Our programme in Kenya
The dynamics of conflict and insecurity in Kenya have shifted substantially over the past few years, due to processes and events that have taken place at the local, national, regional and international levels. The 2017 general elections weakened relationships between citizens and formal security providers such as the state, in particular damaging trust between youth and police in urban informal settlements, where security actors were accused of heavy-handed tactics and employing violence to suppress peaceful protest.
In recent years, organized crimes perpetrated by gang members, violent extremism, resource-based conflicts as a result of access to and use of resources, strained relationships between citizens and formal security forces and intra- and inter-ethnic tensions along the dimension of identities and boundaries have continued to dominate the socio-political and religious spaces in the country leading to intractable conflicts.
The LPI’s Kenya programme focuses on connecting across divides and building the local capacities of communities on the margins of religion and ethnicity under the peace architecture using dialogue as a common ground to resolve conflicts. In Nairobi, Mandera and Wajir counties, we work with the youth in different communities to provide alternatives to issues that link them to crimes and violence through a sustained dialogue mechanism that engages the youth as drivers of peace.
LPI in Kenya
LPI has been operational in Kenya since 1986, initially as a regional hub for activities across the Horn of Africa. Recognising compounding challenges that produce violence, LPI developed partnerships with both established and emerging informal civil society to promote new spaces for dialogue, joint action and constructive engagement with government actors. The current focus is on North-Eastern Kenya and Nairobi’s informal settlements.
Partners are key to our success
Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations of Eastleigh (CCMRE) CCMRE was established in 2010 as a community outreach wing of St Paul's University. Located in the Eastleigh area of Nairobi, Kenya, the Centre aims to create a platform and open space for dialogue and joint engagement amongst Christians and Muslims. CCMRE strives to acknowledge and overcome stereotypes amongst different faiths while encouraging all parties (Christians, Muslims, non, and other-believers) to take part in their activities. LPI and CCMRE have carried out joint action research in Kamukunji, Mathare, and Nairobi, and have engaged diverse community leaders in dialogue and actions for peace.
Mandera Peace and Development Committee (MPDC) MPDC is a community-based organisation that has coordinated, harmonized, and facilitated peacebuilding programmes in Mandera, Kenya since 2000. MPDC’s goal is to support pastoral and urban communities moving towards long-term peaceful coexistence through peacebuilding, environmental, and human security programmes. LPI and MPDC engage communities in dialogue processes across Mandera County, focusing particularly on young people.
The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) SUPKEM is an umbrella body of the Muslim organisations, societies, mosque committees, and groups in Kenya. Its mission is to guide the Muslim community members on their rights and responsibilities as Kenyan citizens. SUPKEM’s thematic areas of intervention are: 1) peace and conflict resolution; 2) governance and human rights; and 3) advocacy and public awareness on social issues. SUPKEM-Garissa Branch has a secretariat comprising of board members, staff, and volunteers. SUPKEM is the longest serving civil society organisation in Garissa and enjoys the trust of citizens and government alike. LPI and SUPKEM collaborate to strengthen cross-community dialogue in Garissa county.
Wajir Peace and Development Agency (WPDA) WPDA has worked to increase participation and inclusion as a means of sustainable peace in North Eastern Kenya since 1995. WPDA’s Strategic Theme 1 – Peacebuilding and Conflict Management – aims to enhance peaceful and harmonious coexistence of the people of Wajir. Among other things, WPDA has extensive experience in designing and implementing CBO-government collaboration platforms. LPI and WPDA work with young people to create space for dialogue in Wajir County.
Our Vision A Kenya that is based on trust, mutually beneficial relationships of understanding, both vertically (between communities and the state) and horizontally (between communities themselves).
Sustained Dialogue (SD) The Sustained Dialogue has remained a core model used by the Kenya Programme, implemented in Nairobi, Mandera and Wajir Counties. Youth are engaged in a series of participatory dialogue sessions, in which they interrogate their own identities, their perceptions, attitudes and behaviours towards the ‘other’, as part of a process of transforming negative ethnic or other identity-based relationships. Through the SD sessions, we are confronting varied sources of insecurity using a peacebuilding approach.
Youth Dialogue LPI Kenya programme is also engaging youth in Nairobi informal setups - Kibra, Korogocho and Mathare the method of engagement is much similar to the community dialogue, however in this particular project the focus is on youth.
Body Mapping The Body Mapping method brings together lived experiences and visual artistic expressions. Artistic activities are interwoven with personal storytelling, meditative and reflective exercises, deep listening, and group discussion and dialogue. The primary purpose of Body Mapping is to enable self-exploration and the sharing of personal experiences about life and the surrounding environment in a safe and confidential group setting.
