The genesis and transformation of conflict in northern Kenya: implications for pastoral livelihoods

Although pastoral conflict in the Horn of Africa existed before the arrival of colonialists in the region, colonialism and the birth of new nation states led to a dramatic transformation in pastoral relations. More dramatic is the effect of national and regional politics on pastoral conflict in the area. New forms, fronts, and scales of emerging conflict in the region pose new theoretical questions. A shift in emphasis from conventional causes of pastoral conflicts, often cited as pasture, water, and land resources is inevitable. While competition over natural resources is still an issue of great concern among pastoral populations of the Horn of Africa, trade and political representation play significant roles in ethnic conflict in the borderlands of northern Kenya. Struggles for autonomy among certain groups in Ethiopia to the north and statelessness in Somalia to the east and frequent clashes between various groups in the area add to this complexity.

The objectives of the project are: to reconstruct the history of conflict in northern Kenya with the aim of understanding the roles of colonial and post-colonial regimes in conflict perpetuation and resolution; to examine the escalating and de-escalating factors of conflict in the area; to understand the changing forms of conflict in northern Kenya; and to explore the changing pastoral livelihood patterns in relation to escalating and transforming nature of conflict in northern Kenya.

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