Context

Interpeace’s partner in Kenya, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (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, which caused 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 more than two decades of peacebuilding experience with the NCIC.

The security situation in Mandera County, where Interpeace has implemented a peacebuilding initiative since 2016, has improved despite intermittent clan clashes and small-scale cross border terror attacks that exacerbate an already fragile environment. The terror attacks are mostly perpetrated by the Somali militant group Al Shabaab, which is opposed to Kenyan military involvement in Somalia. In 2017, the NCIC and Interpeace published a report, 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, entitled: Voices of the People: Challenges to Peace in Mandera County.

In a recent report entitled: “Footprints of Peace: Consolidating National Cohesion in a Devolved Kenya 2014-2018” the NCIC recommended the adaptation of the PAR approach and lessons learned from the Mandera programme as a model for locally owned and locally driven peacebuilding architectures in all the 47 counties of Kenya. In 2018 Interpeace and NCIC consequently conducted a rapid fragility and resilience assessment in the Wajir and North Rift regions of Kenya, since these regions face significant peace and security challenges. This resulted to scaling up of the peacebuilding approach in 2019, in the Kerio valley across the county borders of Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo and Samburu.



Goal

The programme’s goal is to contribute advancing peace, security and development in fragile Counties in Kenya by transforming grassroots communities into agents of peace, capable of managing their conflict through non-violent means.



Strengthening cross-clan collaboration

In April 2018, the Mandera Peacebuilding Programme facilitated the safe return of 19,000 people displaced in an upsurge of fighting and killings between the Degodia and Garre clans in Banisa Sub-County. Following the displacement of 32,000 people in the conflict, the peacebuilding team mobilized an all-inclusive, cross-clan peace process that brought together 252 stakeholders with the objective of brokering a swift ceasefire. This resulted in an agreement on the immediate cessation of hostilities, the hand-over of murder suspects to the authorities, and the safe return of IDPs. Following the cessation of hostilities, the team immediately launched an awareness campaign across Banisa Sub-County, carrying out peace rallies in 12 locations to spread information on the agreement. A total of 5,350 people was reached and there were no retaliatory attacks thanks to swift engagement with the local community. ...

Promoting co-existence through film

The programme has used Audio-visual documentary film as a critical tool for the documentation and dissemination of its peacebuilding efforts – film has been used as a conflict early warning and prevention tool. Through film screenings, out-of-reach rural communities have been informed of cross-clan agreements and the research findings on the challenges and solutions to peace in Mandera. The films also amplify people’s voices to leaderships at the capitals. In the case of the Banisa intervention, a film about the peace process and the community declaration was produced. Three months after the intervention, the peacebuilding team returned to Banisa and the neighbouring Sub-Counties of Mandera North and Mandera West to screen the film on the Banisa intervention. This has contributed towards the attainment of a sustainable social reconciliation process and has simultaneously bridged the information...

Fostering the role of women in peacebuilding processes

To promote the positive role women can have in building peace, the peacebuilding team mobilized 25 women who are opinion leaders to participate in the Banisa intervention. These women were able to share their opinions and concerns around sexual harassment and assault with security officials, leading to a recognition on the part of leaders that the participation and engagement of women in peacebuilding should be further encouraged. Furthermore, in May 2018, the adjacent County of Wajir experienced recurrent clan conflict between the Degodia and the Ajuran over land and resources. As a result, our partners the NCIC supported women-led local organizations in their quest to advocate for peace and carry out peace meetings and rallies to foster dialogue and cohesion. The intervention, led by the Sisters Rise Together Foundation, targeted clans and sub-clans engaged in conflicts in Buna, Eldas, and Bojiga...

Supporting youth platforms for leadership in peace, reconciliation and governance

As part of our objective to support cross-clan initiatives to prevent radicalization, promote conflict management and address community security concerns, the programme works with a select group of youth leaders to reinvigorate a youth platform named the Mandera County Vital Voices Network (MCVVN) for leadership in peace and reconciliation. In 2018, the youth platform organized 72 youth-led dialogue groups, that were trained on issues of peace and reconciliation. Furthermore, a joint prioritization of the issues affecting youth was developed. The issues identified were corruption, unemployment and radicalization. The Mandera Vital Voices is now viewed as a valuable platform for peace and is positioned to lead participation on key questions such as the radicalization of vulnerable youth.

Addressing violent extremism

The Mandera programme has been the lead agency steering discussions around the development of the Mandera County Action Plan on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). This was attributed to its known expertise in Participatory Action Research (PAR). Furthermore, the Mandera programme has led an effort to improve relations and trust between security agencies and the local communities, particularly young people, who have often been indiscriminately on the receiving end of security operations. Beginning with joint sporting activities and later consultative meetings, the programmme has made progress in forging understanding between the security agencies and the local communities. Many youths now openly discuss security matters and the threats of radicalization with local leaders, imams and security heads. Moreover, the Mandera Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) has opened a social media account to en...

Resources