An investigation into conflict dynamics in northern Kenya: a case study of Marsabit County 1994-2012
The purpose of this study is to investigate the conflict dynamics in Northern Kenya. The dynamics of conflict in Northern Kenya is probably the most spectacular one in the history of conflict in Kenya since the colonial period. The historical neglect coupled with marginalization and harsh environmental conditions has rendered Northern Kenya to be one of the neediest regions in Kenya. While looking at the bigger picture of Northern Kenya, this study specifically focuses on Marsabit County for the period between 1994 to 2012 by examining the dynamics of ethnic conflict, resource based conflict, marginalization and the cross-border influence. The lack of enough resources for livelihood intertwined with tribal rivalry has been evidenced as perpetuating conflict in Marsabit County. This conflict is accompanied by political instigation of local people where community groups have been living in animosity because of conflict of interest and ownership. The main aim of this study is to understand that ethnicity may not be the only cause of conflict and that there is more to resource-based conflict, cross border factors and marginalization as the underlying issues in conflict. Based on the research questions, the study uses both primary and secondary data in obtaining information. In terms of primary data, a structured questionnaire, and interviews were administered while in secondary data archival information from related literatures was used. The study further informs that scarce water resource, and pasture land are the key elements of conflict in the resource based conflict. Moreover, tribal rivalry, politics, conflict of interest and ownership are found to have contributed to the precipitation of ethnic conflict in Marsabit. This research aims at establishing the different conflict dynamics in the Marsabit County and why those dynamics continue to occur. Emphasis is placed on the significance of understanding the nature of conflict from four major perspectives such as tribalism, resource based conflict, cross border factors and marginalization of environment in the largely pastoral community of Northern Kenya. Other complexities such as poor leadership, high way banditry, cattle rustling, and smuggling of illicit firearms are found to be the elements within the problem of marginalization. The research proposes feasible recommendations by borrowing from Paul Lederach’s model of conflict transformation as a way of managing the ethnic conflict. The research further gives recommendation based on all elements of conflict and how they can well be dealt with.