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Peace Actors Forum Revives Coordination Activities to Address Conflict in Wajir

April 17, 2023
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Wajir County in Kenya has been plagued by conflicts for years, with scarce resources, clannism, and political instability being the main drivers. According to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), Wajir is among the top ten counties with the highest conflict rates in Kenya, with most conflicts being intercommunal.

In 2020, the Wajir County Peace Actors Forum (WCPAF) was established with the aim of addressing the issue of conflict in the region.   The forum brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including civil society organizations, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, traditional leaders, local media, as well as both National and County Governments. The collaborative efforts of these stakeholders were aimed at effectively managing conflict in the region. Unfortunately, the forum's potential was hindered by the insufficiency of funding and the lack of physical presence in Wajir. As a result, the coordination mechanisms deteriorated, thereby impeding the forum's effectiveness in managing the prevailing conflict concerns.

The formation of the WCPAF was inspired by the success of the Mandera County Peace Actors Forum (MCPAF), which streamlined peacebuilding efforts in the county. By reducing competition and duplication, the MCPAF enhanced programmatic synergy and ultimately contributed to the creation of trust-based engagements, sustainable peacebuilding programming, and enhanced community ownership.

Interpeace, the Network for Peace, Cohesion, and Heritage (NEPCOH) Trust, and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) recently collaborated to revive the Peace Actors’ Forum in Wajir aimed at addressing existing and emerging conflicts in the county. As part of the ongoing peacebuilding programme supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, a series of meetings were held to develop plans for monthly coordination meetings in 2023. During these meetings, stakeholders developed a framework for collaboration and coordination of all peace initiatives in Wajir.

At the resumption meeting, peace actors discussed emerging and existing conflicts in the county, analysed various conflicts drivers, and updated on ongoing interventions. They also established future areas of collaboration and programmatic synergies. A key agenda item highlighted for future collaboration was the passing and operationalisation of the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) Peacebuilding and Conflict Management Policy and Bill. This peace policy and act will streamline peace infrastructures in FCDC Counties, institutionalise the county peace directorate/departments, and help allocate funds for peacebuilding initiatives.

A secretariat and technical team have been established to manage and operate the Peace Actors Forum. These actors have developed a collaborative framework and ethical guidelines to guide their peacebuilding efforts. One of the most notable achievements of the forum is the collective effort made by the peace actors to ensure that the current Wajir County Executive ratified the peace policy and bill, which is now being discussed in the Wajir County Assembly for enactment. To expedite the process, the programme sought the support of the FCDC Sector Forum for Peace and Cohesion and the Wajir Department for Cohesion.

The Peace Actors Forum is an essential platform for coordinating, collaborating, and complementing peacebuilding efforts. Its significance cannot be overstated. With the enactment of the peace bill, the forum will be institutionalised and provided with a legal framework.

"The revival of the WCPAF will enable coordination, cooperation, and synergy building between various peace actors in the county. The forum will go a long way in enhancing timely information sharing, in addition to resource mobilisation for an effective response, especially in case of emergencies," said Adan Abdi Ahmed, Deputy Director of Peace and Security in Wajir County.

Speaking about the revival of the Wajir Peace Actors Forum, Hassan Ismail, Interpeace's Kenya Country Representative, indicated how its success, along with that of the Mandera County Peace Actors Forum, creates a unique opportunity for the Kenya programme to create roadmaps for other counties. "The remaining FCDC counties and the three non-FCDC counties of Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, and Laikipia will be trained to establish and operationalise County Peace Actors Forums during an induction meeting organized by FCDC and facilitated by Interpeace," he said.

"At the end of the training, a roadmap will be developed to roll out the Peace Actors Forums and expedite the enactment of peace policy and bill in all the FCDC and the three non-FCDC counties. This will ensure that peacebuilding efforts are coordinated, effective, and sustainable across all regions."