Leadership of Isiolo and Samburu Counties meet to agree a peace plan
Political incitements, revenge attacks, cattle rustling, and widespread mistrust. This is a narrative that has plagued northern Kenya for decades. While the establishment of community conservancies is having a significant impact on peace here, conflicts still erupt, albeit not on the same scale as ten years ago. A large proportion of NRT’s peace efforts are focused on prevention, dialogue and peaceful resolutions. Collaboration with county governments is becoming an increasingly vital and positive partnership in this.
Tensions in Samburu and Isiolo Counties have been running high for several months now, and despite several peace-keeping initiatives from NRT and others, the situation continued to escalate, resulting in loss of life. On the 7th October 2015, NRT coordinated a meeting between the leadership of the two counties, to try and come up with solutions. The meeting provided a safe platform for the two communities to interact, and collaborate on a peace that would be supported by County and National Governments.
In attendance was:
- Deputy Governor Isiolo
- County Commissioners from Isiolo and Samburu with their deputies
- Chiefs from Waso and Sereolipi Divisions in Samburu County
- Chiefs from Central, Ngaremara and Oldonyiro Divisions in Isiolo County
- Ward and Sub County administrator from Samburu
- Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) from Archers Post and Isiolo
- District Admin Police Commanders (DAPC) AD Eastern KWS
- Two County Wardens
- Officers from NSIS and CID from the two counties
- District Peace Committee (DPC) from both counties
- Community leaders as well as two Members of the County Assembly (MCA) from Isiolo County (Peter Loosu and David Lemantille)
- Key elders from the Samburu and Turkana communities
- Representation from the Borana, Somali and Ameru council of Elders
- Chairpersons from Nakuprat Gotu, Nasuulu, Namunyak, Kalama and Sera conservancies
- Conservancy managers from Leparua and Mpus Kutuk conservancies
To start the meeting, the two communities agreed that there are four hotspots that required immediate interventions: Ngaremara Archers, Buffalo springs NR, Maili Saba Leparua, and Kipsing. The leaders and elders all agreed that the hostility being witnessed had escalated from being a few isolated incidents of cattle rustling, to a tribally motivated conflict that had got dangerous and out of hand.
“There was consensus that the status quo needs to change and all participants agreed that the dividend is more in peace than in conflict.” Says Latif Boru, NRT’s County Coordinator for Isiolo, who attended the meeting.
The group identified some of the reasons for the runaway violence. These included political incitements, revenge attacks, road closures, failure of the provincial administration and lack of a peace platform, among others.
The community leaders and elders interacted freely and eventually split into two working groups to come up with a practical plan for the way forward. This discussion was lead by Latif, Fred Obiya (NRT County Coordinator for Samburu) and NRT’s Peace Coordinator Josphine Ekiru.
Some of the solutions:
- Immediate ceasefire
- Increased presence of security personnel in Ngaremara and Archers Post
- Enhanced community policing
- Increased collaboration and communication between conservancies (Sera, Kalama, Westgate, Leparua, Mpus Kutuk, Nasuulu and Nakuprat Gotu)
- Establish village peace committees in Ngaremara and Archers Post
- Encourage an increased involvement of women and the youth (in particular young warriors) in peace initiatives
- Build Political goodwill
- Restore joint ventures between communities, such as markets
- Identify and prosecute those that incite hatred and violence
- Establish better sharing of information and networks
- Arrest the escalation of cattle rustling (this was identified as a major catalyst to the conflict). Provincial administration agreed to put a standby team on both sides to curb this
- Work to recover stolen livestock as soon as possible, even if this crosses county borders (police with no borders)
- Coordinate this recovery with community leadership through the conservancies
- Crackdown on the market for the stolen livestock
- Stop revenge raids and give peaceful recoveries a chance
- Communities to be encouraged to report crimes and offenders
- Instruct all herders to move out of the National Reserves (Samburu, Shaba, Buffalo Springs)
- Establish a joint livestock recovery committee
- Organise a joint cultural festival
- Use churches to preach peace
- Identify and amplify the role of the provincial administration in peace keeping
- Register fire arms and increase the presence and coverage of Kenya Police Reservists (KPR)
- Complement and support conservancy efforts
"NRT and the conservancies were tasked as the lead partners in all of the proposed solutions because of the belief and confidence of the masses in their willingness and presence in the communities.” Said Latif.
The leaders and communities took inspiration from recent activities at Kom – which lies at the border of Biliqo-Bulesa, Melako and Sera conservancies. This is a site that has seen many lives lost due to ethnic violence and competition for grazing. The NRT peace team spent a lot of time there in 2015, working to ensure history did not repeat itself. As a result, Borana, Rendille and Samburu pastoralists are currently grazing peacefully together, and the leadership praised NRT for leading this process.
The two county commissioners agreed to form a working group of ten from both communities to help implement some of the solutions. They asked NRT to facilitate the conversations and processes at a conservancy level as well.
The meeting was closed with a sense of hope, and a declaration that both communities shall adhere to, and support, the new peace plan. NRT and the provincial administration were tasked with keeping the momentum going, and scheduling the next meeting with the joint committee.
Support from USAID helped NRT to facilitate the above meeting. USAID continue to be one of NRT’s biggest supporters – contributing to the peace programme along with NRT core operations and several other programmes.