Community members in Turkana South and West Pokot rejoiced at having lived in peace for 18 months without cattle raids and killings by together celebrating the International Day of Peace in late September.
For decades Pokot and Turkana communities have been embroiled in continual conflict related to natural resources and livestock rustling. The conflict has caused deaths and destruction of property, and rendered the northwestern region marginalized, poor and forgotten.
Hundreds of lives have been lost in the conflict over land, finally prompting elders from both communities to meet and negotiate. The recent one and a half year old peace is one of the achievements of Finn Church Aid’s conflict resolution process in Turkana South and West Pokot under USAID and funded by REGAL-IR project.
“The prevailing peace for these two communities now enables them to trade freely and children can now go to school”, FCA peace officer John Bongei tells.
“Pokot people are able to cross the bridge to the nearest Kainuk shopping Centre to sell milk while the Turkana people are able to also cross the bridge and buy other food items or graze their livestock. “ The peace process began with conflict assessments in 2014 and utilized Inter and Intra dialogue peace meetings between Elders, Women groups, Reformed warriors, politicians and Youth to peacefully resolve the conflict.
During the peace process, FCA has identified representatives to speak on behalf of the tribes and identified major grievances to be addressed within the tribes themselves. After that the two tribes were brought together for dialogue to address the long and outstanding conflicts.
After the talks the political leaders of the area went ahead to organise popularisation meetings of the resolutions to both communities. This resulted in a peaceful coexistence of the Turkana and Pokot communities.
However, the work is not yet done.
“My fear is that the former fighters, who are now friends, remain idle and might relapse back to violent conflict if they aren’t provided with alternative livelihood opportunities soon”, John Bongei says.
Finn Church Aid (FCA) is implementing the peace component of a larger programme “Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience” (REGAL-IR) by the consortium led by Adeso, African Development Solutions and funded by USAID.