Impact and results
Self-exploration through Body Mapping in Kenya In 2018, in the framework of a broader dialogue process, Body Mapping workshops were held for youth change agents from Dujis, Garissa township, Mansabubu, and Modogashe. The participants were young women and men from diverse communities. They traced their bodies on canvas, and coloured them in. These Body Maps become visual representations of their histories, hopes, aspirations, visions, and desires for their community and themselves. The success of this type of experiential learning highlights the importance of arts and creativity in self-expression, sharing deep feelings, and group bonding. Moving beyond these workshops, youth participants applied art-based methodologies in their dialogue sessions. They explored identity, inclusivity, and ways to move towards national cohesion through drawing, poetry, song, dance, and drama. Body Mapping enabled participants to (re)discover themselves as a source of strength and healing through sharing – the best moments, worst moments, their sense of belonging to Kenya, hopes, and aspirations.
Developing agreements for addressing conflict non-violently In 2018, in partnership with the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), 288 dialogues were conducted in Garissa Township, Dujis, Modgashe, and Mansabubu in North Eastern Kenya. Participants came from diverse ethnic, clan, economic, and socio-political backgrounds to discuss insecurity linked to land and boundary issues, rising cases of sexual and gender-based violence, scarcity of resources (water, grazing lands), camel rustling, private sector development, and violent extremism.
'We didn’t know each other. We are people from different ethnic groups coming together to discuss key issues affecting all of us, this is in itself a huge success.' – Change agent, Garissa, Kenya.
After dialogues in Dujis, participating groups agreed to establish a joint water committee with representatives from both communities to preserve the resource and distribute it fairly in the dry season. They also agreed to distribute food aid fairly. The community members are working closely with the local administration towards safeguarding these agreements, which are currently holding.
Seeking non-violent solutions when tensions rise In Turkana, LPI collaborated with communities and a consortium of six local and international CSOs. Together, we sought to identify conflict risks related to oil and gas exploration and extraction, and engage with county, national, and private sector actors to safeguard environmental, health, and livelihood interests. The work focused east and south of Turkana County, where communities were impacted by oil extractive operations. In June 2018, when the Early Oil Pilot Scheme (EOPS) launched and transported stored crude oil drawn from testing oil wells, there was still lack of clarity and agreement from the part of government on the grievances raised by the community. Communities launched peaceful protests and blocked trucks transporting crude oil to Mombasa from Lokichar. Community members indicated that through their engagement with LPI, their outlook and approach to demonstrations had shifted towards a non-violent expression of their grievances.
Steps towards increased youth inclusion in decision-making structures and processes in Kenya Youth are not only the largest age group in Kenya, but also disproportionally affected by violence – both as agents and victims. Beyond ensuring young people’s perspective are heard and accounted for, participation also contributes to changing perceptions that youth are ‘the problem’, when in fact they can lead positive change in their communities if given the support. The Promoting the role of youth in peaceful elections in Kenya project – in partnership with Humanity & Inclusion and Saferworld – lobbied for the inclusion of youth representatives in government peace structures, and sub-county peace committees. In Nairobi, this resulted in two young men and one young woman being selected (in Kibra, Korogocho and Mathare) with one chosen as deputy chairperson of the Peace Committee. Meetings with the Nairobi County Commissioner and the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (NSC) were also conducted to restart conversations on how peace committees countrywide can be more inclusive of women, youth, and persons with disabilities. As evidenced by the final evaluation of the project: “(…) engaging youth in peace committees positively changed public perceptions about their effectiveness… For example, the Kibra Sub-County Peace Committee got the opportunity to interact with youth leaders and were encouraged by their dynamism. The Chair and Secretary of this Committee reported that, as a result, they are now planning to recruit youth to join the Committee.” (Final Evaluation of the ‘Promoting the role of youth in Peaceful Elections in Kenya’ Project, implemented by Saferworld, Life & Peace Institute (LPI) and Humanity & Inclusion (HI). Evaluation led by Mikewa Ogada, independent consultant.)
'We are open to the idea of recruiting youth and women to the Kibra Sub-County Peace Committee. We can see now that they have a lot of value to add.' – Peace Committee member, Kibra (Nairobi), Kenya (Extract from final evaluation report)
ResourcesRelated articles & resources
Kenya - Nairobi
LPI’s Kenya programme is administered from the office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Life & Peace Institute, P.O. Box 64495-00620, Nairobi, Kenya
Mpaka Road, Nairobi, Kenya