Marsabit Stabilization Journey: Silencing the Guns

Over the past decades, Marsabit County, Kenya, has experienced occasional conflicts among local communities. Since 2005, the frequency and severity of violence in the county have escalated significantly. In 2021 and early 2022, the situation reached an unprecedented level, with almost daily killings becoming commonplace in Marsabit town. This documentary showcases the accomplishments of the “Marsabit County Peacebuilding Programme—Stabilisation Phase,” which received financial support from the European Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

Promoting mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS) sensitive journalism for peacebuilding in Rwanda

The recent World Mental Health Report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2022 highlights the low levels of health literacy regarding mental health as one of the major barriers undermining Mental Health and Psycho-social Support (MHPSS) worldwide. The media, both traditional and new, plays a pivotal role in dismantling these barriers by educating society, advocating, and raising awareness. Ironically, media professionals themselves often lack adequate knowledge and understanding of mental health.

As part of its holistic peacebuilding programme that focuses on MHPSS to promote societal healing and reconciliation in Rwanda, Interpeace organised a training session for journalists. The objective was to increase their knowledge, skills and understanding of MHPSS.

The two-day training took place in August 2023 and provided essential tools and skills to 26 participants from various local media outlets, ensuring their ability to produce professional MHPSS and peacebuilding-related content that adhere to ethical standards.

Media involvement in peacebuilding and MHPSS processes is paramount in Rwanda, where the population continues to grapple with mental health disorders stemming from the Genocide committed against the Tutsi nearly three decades ago.

The training featured theories, case studies, and practical exercises to deepen participants’ understanding of mental health and the ethical considerations that must guide their reporting. The participants commended the training for bolstering their capacity and igniting their willingness for mental health sensitive reporting.

Producing in-depth, well-researched programmes and reports will promote advocacy among various stakeholders, including government officials, experts, and donors, aiming to advance and influence mental health policies and practices in the country.

Oswald Mutuyeyezu, one of the most influential radio journalists, expressed his desire for regular workshops. “We have learnt a lot from this workshop. We have understood Rwanda's most current diagnosed mental health disorders/illnesses and the techniques and approaches required for reporting on them. While it may be too demanding to hold this training every month, I suggest it be organised at least every quarter to refresh our minds and knowledge,” suggested Mutuyeyezu.

Scovia Mutesi, one of the most influential independent female journalists, a social media influencer, and owner of the online newspaper “Mama Urwagasabo” and a YouTube channel, proposed expanding the training to include younger journalists to ensure the initiative's sustainability.

The participants committed to producing more content related to MHPSS and peacebuilding to educate communities and raise awareness. This will contribute to an increase in mental health service utilisation in the country, which currently stands at 5.3%. It will help combat the deep-rooted stigma and discrimination often faced by people living with mental health conditions, which hinders the demand for mental health care.

Interpeace organised the training workshop in partnership with the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), the regulatory body for the media sector in Rwanda, responsible for building its capacity. Emmanuel Mugisha, RMC’s Executive Secretary, commended the partnership with Interpeace for organising this training. He further encouraged trained journalists to utilise the skills gained to foster their professionalism and fulfil their role as the fourth estate.

“We believe in your capacity and power to drive change. Therefore, we anticipate an increase in stories, documentaries and programmes that educate Rwandans about mental health and advocate for a strong and decentralised mental health system. This training lays the foundation for a strong and fruitful partnership between Interpeace and the media sector in promoting MHPSS and peacebuilding in Rwanda,” said Mugisha.

Ituri : Confisquées par des miliciens, des entités sont rétablies aux chefs coutumiers à travers des consultations

Il peut désormais se faire entourer des membres de son comité de sécurité. Lui, c’est Jean Gaston Herabo, le chef de chefferie d’Andisoma, dans le territoire d’Irumu en province de l’Ituri. En pleine réunion, ce jeudi 8 juin, il est accompagné de responsables de différents services assis à ses côtés pour statuer sur la situation générale de son entité. « Nous pouvons désormais jouir de notre pouvoir. Actuellement je peux me rendre à Gety comme dans d’autres villages sous ma juridiction », se réjouit-il. Pourtant, il y a environ trois mois seulement, toute cette zone était sous l’emprise de la milice du Front patriotique et intégrationniste du Congo (FPIC).  Pendant plus de cinq ans d’occupation par cette milice, l’autorité de l’Etat était bafouée. Ici, toutes les compétences réservées aux chefs coutumiers étaient entre les mains des leaders de ce groupe armé. Ceux-ci « pouvaient organiser des jugements et même emprisonner les coupables avant de leur infliger des amendes en lieu et place des autorités territoriales », ont fait savoir plusieurs témoins. Cette situation a affecté l’accessibilité et la cohabitation entre les communautés des plusieurs entités du territoire d’Irumu.

