2018 was a calm and productive year for the Peace and Rights Project considering that 2017 was interrupted with politics related to the national general election. Much of the activities were therefore implemented as planned. The first half of the year was on course with a number of activities taking place both administrative and community targeted activities in the project areas. With the creation of Social Ministry Office (SMO) within FPFK, there has been continued collaboration to streamline operations between the SMO office and the project team. Forums with Advisory committee and the volunteers have taken place assuring monitoring and quality checks. Monthly management meetings between Peace and Rights Project (PRP) and SMO office also took place where all activity and administrative issues were kept on check.
The Peace and Rights project is implemented within three outcome levels aligned to the project areas in Muhoroni, Mt. Elgon and FPFK churches. The out puts and outcomes of project activities in 2018 focused on these levels;
Outcome1 is focuses on Muhoroni project which seeks to ensure that communities are empowered with knowledge and skills and structures in peace and building and are working towards peaceful coexistence. In this regard, several activities were conducted in Muhoroni and a number of significant achievements through the year recorded. Notably, the structured community dialogues in our Muhoroni project among the three communities in the target area. This opened space for identification and acknowledgement of some the historical root causes of conflicts in the region. The community developed and embraced their own mechanisms for handling conflicts through the established thematic committees of Land and Boundary, Leadership and Governance, Displacement committee and the cattle Theft Committee. With continued dialogues and interactions, community tensions and mistrust has significantly reduced. Today there is increasing free movements across the borders, a result of inter and intra community dialogues.
The same was reflected among FPFK churches in the region after series of intra and inter religious dialogues. Just like what was happening in the society where there was minimal interaction between the Luo, Nandi and Kipsigis communities; the project considered this to be a serious setback for the achievement of our peace building objectives. FPFK being the owner of the Peace Project, it was inevitable but to reach out and work on the unity of the church as well. This informed the inclusion of inter religious forums in our activities in 2018. Bishops meeting from the three communities were held, inter and intra-regional church leaders forums were conducted and by the end of the year these meetings resulted into a joint Youth conference. This was after the Nandi/Kipsigis together with the Luo
FPFK church leaders from North Rift Region (Tinderet) and Kisumu region (Muhoroni & Nyakach) decided to hold a joint youth conference at Thessalia for the first time after many decades.
Outcome 2 of the project focuses on strengthening peace structures towards sustaining peaceful coexistence among communities in Mt. Elgon region by 2020. In this regard, the following activities were implemented and contributed to the achievement of project targets in 2018. Activities related to implementation and follow up of Mabanga Peace Agreement were of great interest to the project considering that most of recorded achievements in Mt. Elgon are anchored within this activity. Specifically, the project worked with community council of Elders from the Sabaot, Iteso and Bukusu council of Elders. Notable achievement was recorded in the year as the project managed to bring on board all council of elders drawn from the different ethnic groups in the project target area in Mt. Elgon. These include; the Miot, Luhya, Batura, Tachoni, Turkana, Gusii, Gema, Kamba and Luo.
As part of follow up in Mt. Elgon, inclusion of the entire community on matters captured in the peace agreement signed in 2011 is of keen interest. This has ensured ownership and sustainability of previous peace efforts by the elders and project. Through this, political good will has been achieved as more leaders now have confidence with the peace processes in the region. This inclusion provided a perfect opportunity for the institutionalization agenda of the MPA: a process that seeks to anchor peace and cohesion concerns within legal frameworks and institutions rather than on support and good will of individuals whose tenure once expired reversed all the peace efforts. The institutionalization process therefore was implemented in earnest through the year. Series of information generation with different community and state representatives were held and draft sessional paper developed for legislative or administrative action. More engagements on the same continue in 2019.
Other follow up activities in Mt. Elgon were focused on
Psychosocial Support and Violence Prevention which were conducted early in the year when re-emergence of violence was witnessed. General calm has returned in Mt. Elgon, the dawn to dusk curfew was lifted and more importantly that the gang leader (Chebarkach) and some of his associates surrendered to the security forces. Their case is ongoing in the court of law and we hope that justice will be done for the Victims and survivors of the heinous acts witnessed. Strengthening of civil society groups, the project reached out to civil society groups established by the project; building their capacity to handle emerging issues related to economic growth, issues that affect human dignity and interfere with peaceful coexistence. The project reached out to 257 members of the civil society groups through the year equipping them with skills in advocacy, effective leadership and effective response to sexual and gender based violence within their communities.
Outcome 3 of the project seeks to equip FPFK church leaders through trainings with relevant skills and knowledge in conflict prevention and management in Mt. Elgon, Muhoroni, Isiolo and Kilgoris clusters. Within this objective the project was able to train 8 trainers of trainers (Peace facilitators) drawn from FPFK churches in the target area.
The Peace building Policy was also developed and adopted by FPFK national board for use among churches and in the development work. In 2018, focus shifted to the training of the church board members in selected hotspots in Kitale, