Conflict is a process that occurs between two or more persons (groups, organizations, states) when they have different points of views, different goals, different needs and values, and fight over limited resources.
Achieved through integrated approach to peace building.
Links crisis management with long-term achievements. e .g . In South Africa - from Apartheid era through truth and reconciliation to integrative society where black and white work together; Two – from 2 nd World War – to United Nations
Respect for fundamental rights - Are civil and political freedoms respected? Are religious and cultural rights respected? How free are the elections? ( Kenyan 2007 elections, Mungiki – is it a religion or a movement )
Civil society and media - How independent and professional are the media? Did vernacular (tribal) radio stations in Kenya spur conflict in Kenya before and after the elections.
Social and regional inequalities- How are social inequalities tackled? How are regional disparities tackled? e.g. perception that Central is rich because they have had two presidents; Neglect of North Rift Kenya; Neglect of Northern Eastern province
Sound economic management - How robust is the economy? Presence of widespread corruption? Does agri-based economy induce conflict in the long-term? Yes!
Geopolitical situation - Is the state affected by external threats? pro-active ethnic communities/diaspora abroad, arms (Karamojong cluster) e.g Pokot-Karamojong (Uganda), Turkana – Toposa (Southern Sudan), Ethiopian-Kenyan border (rustlers), Kenyan-Somalian border (profileration of small arms), Lake Victoria waters (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya), River Nile (Egypt, Uganda, Kenya - Mau River)
Communication failure – Good government policies or projects do not reach at the grassroots well. Information is not dispensed sufficiently to the local population or particular identity groups or relevant beneficiaries. e.g. current Tana Delta sugar project and the community; Dominion rice project on river Yala; Sondu Miriu hydro-electric power project in Sondu.
Top level actors are the main political leaders or military leaders. These leaders are usually highly publicly visible persons such President Kibaki and Raila Odinga, and their actions may be sharply constrained by political considerations. Their words too can influence conflict escalation or de-escalation in a society. In Sudan, we had Garang and El-Bashir; In South Africa, Mandela and De-Clerk; In Zimbabwe – Mugabe and Tsvangarai
Middle-range actors are usually respected figures in business, education or religion. These actors generally have connections to people in both the top and the grassroots levels. During Kenyan post- election conflict such leaders included Cardinal Njue, Business leaders such Manu Chandaria, Wangari Maathai, Maina Kiai among others . Middle-range peacebuilding attempts have focused largely on arranging meetings between the opposing sides. Organization such as UNICEF, UNHCR, Red-Cross also lie here.
Grassroots leaders in Kenya are primarily devolved structures, opinion leaders at the district level and divisional level, traditional and tribal authorities such as Laibons (Maasais), Chumos (Tugen), Ruoth (Council of elders), Omwami (Luhya ). Relief and development workers also have some grassroots authority. Provincial Administrators are also important grassroot leaders. Grassroots actors generally are constrained by a relative lack of power beyond their tribe or jurisdiction and the immediate need to survive.
Covey (1990) refers to the scarcity mentality versus the abundance mentality. The scarcity mentality leads us to resent the success of others. The abundance mentality allows us to think of situations in which everybody can win. Conflict management or transformation should aim at win-win-win situation.
Grassroots approaches to peace-building is an integrated framework in which the participation and empowerment of people within a local setting is stressed as the best way to identify and handle problem. This process aims to build peace by increasing public participation, empowering local actors and fostering community ownership .
Aims of Grassroots approaches to peace-building
To increase local actor sense of ownership to challenge validity, absoluteness, and accuracy of their perceptions of the other party in conflict through barazas and other public foras. This is because 80% of the grassroots conflicts are based wrongful perception of the other party in conflict.
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Re-empower communities to make vital decisions and address the needs of their people e.g. Locational Development committee, Council of Elders ,
Create an environment more conducive to lasting peace e.g. community policing program, Community Peace Committees.
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Minimize dependency on external actors such as UNHCR, SIDA, World Bank, USAID, UNDP .
Tap into local resources of a community e.g. indigenous structures, peaceful cultural practices, music, song and art.