En février dernier, le projet soutien à la médiation et la résilience pour la paix, financé par l’Union européenne, s’est lancé dans une bataille pour faciliter la restauration de l’autorité de l’Etat. A travers Pole Institute, une série de consultations avec les groupes armés a été amorcée en appui au Programme de désarmement, démobilisation et relèvement communautaires (P-DDRCs). Début juin, pour la première fois, le groupe armé FPIC a accepté de rencontrer l’administrateur militaire du territoire d’Irumu, dans le cadre d’une activité d’accompagnement du processus de médiation tenu à Nyakunde dans la même région. « C’est pour la première fois de vous rencontrer après votre retranchement dans les maquis. Je suis venu prendre contact avec les nouveaux responsables du groupe armé FPIC/CHAMBRE NOIRE SANDUKU. Je voulais aussi vous écouter sur les mobiles qui vous ont poussés à destituer votre ancien dirigeant signataire de l’acte d’engagement de cessation des hostilités. C’est également une occasion de vous sensibiliser à adhérer au processus de PDDRCS », a expliqué le colonel Siro Nsimba.

« Cette activité revêt une grande importance, c’est pourquoi j’ai tenu à ce que tous les chefs des chefferies BIRA et les grands notables soient présents dans ces assises », a-t-il ajouté.

En effet, la présence de plusieurs miliciens dans cette région a mis à mal l’autorité de l’Etat, mais également alimenté le conflit des limites administratives entre les Entités territoriales décentralisées (ETD).

A Kesenyi, dans le secteur de Bahema sud par exemple, il était difficile voire impossible qu’un chef d’une entité se déplace dans une autre. « La chefferie de Walendu-Bindi et le secteur de Bahema Sud étaient en conflit foncier et des limites administratives depuis plusieurs années. Je ne pouvais pas quitter ici pour me rendre à Gety. Seules les consultations menées par Pole Institute m’ont permis d’avoir accès à cette entité », témoigne le chef de secteur de Bahema-Sud, Kataloho Takumara. « Nos villages ont été envahis par la communauté de Walendu Bindi sous la bénédiction de la milice Front de résistance patriotique de l’Ituri (FRPI) ».

Pour y faire face, le consortium médiation constitué des ONG Interpeace, Pole Institute, Action pour la paix et la concorde (APC) et de l’Université de New York a organisé une activité d’identification et de validation des enjeux conflictuels. Ceci a été une occasion pour donner l’opportunité au processus de médiation entre les leaders des différentes communautés en conflits.

« Nous sommes tellement contents que la fréquentation entre nos deux communautés commence à revenir au beau fixe. Nous remercions Pole Institute d’avoir organisé cet atelier. Celui-ci a permis d’accueillir nos frères de Walendu Bindi ainsi que leurs chefs ici à Kasenyi. Nous voulons la paix et ensemble nous pouvons y parvenir », a souligné l’un des participants, avant de souhaiter qu’une activité du genre soit également organisée à Gety. « Cela sera une bonne occasion pour nous, de Bahema-Sud, pour aller y participer », a-t-il renchéri.

Pour l’instant, le projet se poursuit avec les processus de médiation pour pérenniser ses actions et faciliter la restauration définitive de l’autorité de l’Etat afin de donner une chance à la cohabitation pacifique dans cette partie de la province de l’Ituri.

Ethiopian Peace Index: Unveiling the path to lasting peace and resilience in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, 27 June 2023 – The Ministry of Peace of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Interpeace, in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Peace and Democratic Development (SeeD) and ABCON, today launched the pilot Ethiopian Peace Index (EPI) in Sidama, the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR), and the South West Ethiopian Peoples Region (SWEPR). The EPI is a research initiative that offers a unique tool to understand the state of peace and resilience in Ethiopia, with further analysis on the complexities of conflict and peacebuilding. It also operationalized a new approach to bottom-up and participatory measurement that would provide evidence-based strategies for local and international actors dedicated to fostering peace and reconciliation in the country.

The Index, developed with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, used a participatory quantitative methodology in the three regions mentioned above. Through a comprehensive analysis of data collected from citizens, traditional leaders, and Kebele administrators across 101 Kebeles (small administrative units), the Ethiopian Peace Index has quantified and measured various factors influencing peace, including economic, social, psychological, attitudinal, behavioural, and environmental dimensions.

The EPI emphasises the importance of peaceful community and intergroup relations. While individuals were generally peaceful, communities faced many local violent disputes. In order to achieve enduring peace, it is important to cultivate a sense of harmony among diverse ethnic groups, nurture solidarity, and fortify communal relations. The Index highlights the need for objective decision-making by local leaders, capacity building to reduce bias, and peace skills like social tolerance and inclusive identities. The study also reveals the connections between peace and critical areas such as food security, mental wellbeing, and gender equality. It calls for targeted interventions that address scarcity, promote social cohesion, and empower vulnerable groups.

