A slogan from the 2007 elections. The aftermath of the polls saw Kenya descend into violence in which more than 1000 people were killed. Image credit: Worth Baker A slogan from the 2007 elections. The aftermath of the polls saw Kenya descend into violence in which more than 1000 people were killed. Image credit: Worth Baker

With the end of 2014 fast approaching, we are delighted to introduce the latest section of our unique peace-mapping project: Kenya. Supported by our partnership with the EU, we have recruited a superb new Local Correspondent based in Nairobi, Louise Khabure, who has worked hard to provide us with comprehensive information on 24 different local peacebuilding organisations with which to launch the section.

Louise brings huge experience to Insight on Conflict. An independent consultant on East Africa, she has been involved in peacebuilding and conflict management activities in Kenya and the Horn of Africa as well as across the Great Lakes region. Among other work, she was previously Central Africa Analyst for the International Crisis Group.

Kenya is an incredible place. Although we have our problems, there are many more people committed to peace than to conflict here. I am excited to join the Peace Direct team, and to help put a spotlight on the inspiring peacebuilding work happening across my country.

- Louise Khabure, Kenya Local Correspondent
Louise's knowledge of local organisations will be crucial to our shared success. These organisations are doing vital work, and as the post-election violence of recent years has demonstrated, Kenya has deep-rooted problems. Historical grievances and poor governance have led to multiple conflicts, related to local political power structures, administrative borders and control, land and pasture rights, and natural resources. An important destination for refugees from the crisis in neighbouring South Sudan, Kenya also faces a significant challenge in dealing with terror networks and youth radicalisation.

A head-start on conflict: Kenya's vibrant civil society

Despite these problems, the outlook need not be bleak. Kenya has an extremely healthy civil society sector, and many organisations doing excellent work around the country. Louise’s research has already put the spotlight on projects working on a huge number of issues, including land use reform, managing the impact of refugees, reconciling communities across local borders, and working to defuse politically-charged ethnic tensions. Some of these organisations we have encountered before: 13 of the 224 organisations which entered the 2014 edition of our Tomorrow’s Peacebuilders competition were from Kenya.

A peace and reconciliation meeting between Pokot and Sabiny communities, facilitated by Rev Nahashion (standing). These meetings take place as part of POKATUSU's peace caravans. A peace and reconciliation meeting organised by the POKATUSA Peace and Development Program.

For an overview of the problems these organisations are working to resolve, read our conflict profile, which describes the situation on the ground in Kenya. We have also secured the input of several excellent contributors, who have provided us with in-depth analysis of specific issues. To kick us off, our Local Correspondent, Louise, has published an excellent history of Local Peace Committees in Kenya - an exciting attempt to give local people the institutional and administrative support to resolve their own disputes, but which have proved difficult to implement. Jeremy Lind provides analysis of the political context of devolution in which these peace committees operate, while Kisuke Ndiku analyses the challenges and opportunities that a new cross-border infrastructure project could bring. We also have contributions from Dr Karambu Ringera and Claire Mc Evoy coming soon, who will discuss the move from personal to community peacebuilding and gender-based violence around elections, respectively.

Looking to the future: expanding the reach of Insight on Conflict

But the 24 organisations we launch with are not the end of peacebuilding work in Kenya – they are the beginning. We know there will be more to come. Many organisations have been working for change for a long time, and we are extremely pleased to be able to support their work, in a country with complicated and sensitive politics. As we have learnt in our ten years of building peace, local people are usually the best placed to deal with their own problems, and it is in this vein that we invite contributions to our site from anyone with relevant expertise. Get in touch if you know of an organisation or initiative doing peacebuilding work, in Kenya or elsewhere – we would love to hear their story. If you have conducted research or are knowledgeable about another aspect of conflict management in Kenya, we would also be delighted to hear from you. Our partner organisations refuse to bow to the ‘inevitability’ of violence, and as we approach 1000 local peacebuilding groups featured across our site, nor will we.

Queueing to vote in the Kenyan elections. Queueing to vote in the Kenyan elections. Image credit: DEMOSH