By Mary Koech
Loiyangalani is a small town on the South-Eastern part of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County. The hot and dry flat land is home to various ethnic groups such as the Turkana, Samburu, El Molo and Rendille. Other minor ethnic groups living there include the Somali and Kikuyu communities. Due to the close proximity to the vast alkaline lake, many engage in fishing for their livelihood. Mining and tourism are some industries that support the same locals. In addition, as most of the population are pastoralists, livestock is a main source of livelihood.
The four major communities living in Loiyangalani have for a long time lived in harmony, in close proximity and have conducted business together. However, recent years (approximately 3 years) have seen ethnic tensions flare usually sparked by conflict in other regions which have resulted in attacks. In an attempt to quell the tension before it spirals out of control, local administration and religious leaders requested the intervention of SCCRR to conduct training workshops with key stakeholders in the community on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Reconciliation and Transformation. By equipping local influential members with knowledge on how to prevent or address ongoing conflict, the community can have control over their lives and make decisions that best suit them.
Shalom held its third workshop on the 23rd and 24th of June, 2016 on mediation. The turn-out of the various ethnic groups represented in the area was fairly distributed with approximately the Samburu and Turkana communities comprising of approximately 70% of the participants and the El-Molo, Rendille and other minor ethnic groups representing the remaining 30 percent. The participants spoke openly among themselves about various concerns that they have, sat together rather than with their own ethnic group members, held group discussions together despite ethnic composition and sang and ate together.
Such non-verbal communication illustrated an increase in trust among the locals. Business has resumed as normal with people being able to buy from other villages without fear. Animals belonging to different ethnic owners are grazing together. Participants of SCCRR in Loiyangalani are very hopeful that they can be used as mediators in other areas where their own ethnic groups are in conflict. Boniface Natyamo, an El-Molo peace ambassador and Shalom member was hopeful that other communities can see how people in Loiyangalani are living in peace and follow suit.