DDG facilitate peace through dialogue - from villages and across borders

The Turkana and Pokot regions in the Northwestern part of Kenya used to be a 'battle ground', where different ethnic groups went for cattle raiding of each other's livestock; both locally and across borders. But after DDG started its work - a fragile peace has been achieved.
 
 

By: Sara Schlüter

"The chiefs from the different communities couldn't even be in the same room - now they arrange meetings on their own, without DDG even having to be involved."- Says, Noah Tonui the newly appointed deputy county commissioner for Loima in Turkana county of Northwestern Kenya. The chiefs are the title of the top officials in smaller villages.

"They used to see each other as enemies. But when I took office a month ago, I discovered that the situation is very different now. DDG activities have helped improve relationships across the local communities," he says and gestures towards Raphael Locham, who manages DDG - Danish Demining Group's work in this area.

DDG operations include a number of initiatives in the area such as, building trust among communities and security providers, community engagement and conflict management training of police officers and local authorities to increase their professionalism, legitimacy, sensitivity towards gender issues and their general know-how on conflict management and cross boarder dialogues.

The crime rate has fallen 

A bit further down from Noah Tunois' office, around 30 police officers, chiefs, assistant chiefs and county government officials are gathered for community engagement training. In front of a series of posters, a trainer from DDG is speaking about respect and professionalism. About how to create a secure atmosphere for the population, manage conflicts and communicate in a respectful tone decreasing and the potential for conflict.

One of the people present is acting chief of Lokiriama, Sammy Tioko. He has works closely with DDG and was recently offered a course on mediation by DDG. He is very pleased with the training and uses it in his daily work.

"We don't keep this knowledge to ourselves. We share it by calling for meetings and passing it on," he says.

 "Since DDG started its work here, crime has fallen and people have started registering their small arms. It is a slow process, but it is really improving day by day and we have seen the benefit of dangers of small arms sensitization in the communities," Sammy Tioko says.

Cross border dialogue meetings

DDG does not only work locally in this area. Turkana and Pokot regions are located near Uganda. For as long as anyone can remember there has been a tradition for cattle raiding across the border. Therefore, DDG has facilitated cross border meetings for the last three years and have offices in both countries.

"This used to be a battle ground," Raphael Locham says, pointing to the countryside, while driving to Lorengippi, a location at the boarder of Pokot, Turkana and Uganda.

But the last couple of years have seen relative peace both locally and across the border.

Chief Nathan Akal of Lorengippi near the border explains what happened during the dialogue meetings:

 "When DDG facilitated the cross border dialogue meetings, they found out through these dialogues, that both communities were being destroyed by the raids and that they were both eager to achieve lasting solutions to the conflict."

photo credit: Klaus Bo / Danish Refugee Council