By Mary Koech
Elections in Kenya have been marred, to lesser and larger degrees, by various forms of violent conflict and destruction, especially witnessed during the 2007/8 elections. The effects that were seen included the destruction of property, death, injured and maimed victims as well as negative effects on the economy. It was approximated that over 1,250 people lost their lives, hundreds of thousands were displaced and thousands injured.
The economy of the country slumped and building it back together needed a consorted effort from the grassroots to the top leadership. As we approach the 2017 election, Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) has been requested to conduct a series of workshops in various counties that have been identified as potential hotspots by government agencies. The training is geared towards Election Preparedness and Shalom offers an angle where local Key Stakeholders can fully comprehend the Paradigms of conflict that explain why people behave the way they do in potential and actual conflict situations connected to elections.
In addition, Shalom points out the different levels of community leadership, and area much focussed on by people such as J. P. Lederach. This not only allows participants to understand the various levels of leadership within the pyramid but also empowers them to recognise the role they play towards addressing conflict and the strategies that they could use that are geared towards overcoming challenges of social instability. Shalom also explores the four levels of transformation especially on the effects of conflict at each level as well as the deliberate intervention to effect change.
Shalom, together with the Diocese of Maralal, was able to bring together local key stakeholders from four locations, Lodung’okwe, Serolipi, Wamba and Archers Post, for a training in Wamba, Samburu County. By working together with the Diocese as well as the representatives from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the participants received a wholesome training which included civic education. This type of empowerment allows the participants not only be more aware and involved in the electoral process, but also they become more aware of the triggers that can contribute to electoral violence.
They can apply the knowledge before, during and after elections contributing to a better informed community. Right now the communities, with the solidarity of SHALOM and our supporters around the world, are hard at work to ensure that killing, maiming and displacement of people do not get the slightest chance of occurring. The help of all our supporters in the USA, Ireland, UK, Sweden, Australia and other parts of our sacred planet are greatly appreciated by a wonderful people here in Africa.