New Initiative Investigates New Pastoralist Peace Management

pci_p_cmykPastoralist News from the Pastoralist Communication Initiative (

The Pastoralist Shade Initiative have embarked on the fieldwork component of their review of innovations in peace and security. They are focussing on the recent peace process between the Gabra and Borana of Ethiopia and Kenya, visiting Chalbi, Moyale, Marsabit, Sololo and Waso districts in Kenya and Dillo, Malkasa Deska, Magado, Miyo and Moyale in Ethiopia. They will present their findings at the upcoming University of the Bush seminar in November 2010.

In recent years in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia violent incidents have claimed increasing numbers of lives. Incidents of political intimidation, cattle rustling, smuggling and other kinds of crime have spread fear, disrupted trade, hampered livestock production and impeded mobility. In a climate of political instability and judicial incapacity in the unruly borderlands of East Africa, a small but nonetheless significant number of young pastoralists, entrepreneurs and officials have gained power and wealth.

Pastoralist citizens hoped that government and NGO promises of peace and investment would be successful. But as the situation got worse, they began to discuss new ways of tackling the problem. They argued that no beneficial innovation in the rangelands, the markets or any part of pastoralist life could happen while this level of violence prevailed.

Over a period of seven years the innovation has gradually expanded. At first individual traditional leaders worked on discrete interventions. Today’s work involves interconnected efforts by a coalition of pastoralists and others, affecting whole conflict systems. Pastoralist capabilities to maintain peace are being developed in contemporary conditions. While innovative, their work is anchored in tradition: in pastoralist culture, law, religion and understanding. Linking old and new forms of authority, they are experimenting with bringing together customary and state law in a basic framework of acceptable justcie. It includes a wide range of people, young and old, women and men, peace makers and trouble makers.

Pastoralist elders from the Kenyan Pastoralist Shade Initiative in northern Kenya and sourthern Ethiopia have designed a study for the Future Agricultures Pastoralist Innovation Systems programme looking at what is making this particular innovation work. Their study will track the development of the new peacemaking approach and outline how the innovation is unfolding. The focus will be on a peace process between the Gabra and Borana of Kenya and Ethiopia. It will look at the actors and their actions, knowledge, powers, connections and differences. It will clarify the systems that limit and define the innovation and shape it as time goes on. It will take account of the political and cultural reasons that agreements and disagreements unfold as they do.

Their findings will be put together and published here and on the Future Agricultures website as well as in a full colour booklet and an Institute of Development Studies working paper.