The Centre for Research, Training and Publication (CRTP) conducted the Conflict Monitoring Tool (CMT) research validation workshop in Kisumu for the Western/Nyanza region on 30th September, 2022. The meeting was attended by 13 participants (7 women and 6 men) who participated in the study, facilitated by 2 researchers from CRTP. The participants were derived from diverse group ranging from peace practitioners, youths, men and women representatives, political class as well as religious organizations. The workshop mainly focused on sharing the research findings with the participants and validating results as the true reflection of the conflict and peace status in the region.
The meeting began by a word of prayer followed by the introduction of the participants. The first session was a presentation of the research findings which included a brief introduction about CRTP and its research areas. The participants were also taken through the Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Conflict Monitoring Tool (HIPSIR-CMT) curve developed by the CRTP for conflict monitoring. This was mainly done to bring to the attention of the participants the different levels by which a conflict is monitored and how this is used to formulate an appropriate strategy recommendation and policy formulation. This was then followed by the research findings presentation. Thereafter, the open session and round table discussion of the research outcomes were discussed and validated by the participants.
The participants confirmed that indeed more men took part in the survey than women. This was attributed to factors such as women being very busy during the day and as a result lacking time to participate in the online survey; the need for capacity building for women to participate in more survey was recommended during the validation session. It was suggested that in future, the study should engage more women in the survey. Moreover, the data collection period fell in the months of election campaigns and most women were busy following political rallies.
The youth age bracket was the least represented in the survey with one of the participant shared his opinion that ‘concerning youth, they think that decision is made by particular people (leaders). Wherever I give my opinion, it will not have an impact. Our youth still need much of awareness on participation. And they need also to be reinsure that their opinions, feelings can leave some impact’.
The participants further affirmed that the conflict level of 2.18 according to the study findings is true, and that Kisumu region is at confrontation level. This was because when the study was carried out (an election period) where there was a lot of political tension in the region. One of the participant said that ‘most of people from Western /Nyanza region were so much traumatized after the reading of presidential court judgement and there is need for mental health therapy’. Another participant reinstated that if ‘Raila Odinga have [sic] uttered something bad after the judgment day, the country could have break [sic] into chaos, we thank God he kept quiet up to date’.
During the open session discussion, it was confirmed that political violence, domestic violence, armed robbery and theft were the highly prevalent type of conflict and human rights violations in the region. A participant representing women activist group highlighted that ‘A woman in Nyalenda was slapped by her husband due [to] political party affiliation, when she told her husband that I told you, Ruto will defeat Raila’. Further discussion revealed that many young women from Western/Nyanza region were so much involved in political rallies during the electioneering period that this caused a lot of domestic violence in families. Moreover, neglect of responsibility by men, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, and early pregnancy among teenagers fueled domestic violence in the region.
On border conflicts, one of the participants reported that ‘the border issues need a lot research and attention. When we were having elections, from July 2022, there was a lot threats up to last week when we sad down as cross border to talk. Because, two people were already killed, about seventy animals were stolen’.
Youth unemployment, ethnic-based politics and economic/political marginalization were confirmed by the participant as the key conflict drivers in the region as the study findings had suggested. It was suggested that there is need to engage more youths in active and constructive works. Another participant working with youth organization mentioned that ‘youths are choosy when it comes to employment, they does [sic] not want to take what is available, and they need professional jobs which are not easily available with the present economy. Thus there is need for capacity building for youths on job creation and employment’. Youths should also be involved in as stakeholders in the peace building process. On economic /political marginalization it was the participant’s view that elected leaders from ward level to national level should distribute resources to the citizens without sidelining other communities or regions.
On ethnic-based politics, political leaders should stop hate speeches and incitements before, during and after elections. One of the participant said that ‘I was in Nairobi, just before the cabinet announcement, I was riding in an Uber. I was exchanging with the driver. He told me, you know we are going to demand more of cabinet posts because we are the ones who voted him, we give him 42% of the vote. I told him, will you get it. He says, yes we will get it, that is why he is there. If he will not do it, it will be war. So, when the cabinet post now comes out, I just say all the people from central province, if this president is not careful’
Political leaders, armed groups as well as county government security forces (Kanjo) were confirmed as the key conflict actors in the region. The participants further agreed and confirmed that youth organizations, women’s organization and NGOs have played a very effective role in conflict resolution as the study results had indicated. A women’s empowerment activist confirmed that ‘women organization in collaboration with men organizations (Bunge la wananchi) in promoting peace. Further, boda boda riders mainly youths this time round during political campaigns really advocates for peace’. She further reiterated that traditional peace committee members have also remained good custodians of peace at the community level.
Although the study rated religious institution to be effective in conflict resolution, some participants have divergent opinion that this time round, and particularly during the August 2022 election, religious leaders did not done as well as it was expected. One of the participant said that ‘some pastors even used church to campaign for some political aspirants they were affiliated with while most of the religious leaders did not stand for truth and justice since they were manipulated, managed and politically inclined’.
During the round table discussion the participants also affirmed that Covid-19 had had a severe impact on security as well as economy. During lockdown and travelling restrictions, there was considerable theft and looting, police brutality and extrajudicial killings, combined with increased cost of living, loss of jobs, and a decline in county revenue. Challenges to conflict resolution such as corruption, political incitement and hate speech, unresolved historical grievances and climate change were confirmed by the participants as the key challenges to peace restoration in the region. Moreover, mental health was also mentioned by the participants as major challenge to conflict resolution in the region.
The validation exercise for Western/Nyanza region held in Kisumu showed that most of the people from the region are actively involved in the peace building process. This was evident in the lively discussion on peace and conflict issues during the workshop and the request by them to organize peace forums and invite more people from the grass roots to open forums. In conclusion, to improve conflict monitoring and peace in the region, there is need for open peace forums that brings all peace building stakeholder together.
- The next survey to include mental health issuesas part of the study since it is one of the drivers of conflict in the region
- The religious leaders should preach peace and speak truth and justice at all times.
- There is a need for civic education for the citizens on peace issues, particularly during electioneering periods.
- The county governments to fully deal with corruption
- There is also a need to fully implement the truth, justice and reconciliation commission report of 2013.
- There is also need for awareness creation and civic education on the topic of conflict resolution and peace building.
- Historical grievances need to be fully addressed to avoid future conflicts
- Proper climate change adaptation strategies to be put in place to curb the challenge of climate change.
- CRTP to share with the participants and conflict monitors the published work of the research. CRTP to increase the number of participants in the research validation workshops.
- CRTP to organize a 2-3 days training on conflict monitoring and peace building to the participant and award certificates to improve their skills.