Women Championing Cohesion in Narok South.
Narok South Subcounty in Narok County has over time experienced bouts of inter-ethnic conflicts, largely fueled by competition for natural resources such as land and pasture; and occasionally, Political interests. The clashes have resulted in the loss of lives and property across the different communities in the area, with women and Children being among the worst affected.
Inter-communal animosity contributes to the strained relationships between community members. Further, Retrogressive Cultural practices that relegate women further away from important decision-making processes have served little to promote their inclusion in peace promotion and maintenance. This goes against the United Nations Security Council (UNSCR) resolution 1325 which affirms women’s role, ‘in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction.’
The Anglican Development Services (ADS) Kenya which is the Social Transformation Arm of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) is implementing an Intercommunal Conflict Resolution project in the area. The Project is supported by USAID through the Family Health International (FHI) 360. The project seeks to build capacities and trust among local peace and security actors to enhance inter-communal cohesion and reconciliation among communities.
One of the intervention areas is sensitizing women to appreciate communal inter-connectedness and mutual Dependance. among the community Members. This is aimed at reducing ethnic antagonisms and competition between communities. Inter-communal dialogue forums provide communities a platform for in-depth participatory discussions on key threats to peace and security in the sub-county.
Among the outcomes of these processes, women were empowered, resulting in the formation of a social support group called OSOTUA/KALIET (Peace) women group. The group brings together 20 women from the Maasai, Kipsigis, Ogiek, and Kisii communities. The members work together to promote peaceful coexistence by identifying and speaking out on the root causes of conflict in the area. They also support each other to uplift their living standards. They meet weekly on a merry-go-round basis. Mama Naropil Koila is a victim of inter-ethnic clashes and also secretary to the group. She lost her house and had to go live with her father. This made her bitter to an extend that she said she, “hated the Kalenjin Community to a point that i didn’t want to deal with anyone with Kalenjin Roots.” However, this has changed. She has been able to heal and works with fellow women to promoting interethnic cohesion in the area. This, she expounds, is also due to the fact that women have carried the burden of violence in the area. She now uses the group to encourage women to work together to promote cohesion while at the same time taking care of each other’s welfare.
ADS Kenya is implementing several Peacebuilding Projects in the larger Narok County in partnership with other actors such as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and Bread for the World. These interventions are aimed at establishing early warning mechanisms for conflict, deepening cohesion through dialogue, and offering post-conflict support to Victims.