Conflict Management in Kenya

Towards Policy and Strategy Formulation

by Mohamud Adan and Ruto Pkalya. Edited by Elizabeth Muli (JSD)

Conflict Management in KenyaKenya has experienced both internal conflict, cross border conflict and experienced the effects of conflict occurring in neighboring states. As a result, a number of interventions exist to address conflict at community, national, regional and international levels. These measures range from district peace committees, traditional peace processes and participation in regional peace and security initiatives. More recently, the National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management has not only developed a draft framework for a policy on conflict management but also formulated a draft national policy on peace building and conflict management.

Strategic coordination amongst key actors has been lacking in conflict management and peace building. Practical Action hope that that this policy analysis report and its recommendations with specific reference to an advocacy strategy is a step forward in realizing a national policy on conflict management in Kenya.

Executive summary

Although Kenya is considered to be peaceful unlike her neighbours, a closer scrutiny reveals an unprecedented wave of internal and cross-border conflicts. These conflicts - mainly manifesting as political, economic, environmental conflicts, conflicts over natural resources, land and tribal clashes and lately terrorism - are sending signals that all is not rosy as the outside world has been erroneously been made to believe. Pastoralists in northern Kenya have borne much of the brunt of internal conflicts and considerable efforts have been directed at addressing their specific conflict environment by a number of stakeholders that include GOK, CSOs, religious organizations and CBOs. The resource-based conflicts prevalent in ASALs have completely distorted development programmes and eroded civil administration of this vast and rugged countryside.

The dawn of multi-party politics in Kenya brought in its wake new dimensions of conflict. Communities were divided along political and ideological lines, which gave rise to protracted and institutionalized waves of tribal and land clashes. Recent developments associated with terrorist groups like the August 7, 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi and Dar-Es-Salaam and the September 11, 2002 terrorist attack on the Twin Towers of World Trade Centre in New York have behooved mankind to think more beyond inter and intra state conflicts and civil strife. Terrorism not only in Kenya but also in the whole world has brought in a new fundamental dimension in the realm of conflict management and community safety.

Against this background, the political climate in Kenya has not been responsive as far as policy formulation and legislation are concerned. Today, there is no national policy on conflict resolution and peace building in Kenya. Apart from the draft terrorism bill, disaster management (floods and drought) and famine relief issues, there are no existing functional frameworks for conflict management. What exists is fragmented and uncoordinated policy statements embedded in various thematic policy issues like the ASAL draft policy, EMCA, PRSP, NEPAD, and Police Act among other documents. Nevertheless, the National Steering Committee on conflict management and peace buildig initiatives have come up with a draft national policy on peace building and conflict management.

In addition to the fact that there exists no formal policy framework for intervening in inter-community conflicts, this report established that in the past, policies have been implemented with no regard for community local knowledge, their indigenous systems of governance and natural resource management. More often than not, policy makers are operating under conditions of market failure caused by factors such as droughts, flooding and civil strife. An understanding of how demand and supply forces interact during such times is critical to the formulation of policies for conflict resolution that provide for processes and programs that enhance and facilitate economic growth, expanded trade, strategic food stocks, commercial imports and poverty alleviation. There is need to look beyond the immediate triggers of conflicts by formulating policies and economic blue prints that seek to improve household incomes, access to education and social services especially in marginalized pastoralist and rural Kenya.

The search for appropriate or correct models and policies for socioeconomic development is gaining momentum all over the world as conventional knowledge fails to meet the challenge of satisfying the needs of people living under different political and social systems and levels of organization. Independent organizations such as policy research institutions and advocacy groups will increasingly play a leading role in shaping the final product of policy formulation and its relevance in the grassroots context. These institutions may not be directly involved in grassroots mobilization, but their association with resource persons within different ministries working on thematic issues of national importance, builds a working relationship between community groups, and in turn impacts the course of national development. The importance of appropriate and effective developmental policies, strategies and programmes cannot be gainsaid. These institutions ensure and encourage appropriate action at the national, regional and interregional levels.

Conflict management and peace building in Kenya continues to face major challenges in the current national and regional environment. Instability in neighboring states has resulted in increased cross border conflicts, proliferation of small arms and humanitarian crisis resulting in the loss of life and property. Institutional challenges such as the capacity of security forces and other government agencies to prevent, mitigate and manage conflict remain despite the growing recognition by the government of the need to proactively address conflict as a development issue in collaboration with other partners such as civil society, private sector and development partners. There remain operational challenges manifested in the continuing need to improve effectiveness and impact of ongoing peace building programs particularly the traditional justice systems. The government needs to realign its priorities and resources to ensure that adequate resources are generated for conflict management and peace building. The structural problems that fuel conflicts must be addressed through the realignment of priorities that recognizes the importance of peace and security in national development.

This report aims to increase understanding on current policy development initiatives and strengthen institutional capacity to participate in strategy formulation and policy implementation. The goal is to prioritize the problems and policy interventions needed to address them. It proposes a policy advocacy strategy that seeks to motivate all actors to participate in ongoing policy formulation process and policy implementation thereafter. It is hoped that the paper will generate debate and form the basis for the development of a concrete strategy that will support the development of a final national policy on peace building and conflict management that is politically viable, sustainable and will see the light of day rather than the back of a dusty shelf.

Chapter 1 provides an overview of current existing policies, institutions and other measures that impact on conflict management in Kenya. It also highlights the principles that act as the 'lens' through which the policy analysis is conducted to identify the policy interventions and lessons learnt that should be integrated into a holistic and cohesive peace building and conflict management policy.

Chapter 2 examines current policy formulation initiatives in Kenya, which provides the basis for the identification of key issues that may potentially impact on the successful formulation and implementation of a national policy on peace building and conflict management. It is necessary to identify these issues in order to establish viable options for policy intervention as well as recommend to policy makers a coherent policy approach to conflict and its management.

Chapter 3 sets out the critical issues and key challenges that should be addressed by the policy. The issues that are highlighted are those that the policy must effectively address to promote conflict prevention, mitigation, management and peace building. They can also act as motivating factors to the actors whose interests they reflect and accommodate encouraging them to actively participate in implementing the policy advocacy strategy.

Chapter 4 highlights the key recommendations of the paper that can inform policy formulation and the advocacy strategy making it relevant to the conflict situations in Kenya. Of greater concern is the development of an effective advocacy strategy that will inform the policy formulation and implementation process. These issues if addressed will enhance the potential for the policy to create an environment where peace may prevail.

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