Conflict and Risk Assessment Report paints the country red
Over half of the 47 counties have been indicated as volatile even as the country draws closer to the August 8 General Election.
This is according to a new report on Conflict and Risk Assessment by UWIANO Platform for Peace which shows that only two counties are at low-risk in relation to electoral violence while 40 are described as high risk painting a country that is sitting on a precipice.
The report, compiled by a team of 75 experts, states in part: “On electoral violence scenario and indicators, our assessment established that there exists varying levels of risks as well as factors indicating the same across the different counties.”
The indicators in the 137-page report used to assess the electoral risk included: organised groups; ethnic mobilisation; polarisation; political party nominations contest actions; Gender Based Violence (GBV), hate and incitement and ethnicity among others.
It is those factors that were used to describe a county at high, medium or low risk, depending on the magnitude, past and current experience as well as potential for escalation. It also warns of threats of violence, if the General Election is not credible.
The 33 counties where the study was done include Baringo, Busia, Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Garissa, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kakamega, Kericho, Kiambu and Kilifi, Kisii, Kisumu, Kwale, Laikipia and Lamu.
Others are: Machakos, Makueni, Mandera, Marsabit, Meru, Migori, Mombasa and Muranga, Nairobi, Nakuru, Nandi, Narok, Siaya, Tana River, Uasin Gishu and Wajir.
The conflicts revealed in the analysis are protracted and particularly become overt during election period.
Counties that were not covered because they were considered less risk were: Bomet, Embu, Homa Bay, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Samburu, Taita-Taveta, Tharaka-Nithi, Trans- Nzoia, Turkana, Vihiga and West Pokot.
The report identified some of the major threats to the country’s future peace and stability as the public’s disappointment with devolution and persistent land disputes.
Says the UWIANO Report in part: “Triggers of more localised or inter-communal violence include unresolved land issues, unequal distribution of resources and opportunities, dangerous perceptions regarding the discriminatory distribution of internally displaced persons (IDP), heavy-handed counter-terrorism efforts as well as corruption scandals at county and national levels.”
It also established that issues of violence against women and girls appear widespread in all the 47 counties and include rape, defilement, sexual assault, incest, wife and husband battering as well as female genital mutilation.
Going by past experiences, the assessment also established that electoral conflicts directed primarily at women to intimidate them as a result of their aspirations to seek political positions are common and made through threats, verbal intimidation, physical assault and denial of opportunity to freely exercise their democratic rights by virtue of being female.
Indeed, in the just-concluded hotly contested, violent and chaotic party nominations the women who emerged victors for the gubernatorial race Joyce Laboso (Bomet), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Martha Karua, (Kirinyaga), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), Jacinta Mwatela (Taita Taveta), Winnie Kabaru (Meru) and Mabel Muruli (Kakamega). The women were able to clinch senatorial aspirant positions are Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Joyce Lay (Taita-Taveta).
The researchers revealed that that another notable feature in every election is an increase of militia groups. In 2000-2012 there were 37 known armed groups operating in different parts of the country that were accused of being behind 333 deaths.
Scope of Work
The analysis and assessment was conducted in 2016 between August 12 and September 30 and covered 25 counties adopting a cluster
approach focusing on nine clusters informed by administrative boundaries and political followership.
It included data from another conflict assessment that included eight other counties totalling 33. Says the report in part: “The 25 counties were purposely selected based on the historical cycle of violence, conflict spectrum with regards to devolution, political significance to both the incumbent and the opposition in terms of determining the socio-economic and political landscape.”
According to the respondents, the peace structures that are known and recognized to exists in the following forms: security agencies (National Police Service and National Police Reserve); County governments; civil society organisations; county peace forums; district peace committees; community policing; Nyumba Kumi Initiative and county policing.
The conflict assessment has confirmed that conflict and particularly communal conflict related to politics has become apparent, as the country prepares for the General Elections.
According to the report, the durable peace is going to be upheld by empowering the population to have the capacity to constructively deal with disputes by initiating and consistently being involved in activities that restore damaged relations, promote equity and eliminate injustice.
In its conclusion and recommendation, the report states: “To holistically and comprehensively address the perennial conflicts that escalate during election period, there is need to focus on policies that determine the outcome of national and county approaches to critical development problems.”
This means that the essential work of election-violence prevention starts with all of us individually and collectively. Indeed, for free, fair and peaceful elections to take place on August 8, there is need to be proactive, plan and eventually take action.