Conflict Motives in Kenya's North Rift Region - Interns & Volunteers Series



Kenya’s North Rift Region continuous to suffer from violent conflict in which a series of actors are involved. Armed groups perform widespread and devastating raids against neighbouring communities.

The strength of these warrior groups varies regionally and from case to case. Security operations are often typified by disproportionate brutality. Power figures are known to instigate violence or organise and finance armed militias.

Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia bore the brunt of the post-election violence in 2007 and 2008. The violence mainly pitted Kalenjin warrior groups against Kikuyu communities in a struggle over political injustices and power but also over economic discrepancies and feelings of ethnic antagonism.

Turkana is the most northern district of the North Rift Region. In the course of 2009 and 2010 the district proved to be the most violent in the entire North Rift. Here, Turkana, Pokot, Nyangatom, Toposa and other militias confront each other violently over livestock, pasture and disputed borderlands. Police and military are likewise involved in large scale violence and are known to distribute weapons and ammunition to the different warrior groups. Increased attacks and counter attacks in combination with security operations brought about endless cycles of violence motivated by amongst others ethnic antipathies, survival strategies and commercial incentives.

Samburu and Laikipia were at the epicentre of pastoral conflict and excessive disarmament operations in 2009 and 2010. A series of events in which Pokot, Samburu and Borana militias were involved resulted in an unusual number of deadly casualties and displaced. They also brought about unseen violent disarmament operations resulting in widespread human rights violations. Here too, violence is motivated by political and economic considerations and aspects of tradition.

Throughout the North Rift the complicity of power figures, administrators and politicians in armed violence proves to be a very interesting yet difficult issue. It is believed that politicians and local prominent figures foment violence and organise armed militias for various purposes.