The role of Non-Governmental Organisations in peace-building: case study of Isiolo District, Kenya
King'ori, Mary W
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Conflicts, especially those related to competition over resource use, have defined the better part of the history of Eastern Africa's dry lands communities. Violent conflicts involving pastoralists have become widespread and increasingly severe throughout much of the Northern Kenya. This research identifies and examines the factors contributing to such conflicts, and discusses issues and priorities for conflict prevention and peace-building. These are examined across Northern Kenya in general, and in Isiolo - a district in northern Kenya - in particular. On the basis of this examination, a number of conclusions and recommendations are developed on ways in which non-governmental organizations could contribute to efforts to prevent conflicts involving pastoralists in Isiolo and more generally in the North of Kenya. Isiolo is one of 17 Districts in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. It is a multi-ethnic tribal district which pastoralist communities share with farmers, wildlife conservatories, ranchers and horticulturalists. It includes extensive arid and semi-arid lands as well as arable and urban areas. Pastoralists rely on access to water and pasture land. Such resources are scarce and under increasing pressure owing to increased farming activities, rapid population growth, and periodic drought. Conflicts involving pastoralists associated with resource competition, cattle rustling, and wide availability of small arms are widespread and of increasing concern. It thus provides a useful case study to examine in depth the factors contributing to conflict and the issues and priorities for conflict prevention. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the extent to which non-governmental organisations have impacted on peace-building in Isiolo. The specific objectives of this study are: to establish the extent of NGO involvement in peace building in Isiolo district; to investigate why previous strategies implemented towards peace by key NGOs in Isiolo have been ineffective in peace building and to explore alternatives/options that the NGOs can apply in the peace building process to increase their success rate. The research design used is a descriptive research and the target NGOs and community members. Secondary data collection was also utilised. The study has contributed to knowledge on the extent to which NGO practices impact the process of peace building and how they can be made more effective. The study established that NGOs do impact peace building positively but are also in some cases perpetuators of conflict, willingly or unwillingly. The research found that peace building efforts carried out by NGOs in Isiolo would be more effective if they involved all affected actors, especially mid and grass-root level actors, in the coordination of efforts. This includes women and youth who are often side-lined despite their huge role in perpetuating conflict and also in peace building exercise. It is also established that the peace building process would be enhanced if NGOs were supported by good governance practices like proper political leadership and political will, leadership that doesn't use ploys like 'divide and rule' so as to accomplish selfish gains.