In November 2014, Interpeace entered a partnership with Kenya’s National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to implement a joint pilot peacebuilding programme in Mandera, a county that faces significant peace, security and development challenges. Located in Kenya’s North Eastern Region, along the border with Ethiopia and Somalia, Mandera County has intermittently experienced clan-based clashes. These clashes are primarily fuelled by competition for political and economic opportunities as well as territorial disputes between the various clans living in Mandera. Tensions between the clans swiftly escalate to large scale acts of violence, while the porous international borders have in recent decades allowed infiltration by militant groups from Somalia. These militant groups have further contributed to insecurity, often launching deadly attacks both within Mandera and in other parts of Kenya.
Interpeace’s partner in Kenya, the NCIC, was established to help build lasting peace in Kenya following the 2008 post-election crisis. The crisis was caused by disputed presidential elections in December 2007 elections, which touched off deadly violence, mainly perpetrated along ethnic lines. The NCIC is a government agency mandated to foster lasting peace and cohesion between Kenya’s various ethnic communities. Interpeace and the NCIC signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November 2014, formalizing a partnership that enabled them to collaborate on the Mandera pilot programme. The partnership has made it possible for Interpeace to share its more than two decades of peacebuilding experience with the NCIC. In the long term, it is envisioned that the Mandera Pilot Programme – which is Interpeace’s first initiative in Kenya – will spawn future initiatives for sustainable peace in various other parts of Kenya as well as the broader Mandera Triangle, a conflict prone region in the Horn of Africa where Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia converge geographically.
In 2017, the NCIC and Interpeace published the first report the Mandera Peacebuilding Programme, based on the findings of a consultation process to establish the challenges to peace in Mandera County, as perceived by the local communities of the County.
Titled Voices of the People: Challenges to Peace in Mandera County, the report captures the first-hand views of grassroots communities across the County. It also includes the views of other stakeholders, such as Nairobi-based elites who hail from the County; key informants in the neighbouring Wajir County; the leadership at both the County and National levels; and communities living along the international borders with Somalia and Ethiopia. It was imperative to seek the views of such a diverse spectrum of stakeholders because issues of peace and security in Mandera often have a cross-border dimension in addition to the tenuous clan relations.
Using lessons learned from the Mandera pilot programme, Interpeace aims to contribute to advancing peace, security and development in other parts of Northern Kenya, the North Rift and the Coastal regions, and the Mandera Triangle by transforming grassroots communities into agents of peace, capable of managing their conflict through non-violent means. It will also undertake advocacy with the various leaderships of these restive areas to ensure the enactment of policies that address the root causes of the conflicts by developing solutions that directly respond to the aspirations of the local populations.