Natural resources and conflict management in East Africa
This paper seeks to critically discuss the issue of natural resource - based conflicts management in the East African Region. It is worth noting that the wider East African region is well endowed with natural resources such as forests, land, lakes and minerals with the latest development being the discovery of crude oil and gas in Kenya and Uganda. Natural resources are conflict generators with the various stakeholders pursuing different interests which end up clashing. It need not be emphasized that the fight for access, use and management of natural resources in the region have re sulted in the most violent conflicts amongst communities and even tension between states, and often resulting in loss of human and animal lives as well as property. This is bound to become more severe with the entry of oil and gas exploration and mining in the region if the concerned states do not act on time to put in place more effective mechanisms to manage these conflicts. Conflicts impact negatively on development. Conflicts occurring as a result of contests over natural resources should be dealt with effectively and expeditiously, and there is therefore a need to have in place on effective conflict management mechanisms to deal with them. The author critically examines the existing legal and institutional framework in place for the management of confli cts and especially natural resource - based conflicts, with a view to identifying the challenges to their effective ness in managing these conflicts. It is argued that the current framework has not been efficacious in resolving conflicts and there is a need t o develop a new approach to conflict management. The new approach should incorporate tenets of public participation, environmental democracy and the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms aimed at ensuring environmental democracy is achieve d. The author briefly discusses merits and demerits of litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms with the aim of identifying opportunities and making a case for their tandem and effective application in the management of these resource - based conflicts so as to promote investment and economic development in the region.