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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

New publication \ Pastoralists, politics and development projects

In BICC Working Paper 7\ 2019 the author Kennedy Mkutu, United States International University, Nairobi, in the framework of the research project “Future Rural Africa” explores the complexity of existing conflict in Isiolo and the emerging effects of new plans and land claims.

Photo: BICC\ K. Mkutu

Pastoral counties of northern Kenya are expected to undergo massive change in the  coming years due to the government’s ambitious infrastructural development agenda.  However, the area frequently experiences violence as a result of conflict between pastoralist communities, and also due to ethno-political contestations. Isiolo County is one  such place where planned development projects and conflict risks coincide, making it  an important case study for understanding how the future may unfold. 

BICC Working Paper “Pastoralists, politics and development projects-Understanding the layers of armed conflict in Isiolo County, Kenya” is written in the framework of a larger project called “Future Rural  Africa: Future-making and social-ecological transformation” by the Universities of  Bonn and Cologne, BICC and universities in Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania.

BICC is interested in the kinds of claims that are being made on land and its resources and how  these may change the existing dynamics of organised violence. The author, Kennedy Mkutu, United States International University, Nairobi, explores the  complexity of existing conflict in Isiolo and the emerging effects of new plans and land  claims. At its most basic level, conflict between pastoral groups, or between pastoralists  and farmers is motivated both by survival (pastoral mobility and access to water and  pasture in a climatically challenging area) and the accumulation of livestock wealth.  Politics, which is generally extended along ethnic lines, adds another layer to the inter-communal conflict through the need for political survival and the accumulation of  personal wealth.

The Paper points out that there are various  layers of conflict which should be considered and addressed simultaneously, and that  development is a new and potent factor in conflict at both political and community levels. A careful, inclusive conflict-sensitive approach to development is essential, but  this is unlikely to happen if leaders look for personal power and gain.