By Mary Keoch
P’Sigor is a constituency in West Pokot County inhabited by the Pokot community who engage in livestock keeping and crop farming as a means of livelihood. The residents have had a history of conflict between them and their neighboring Turkana community and sometimes with the Marakwet and the Tugen tribes. Majority of the Pokot are highly dependent on livestock for their livelihood and this is the source of major conflict and altercation between them and neighboring communities. The clashes happen mainly over the control of natural resources like pasture and water, which are scarce in the whole region. Other symptoms of conflict are cattle rustling, ethnocentrism, poverty, marginalization and proliferation of illegal fire arms. Though P’Sigor is not typically at the center of conflict due to its location, they feel the effects of conflict and are affected indirectly.
In September, Shalom conducted a workshop as part of its ongoing training program which started in 2012 with the Pokot of P’Sigor on Conflict Mapping. Those targeted for the workshop were representatives of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) who work closely with the Church and the community towards peace-building. The aim of the workshop was to have the participants gain deeper insight into conflict patterns in their community and to provide them with the vital skills on how to develop strategies that harvest citizen awareness and participation in conflict reporting and community collaboration. The skills learned from the workshop on Conflict Mapping would also enable the participants to slowly and precisely delve into the analysis of a conflict in order to understand the history, context, parties involved, the issues and the dynamics of the conflict.
The participants came up with an action plan for Pokot representatives meet with Turkana Representatives for dialogue in a neutral location (Eldoret) to focus on the major sources of conflict between the two communities and find possible ways forward. The workshop would also be an avenue for the participants to get familiar with each other and build trust. Those chosen for the dialogue process came from nine different villages and constituencies that border the Turkana community. They also compose of individuals who engage in various peace activities.
David Domongura was chosen to lead the Pokot representatives for the trust building and dialogue workshop and stated, “We are glad to have the opportunity to meet with our brothers and sisters from the Turkana. We intend to share the knowledge we have learned today. I urge all of you not to stop there. Let us be committed even after such workshop to take action in our communities.”