Community led peace building and reconciliation along the Somalia-Kenya Border

In the vast landscapes that extend along the Somalia-Kenya border, communities have long been entangled in persistent conflicts and tensions, primarily resulting from competition for scarce natural resources. Cross border insecurity, and the inadequate access to basic services by the marginalized communities in the Mandera triangle has also exacerbated cross-border conflicts. The effects of climate change that has caused recurrent droughts in the Horn of Africa has additionally led to intensified competition for the dwindling pastures and water for these predominantly pastoralist communities.

Jibril Farah leading an ongoing peace dialogue in Mandera

To establish comprehensive and sustainable solutions for peacebuilding, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence, a systematic approach has been implemented in the target communities of Mandera, Belet haawo, and Abudwak. This approach involves the establishment of peace committees, which play vital roles in conflict prevention and resolution. These committees comprise of diverse community and clan members, working together to address conflicts through non-violent means such as dialogue and mediation. This is an initiative implemented by NAPAD in partnership with Terre des Hommes (TdH) with funding from Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to support joint community-led peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.

Mzee Jibril Farah participating in one of the peace building training sessions in Mandera

“Participating in the peace dialogues provides us with an opportunity to speak face-face with our neighbours and resolve our issues without resorting to violence’’, explains Mzee Jibril Farah, a respected 70-year-old elder from BP1 Village who attests to the conflict that has been going on between the communities.

NAPAD, through its peacebuilding and reconciliation campaigns, has successfully brought together 200 clan leaders, religious authorities, and youth activists from 10 communities in the target communities. The community leaders together with the peace committees receive trainings on conflict analysis, non-violent communication, modern conflict resolution such as mediation, reconciliation work, and existing traditional techniques and methods of conflict resolution. Focus is also put on promoting inclusive peacebuilding, and leadership.

Cross border peace match in Mandera, between Belethawo F.C and Mandera F.C

NAPAD has also been able to successfully organize and host peace football tournaments that have attracted widespread participation, particularly among the youth. These tournaments have not only served as a platform to promote peace while raising awareness on issues such as social cohesion, reconciliation, and gender equity, but they have also provided an opportunity for the youth to showcase their talent.

By bringing together thousands of community members, the tournaments create a shared space where individuals from diverse backgrounds can unite in support of a common cause. Within this inclusive and harmonious environment, participants and spectators alike engage in dialogue and discussions surrounding various topics. This unique setting encourages open conversations and it encourages continuous interaction and collaboration between the youth and community leaders.

A peace radio talk show hosted by Dawa FM, a local radio station in Mandera

Mohamed, one of the dedicated youth peace activists, highlighted the positive impact of using tools such as dialogue, mediation and radio peace talk shows, in fostering peace among the communities. He also added that, this initiative has not only raised awareness but also empowered young men and women to actively become agents of peace within their respective communities.

By establishing a platform for dialogue among the diverse communities, these discussions are playing a crucial role in fostering collaborative actions and preventing the escalation of disputes into violent conflicts through constructive engagement and cooperation among the community leaders. Additionally, through strengthening the technical and human capacities for conflict resolution mechanisms among the community members and involving the administrative authorities is ensuring the sustainability of the work initiated by NAPAD and her partners in peace building.

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