Off the back of one of the toughest years for peace in NRT's recent history, NRT launches its Peace Ambassador Programme, which aims to oversee and support warrior leaders in different ethnic groups, and ensure peace initiatives are tailored to livestock routes.
Insecurity and livestock are inextricably linked in northern Kenya. Cattle rustling has been so much part of pastoral life here that it has become ingrained in culture. It is one of the root causes of ethnic tension, as grudges and revenge attacks are carried forward over generations. With the availability of illegal weapons now on the rise, these clashes have become more deadly than ever before. Despite NRT conservancies making huge progress in some areas of peace-building in 2015, last year saw 55 people killed in insecurity incidents. This from just 17 in 2014. There were also 60 reported cases of livestock theft. The failure of the seasonal rains, and the subsequent lack of available grazing and water, was undoubtedly one of the primary causes.
Engaging the warrior class - the young men most often involved in instigating and participating in deadly clashes - is now the focus of NRT's peace team. Peace Ambassador Mzee Golicha, and Peace Coordinator Josphine Ekiru, spend most of their working days out in the field meeting with community leaders, warriors, county government representatives and area chiefs. Despite 2015 being one of the toughest years the two have faced in their current positions, they had several historic successes.
- For the first time since 1943, Samburu warriors grazed peacefully at 'Sabarwawa,' deep into Borana land. Equally, the Borana community made use of the Losessia- Kom road safely for the first time since the massacre of Kom 20 years ago.
- Seven planned attacks were averted, due to cooperation from warrior leaders
- In several cases where livestock were stolen, cooperation between conservancies secured the safe return of those livestock to their rightful owners
On Monday 4th April, Mzee Golicha recruited eight elders from notorious stock theft hotspots in NRT Centre to create the Peace Ambassadors team. Most are Conservancy Chairpersons. Their aim is to appoint and mentor peace leaders in several warrior groups. They will work with these leaders, and conservancy grazing committees, to monitor stock routes, and structure peace initiatives based on these stock routes. This will not only feed into the rangeland management programme to ensure proper grazing management, but also mitigate the chance of deadly clashes arising from competition for grazing.
Appointing peace leaders among the warrior groups themselves is a vital part of building the capacity of young men to spearhead peace among their peer groups.