Environmental conflicts

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Environmental conflicts

  1. 1. DISPUTE, CONFLICT AND CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICT IN KENYA BY NAIBEI N PETER MARCH 11, 2014 UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI Petnab09@gmail.com
  2. 2. 1 | P a g e B DISPUTE, CONFLICT AND CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICT IN KENYA 1. WHAT IS A DISPUTE? The term dispute is well understood, but it is nonetheless useful to consider the nature of disputes and when they arises. Disputes have their origins in disagreements between individuals. A statement by one person that is contradicted by another gives rise to a disagreement, but not necessarily a dispute. The disagreement only becomes a dispute when one or other party cannot live with the consequences of the disagreement, and insists on having it resolved. This can apply to statements, but more usually applies to claims that are served by one person on another in a contractual or a social context. (L. Ross 2012) L. Ross (2012) further states that it is often thought that a dispute arises when a claim is rejected, or is ignored for an unreasonably long period of time. However, the rejection of a claim does not necessarily bring a dispute into existence, as the party making the claim may, on reflection, accept the rejection. Thus for a dispute to crystallize, the claim needs to be reasserted in some way, after it has emerged that it is not accepted. It is sometimes difficult to gauge why disputes arise, but the reason usually holds the key to their resolution. Disputes mostly arise either from a genuine difference of opinion or from disingenuous self-interest. Identifying which reason applies is not always easy, but if the dispute arises from a genuine difference of opinion, does that difference arise from insufficient knowledge of relevant facts, or from a genuine difference of interpretation of a matter expressly agreed? And if from disingenuous self-interest, how best can the misbehaving party be brought to heel? Attempting to answer these questions usually assists the choice of an appropriate and efficient dispute resolution procedure. There is a near continuous spectrum of dispute resolution methods to choose from. These range from voluntary negotiation at one end of the spectrum to coercive litigation at the other. (https:// layngross.com (LayngRoss.com Construction Disputes
  3. 3. 2 | P a g e 2. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONFLICT AND DISPUTES? According to John Burton (1990), a dispute is a short-term disagreement that can result in the disputants reaching some sort of resolution; it involves issues that are negotiable. He further clarifies that conflict, in contrast, is long-term with deeply rooted issues that are seen as “non-negotiable”. The idea of “non-negotiable” originally stems from Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs without which one cannot live and sustain life. The principal idea is that if left unchecked and unexplained, a dispute can easily turn into a conflict. But conflicts rarely revert to disputes without intervention (Burton. 1990).Within the nature of a conflict, as indicated by Burton (1990), each side is fundamentally opposed to the success of the other and will not compromise their own values at the risk of allowing those they despise to achieve even the slightest victory. Wallensteen (2007:13–15) argues that conflict is formed of three parts: incompatibility, action and actors – and therefore a ‘complete definition’ of conflict is ‘a social situation in which a minimum of two actors (parties) strive to acquire at the same moment in time an available set of scarce resources’ (Wallensteen 2007:15). The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD 2002:4) also argues in a similar vein that conflict is: “...a state of human interaction where there is disharmony or a perceived divergence of interests, needs or goals. There is a perception that interests, needs or goals cannot be achieved due to interference from the other person(s).” Whatever form conflict takes, it is likely to have several impacts (albeit at different geographical scales) which may include physical harm to both humans and the natural resource base, impact on productivity levels and economic development more generally. Costintino and Merchant (2012) define conflict as the fundamental disagreement between two parties, of which a dispute is one possible outcome. (Conciliation, conflict avoidance, or capitulation are other outcomes.) This is similar to Douglas Yarn’s (2011) observation that conflict is a state, rather than a process. People who have opposing interests, values, or needs are in a state of conflict, which may be
  4. 4. 3 | P a g e latent (meaning not acted upon) or manifest, in which case it is brought forward in the form of a dispute or disputing process. In this sense, "a conflict can exist without a dispute, but a dispute cannot exist without a conflict. According to Burton (1990) he distinguishes conflict and dispute based on time and issues in contention. Disputes, Burton suggests, are short-term disagreements that are relatively easy to resolve. Long-term, deep-rooted problems that involve seemingly non-negotiable issues and are resistant to resolution are what Burton refers to as conflicts. Though both types of disagreement can occur independently of one another, they may also be connected. In fact, one way to think about the difference between them is that short-term disputes may exist within a larger, longer conflict. A similar concept would be the notion of battles, which occur within the broader context of a war. Furthermore, Burton (1990) extends further to state that a dispute is a short-term disagreement that can result in the disputants reaching some sort of resolution; it involves issues that are negotiable. Conflict, in contrast, is long-term