The Pokot and Turkana communities have been in an interminable conflict attributed to numerous complex factors among them a long standing boundary dispute and competition for scarce natural resources. These communities who are predominantly pastoralists live along the longest borderline in the country. This protracted conflict between the Turkana from Turkana South and Loima Sub-counties and the Pokot from Pokot Central and Pokot North sub-counties is among the oldest pastoralist conflict in Northern Kenya. Residents recount that they have been in conflict for so many decades and they do not recall a year when they went without attacks and counter attacks along and across the borderline areas.
SCCRR’s intervention in the region is therefore based on engaging different stakeholders in the Natural Resource Management Project in the Turkana–Pokot borderline which targets to effectively address and transform the protracted conflicts in the region. Alongside facilitating inter-community dialogue on the management of natural resources, the drawing and implementation of natural resources use plans and the strengthening and operationalising local based conflict early warning mechanisms. Shalom is also persisently active in assisting in the rehabilitation, reconstruction and development of local based schools in the region inorder to encourage the endorsement of formal education as a way of building long lasting peace.
One of the success stories is Turkwel Gorge Mixed Secondary School, Kapenguria, West Pokot County, an inter-religious and inter-ethnic school along the border of West Pokot and Turkana counties. The school is a symbol of unity in the region as it comprises of Pokot, Turkana and Marakwet students. This underscores why Shalom is having a joint partnership with the school since its inception in 2015 as it fosters inter-community relations in the region.
The principal Turkwel Gorge Mixed Secondary School, Elijah Obachi receiving SCCRR’s assistance to the school in the form of building materials, teaching and learning materials on behalf of the Board of Management (BOM) expressed his sincere gratitude for the wonderful support. He stated that “ this is a clear evidence that Shalom ( SCCRR) is working round the clock to promote peace in this region which in the recent past has experienced a lot of skirmishes between Turkana and Pokot communities.’’ He further echoed that the students, school fraternity and community by extension had benefited from SCCRR’s intervention in the area. The school’s enrollment had to a great extent increased and inter ethnic schooling promoted as students from both Pokot and Turkana communities were enrolling in the school. As per June 2018 the school population was at 183 students, 113 boys and 73 girls from form 1 to form 3, an immense improvement from the prior years. This was attributed to Shalom’s provision of boarding facilities as well as enough teaching and learning materials to the school.
He concluded by reiterating his appreciation; “Thank you for partnering with us in ensuring that the destitute children from this semi arid region have gotten a chance to be in class and achieve their dreams in life. May your resources continue being of assistance to the needy children in the society.’’
Peace Education in primary and secondary schools is aimed at deligitimizing the use of violence fostering a culture of peace. Through the Peace Development Projects, Shalom continues to support inter-ethnic and inter-religious schools from these areas entrenched in conflict recognizing the inextricable link between the education and development. With the provision of infrastructural assistance in schools, an enabling environment for education is provided breaking the cycle of violence in the communities.
Shalom’s intervention in the area is bearing fruits as the community members are embracing education and peace. The residents are optimistic they will be enjoying not only absence of conflict but tranquility and development as is the case in other parts of the nation. Shalom’s commitment in this cause is a clear manifestation of the good contextualizing of Brundtland’s sentiments “ Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’’
Author: Ms. Esther Kibe, M.A., B.A.; Head of Communication Department