Inter-generational dialogue paves way for peace in troubled Kerio Valley

Inter-generational Dialogue between herders, elders and peace committees from warring communities is on course to ease tension and minimize, conflict, tension and counter-attacks in the troubled Kerio Valley region.

Herders and elders in the troubled Kerio Valley region are now reviving traditional mechanisms and grazing patterns to fight banditry and cattle rustling vices brought about by the effects of climate change.

The theory of resource scarcity dominates the debate on banditry in pastoral areas, where conflicts among communities have traditionally been linked to competition over scarce resources and invariably drought because of its role in resource depletion.

The presence of armed groups has hindered access to grazing areas. Instances of targeted raids and destruction of property are often reported as resource-based conflicts heightened especially during the end of the dry season and commencement of rains.

To address these challenges, a collaborative committee of 20 members spanning Pokot, Turkana, and Elgeyo Marakwet counties has been established. Their mission is to facilitate conflict resolution, promote sustainable grazing patterns, and mitigate disputes over water, pasture, and other resources in the semi-arid region.

Herders have started organizing a series of community dialogue meetings to address the tension and drivers of conflict which include: mistrust, poor communication and the use of force by headers in accessing grazing lands.

The dialogue meetings with combined grazing and security between the conflicting communities will enhance cohesion and integration between warring communities hence being able to address issues and voice their complaints openly.

Safer World Program manager Elizabeth Atieno said that they have come up with conflict management programs in West Pokot, Turkana and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties.

She said that climate change was increasingly affecting the community’s adaptive capacities and the conflict management of traditional conflict management mechanisms has been weakened due to the intensity of conflicts.

She pointed out that they want headers to become champions and voices of reason in the community as well as deal with resource management in the wake of climate change.

Samuel Kosgei the Project Officer for the Peace and Justice organization said that they offer capacity building to communities in the region on alternative dispute resolution.

He added that the cattle rustling menace has escalated with the effects of climate change.

Herders at Arpollo grazing point said they are now ready to engage in dialogue with their counterparts from the neighbouring communities.

A herder in the Cheptulel area, Collins Charito said there is fear when grazing their livestock because of the possession of illegal firearms by some residents in the region.

He noted that both communities will realize the importance of preserving the grazing lands and learn a lot about pasture management and appreciate the fact that the survival of their animals will be ensured during the drought period.

Charito said that better discipline among the young herders will be observed if they adhere to rules and regulations and promised to monitor lawbreakers.

Samson Toilem, an elder, called on the disarming of all warring neighbouring communities citing that long dry spells in the region have resulted in increased resource-based conflict among different pastoral communities in the region.

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