with deeply rooted issues that are seen as “non-negotiable”. The idea of “non-negotiable” originally stems from Maslow’s (1943) hierarchy of needs without which one cannot live and sustain life. The sustainability of life is something that can be measured in degrees, from food and water, to community and belongingness (1943). Something that is non-negotiable is set within the mind and the process of changing such thoughts is difficult, if not impossible. The distinction is that reason and communication do not always address the issues present within a conflict, but will generally work towards alleviating many disputes. The principal idea is that if left unchecked and unexplained, a dispute can easily turn into a conflict. Conflicts rarely revert to disputes without intervention (Burton 1990). An example of negotiable versus non-negotiable distinctions can be found in common purchases that often require negotiation such as a car or home. In these situations, the parties can be seen as in dispute about the price of the item; however, they can come to an overall understanding of a compromised position. Other such disputes could be over a person’s estate after the passing of a family member. Siblings or other relatives may take an entrenched position on a particular issue and “dig in their heels.” In these scenarios the parties involved, while argumentative and adamant about their
  5. 5. 4 | P a g e particular position, can eventually come to a resolution. However, when multiple disputes and arguments are left to fester the result can often lead to conflict (Burton 1990). Following Burton's distinction, disputes involve interests that are negotiable. That means it is possible to find a solution that at least partially meets the interests and needs of both sides. For example, it generally is possible to find an agreeable price for a piece of merchandise. The seller may want more, the buyer may want to pay less, but eventually they can agree on a price that is acceptable to both. Likewise, co-workers may disagree about who is to do what task in an office. After negotiating, each may have to do something they did not want to do, but in exchange they will get enough of what they did want to settle the dispute. Long-term conflicts, on the other hand, usually involve non-negotiable issues. They may involve deep-rooted moral or value differences, high-stakes distributional questions, or conflicts about who dominates whom. Fundamental human psychological needs for identity, security, and recognition are often at issue as well. None of these issues are negotiable. People will not compromise fundamental values. They will not give up their chance for a better life by submitting to continued injustice or domination, nor will they change or give up their self-identity. Deep- rooted conflicts over these types of issues tend to be drawn out and highly resistant to resolution, often escalating or evolving into intractable conflicts. (B. Spangler et. al, 2012) Many different areas of study have been focused on the nature of conflict and dispute (Malley-Morrison & Castanheira, 2009). However, due to the constant interchanging of the terms, many of the studies have substituted conflict for dispute and dispute for conflict. When discussing mediation, researchers often are able to extract meaning from both sides in order to validate a particular point of view. To this end, a mediator should understand that the dissection of conflict styles can help assist in mediated practices, but that dispute resolution techniques may be too pedestrian for major conflicts. Proficiency in both fields will help hone a mediator’s skills and ultimately produce higher rates of settlement. (A J Moore 2003)
  6. 6. 5 | P a g e 3. CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONFLICT IN KENYA Introduction Environmental conflicts have emerged as key issues challenging local, regional, national and global security. Environmental crises and problems throughout the world are widespread and increasing rapidly. The association between the environment and conflicts is varied and complex. The causes of environmental conflicts vary across the globe and their manifestations differ considerably. (Source: http//www.wikipedia.com/kenyaenvironmentalconflicts) Environmental conflicts in Kenya is an increasingly important issue in development, as those living below the poverty line directly rely on the water and land resources surrounding their communities. With only 8 percent of arable land and 75 percent of Kenya's workforce engaged in agriculture, Kenyan farmers face growing problems of soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, and desertification. The recent drought in 2006—the most severe in independent Kenya's history—devastated the country, leaving 3.5 million people with barely enough food to survive. Meanwhile, in northern Kenya, pastoralists have lost their herds to starvation and conflicting tensions are mounting over scarce water resources (Source: http//www.wikipedia.com/kenyaenvironmentalconflicts) While global warming may be responsible for Kenya's severe droughts, current farming practices are also leading to the growth of environmental problems. Rampant pesticide use contaminates water resources while food production has declined due to soil erosion. (Okech, 2010). He further explains that weaning farmers off of unsustainable methods is a difficult task in any circumstance, much less during times of economic desperation. Farming and daily life are also complicated by sharing the land with abundant wildlife. Human-wildlife conflicts have been increasing as most of Kenya's traditional nomadic tribes are settling onto permanent plots of land and taking up farming. Wildlife is integral to the ecosystem, let alone Kenya's well-known tourism industry. Securing the conservation of native flora and fauna is critical to the region's future on a number of levels. (K .Krassowska 2009).
  7. 7. 6 | P a g e DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS Environmental-in our context this concept encompasses or relates to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition. It entails two main factors: ecosystem and the environmental change. By Ecosystem therefore it is the control system encompassing the biotic and the abiotic factors in a certain biotope (space) and environmental change means a destabilizing interference in the ecosystem equilibrium. Conflict- a serious disagreement or argument either competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons). Environmental conflict- A state of disharmony that concept encompasses or relates to ecosystem and the environmental change. According to Zurich (1992), environmental conflicts manifest themselves as political, socio- economic, ethnic or territorial or conflicts over resources or national interests. They are characterized by the principle importance of degradation in one or more of the following fields:  Overuse of renewable resource  Overstrain of environmental sink capacity  Impoverishment of the space of living LITERATURE REVIEW On the book ‘People and the environment’, Maitre et al. 2007:369) identifies a range of ecosystems services provided by nature, which include:  Stabilizing and regulatory processes: purification and maintenance of the gas composition of the air, regulation of the hydrological cycle, partial stabilization of climate, moderation of weather extremes, and control of the majority of potential pest species.  Regeneration processes: generation and renewal of soil fertility, purification of water as well as the detoxification and decomposition of wastes, pollination and dispersal of seeds/spores necessary for re-vegetation.  Production of goods: food, durable materials and industrial products, genetic resources and pharmaceuticals.  Life-fulfilling functions: aesthetic beauty, serenity, scientific discovery and preservation of options for the future. This range of ecosystem services shows how critically important these processes are to the functioning of the Earth’s systems and to human survival, livelihoods and lifestyles, and vice versa. Nature as a resource therefore provides, either directly or
  8. 8. 7 | P a g e indirectly, material needs for food production, living space, health maintenance (including provision of medicines) and supply of energy and livelihood materials (Bob et al. 2008:17). Numerous types of environmental conflicts in Kenya are identified in the literature and they include: Biodiversity conflicts between people about wildlife or other aspects of biodiversity (White et al. 2009:242). This also includes conflicts relating to conservation of protected areas, green technologies as well as fair trade and patenting rights in relation to biodiversity and indigenous knowledge linked to natural resources. These conflicts can occur internationally and have serious regulatory and policy implications. Impacts on the natural resource base in terms of land clearing for development and agricultural production as well as the effects of genetically modified crops on biodiversity are important considerations as well. There is evidence to suggest that if conservation and environmental management policies are not formulated and implemented in a holistic way to balance the needs and interests of conservation and people, it can lead to conflict. For example, in this issue Okech (2010) finds that in Kenya environmental protection and management can create situations where ‘people become the victims of animals’ and then retaliate by killing animals for bushmeat or to protect their crops or cattle from disease and predators. Linked to biodiversity conflicts are natural resource management (NRM) conflicts. Yasmi et al. (2006:538) concludes that conflicts, many of which include violence, in NRM are on an increase and are complex because of multiple actors and the wide range of issues and management strategies. However, what is important to underscore is that conflicts over environmental resources can result in violent conflicts and this can transcend nation-state boundaries. Air quality and noxious pollutants is a key type of environmental conflict is prominent in the literature and in this issue (Jaggernath 2010) – that relates to issues pertaining to social justice and theright to live in a healthy environment. Mix and Shriver (2007) focus on local resident perceptions and concerns. It is important to note that these studies also highlight divergent perceptions over environmental threats, which are important in terms of managing these conflicts. Furthermore, an important theme is environmental racism and the links between poverty and
  9. 9. 8 | P a g e vulnerability. While most conflicts relate to demonstrations and legal disputes as local residents and environmental activists mobilize communities to assert their rights, there are also incidences of violent conflicts. Environmental conflicts are on the increase as pressure on the natural resources intensifies with poor people in many cases end up paying the highest price (Mette A (2012). He further states that Food insecurity, denial of basic human rights, oppression, and the conspicuous wealth of the elite exploitation of the resources leaves frustration and anger to germinate and destabilizes already fragile societies with potential repercussions through the global society. Understanding how to achieve pro-poor conflict management and resolution strategies may be key to securing global peace. Urmilla Bob and Salomé Bronkhorst (2008) argue that the focus on environment and conflict in Kenya alludes to the myriad influences that human beings exert over the earth’s natural resource base and processes and to the way in which natural events, processes and even environmental protection can affect human life. They further say that there is also growing consensus in both the academic and political spheres that people are exerting increasing control over the natural environment with a range of consequences. Furthermore, the phenomenon of privatizing nature in its many forms (especially land ownership) is prevalent. Humans have and continue to compete for control of the natural environment, while it is used as a sink for the effects of global economic growth. However, what is becoming clear is that the natural environment can fight back. This is most noticeable in the increase in natural hazards (droughts, floods, etc.), the concern over global warming with resultant extreme climatic events and the problems associated with invasive or alien species (Bronkhorst (2007). Land resource forms a major source of environmental conflict in Kenya (Bob, 2010) .Bob land conflicts in Kenya and at large the Sub-Saharan Africa. The author draws attention to the many reasons and complex interplay of issues that can lead to conflict, such as the role of power in securing land tenure and the way poverty and inequality often limit access to land. This is agrees by Kok et al. (2009) who further says the importance of land in environmental conflicts relates to people’s ability to make a living or make a profit.
