Northern Kenya has a history marred with violent inter-ethnic conflict and marginalization. In the past, the collapse of traditional institutions and the absence of effective governance have hampered efforts to restore peace and security. Regional conflicts feed local arms markets, and poaching funds organized criminal gangs. Against this backdrop, NRT and the conservancies are transforming insecurity in northern Kenya, bringing peace, reducing poaching and providing an institutional framework for conflict resolution.
NRT works closely with the conservancies and the local communities to promote peace through conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and security interventions. Breaking the cycle of cattle rustling is a key intervention - preventing retaliation and further deepening of the historic hatred and mistrust between ethnic groups. Peace meetings, including peace-oriented sporting events, planned grazing, and regional grazing committees are important conflict prevention tools. When conflicts do emerge, over scarce grass or political incitement for example, NRT’s conflict resolution team works closely with conservancy boards, political leaders, appropriate elders, youth leaders and others to resolve them. This conflict resolution strategy is based on a deep understanding of clan and ethnic relations, historical enmities and current drivers of conflict, and is proving to achieve lasting solutions.
Josphine Ekiru, now NRT's Peace Coordinator, was the first woman to be elected as chair of an NRT conservancy board of directors. During the past few years, she has played a major role in defusing conflict between the Borana and Turkana pastoralists in Nakuprat-Gotu conservancy. She has also risked her life spearheading the battle against ivory poaching. Not long ago, she was held at gunpoint by a group of poachers. In this podcast, recorded on a stormy day at her father’s shop near Archers Post – you can hear the wind shaking the corrugated iron roof – she describes what happened. Since then the men who held at gunpoint have given up poaching, and the individual who called her to the ambush is now a conservancy ranger.
The Moran Economic Empowerment Programme
In the pursuit of the shared vision, TechnoServe and NRT agreed to pilot a youth project dubbed “Morans Economic Empowerment Program”(MEEP) targeting the youth in northern Kenya (Samburu, Marsbit and Isiolo counties). The project specifically targeted 10 NRT member conservancies; Naasulu, Mpus Kutuk, Westgate, Nakuparat Gotu, Biliqo-Bulesa, Sera, Namunyak,
Meibae, Melako and Kalama. The nine-month programme was designed to introduce new concepts of entrepreneurship to the morans, such as small scale businesses, promotion of eco-tourism, establishment of industrial businesses and irrigation farming. The aim was to encourage peace, and sustainable income generation through enterprise. Participants established self help groups, through which they received training in communication, goal-setting, business planning, marketing, financial management and customer service. Despite occasional set-backs due to insecurity and ethnic conflict, 267 young men completed the programme in 2015.