Role and status of children in forest related conflicts: a case study of Eastern Mau forests
Kunyiha, Scolastica W
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Conflicts over natural resources are increasing in number and severity. This problem has been compounded with the increasing population and scarcity of natural resources in developing countries. Forest resource conflicts are disagreements and disputes over access to, control over and use of forest resources. Whereas existing literature documents the causes and effects of conflicts among the citizenry, the place of children in forest conflicts remain a grey area that warrants scientific analysis. Children activities in the forest are expected to place them at the centre of conflict between different parties. The main objective of this research was to contribute to the understanding of role and status of children in forest conflicts using Eastern Mau Forests as a case study. The study utilized a mixed methods approach involving Quantitative (data gathered using questionnaires) as well as qualitative data (from Key informant interviews, FGDs and observation). Data analysis from the questionnaires was by way of descriptive statistics involving frequencies and percentages of the different responses given. Qualitative analysis involved content analysis of the different narratives obtained from the key informants. Results from this study documents children activities that are likely to contribute to natural resource competitions and disputes as fetching fuel wood and pasture. The study has also revealed that children are mainly affected by forest conflicts physically (such as through injury and rape) and psychologically (such as emotional stress). Based on the study findings, this project recommends sensitization of children activities that are likely to expose them to violent conflicts in forest contexts among parents and caregivers. The study also proposes to various stakeholders in forest resources including the government and community on recognition of children rights and how they should be protected during conflicts.