Foster indigenous democratic elements and conflict resolutions mechanisms i.e. talking until a solution is found.
Take seriously the other party needs and concerns, feelings and attitudes.
Grassroots approaches should recognize the dialectic element of conflict. That conflict is not necessarily bad to the development of a society.
Grassroots approaches should be based on the assumption that social constructs that lead to violent conflict may be deconstructed and re-constructed so as to offer peaceful alternatives to resolving conflict. “Constructs transformations” such as Kikuyus are greedy to ‘hardworking and enterprising’; Kalenjins are hostile to ‘honest and kind’; Luhyas are watchmen to humble and strong; Pokot - militant to ‘cooperative’
In many cases what goes on at a local level is simply microcosm of the larger conflict e.g. Kenyan post-election violence between (ODM and PNU) was reflected and replayed at the grassroots level. ODM supporters were hacking PNU supporters in Eldoret, Kericho, Bomet, Nakuru, Kakamega, Ravine as PNU supporters were murdering ODM supporters in Naivasha, Nakuru, Thika, Kiambu, Murang’a.
Characteristics of Grassroots approaches cont’d - 3
Any conflict be it at global, regional or national level always affects grassroots actors particularly female group . Post-election violence in Kenya affected children, adolescents, particularly girls, women who are vulnerable through displacement, interrupted loss of family and community connections and rape. Girls were recruited as barmaids, house helps among other things .
Grassroots impact of conflict is played in group identity and subjective meaning such as Kalenjin vs Kikuyu, Hutus vs Tutsis, Masaais vs Kipsigis in Trans mara among many others
Grassroots approaches must emphasize set of commonalities shared by group members, often religion, language, nationality, cultural aspects and other socially relevant factors .
Characteristics for grassroots approaches cont’d -5
The Grassroots population typically experiences the violence and trauma associated with war with great immediacy and must live in close proximity and interdependency with those they regard as enemies. For example in recent post-election violence – Top protagonist families in Kenya (Raila and Kibaki were not affected by the post-election violence. It is the grassroot population that were killing each other in Kisumu, Nakuru and Naivasha .
Grassroots leaders witness deep-rooted hatred every day. For example, the D.O, the Chiefs, the Assistant chiefs, local religious leaders, Councilors, Youth leaders; Some are even murdered like in Mount Elgon (SLDF), Murang’a (Mungiki)
Grassroots approach should aim to build a sense human commonality and empathy of local towards one another.
Conditions for effective grassroots approaches in Kenya
It must draw from distinct social and cultural resources and traditions of the local environment in which it operates e.g the age systems, the Pokot commanders, the religious values
It should be concerned with restoration of healthy relationships as a prerequisite for peaceful interaction between inter-dependent social groupings such as inter-marriage
Conditions for effective grassroots approaches - 2
Should be characterized by trust-building between key individuals who can catalyze or influence their supporters’ behavior. For instance local leaders
Grassroots approaches should be key enabler of national progress.e.g. the CDF projects, MDGs, District Development Planning, Vision 2030.
Conditions for effective grassroots approaches in Kenya cont’d - 3
Community based efforts to address micro-level conflict must influence broader regional or national dynamics and structures of conflicts. For example, it is presumed that if Pokots stopped being rustlers, cattle rustling menace would reduce by 80%
Grassroots approaches require development of conditions and framework at the national level that is complementary and conducive to its goals and objectives at local level. E.g. Vision 2030 must factor in local level needs, or conflict sensitive planning and development
How can grassroots peace-building develop horizontally and vertically to extend its impact and enhance its sustainability?
How can national policy contribute effectively to the development of grassroots peace-building activities?
Defining Conflict resolution and Conflict Transformation
"Conflict resolution " implies that conflict is bad--hence something that should be ended. It also assumes that conflict is a short term phenomenon that can be" resolved" permanently through mediation or other intervention processes. For example Koffi Annan led mediations, Bethwell Kiplagat Somalian mediation.
"Conflict management" correctly assumes that conflicts are long term processes that often cannot be quickly resolved, but the notion of "management" suggests that people can be directed or controlled as though they were physical objects. The goal is the reduction or control of volatility more than dealing with the real source of the problem. It is also structural and institutional like courts, ECK, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Parliament .
