July 7, 2024
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From Conflict to Cooperation: Stories of Resilience from Northern Kenya

By Abdirizack Mohamed The active role of community elders of Garissa and Isiolo counties have taken a center stage to amicably reduce resource based conflict that claimed lives of many pastoralist in the region. Siyat Noor Issack ,the peace chairman of Lagdera peace committee that comprise 15 members have undertaken several peace building initiatives together... Read More

By Abdirizack Mohamed

The active role of community elders of Garissa and Isiolo counties have taken a center stage to amicably reduce resource based conflict that claimed lives of many pastoralist in the region.

Siyat Noor Issack ,the peace chairman of Lagdera peace committee that comprise 15 members have undertaken several peace building initiatives together with their peace committee counterparts from Garbatula Sub county in Isiolo that helped to suppress tension and conflict between warring pastoralist communities.

“We have taken an active role to ensure the two communities are coexisting peacefully after gaining several trainings on peace building, “say the peace chairman.

He narrated how the active role of the peace builders consisting men and women were engaged in talks that facilitated the return of more than a thousand heads of stolen livestock returned to their rightful owners.

“Historically livestock rustling during a times of conflict have contributed to poverty within the affected communities,orphened children in the conflict are left in poverty and misery, we taken a bold move to ensure both communities return stolen animals and we are proud this has been successful, “he claimed.

In an interview with the peace chairman on how community based initiative was effective, he further stated that just two ago they helped to facilitate the return of 120 shoats stolen from Isiolo and their counterparts from Isiolo county managed to safely return 111 heads of shoats after pursuing the raiders.

He blamed unemployment and cycles of drought being a driving factor that motivate youth to indulge in livestock theft during conflicts and once peace builders enforce strict communal moral authority that prohibits the trend then chances of conflicts continuing remains narrow.

He appreciated the cordial working relationship with their counterpart in Isiolo community that he said will soon end the longstanding intercommoned feud.

According the chairman the mediation on return of stolen livestock never existed before and its absence sustained the prolonged conflict.

“Before the last week incident where raiders from Isiolo took away our livestock and members from our community retaliated to steal we had a peaceful respite period of almost one year where no incident was reported. I attribute this due to several peace dialogue and mediations that saw stolen livestock returned, “he asserted.

Kamila Dubow Bashir,a member of the Lagdera peace committee also explains the active role women were undertaking to reduce conflict between the neighboring communities.

She said women play an integral role in peace making since they are the most affected in conflict.

“I feel happy meeting fellow women peace builders from Isiolo county during our dialogue meetings, we share our pains in conflict, death and livestock theft that resulted poverty between the conflicting communities, “she explained.

She called for the need to train and include more women in community peace building.

Hassan Jilo a community peace elder at Garbatulla also shared his experience in the role of community elders and women in the Isiolo-Garissa county pastoralist conflict.

He echoed similar sentiments that livestock theft during conflict fueled the communal conflicts.

“This attracts many youth to participate and ignite conflict, they see it as an opportunity during conflict and hence needs to be addressed, “he said.

He said, the initiative by the community peace makers to identify and pursue the raiders from both sides helped to reduce the conflict and he further expressed hope that the conflict will soon be something of the past.

He emphasized that the conflict arise after three to four gangs sneak to either Garbatula or Lagdera in Garissa and they orchestrate killing of a livestock herder and drive away the animal, then followed by a counter raid.

“Once the communal laws to outlaw the theft are criminalized, the conflict will come to an end. That is why together with our Lagdera counterparts we are strict on pursuing raiders and return stolen livestock,” he said.

The peace builders from both counties appreciate a training offered by a local organization where 60 community members from both counties were trained on peace building.

“This training really empowered us and we got empowered on skills that help us apply during peace dialogue, “said Lagdera peace chairman.

Fatuma Hassan,a resident of Eldere in Lagdera who was among the beneficiaries of the recently returned livestock from the Isiolo peace committee expressed joy and lauded the efforts of the peace committees.

She called for efforts to strengthen the initiative and further bolstering the peace efforts.

The peace builders from the two counties also appreciated the role of the local administration and political leaders whom they said were supportive.

The peace committees said they were planning to do a joint peace caravan to sensitize the two neighboring communities on peaceful coexistence sharing scarce resources of pasture and water during drought season.

The Writer is a freelance writer based in Garissa County.

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