The Kenya Defence Forces and pastoral conflicts in North Eastern Kenya
Kiprop, Moses Koech
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Although Kenya is considered to be peaceful unlike her neighbours, closer scrutiny reveals an unprecedented wave of internal and cross-border conflicts. These conflicts, mainly manifesting themselves as political, economic, environmental, land and inter-ethnic conflicts are sending bad signals to those living outside the country. Pastoralists in Kenya have borne much of the brunt of internal conflicts. This study examines security issues in pastoral areas, and national security policies and interventions, with focus on role of the Kenya Defence Forces in addressing pastoral conflicts in North Eastern Kenya. The study shows how lack of human security leads to pastoral conflicts in the North Eastern region of Kenya. This study uses the theoretical framework on peace views of domestic conflicts which illustrates the complexity in comprehending the transformative nature of conflict after the Cold War. These conflicts are caused by factors such as competition for resources which arise when manipulated by various actors like pastoralists, political leaders among others. Insecurity is also fueled by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in pastoral communities. The study established that responses and initiatives that the government has always employed in handling pastoral conflicts have been poorly coordinated and executed. Too often, a narrow definition of security that has focus more on coercive disarmament without sufficiently providing viable economic alternatives to those whose livelihoods have become dependent on the gun, have been taken. The traditional structures of authority within communities have also gravely weakened, as have some of the cultural restraints upon violence that operated in the past. As a reaction by the government, security forces have always been deployed to quell such pastoral conflicts whenever it occurs. Regarding the role of KDF; KDF has protected the North Eastern region to a large extent, combated lawlessness and restoring order within the region, enhancing regional peace stability and combating terrorism. The study concludes that KDF has been instrumental in the protection and enhancement of regional security. It recommends that they should be engaged in restoring amity in conflict-stricken regions within the borders.