Kenya: Bridging the divide between Samburu and Turkana women through peacebuilding dialogues

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The Samburu-Turkana communities residing in the southern region of Lake Turkana, located in northern Kenya, have a long and tumultuous history of persistent conflict. Rooted in land disputes, unequal resource distribution, and tension between herders and landowners, the violence has had dire consequences for its women. Both Samburu and Turkana women have had to live separately due to the conflict. Apart from this divide, they have had to manage with dwindling resources after raids, travel long distances in search for firewood and water, and manage households and farms in the absence of men.

After 26 years of separation caused by conflict, under the Kenya programme facilitated by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and the Interpeace Kenya peacebuilding programme, funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, women had a chance to dialogue and identify how they have contributed to the conflict dynamics between Samburu and Turkana, how this conflict has affected them, and what their role is in fostering and sustaining peace.

In a two-day period, the discussions involved the chronicles of Samburu North’s conflict history, its far-reaching ramifications, the transformative changes observed post-peace, the key role of women’s engagement, and the pathways that could lead to a sustainable peace. From these conversations emerged actionable insights. A call for the active engagement of women in Samburu County’s peace processes resonated strongly. Participants recognised the importance of establishing a women-led peace coordination framework that would provide a structured approach to harnessing women’s perspectives and capabilities for peacebuilding. The collective rejection of revenge-driven missions between communities underscored a shared commitment to breaking the cycle of violence.

The workshop was part of a transformative journey that yielded deep insights. It became evident that women’s roles extend beyond contributing to conflicts; they are also key to their resolution. The inclusion of women in Samburu’s peacebuilding endeavours is not only essential but also very effective.

Speaking during the workshop, Interpeace‚Äôs Kenya programme manager, Ruth Nelima, reinforced to the women the need to continue with the forums. “Today we have shared the painful history of conflict in Samburu. We should not lose this momentum of coming together to share solutions on issues affecting our communities. Our voices are crucial in building lasting peace.”