Since the 2013 MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training, I have undertaken a number of initiatives attempting to apply what I learned. In line with my proposed MPI Action, I first chose to look for tools that can facilitate peace analysis but have found none so far. Community identity is also a major factor causing conflicts in the Region in which I work. Even in a peaceful community, anything threatening community identity can cause tension. This notwithstanding, in these same communities there are pockets of peace and harmony and people urging peaceful co-existence. This creates a basis for peace workers to look for pillars of peace that remain standing even in times of conflict. Identifying the pillars by their category and type would provide scope on how to profile and scale them up enhancing peace. This is my current passion.
The second initiative has been to monitor trends and patterns of peace in the region where PRECISE works. Sadly, several incidences turned out the way we predicted. Conflict has erupted in South Sudan, parts of Kenya, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond. Other on-going conflict situations in Uganda (Joseph Kony) and Somalia (al-shabaab) have not been resolved and continue to affect countries in our region.
In Kenya, groups identified with peculiar political ideologies have been involved in uprisings related to historical injustices, inequity in development, increasing incidence of poverty and youth unemployment. These uprisings happen to be in areas that are dominated by pastoral communities and areas where development equity has been lowest. Then we have other groups who have practices that verge on militancy, who are fighting in sectarian ideology using the injustices of the past to entice youth to join in such insurgency. As a result of being neighbors with Somalia, insurgency by al-shabaab has been inevitable, despite government effort to address incidences of such insurgency1.
In South Sudan, serious conflict will mean the next three years are going to be difficult for that new country. All NGOs and the UN have turned their work into emergency assistance for the next two years with over 1 million people displaced and over 10,000 people killed in the devastation.
In the Congo, the conflict has gone on for a long time. Rape and other human rights violations have occurred frequently. Tension between countries, mainly Uganda and Rwanda, also exist but are being addressed. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is fighting on the platform that Western Education is bad and haram (forbidden). In Central Africa Republic, a similar group, Boko Haram, started to attack Christians. The Christians rose up together to fight and defend themselves creating a difficult situation.
Even though regional and international initiatives to broker peace are going on, some of the conflicts are ignored by the international and national community due to a lack of expertise in peace issues and resources for peacebuilding at the local level. An interesting finding of our work in monitoring trends and patterns of peace in the region is that the language of peace is understood and presented differently both in language, and priority focus.
For instance, with contributions of over 8 million US dollars in the next three years by the UN, World Bank and other bilateral and multilateral donors intended to contribute to the enhancement of peace for development; these agencies and institutions perceive their contribution in terms of “stabilization initiative” from their perspective.2 In this regard, they address structural frameworks in governance only. The structural frameworks in most governments are looking at issues of peace from the perspective of, political expediency, security, safeguarding insurgency, crime reduction, addressing piracy and counter-terrorism.
The fact of the matter is that, the causal factors to limited peace are not being identified, used adequately or are models for peace being profiled. I am very conscious that it is not a straight forward game. It is quite complex, and peace remains elusive (Douglas E. Noll, 2011)3 to and for those who need it most.
The third aspect of my work has been to write articles for peace networks and journals. I continue to write on peace issues because I believe we have more than enough news on conflicts already. To do so, I have also had to do some research in refugee camps and other contexts in order for me bring in more insights.
In the midst of this, in 2014, I have been interacting in networks with a number of inter-faith coalitions and alliances that bring together different religious groups. These networks and alliances have made attempts to intervene and are looking for new ways to address peace. Their work comprises such initiatives as working to calm politicians down, encouraging opinion leaders from using religion as a political tool.
At the same time, I am working on a research proposal that will attempt to work in some of the fragile locations in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan to hone out the concept of Pillars of Peace. If completed, the study (or series of studies) will contribute to peace work locally, in the region and perhaps at other levels; not to state peace students and practitioners. I will need some funding for this and any ideas and links to sources of research funds on peace are welcome.
Ahsante! (thank you)
Kisuke Ndiku is based at PRECISE, a regional agency involved in organizational development, strategic management of change, leadership development and planning in Africa. He is a development practitioner, writer, editor and researcher on peace and development. At PRECISE he holds the portfolio of Head of Organizational Development responsible for strategic management of change in organizations, research, project/program design, monitoring, reporting and evaluation. Kisuke is a contributor to the online publication Insights on Conflict.
1Finn Church Aid: Radicalization and al-Shabaab Recruitment in Somalia; ISS Paper 266, 2014- see also Horn of Africa Bulletin: Various Issues2-12-2014