Mandera County is one of the 47 counties in Kenya, located in the North Eastern part of Kenya and borders Ethiopia to the North, Somalia Republic to the East and Wajir County to the South. It is about 1,100km from the capital city of Nairobi by road. The county has an approximate population of 1,025,756 and covers an area of 25,991.5 km. The County Administratively is subdivided into six Sub Counties namely Mandera West, Mandera South, Banisa, Mandera North, Mandera East and Lafey and 30 administrative wards.
Population distribution by livelihood zones is as follows; pastoral economy zone in the east and the central corridor, agro pastoral economy zone in the west and irrigated cropping zone in the north along the Daua River.
Mandera County is prone to periodic hazards of drought, floods and clan conflicts which have exposed communities to economic hardships. Clan conflict is a periodic hazard that displaces households, destroys property, causes injuries and death, restricts livestock movement and disrupts markets resulting in high poverty levels.
The persistent clan conflicts have had serious consequences on the county and have negatively affected socio-economic activities, education, business activities and livestock movement. Dozens of innocent human lives have been lost; while others injured and thousands displaced from their original homes. The ensuing violence resulted in an estimated displacement of 7,385 households, 95 deaths and over 100 injuries (source KIRA report July 2013), thereafter 17 others were killed and 19 sustained injuries. Families have been disintegrated, their economic livelihoods disrupted and families’ possessions lost. Local communities’ traditional livelihood sources have been damaged as a result of livestock theft/losses and destruction of business properties. However for the last one year the conflict has subsided and normalcy is gradually returning.
The inter-clan conflicts in Mandera County began in Nov. 2011 and peaked by August 2012 between the Garreh and Degodia clans, triggered by political supremacy in Mandera-North. The County thereafter experienced the worst spate of inter-clan conflicts in the months of Febuary to August 2013. This was a build- up of animosity before and after the March 2013 general elections, affecting the areas of Mandera-North. The ensuing violence resulted in an estimated displacement of 7,385 households, 95 deaths and over 100 injuries.
Concerted peace efforts by the National, County government and other stakeholders resulted in relative peace for almost 7 months. However, by March 2014, tensions began mounting. In May 2014, inter-clan fighting broke out along the border areas of Wajir and Mandera Counties, setting into motion a series of retaliatory attacks. In spite of the peace-building efforts by the various actors, the conflict situation escalated into the month of August 2014. As a result, massive displacements were observed across the county. A total of 15,257 households were displaced . The sub-counties which were affected the most were Mandera North (8,000HH), Banisa (5,750 HH) and Mandera South (1850HH).
The conflict and current drought has had physical, social, economic and psychological effects on the affected communities as well as their hosts. Poverty has been entrenched through low income, breakdown of community institutions and dissolution of the social community’s structure, resulting in increased physical isolation and social exclusions.The sectors that have borne the brunt negatively are education, livelihoods (loss of business infrastructure and stocks as well as livestock), shelter/NFIs and WASH. As a result, the living standards of the population have been lowered with most youth, women and business men grappling with means to restart their livelihood activities.
Majority of the displaced populations were either hosted by community members or were placed in spontaneous camps. The spontaneous camps are mainly found in Elwak south and a planned camp in Rhamu town whose populations were displaced from Wajir County. Both the national and the County governments have prioritized peaceful co-existence, since the last spate of conflicts. This has been achieved through regular patrols in the volatile areas and peace rallies spearheaded by opinion leaders. The County government, the national Government, KRCS and NGO’ have continued to provide essential humanitarian aid including relief food, water, sanitation, shelter and NFIs.
The recovery efforts notwithstanding, the humanitarian situation remains dire. Poor performance of both the long and short rains for the past two years has exacerbated the fragile food insecure region.