Inter-regional and cross-border movements among pastoral communities often lead to conflicts over water and grazing land leading to displacements of many households. The drivers of conflicts in the region arise from resource and territorial control, violent extremism, effects of climate change and poverty that fuel various cross-border migrations either by force or by choice and cause further insecurities for the entire region. The Marsabit County of Kenya and Borana Zone, Ethiopia have high levels of poverty, food insecurity, low levels of education, high levels of civil insecurity and low levels of gender development. Women and youth participation in decision-making in political, economic and social sphere is significantly low in the region.
Towards a Solution
The cross-border programme in the Kenyan side sets to establish effective peace and conflict structures; re-engineering the national government coordination mechanism to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts efficiently and effectively; and enhancing the capacity of international cross-border conflict management. In the Ethiopian side, the initiative is to combat the recurring drought, harness economic potential and spur long-term investments that will result into a successful economic transformation of the arid and semi-arid lands in Ethiopia.
The programme used participatory action research to understand the dynamics and drivers of conflict in the cross-border areas and to identify the root causes/impacts of conflict. The research also diagnosed and identified factors and stakeholders that could contribute to sustainable peace in the region. The programme used both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies to address the specific objectives study through focus group discussions, questionnaires, face-to-face interviews and key informant interviews. Geographic Information System technology was used to collect and map the spatial data on both sides of the area to enable the stakeholders understand the spatial distribution of resources as well as available infrastructural facilities. Tailor-made capacity building programmes on conflict management and peace-building as well as alternative livelihoods projects were designed and implemented to improve the skills and knowledge of the local communities in preventing conflict and bringing sustainable peace and development.
Ethiopia-Kenya cross-border programme has continued to facilitate peace dialogues to addresses inter-communal violent conflict along the common border. The dialogue focuses on emerging peace, security and development concerns in the border regions between the two countries. The programme has developed a response plan to address inter-communal violent conflicts in the two countries that covers measures to: address ongoing violent conflict; facilitate relief support to displaced populations and host communities; strengthen existing conflict prevention, management and resolution structures at local, county/regional and national levels; support to customary conflict resolution structures to ensure they remain effective; provide livelihood support to borderland communities as well as facilitate regular cross-border engagement and information sharing.
Furthermore, the programme is geared towards boosting economic growth, reducing poverty and promoting business activities in the Horn of Africa through cross-border cooperation. Under the “Collaboration in Cross-border Areas of the Horn of Africa Region, Phase I”, supported by the European Union (EU) is contributing to creating greater economic and employment; strengthening resilience of communities, and in particular the most vulnerable; improving governance and conflict prevention and reducing forced displacement and irregular migration.
The two countries, both at national, regional and local levels have continued engagements to share experiences, replicable peace solutions from each country/region and lessons learnt. This South-South cooperation engagement has offered opportunities for learning best practices from other countries and domesticating to the local context. The experience from the programme implementation indicate the importance of employing traditional conflict resolution mechanisms that have been used in the region, particularly by the pastoralists and agro-pastoralists as the most appropriate tools in dealing with the root causes of conflict and establishing sustainable peace. Experiences have shown that peace agreements founded on traditional systems and mediated by traditional institutions across even regional borders with the support of the states, civil societies and international organizations have the most legitimacy and the highest chances of success.
Continuous consultation among stakeholders is extremely essential for lasting peaceful coexistence. Ownership depends on consultation and participation in the formulation processes and planning of local, regional and national initiatives and activities. Sustained awareness campaigns to understand the root causes of conflict and design peaceful resolutions, as well as a sense of social responsibility and consciousness of individual actions and how they affect social interaction and cohesion is crucial for the development in the region. This strategy will be sustained, and a similar approach has already been initiated in the Karamoja cluster, Kenya-Uganda border region; Omo-Turkana Cluster, Ethiopia and Kenya border region and the Mandera Triangle, Ethiopia-Kenya-Somali border region.
Countries/territories involved: Kenya, Ethiopia
Supported by: UNDP Kenya and UNDP Ethiopia, IGAD/CEWARN, EU
Implementing entities: Ministry of Devolution and Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (Kenya) and Ministry of Peace (Ethiopia)
Project Status: Ongoing
Project Period: 2015 – 2020
Name: Dr. Asfaw Kumssa
Title: Chief Technical Advisor, UNRCO, Kenya
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org