  10. 10. 9 | P a g e Land scarcity or ambiguous property rights can contribute to grievances and violent conflict that affects the environment at large. Moreover, when land contains valuable mineral resources, conflicts can arise between local communities and those who seek control over land for resource extraction. Population growth and movement, international markets, insecure property rights and legislation, climate change, environmental degradation and a myriad other factors all appear to be variables that need to be tracked in analyzing conflicts where land plays a role. Finally, desertification, unsustainable use or drought can bring communities with competing livelihoods into further conflict. (Kok et al. 2009). Climate change experiences in Kenya and the world at large is having and will have significant impacts on social, economic and ecological systems and processes as socio-economic inequalities widen locally as well as globally- a likely cause to environmental conflicts (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, 2007). Thomas and Twyman (2005) state that an examination of climate change needs to include the relationships between global processes (including emission effects and international conventions), national responses and local outcomes, and particularly the effects of national decisions and policies on local opportunities and abilities to adapt. Thus, aspects relating to environmental conflicts are important to consider. Steffen et al. (2004) identify a range of proximate/direct (immediate human activities that drive a particular change) and underlying (fundamental needs and desires of individuals and groups) drivers affecting the natural environment and intensifying climate change. Particularly to Kenya, Steffen states that the direct drivers of human activities associated with climate change are land clearing (especially removal of forests/ natural ecosystems) and land cover conversion, introduction of alien species, agricultural practices, fossil fuel and biomass burning, and poor water use and management practices (including groundwater removal). The underlying human- induced drivers include an increase in demand for a wide range of goods and services including basic needs (food, water, clothing, shelter, health and employment), transport, recreation and leisure activities, safety and security, and entertainment and luxury items. (Bob et al. 2008).
  11. 11. 10 | P a g e The impacts of climate change on socio-political systems are not new. For example, Davis (2001, cited in Barnett and Adger 2007) shows how the El Niño events that affected some part of Kenya and 2006—the most severe in independent Kenya's history, deprived local people of their entitlements to natural resources. Barnett and Adger (2007:642) further argue that it is important to consider how violent conflict is itself a powerful cause of human insecurity and vulnerability to climate change. Thomas and Twyman (2005:115) identify the implications of climate change for equity and justice among vulnerable groups at local and sub- national levels. He further says that equity and justice, they assert, are important to consider because the poorest and most vulnerable groups (especially in developing countries like Kenya where natural resource dependency is high) will disproportionately experience the negative effects of climate change. In specific contexts, direct and indirect impacts of climate change on human security may in turn increase the risk of violent conflict (Barnett & Adger 2007:639). This point is mirrored in Omolo’s (2010) empirical study in this issue. In light of increased droughts in the area, and given that livestock forms the foundation for food security in Kenya, competition over grazing land and water has increased, leading to violence. While the author reports that people have adopted a number of coping strategies to deal with climatic variability such as diversification into agriculture, vulnerability is intensified because of an increase in militarized cattle raiding, attributed in part to economic decline in the Horn of Africa. Reuveny (2007:656) illustrates that climate change-induced migration (referred to as environmental migration), which is likely to be more frequent given the increase in extreme weather events, can create and intensify violent conflicts. This will be particularly acute in lesser developed countries where, because of limited options to adapt to or mitigate climate change, people are more likely to leave affected areas. While fundamental environmental factors for environmental conflict in Kenya are land degradation, droughts, deforestation, water scarcity, floods, storms and famines linked to food insecurity (Reuveny 2007:662), environmental migration can also result from development. Omolo (2010) highlights that women from pastoral communities in Kenya are often forced to move to cities during times of environmental stress and that some have turned to prostitution for survival.
  12. 12. 11 | P a g e CONCLUSION Environmental conflicts are linked to political, economic, social and ecological contexts. Very few studies or intervention strategies to address these conflicts adopt an integrated and interdisciplinary approach. In particular, key points of conflict are in relation to climate change, conservation, water quality and availability, air quality and management aspects. Furthermore, a disconcerting trend is the migration levels associated with environmental and other conflicts that often result in existing or new conflicts emerging in receiving areas. The matter of vulnerability remains an important aspect of understanding environmental conflicts. This issue highlights that the poor, marginalized groups and especially women are more likely to be impacted by environmental degradation and conflicts, whatever their types. In turn the poor are often dependent on environmental resources for livelihoods and energy – leading to environmental degradation. Furthermore, environmental degradation and diminishing environmental resources are linked to several conflicts from international to intra- national/local levels. However, what is a neglected field of research is the extent to which conflicts result in environmental degradation. The impacts of climate change are likely to worsen this situation and make environmental conflicts phenomena that are more widespread globally. It is therefore imperative that environmental conflict dynamics are studied and appropriate resolution and management strategies employed to reduce these. REFERENCES  Internet sources: https:// layngross.com as at 10:46pm on 4th march 2014.  Omolo, N.A. 2010. Gender and climate change induced conflict in pastoral communities: case study of Turkana in north-western Kenya. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 10 (2), p. 81–102.  Burton, J. (1990) Conflict: Resolution and prevention. New York: St Martin's Press.  Morris, M. W., Leung, K., & Iyengar, S. S. (2004). Person perception in the heat of conflict: Negative trait attributions affect procedural preferences and account for situational and cultural differences. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 7(2).
  13. 13. 12 | P a g e  Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370-396.  Morris, M. W., Leung, K., & Iyengar, S. S. (2004). Person perception in the heat of conflict:  Negative trait attributions affect procedural preferences and account for situational and cultural differences. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 7(2).  Okech, R. 2010. Wildlife-community conflicts in conservation areas in Kenya. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 10 (2), pp. 65–80.  ACCORD. 2002. Transforming conflict. Facilitator’s reference manual. Durban, ACCORD.  Ahmed, F. (2008). Development pressures and management constraints in the coastal zone. Alternation, 15 (1), pp. 45–65.  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report – Working Group 111 Report ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’. Available from: <http://www1.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/ar4-wg3.htm>.  K .Krassowska, (2009). Environmental Mainstreaming in Kenya. Status and Strategies for Stability and Development: Commissioned by Royal Danish Embassy / Danida, Nairobi, Kenya  U. Bob and S. Bronkhorst (2008). Environmental conflicts: Key issues and management implications of Environmental Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.  Barnett, J. and W.N. Adger 2007. Climate change, human security and violent conflict. Political Geography, 26, pp. 639–655.  Bob, U. 2010. Land-related conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 10 (2), pp. 49–64.  Jaggernath, J. 2010. Environmental conflicts in the South Durban Basin: Integrating residents’ perceptions and concerns resulting from air pollution. African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 10 (2), pp. 137–152.  Yasmi, Y., H. Schanz and A. Salim 2006. Manifestation of conflict escalation in natural resource management. Environmental Science and Policy, 9, pp. 538–546.  Steffen, W., A. Sanderson, P. Tyson, J. Jager, P. Matson, B. Moore III, F. Oldfield, K. Richardson,J. Schellnhuber, B.L. Turner II and R. Wasson 2004. Global change and the Earth system: A planet under pressure - Executive summary. New York, Springer.
  14. 14. 13 | P a g e  White and E. van der Wal 2009. Developing an integrated conceptual framework to understand biodiversity conflicts. Land Use Policy, 26, pp. 242– 253.  Mix, T.L. and T.E. Shriver 2007. Neighbours, nuisances and noxious releases: Community conflict and environmental hazards in the atomic city. The Social Science Journal, 44, pp. 630–644.  Kok, A., W. Lotze and S. van Jaarsveld 2009. Natural resources, the environment and conflicts. African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD). Available from: <www.accord.org.za> [Accessed 4 March 2014].  Thomas, D.S.G. and C. Twyman 2005. Equity and justice in climate change adaptation amongst natural-resource-dependent Societies. Global Environmental Change, 15, pp. 115–124.  Steffen, W., A. Sanderson, P. Tyson, J. Jager, P. Matson, B. Moore III, F. Oldfield, K. Richardson, J. Schellnhuber, B.L. Turner II and R. Wasson 2004. Global change and the Earth system: A planet under pressure - Executive summary. New York, Springer.  Morris, M. W., Leung, K., & Iyengar, S. S. (2004). Person perception in the heat of conflict: Negative trait attributions affect procedural preferences and account for situational and cultural differences. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 7(2).  Zurich, (1992) .What is Environmental Conflict? Center for security Studies, Swiss Peace Foundation.  Wallensteen, P. 2007. Understanding conflict resolution. London, Sage. 

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