Conflict transformation , does not suggest that we simply eliminate or control conflict, but rather recognize and work with its "dialectic nature." By this we means that social conflict is naturally created by humans who are involved in relationships, yet once it occurs, it changes (i.e., transforms) those events, people, and relationships that created the initial conflict. e.g. From national accord to New constitution, new electoral law, land reforms, ethnical relations act, new media regulatory framework
Second, we need a lens to see past the immediate problems and view the deeper relationship pattern that form the context of the conflict. This goes beyond finding a quick solution and seeks to address deeper levels. In Kenya, issues of land, inequality, negative ethnicity; Cattle rustling – dowry system; Mungiki – radical ideology, youth unemployment
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3. Third, we need a lens that helps us envision a framework that holds these together and creates a platform to address the content, the context, and the structure of the relationship. From this platform parties can begin to find creative responses and solutions. E.g. National Accord and Reconciliation, Truth and Reconciliation, Kriegler commission, Ndung’u land reforms
An understanding that conflict helps us build constructive change out of energy created by conflict. The key is to move from destructive processes toward constructive process. e.g the Rwanda conflict, S.A apartheid struggle
Conflict transformation asks the question, how do we address violence and increase justice in human relationships? Could be seen in Comprehensive Peace Agreement – sharing of oil wealth
Components of conflict transformation cont’d - 3
e) Conflict transformation views peace as centered and rooted in the quality of relationship. This includes both face to face interactions and the way in which we structure our social, political, economic and cultural relationships. In these sense, peace is a process-structure, dynamic, adaptive and changing. For instance, the relationship between Kibaki and Raila is very important in the way people relate at the grassroots
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f) That we need to develop capacities to engage in change processes at the interpersonal, inter-group and social structure levels. Government needs to allocate funds for peace building and conflict training, facilitate community peace building sessions.
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g) That human relationship is at the heart of conflict transformation and therefore developing creative change processes lies in seeing the less visible aspects of relationship. E.g. Each ethnic group must learn to respect other ethnic group without judgment and prejudices
Four Modes in which conflict transformation impact situations
Personal : Minimize destructive effects of social conflict and maximize the potential for personal growth at physical level. e.g children going to school; adults engaging in human development enterprises
Relational: Minimize poorly functioning communication and maximize understanding. E.g. relationship networks such as marriage, mixed schooling, joint investments
Four modes in which conflict transformation impact situations cont’d
Structural: Understand and address root causes of violent conflict, promote nonviolent mechanisms that minimize violence and foster structures that meet basic needs and maximize public participation. e.g land reforms, new constitutional framework
Cultural: Identify and understand the cultural patterns that contribute to the rise of violent expression of conflict (dowry among Pokot); identify cultural resources for constructively handling conflict. (Ruoth – council of elders)
Resolution and Transformation It is relationship -centred It is content-centered The focus How to end something destructive and build something desired How do we end something not desired The key Question Conflict Transformation perspective Conflict Resolution perspective
Comparison of Resolution and Transformation The horizon is mid to long range The horizon is short-term Timeframe Concerned with responding to symptoms and engaging systems within relationship. It is embedded around immediacy of the problem and relationship The development of the process To promote constructive change processes, not limited to immediate solution To achieve an agreement to the present crisis The purpose
Grassroots Practices for Transformational Strategies
Practice 1: Develop a capacity to see presenting issues as a Window – This is the capacity to see immediate situation while focusing our attention on what lies beyond, to discover relational context and the underlying causes. Together with your District Security Intelligence Committee or Divisional Security Intelligence be able to carry out a conflict mapping and analysis framework in a broader context .
Grassroots Practices for Transformational Strategies cont’d
2. Practice 2: Develop a capacity to integrate multiple timeframes. The key is the ability to recognize the needs of multiple timeframes and create strategies that integrate short-term response with long-term change. e.g Formation of Peace committees at the every jurisdiction for short-term, but at the same time a committee that addresses the underlying causes through a development program in the long-term.
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Practice 3: Develop a capacity to pose the energies of conflict as a dilemma. Posing conflict as dilemmas involves shifting from an either/or frame of reference to a both/and frame of reference. E.g. Either ODM youths are granted amnesty or prosecuted. NO! But we could reframe this conflict dilemma as “How can we address the issue of justice while at the same time achieve reconciliation of youth?”
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Practice 4: Develop a capacity to see conflict as complexity not as simplicity . In conflict, especially when there has been a long history of patterns and episodes that were not constructively addressed, people feel overwhelmed. For example the Kenyan post-election violence was not just about ‘rigged’ election but something more even at grassroots. In order to constructively deal with conflict we must recognize it complexity so as to bring desired change.
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Practice 5: Develop a capacity to hear and engage the voice of identity. This involves an ability to recognize and then develop response processes that engage the deeper core of the conflict. Two central root cause of social conflict are identity and relationship. A central challenge for transformation is how to create spaces and processes that challenge perceptions and encourage people to address and articulate positive sense of identity in relationship to other but not in reaction e.g Sports, Arts, Music, Development committees.
Strategic Grassroots Activities for Conflict Transformation
Conduct conflict mapping and analysis or peace impact assessment: Explore the immediate cause and underlying causes of conflict in your area. e.g. what kinds of conflict exist in your area
Develop a conflict transformation strategy or implementation plan: That integrates trauma healing, coexistence program in the short-term and long-term. It should be done together with Divisional peace-building committee
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Stakeholders mobilization : Arrange a meeting of stakeholders to come up with transformation process ideas and solutions. These will include – GoK departments, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs etc What can they provide? what can they do?
Mobilize local leaders for peace-building (church leaders, youth leaders, women leaders) : Encourage them to motivate people under their influence for peace and dialogue as strategies are sought to address their plight .
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Call in neutral facilitator : In case of lack of trust in Government, call in a neutral facilitator perhaps from a FBOs or NGOs to guide local peace initiatives. The meetings must be structured to meet the needs of communities characterized by levels of interdependence with regard to territory, natural resources and or may be trading venues. Let the community come up with commonly acceptable solution to each other.
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Involve grassroots leaders in important decision making for the community: This leaders include traditional leaders, religious leaders, civil society, women groups leaders, youth group leader, local politician, government officials to ensure that sufficient space and relevance is given to the community to address their problems.
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Sensitize and train government departments and grassroots administrators on importance of mainstreaming coexistence programs . This department include agricultural extension, social service, constituency development fund committee, youth fund, women enterprise fund. This is aimed at addressing the relational aspects at the same time sustainable development.
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Organize peace sports and recreation activities : Organize sports aimed at achieving peace. Football, Althelics (Tegla Lorupe peace run), Volleyball, bringing together different ethnic communities in the region so as to encourage team building, communication and positive ethnic identities and group cultural rights. Sport can reach a large group of people within the targeted population and is strongly motivating and stimulating to children to be ambassadors for peace.
Strategic Grassroots Activities for Conflict Transformation
Organize youth peace initiatives camps: This could be done through peace leadership camps, inter-ethnic or inter-group exchange programs, inter-group mixing initiatives linking youth groups across group divides. Such initiatives aim to foster and support partnership between youth organization across ethnic divide to foster greater sense of commonality. The variety of modes of learning is as significant as the number of different approaches: theatre, sport, camps etc
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Organize seminars for religious leader: They are critical and very important. Train local church leaders, (sheikhs) mosque and traditional spiritual leaders on key concepts of coexistence and to de-construct the mentality of war or historical enmity of their ancestors. Ask them to contribute positively to their communities and cooperative approaches to inter-group relations.
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Remembering, Reconciling and Reconstructing (Local Truth and Reconciliation sessions in Baraza). B y creating, recording and empowering the expression of memory, organizing session when locals can tell stories, sing, undertake the work of making and crafting a common feature. It seeks to promote recollection, affirmation of memories with a conciliatory dialogue between victims and perpetrators.
