Preventing A Conflict Relapse In Kenya (Wajir)
Year(s): 1993 – present.
Location: Wajir County, North East Province, Kenya.
UN Regional Group: Africa.
Type of Conflict: Risk of a Conflict Relapse.
Type of Initiative: Peace infrastructure.
Main Implementing Organisation(s): Local people and organisations, the Wajir Peace and Development Committee, the Government of Kenya.
Summary: Conflict relapses in Wajir County were prevented and armed conflict in the area has been significantly reduced thanks to the maintenance of a peace infrastructure.
Description of Case
Six months after the Al Fateh Declaration, a new local governor (known as a District Commissioner) was appointed to Wajir. They faced the immediate challenge of consolidating the peace that had been achieved through the mediation of the inter-clan council and the hard work of local civil society groups. In 1994, a rapid response team was established with members from local government and civil society. This team continued to employ traditional Somali methods such as xeer and diya to resolve disputes and prevent wider conflicts rather than relying on Kenyan law, thereby accommodating their efforts with the needs and perspectives of the local population. In 1995, the various civil society groups working for peace in Wajir were united as a District Development Committee within the local government administration, formalising the links between the state and civil society that had developed in the search for peace. In addition, in May 1995, the Wajir Peace and Development Committee (WPDC) was established as a permanent organisation with support from the Kenyan government and international donors. The WPDC was led by the District Commissioner and included representatives from the military and security services, government departments, NGOs, elders, women, youth, religious leaders, the business community, and Wajir’s four members of parliament. By encompassing such an array of stakeholders, the WPDC entrenched collaboration between local government and society as the means to address crises and provided a administrative framework for the use of customary law and traditional methods of peacemaking to prevent or resolve conflicts. In this period, the WPDC also helped form a Council of Elders, composed of 10 clan leaders, to facilitate communication and dialogue between the clans in Wajir and the Kenyan government adjusted local constituency boundaries to ensure each clan had a seat in parliament.
The measures taken in response to the violence of the early 1990s succeeded in reducing armed conflict in Wajir. The Ajuran and Degodia clans have not fought since, and although occasional armed clashes do still occur in the area, these often involve cross-border incidents that are beyond the remit of the WPDC and are considerably smaller than previous conflicts: an uptick in violence in July 2000, for example, resulted in 30 deaths. When the rest of Kenya verged on the brink of civil war during 2007-2008 election violence, Wajir remained one of the most peaceful districts in the entire country, demonstrating the effectiveness of the peace infrastructure that was developed. In 2010, Interpol listed a city in Wajir as the safest in East and Central Africa.
 Menkhaus. “The rise of a mediated state in northern Kenya.” p.26
 Aden Abdi & Jeremy Lind. “Kenya: The changing nature of local peacebuilding in Kenya’s north-eastern borderlands.” Accord Insight, Vol. 4. (2018) p.29
 Menkhaus. “The rise of a mediated state in northern Kenya.” p.27
 Ibid. p.28
 Abdi & Lind. “Kenya.” p.29