Hope for Kenya Forum
A REPORT POST-ELECTION PEACE BUILDING PROGRAM IN KENYA
Change Agents for Peace International (CAPI) found itself with an urgent need to respond to the threatening and escalating situation that Kenya found herself in after the 2007 December 27th General Elections. Though there had been violent occasions following every election since Kenya embraced multiparty democracy, it was least anticipated that the country would undergo violence to the extent that was witnessed between January and March 2007. Within this period, over 1500 lives were lost with as many as over 500,000 being displaced. The world celebrated the signing of the Peace Accord between President Kibaki and Hon. Raila Odinga in the presence of former US Secretary General, Koffi Annan. It was indeed joy and relief to many a people, that peace had returned to Kenya. What may not be known to most people is the fact that the signing of the Peace Accord is a political gesture and very important toward the reduction of political hostilities. Those who work in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation will agree that this is just but the beginning of steps towards lasting peace. But can there be peace when people are still internally displaced persons? What of the mistrust, suspicion, the many barriers and threats we hear and see on many occasions? What is the fate of those who lost their dear ones and the destruction of their livelihoods?
As indicated above, the situation in the country was deteriorating such that there was a great need to respond with speed. CAPI identified short-term and long-term interventions in response to the situation.
- For the short-term; to offer relief assistance to victims of the post-election violence and this assistance included;
- Food items for immediate consumption
- Non-food items – clothing, kitchenware, bedding
- Collaborate with like-minded organizations – both civil society and governmental organizations to offer assistance to the needy
- Identify the most vulnerable groups/communities that were affected by the violence
- Long-term goals
- Listening to victims and perpetrators
- Conduct dialogue meetings between tribes, religious institutions etc
- Train community leaders, opinion leaders, and local administrators, youth and women leaders in peace building and conflict transformation skills.
- Support women who were depended on small scale business for their livelihoods.
- Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). This has been more of an entry program to the communities we have worked with. Priority was given to informal settlements that faced the brunt of the violence, notably Kibera, Mathare, Kariobangi, Huruma, Kawangware, Kangemi, Kiambio, Korogocho, Kikuyu and Limuru.
Besides the interest from the participants, it was realized that the training provided safe space for in-depth sharing about individual experiences during the violence. It also brought people from different backgrounds together in terms of tribe, religion, social status etc and this was useful to get them talking to one another so as to reduce barriers. People have made friendships out of these workshops as some will remember each other by the workshop names they use. It has also provided readily applicable skills to people, especially the youth. There are groups that have begun meeting frequently and even inviting others who have not attended the workshop. When they hold these meetings, they apply some skills such as listening, the use of “I Message”, and affirming one another. So far, 517 have been trained in Basic skills and out of these 62 have been trained further in advanced and 12 acquired Training of Trainers skills.
- Mediation Training, Trauma Healing and Counseling
This level follows those who have gained skills in alternatives to violence with a view to strengthening their capacity to mitigate, intervene, mediate and facilitate conflicts within their respective regions. This is an intensive five-day training bringing together select participants from all the areas CAPI has been working in.
CAPI has adopted this methodology due to its effectiveness in creating opportunities to dialogue over issues that are of grave concern to the communities. These sessions have brought together leaders from the community who through facilitation, they are able to identify some pertinent issues that are of interest to the entire community. It is only when communities are brought together that they realize and appreciate the need for cooperation of all members. In response to the post-election crisis, CAPI has held one-day consultations with groups in Kibera, Huruma, Mathare. These are on –going in order to reach out to target communities. Out of these processes, we have been able to identify the following issues as contributing to conflicts within Kenya.
- Underlying tensions, suspicion and mistrust
- Historical injustices
- Unemployment especially among the youths
Such meetings remain crucial in helping communities to think about how best to address their problems, combining their own resources and in collaboration with other partners.
- Listening Teams
The Listening teams are part of the larger methodology that Quakers have employed in this country following the eruption of violence. This was popularly practiced in Western Kenya which has a high population of Quakers. CAPI is part of the Friends Church Peace Teams (FCPT), having participated in its formation. Consequently, it has been the lead partner in Nairobi in implementing the activities of FCPT. Under this umbrella, CAPI has carried out the following:
- contributed towards providing basic needs of victims of post-election violence (food and clothes)
- Organizing listening events where victims share their painful stories which we believe to be therapeutic. CAPI visited the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Waithaka on June 28, 2008 for both relief assistance and the listening exercises. The camp had over 300 people.
These activities are also on-going given that there are people still living in camps. Some are not necessarily in camps but live with relatives in different parts of Nairobi. However, some organize meetings that bring them together to share their plight.
Some of the issues that emerge from these meetings as follows:
- The need to follow up with traumatized cases
- Access to medical facilities for vulnerable groups – especially women and young children. It is hurting to hear that they have no access to very basic needs such as sanitary towels.
- Advocacy for the rights and access to justice.
- Support for income-generating activities. There are cases that have been encountered, those who were evicted, having lost all their property and their source of livelihood.
- Social events
CAPI has been involved in promoting social events organized by the targeted communities that aim to bring people together. These involve sports, peace rallies, clean ups etc. Through these functions, there are always opportunities for crowds to be reminded on the need to live together peacefully, to respect each other regardless of one’s background and to avoid violence. Two successful events have been conducted in Kawangware that CAPI is proud to be associated with.