If the Ethiopian Peace Index expands to include more regions in 2023, it will provide a comprehensive national baseline and enable a comparative analysis of peace dynamics across Ethiopia. It aims to serve as a reliable resource for policymakers, peace actors, and development partners in designing evidence-based interventions and monitoring progress towards lasting positive peace. By adopting a multi-systematic lens and leveraging the insights provided by the Ethiopian Peace Index, stakeholders can address underlying grievances, strengthen resilience, and contribute to a more peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.

 

 

Mediation Learning Report – Video

 

The mediation experiences of National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Interpeace in Mandera Country and the North Rift Region of Kenya have been documented in a research paper  that explores the processes and interventions that resulted in two ceasefire agreements in Kenya’s Mandera County and the Suguta Valley in the North Rift Region. In this video, Interpeace’s Kenya Country Representative, Hassan Ismail, provides a breakdown of the factors that substantially reduced violence between communities.

Degodia intra-community dialogue paves way for Kenya and Ethiopia cross border unity

As the sun's warm rays illuminated the arid landscape of Rhamu in Mandera County on the morning of March 11th, 2023, a palpable sense of anticipation filled the air. The Degodia community in Kenya was preparing for a historic meeting that would bring together their kin from across the border in Ethiopia to address the ongoing sporadic killings that had plagued the county, often attributed to cross-border conflicts spilling over to Kenya. Last year, the Banisa sub-county in Mandera experienced conflicts seeping from the borders of Ethiopia's Dawa and Liban Zone, which is home to both the Garre and Degodia communities, respectively. The sporadic killings threatened the fragile peace that had been painstakingly achieved in Banisa since 2018.

Interpeace, through the Kenya programme and in collaboration with the Mandera County Government, for the first time brought together elders of the Degodia community and representatives from the Degodia clan's King, Wabar Abdille. The attendees included Wabar Abdille's cabinet, the Mandera County Deputy Governor, elected members of the County Assembly, and senior county government officials. Their shared goal was to establish an inclusive cross-border approach to address the conflict triggers and discord in the Banisa sub-county, fostering cooperation and trust between the cross-border communities.

Throughout the meeting, participants engaged in discussions surrounding critical issues. They emphasised the need to break the cycle of retaliatory attacks, build trust in security agencies, and ensure compliance with previous agreements such as the Banisa declaration. Similarly, the elders highlighted the importance of revisiting the Banisa Declaration agreement and proposed revising the document to establish a more binding and comprehensive cross-border agreement that involves the people of Banisa, Malkamari of Kenya, and the cross-border Dawa and Liban Zone of Ethiopia.

In addition, the Ethiopian elders revealed that talks with their Garre counterparts had already begun on the Ethiopian side, signalling promising developments in peacebuilding efforts to initiate efforts to resolve the underlying issues on the Ethiopian side.

"We have taken up the responsibility to amicably resolve issues between the Garre and Degodia clans in Liban and Dawa zones, and we promise that there will be no or less spillovers henceforth," said Sheikh Omar- Advisor to the Wabar Abdille.

Towards the end of the meeting, a significant milestone was achieved. For the first time, the elders signed an intra-community cross-border agreement between the Degodia Elders from Kenya and Ethiopia. The agreement outlined actionable steps, including strengthening efforts to resolve conflicts in Ethiopia's Mubarak District and collaborating with the administrations of the Liban and Dawa zones. Furthermore, the meeting paved the way for future encounters between Wabar Abdille and Sultan Mohamed, traditional leaders of the Degodia and Garre clans, respectively, to initiate effective cross-border peacebuilding collaborations.

Thanking the delegation who attended the meeting, Interpeace’s Kenya Country Representative, Hassan Ismail, called on the leaders to help pacify the cross-border region.

“We recognise that we cannot sustain everlasting peace by only working on the Kenya side. We shall engage our development partners, specifically the German Federal Foreign Office to also support us in doing similar work in Dawa and the Liban Zone of Ethiopia. That way, local resilience for peace can be assured and sustained.”

The significance of engaging the cross-border community through such an inclusive meeting cannot be overstated. Previous peacebuilding efforts had focused solely on Kenya, neglecting the situation in Ethiopia. The timing of this meeting was crucial, as the Banisa sub-county had experienced an upsurge in cross-border conflicts and retaliatory attacks between November 2022 and February 2023. The gathering instilled hope for a brighter future that would end the conflicts, promote resource sharing, and enhance collaboration between the Garre and Degodia communities in Kenya and Ethiopia.

"This meeting has allowed us to achieve what we couldn't achieve for the past decade; it will be the beginning of a long-term peacebuilding engagement with our kin from Ethiopia,” emphasized Haji Bare Hassan, District Peace Committee Chairman, Mandera North Sub-County.

The intra-community dialogue meeting concluded with a sense of unity and optimism, paving the path for future inter-community dialogues scheduled for this year. With the support from the Federal Foreign Office of Germany, the dialogue will, for the first time, bring together Degodias and Garre community members from both Kenya and Ethiopia to establish a sustainable, binding cross-border agreement that would bring the two communities to a uniform resolution, unlike the previous Banisa declaration that was centered in Kenya only.