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Organizing peace art exhibitions: Promote local art exhibitions that residents can appreciate diversified cultural artifacts and share memories expressed in folktales, stories and songs. This could be done in collaboration with the Churches, Schools or other such groups
Involving locals in community policing: Community policing program if successfully implemented can go a long way to solving community differences or act as an early warning system before conflict escalation.
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Education for Reconciliation : If educational initiatives are to have a positive peace building impact, then they must seek to deconstruct structure of violence and construct peace structures. The administrator need to talk to teachers and, children as peace builders so that the social constructs that lead to violent conflict may be deconstructed to offer alternatives to resolving conflicts. E.g peace conflict subject in the syllabus
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Involving local actors in development projects such as CDF, water, roads etc. This could be done through community needs assessment barazas, project planning, project design and project evaluation. The goal is to promote structures that increase the level of community participation in planning , managing, and supervising both peacebuilding and development project.
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Organizing community leaders’ workshop: So as create dialogue between GoK, community, other donors, service providers, and ensure full cooperation between all stakeholder. Those participating may include local authorities, representatives from community structures and institutions, leaders of women groups, religious leaders, relevant professional and representatives from humanitarian agencies
Strategic Grassroots Activities for Conflict Transformation cont’d
Focusing on promoting activities that generate income yet are co-owned by persons from different ethnic groups : According to UNHCR, this is the most powerful tool to bring people together after destruction and crisis because jobs/livelihoods are most urgent needs of the people in post-conflict. What better way to bring people together than to create income-generating activities that employ people from all identity groups in communities
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Identify and promote traditional practices that promote peace: Joint cultural festival, Intermarriages between communities, Bull-fighting in Kakamega .
Disarmament, Demobilization of armed youths – Work together with National Government towards disarmament of youths or fighters and small arms prevention and control..
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Ensuring the rule of law and impartiality of officers at the grassroots level: We should make sure that the rule of law stands and that officers in charge do not take side.
Encourage tolerance and respect of civil and political freedoms: Such as freedom of speech, protests, right to assembly, free and fair election
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Ensure that the media especially radio stations are professional and independent from partisan agenda, or political and private interests. And have the capacity to reflect the views of all social groups. In case of breach report to Media Council of Kenya or Ministry of Information for action.
Establish reconciliation mechanisms from sub-locational level to the Divisional levels inclusive of wisemen, elders or ombudmen.
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24. Sustainable management of natural resources at the grassroots: Ensure that potential sparks of conflicts are well managed. For example, establishing management committee for grazing lands, water points, rangeland management, land issues and sensitizing people on threatening traditional ways of life such as cattle rustling.
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25. Tackling social inequalities at the grassroots: Ensuring that the poverty or marginalization of the least-favoured segments of the society are addressed especially through allocation of decentralized funds (CDF, LATF, Youth Fund, Women Fund, Kenya Road Funds, Social capacity fund, NGOs). Fairness in government jobs allocation, economic opportunities for minorities, contributing to public reform policies - land reforms, quota systems, social programmes, redistributive policies e.g. Narok County Council – Tourism proceeds
Strategic Grassroots Activities for Conflict Transformation cont’d
26. Commitment to addressing Geopolitical situation particularly at the borderline : Cooperating with officials from neighboring countries to address issues that are transnational. For example, Lake Victoria waters, River Nile Basin initiative, Cattle rustling in North Rift Kenya, small arms menace among Karamojong clusters, or Northern Kenya Somalia, sea piracy in Indian ocean, cross border rebel groups .
Grassroots process design aims to increase local actors’ sense of ownership in a conflict intervention process, empower local communities and create an environment more condusive to lasting peace.
The grassroots approaches are also peace-building process that create new political subjects, both individuals and groups, who are capable of breaking through war conditionality to create their own vision of the future.
Lastly Grassroots approaches to conflict transformation means replacing patterns of violence and coercion with respect, creative problem solving, increased dialogue and non-violent mechanism of social change. To accomplish this, a complex web of change processes under-girded by a transformational understanding of life and relationship is needed.
“ Conflict happens for a reason. Its expression must be non-violent. Our understanding perpetual. Without ‘conflict’, there can be no development. We should therefore transform it for better life at all levels of society”