Conservancies Lead Peace Efforts in Conflict Hotspot
The traditional grazing area of Kom lies on the border of Sera and Biliqo Bulesa conservancies. In dry seasons, this area has been a conflict hotspot, as herders from Samburu, Marsabit and Isiolo Counties compete for scarce resources.
The failure of the seasonal rains has currently heightened tensions around Kom, as thousands of livestock herders - some of whom are armed - gather to salvage what little pasture there is left.
To prevent potentially fatal clashes, Biliqo Bulesa and Sera conservancies have partnered with NRT peace team and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination to hold a peace meeting at Kom between herders and elders from the Borana, Samburu and Rendille communities.
The meeting took place on Friday 19 April, 2019, with top security officials from Merti, Samburu East and Laisamis also present.
NRT’s peace-building officer Josephine Ekiru called on herders from respective areas to coexist peacefully as they share scarce pasture and water. Isiolo County Commissioner John Ondego and his Samburu counterpart John Korir emphasised the need for herders from other regions to seek permission to graze from the host community through their respective grazing committees, in order to avoid hostility. Mohammed Abduba, a peace ambassador from Merti, echoed this message.
Several years ago Kom was the scene of a deadly clash that left numerous people dead, and the trading centre completely deserted. It now has a police camp.
“Insecurity has hindered development, led to death, caused displacement of people and has disrupted lives for years” said Isiolo County Commissioner John Ondego. “Hence the need for herders to have peaceful inter-ethnic relations as they herd.”
Josephine Ekiru, who has worked in conflict hotspots across the community conservancy region for years, knows that this is just the beginning of a continuous engagement in Kom. She proposed a series of follow up dialogue sessions, that would call security officials, local leaders, elders, warriors (morans) and herders from the three communities together to build on the momentum of the peace meeting, and continue to break down ethnic barriers and promote peace and cohesion.