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Voices of the People: Impediments to Peace and Community Resilience in Wajir County

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Wajir County, Kenya has experienced intermittent conflict over the years. Since pre‑colonial times, the county has endured frequent conflicts and counter‑conflicts, as communities pit themselves against each other. Some of the conflicts are spill‑overs from Somalia or neighbouring counties. Several interventions led by state and non-state actors have faced large hurdles, as conflicts continue to intensify in range and magnitude. Against this backdrop, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Interpeace peacebuilding programme conducted a consultative community engagement process to identify the challenges to peace and document community resilience factors in the county, with the aim of building consensus and facilitating co-ordination among actors to address barriers to peace.

The research employed a participatory action research (PAR) approach by conducting 36 focus group discussions (FGDs) with about 14 participants in each group, reaching a total of 538 participants in 30 villages across the county in addition to 17 interviews with carefully selected key informants.

At the end of the research process the programme held a forum to validate and prioritise the identified impediments to peace in Wajir County. 120 stakeholders attended the forum, among them members of the local communities, key officials from both the national and county governments, elected leaders, security agencies, and civil society groups operating in the county.

The participants were divided into four groups. These were composed taking diversity into account in terms of geography, clan dynamics, professions, gender, age, disabilities, and minority clans to discuss and prioritise key issues through extensive focus group discussions.

The prioritisation exercise eventually singled out the following two priority areas to be addressed as the first step towards finding lasting peace in Wajir:

i. Contestation over electoral and administrative boundaries.

ii. Partiality of government officials.

Following the successful priority setting phase, the stakeholders’ forum nominated a working group to work with the NCIC/Interpeace team to further engage the communities and find solutions to these top two prioritised challenges to peace. In this study report, the remaining issues identified will be merged under the prioritised issues for programmatic engagements.