilding. Unquestionably, the metrics of development projects are easier to measure because they are quantifiable and easier to observe. To measure success SCCRR is guided by various quantitative and qualitative indicators that point to conflict transformation at personal, relational, structural and cultural levels. Immediate outcomes of SCCRR’s work can be measured by data on the number of trainings conducted leading to increased knowledge and skills, peace initiatives by the trained groups/communities and context reduction of conflict incidences, and inter-dependent communal development projects. Nevertheless, transformation at the four levels just mentioned is crucial for establishing positive peace and sustaining it.
SCCRR has established indicators of success, alternatively used as metrics, for measuring results in regard to the peacebuilding work. Here are some of the key areas of focus:
- Individuals and communities increased knowledge, analytical skills and techniques in preventing managing, resolving, and transforming conflicts therefore becoming architects of their road map to peace and development
- Local administrative leaders, religious leaders, leaders at County level, youth leaders (warriors) are equipped with skills in conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation.
- Dialogue, trust building and consultation for peace among communities in conflict by involving key influential stakeholders in the process;
- SCCRR trained groups and individuals educating the local communities on peace at the grassroots level.
- Communities opting for non-violent dispute settlement systems, for instance the formation of peace committees among the rival communities;
- Improved relationships between ethnic communities measured through the sharing of social activities, social amenities, inter-communal development projects, and resources such as pasture and water points;
- Communities support for development structures such as inter-ethnic schools, markets and secure connector roads, bringing socio-economic and peace benefits;
- SCCRR policy advocacy work in partnership with regional, state and national, civic and faith-based organisations;
- Established working frameworks with local and County leadership, Peacebuilding organizations/practitioners, faith-based organizations for effective peacebuilding by applying more professional and participatory approaches for intervening in intra and inter-communal conflicts;
- SCCRR’s empirical research findings with greater focus on root causes of conflicts, shared with communities in conflict, peace practitioners, local administration, religious and academic institutions;
- School children accessing comprehensive peace education through SCCRR’s peace manual and infrastructural support programmes for schools in Eastern Africa, leading to increased knowledge and skills in peace building at a younger age and improving academic performance;
- Women percentage increase in peacebuilding initiatives;
- Youth percentage increase in peacebuilding initiatives.
A case that demonstrates the nexus between peace and development outcomes is on the Samburu – Turkana conflict in Tuum and Parkati in Samburu County. The initiative of SCCRR’s trained groups resulted in the formation of peace committees from both sides. The many locally driven peace initiatives under the guidance of SCCRR over the past 3 years led to the establishment of a market in 2014 that primarily serves previously antagonistic communities including other traders from towns like Baragoi and Maralal. Other than yielding economic benefits for both communities, the market has served as a symbol of peace for both communities since it has helped a great deal to improve interaction between the Turkana from Parkati and the Samburu from Tuum. The prevailing peace between these two communities has led to improved road security, reduced disruption of schools and health centers and ultimately a reduction in violent conflicts.
To-date, SCCRR has managed to equip more than 9,700 key and influential opinion shapers with knowledge and skills key in conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation in Northern Kenya including the border communities of South Sudan and Ethiopia. Furthermore, we have also focused on conflict environments in major urban centers such as, Kitale, Eldoret, Nairobi, Kisumu and Nakuru Counties.
In the effort of promoting education for peace and development, SCCRR has managed to build and rehabilitate 20 inter-ethnic schools in Northern Kenya, supply 195 schools with Solar lighting units, desks, sanitary facilities etc., reaching more than 20,000 pupils.
To influence and address conflicts at the leadership level, we have trained District Peace Committees (DPC’s), police, chiefs and religious leaders on peacebuilding skills. The statistics from our records show that, of those trained 58% are men and 42 % women. Analyzing trainee representation over years of our work, there is a notable statistical increase of women and youth in our conflict transformation programmes.
A key point of leverage is our partnerships and collaboration with key institutions such as IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development – comprised of 8 countries in the Horn of Africa), relevant government institutions for peace and development in Kenya; Shalom staff also offer courses on Peace Studies at Tangaza University College Nairobi, and the Institute of Peace and International Relations, Hekima, Nairobi; and a number of academic institutions worldwide.
It is worth noting that most peacebuilding indicators seek to measure aspects of human activities which cannot be entirely subjected to quantification. In as much as peace outcomes can be quantified, peace is very qualitative in nature thus more difficult to measure statistically when compared to development-oriented projects – undoubtedly, peacebuilding interventions involves internal change within and between communities that is more abstract than concrete.
Shalom takes the opportunity to learn from the challenges in peacebuilding work/processes. Through interacting with other peace actors, SCCRR has and continues to share its strategy, outcomes, challenges and the lessons learnt. SCCRR continues to overcome the challenges through inserting itself into the communities in conflict, applying resources, analyzing the conflict through empirical research and approaching conflict transformation and development constructively and professionally.
Shalom M and E Team: Francis Mwangi, (M&E Officer), Paulson Erot, (Programme Officer), Prof. Omoka Wanakayi (Director of Research), and Godfrey Okoth (Assistant Programme Manager).