The support and cooperation of Green Cross Sweden has been critical for the process of dialogue, negotiation, reconciliation and cultivating a culture of peace in Nakuru County. Here the Folke Bernadotte Academy has supported peace and security initiatives in Kenya since 2005. This partnership with Green Belt Movement began with the project Sustainability, Peace and Security – Conflict Mitigation in the Local Communities of Kenya, Specifically the Maai Mahiu, Rift Valley Province, this same region where the project exists today. At the beginning of 2008 great ethnic violence erupted in Kenya as a result of the General these Elections where tragedies were concentrated in this very region of Rift Valley. Hundreds of people were killed and over 300,000 became internally displaced.

This area at Mau Summit School was once an empty field and in 2010 Peace Trees were planted. Today we see the start of a forest of indigenous trees. Photo:TM

In response to address the aftermath of the post- election violence the original project transformed in 2008. Under the direction of the office of the Nobel Peace Laureate 2004, the late Professor Maathai, the initiative was restructured to Peace and Reconciliation Project and set in motion. The Professor’s initiative, which included with the travelling Peace Tent, proved successful in the steps towards healing and unifying the severed communities.

This painting of Professor Wangari Maathai hangs at the GBM Headquarters in Nairobi. Photo:TM

The last project period ended, in January 2013 whereby The Peace and Reconciliation Project expanded and brought the efforts for peace building to new level whereby the path towards peace and security in the region was strengthened. This was made possible through nurturing the existing community peace building structures, which include the Peace Building Councils in Molo, Kuresoi and Naivasha Constituencies. This was during the sensitive campaign period of the latest General Elections. A practical example was during this critical time period of the elections how security measures from the project included the Radio Transmission Early Warning Systems, which dissolved the start of new conflicts. Many public manifestations invoked pledges for peace from the youth, community members and government officials. Many a peace building strategies were rooted, and with the support from the local communities the project continues to contribute to maintaining a peaceful co-existence in the region.

Other activities that continue to support overall peace and security include the Smart Water for Green Schools project, with rainwater harvesting and the building of latrine facilities at two schools. This basic initiative to bring forth access to safe drinking water, as well as improved as health and sanitation for the children, has improved the life quality of two communities who lives have been affected by the tragedy of the post-election violence. The project has reached out to entire communities, from elders to youth, and in line with the philosophy of Professor Maathai has special focus on the empowerment of women and girls.