Influence of demographic factors on conflict management, A Case of Ngarenaro Water Project in Buuri District, Kenya
Conflict is generally defined as a disagreement with regard to interest or ideas. It is a process in which one party perceives that its interests are being opposed or negatively affected by another party. Since time immemorial conflicts over natural resources have been the centre stage on which nations and communities have risen against each other with immense loss of life and property. With growing population and scarce natural resources the struggle to control these resources constitute a considerable ground for tension and conflict. Despite the governments’ and NGO’s effort to end conflicts over natural resources, conflicts have continued to recur leading to loss of life and property. As a result the subject of conflict management has become of great concern to scholars leading to development of conflict management model that explains individual’s tendency to use either collaborative, competing, accommodating, compromising and/or avoiding strategies to manage conflicts. Although a lot of research has been done on conflict management styles, there is very little done on how demographic factors influence individuals’ conflict management. For instance Asaka (2012) studied the influence of Water and Land Conflict in Kenya in the Wake of Climate Change while Iravo (2011) looked at the conflict management in Kenyan Secondary Schools and how awareness of conflict management approaches by the principals influenced performance of schools, however none of them explained how demographic factors influence the choice of conflict management strategies for effective conflict management. It is in line with this that this study sought to uncover the influence of the demographic factors on conflict management, a case of Ngarenaro water project in Buuri District,Kenya. The objectives of the study were to assess the influence of age of leaders of Ngarenaro water project on their conflict management, to establish the influence of gender of leaders of Ngarenaro water project on their conflict management, to find out the influence of education level and training of leaders of Ngarenaro water project on their conflict management and to assess the influence of project experience of leaders of Ngarenaro water project on their conflict management. The study utilized descriptive survey design and targeted Ngarenaro Water Project leaders. A sample of 46 respondents was picked for study whereby by utilizing a self administered questionnaire the data was gathered. There was 100% questionnaire return late .The data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics; correlation and regression analysis. The study revealed that 76.1% of Ngarenaro leaders were male with only 23.9% of them being female. This depicted existence of gender disparity within the project leadership. When correlated the findings revealed that gender does not influence leaders’ conflict management. Most of the Ngarenaro water project leaders were aged between 41-50 years with the minority being the youths; aged below 40 years. The correlation and regression analysis revealed that age too does not influence leaders’ conflict management. However, the education level, training and experience were found to positively influence the leaders’ conflict management. The computed correlation values were 0.504 and 0.038 respectively indicating a positive association between education level, training and experience of leaders of Ngarenaro water project. Based on the findings therefore, it is recommended that while electing the leaders, persons of any age and gender could be elected. It is also important to train leaders on conflict management and whenever confronted by conflict situation it’s important to bring experienced leaders on board as the findings revealed that experienced leaders are better in conflict management. It is also recommended that leaders should at least have an ‘A’ level education.