Formalisation of Village Peace Committees in the Karamoja Cluster A Consultancy Report

Citation:
Irungu P. Formalisation of Village Peace Committees in the Karamoja Cluster A Consultancy Report.; 2001.

Abstract:

Nomadic livestock production is the backbone of the economy of pastoral communities in the Karamoja cluster. However, widespread and uncontrolled livestock raiding is currently threatening the success of this enterprise. In fact, raiding has been named as the single most important impediment to the development of the cluster generally and particularly in the delivery of animal health services. Efforts are being made by national and international agencies to remedy the situation. One of these agencies is the CAPE Unit of OAU-IBAR’s PACE Programme whose mandate in the area includes the control animal diseases through community-based initiatives. Following the realisation of the negative impact of livestock raiding on animal health service delivery, the PACE with the assistance of the donor community, particularly REDSO, DFID and CDTF, initiated a Pastoral Community Harmonisation (PCH) project to find solutions to this problem in order to enable it fulfil its mandate. One of the steps taken in this direction has been to facilitate dialogue between cross-border neighbours in what has come to be referred to as “border harmonisation meetings”. However, commitments made at these peace meetings lacked agents at the grassroots to follow them up and oversee their implementation. In this regard, this study was commissioned by the CAPE Unit to document the process of linking village peace committees in the cluster to local government machinery. Due to time constraints, this exercise was confined along the Kenya-Uganda border involving the Turkana, Karimojong and Pokot. One of the findings of this study is that village committees already exist in the cluster in form of traditional councils of elders, which, among other things, resolve conflicts at the grassroot level. However, these committees are poorly integrated into the formal conflict resolution structures. This study also found that the criteria for selection of members of the village committees, as well as their tasks, are well known by the villagers. In addition, there are traditionally institutionalised incentives for the village committees. The few traders in the area pledged their support for the village committees. The district administration in the area also pledged to support the committees morally but regretted that they cannot offer any meaningful financial support because limited funding from the government. From the observations made in this study, the following recommendations are made: In the short term, (i) An immediate follow up of the village committees should be conducted as soon as possible to activate them. (ii) A similar village committee formalisation exercise needs to be urgently carried out along the Uganda-Sudan, Kenya-Sudan, Ethiopia-Sudan and Kenya-Ethiopia borders in order for enable them start on an equal footing. (iii) A trader sensitisation/advocacy exercise should be conducted in order to solicit for their support for the village committees. In the intermediate term, (iv) There is need to provide the village committees with communication equipment to facilitate the dispersal of information across the common border. Due to the sensitivity of this issue, more discussion with the relevant government organs is advised. (v) There is need to establish a rapid response team comprising elders, the youth and government security personnel to complement the efforts of the village elders in diffusing local conflicts. The formation of such as team could benefit from the experience of the Wajir Peace and Development Committee. In the long term, (vi) Taking advantage of the existing trust of CAPE Unit by the cluster governments, the Unit could persuade them to speed up the construction of roads from their side of the borders. This will help to tone down the tension and suspicion that is rife between cross-border neighbours. (vii) In the same token, using the goodwill of the OAU and other regional bodies such as IGAD and EAC, the CAPE Unit could persuade the cluster governments to speed up the disarmament programme. Until this is done, the delicate balance of power existing between the youth and the elders today will continue to frustrate any efforts aimed at bringing peace, reconciliation and development in the Karamoja cluster.

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