Peace talks in Kenya’s Southeast Marsabit County

Representatives of six communities from three counties were present at the meeting. Photo: Vincent Omunyin
Representatives of six communities from three counties were present at the meeting. Photo: Vincent Omunyin

For the past year, Finn Church Aid (FCA) field officers in the three counties of Wajir, Isiolo and Marsabit in Kenya have been working with local communities under the Regal-IR project to end conflicts over access, control and utilisation of grazing resources.

The work has been done within the communities and between the communities, and culminated, in 10 July, in an inter-community dialogue meeting between the representatives of the conflicting communities. The meeting was held with government officials present to address many standing conflicts and to strengthen existing relationships and cooperation.

Hon Yattani Wario, a Member of Turbi County Assembly, acknowledged that this was the first time all five communities have been brought together for dialogue since the conflicts started.

After long deliberations under the moderation of Mr. Kioni, the Maikona Deputy County Commissioner, communities agreed to reserve issues of boundaries for relevant government departments to resolve. They urged the government to resolve these issues with haste. Communities also agreed to share information on early warning indicators of conflicts with relevant authorities to prevent disputes from escalating.

Communities also agreed to lobby for support and empowerment of peace committees. The communities challenged the elected County Assembly members present to put forward a motion for the support of such committees in the Marsabit County Assembly.

Two Peace Dividend Projects, on the rehabilitation of water points and livestock market, were identified to improve pastoralist community livelihoods in the region and strengthen community interaction.

Another common agreement concerned neighbouring communities sending emissaries to request host communities permit for pasture and water utilization before relocating to their territory at times of shortage of grazing land. The IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and UNDP peace monitors encouraged communities to refer to previous pastoralist community agreements, like the Modegasho declaration, to guide them on pasture and water utilization.

It was agreed that FCA will organise a meeting of community representatives in Marsabit town to disseminate the deliberations for validation and signing before implementation.

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is implementing the peace component of a larger program “Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience” (REGAL-IR) by the consortium led by Adeso, African Development Solutions, and funded by USAID.