While mitigation of conflicts has taken on different trajectories, Rural Women Peace Link (RWPL) believes in the theory of change that, if communities are given the opportunity of seeking and establishing conflict resolution mechanisms among core cohort groups of youth, women, men, and community leaders then there will be fewer incidences of conflicts escalating. For these reasons, RWPL envisaged a project that focused on the listed groups as part of a trained and efficient Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) link to other county mediation teams, local networks, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and government agencies for quick response to mitigate any portended conflict risks.
An integrated approach to EWER is a stronger Team in both the target counties of Bungoma and Uasin Gishu towards 2022 with the intent of securing an enabling environment for peace and democracy to flourish especially as the 2022 general elections near.
The SADES-K program’s overall goal is to enhance Kenya’s ability to hold a national conversation on reforms and national cohesion, and to safeguard democratic gains, including protecting civic space, respect for human rights, and observance of rule of law. The project “Community Early Warning Early Response” aimed to contribute to Result Area 2 of the SADES-K program. The project anchors on RWPL’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, Kenya’s constitution (2010, Vision 2030, sustainable Development Goals 5, 10, 16, 17 and Kenya National Action Plan 2020-2024 on UNSCR 1325.
Project Goal: Strengthened social cohesion through building resilience in Uasin Gishu and Bungoma counties to counter eruptions of violence and temper its escalation.
Objectives 1. To build the capacity of communities to contribute to Early Warning Early Response (EWER) Pathways for sustainable peace and cohesion by 2021
Objective 2. Strengthen partnerships and collaboration in monitoring community EWER by 2021
RWPL project activities focused on building resilience in Uasin Gishu and Bungoma Counties to counter eruptions of violence and its escalation. The project employs a local community-steered EWER mechanism as a tool of conflict prevention by initiating timely responses with other county and national actors to build a peaceful and inclusive society that promotes cohesion as well.
The engagements of the 92 (54m, 35f) youth in five Bunge’s in Turbo, Kapseret, Kesses, Ainabkoi, Soy-Moiben sub-counties, and the National Youth Council leadership in larger Uasin Gishu County have been immense contributors to peacebuilding. This to form an information gathering and sharing chain in the early warning early response project while incorporating the Youth Gender and Sports Ministry, Department of social services, National Government office of County Commissioners, the local administration, Chiefs, Village Elders, and Nyumba Kumi.
The youths through the Bunge’s realized insights in the UNSCR 2250 on Youth participation in Youth Peace and Security. As they are key in conflict prevention within their communities.
In Turbo sub-county, a police officer during the quarterly CUC meeting remarked:
“We realize they have become very cooperative especially the Boda boda leaders. Wamesaidika, they have changed and share information with us than before”
~ Police Officer Turbo Police Station.
The Youth have come up with elaborate actions that they will push forward through their groups and members so that they can secure peace in the community by first preventing the escalation of conflict.
There is an improved rapport between the Chiefs, the national government office, the police, and youth through their leaders as they support each other in combating crime. This new attitude and working relationship will enhance security especially after the establishment of the county EWER Hub where regular interface meetings between youth and security will further solidify relations as they view one another as partners willing to collaborate and cooperate for the good of the community.
A linkage between the youth, elders, and other community leaders for further engagement during community activities give youth recognition as peacemakers. Some, “Boda” have agreed to brand their motorbikes with peace messages to communicate that they are for peace and are keen on preventing any escalation of violence despite the many differences in the county.
Youths have become aware of their roles and responsibilities when it comes to community peacebuilding and prevention of violence.
“We want our political leaders especially the elders to do the same and not show partiality.” ~ Mr. Ngetich. Youth Community Mobilizer from Soy Sub-County
The creation of the 61 (37m, 24f) member County Integrated Early Warning Early Response (CIEWER) is intended to have in place a gender-sensitive and inclusive Roundtable Team bringing on board the diverse factions, as well as men, women, boys, and girls in the community.
The CIEWER Roundtable Teams in the two Counties of Uasin Gishu and Bungoma, drew up Two Action Plans to guide the future interactions of the Roundtable geared towards the anticipated referendum, and 2022 Election.After the Bungoma and Uasin Gishu CIEWER creation, Men women, and youth in the two counties are actively mobilizing for action in preventing ethnic and community violence. They are participating and attending community forums to sensitize as many as are available on keeping peace through dialogues at various Community events, churches, and public barazas.
Their collaboration with other county and national structures has been enhanced through the organized forum which links up the multisector Team in the collection, analysis, and the way duty bearers respond.
‘‘We are willing to listen to the community if they choose to cooperate and work with us but we will not allow violence to be used to harm the people. We, therefore, welcome wholly this initiative by RWL and USAID. USAID has been our partner and supporter for many years and we appreciate this intervention that will hopefully make us friends to the community to work alongside each other for a safe and secure county. That is our mandate and business as government. There is no reason or room for the community to use violence to resolve its problems at all when we can talk” ~ Samuel Kimiti, County Commissioner, Bungoma County.