GOOD GOVERNANCE, DEMOCRACY, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT AND PEACEFUL TRANSITION
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES IN THE RIFT VALLEY, KENYA
Kenya faces challenges to maintaining sustainability, peace and security. The inequitable distribution of wealth, natural resources and land are major factors that political forces have used to trigger conflict during General Elections in the country’s highly competitive political landscape. Access to land and resources have triggered inter-ethnic conflicts. Kenya, with 42 tribes, is now a country where the utilization of land and resources is linked to ethnic grouping, and where ethnicity is aligned to political affiliation.
The tragedies of postelection violence in 2007-2008 were triggered when political forces used the issues of land and ethnicity to gain power. The general elections concluded in March 2013 saw the creation of new posts in a completely new decentralized county system, as outlined in the new Kenyan Constitution, including governors, senators and county assembly representatives. The decentralization process in Kenya has brought to light the need for “ethno-cultural justice”, with the political power of the majority culture counterbalanced by the adoption of minority rights.
The Peaceful Transition through Equitable Resource Access and Environmental Restoration Project was designed to strengthen the community and institutional structures over the long term, enhance representation, improve equitable access and distribution of resources, and restore the environment during the transition to devolved government.
The Project Implementation strengthened the role of district Peace Committees, and trained more than 2,000 youths – as well as 192 teachers – on the principles of the Earth Charter Declaration. Over 200 youths were trained in entrepreneurship skills, 2,750 children participated in promoting peace through visual and performing arts, and some 7,500 Peace Trees were planted in the region.
The Project is based on Professor Wangari Maathai’s Three Legged Stool concept, which has been adopted as a training tool to help citizens and students within communities understand the interdependence between good governance, democracy and peace for sustainable development. Professor Maathai was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize. The peace project, which has expanded immensely, was made possible by cooperation between the Green Belt Movement and Green Cross Sweden, and funding from the Folke Bernadotte Academy of the Swedish government.
- Capacity Building for Nakuru County Government and Peace Infrastructure in Nakuru County: The project promoted meaningful engagement beyond ethnicity at the county level, as well as protection and restoration of the Eastern Mau forest catchment and watersheds.
- Consensus building and reconciliation in post-electoral phase: youth and children participation in peace development in the County. Members of the Ward Peace Committee and District Peace Committee were trained on leadership, and their responsibility for peacebuilding. Four new Children’s Peace Clubs were started (Rongai, Kipsyenan, Mosop and Lumdiarc schools) and two established peace clubs were expanded (Mau Summit and Kamara school).
- Three groups were involved in the watershed rehabilitation project: Kariko Tree Nursery, Young Gatitu group and Mariru women’s group.
- Viable income generation activities were supported, including beehives and kitchen gardens. In addition to providing nutritional value, these generate additional income from surplus food production.
- Peace Trees were planted in priority areas along the watershed: 7,500 indigenous trees were planted at different school locations.
The Peaceful Transition through Equitable Resource Access and Environmental Restoration Project achieved more than was planned. The many diverse stakeholders expressed ownership and pride over the different peace initiatives, showing that the project now belongs to these people. The project continues to work towards a sustainable peace, essential to the wellbeing of current and future generations.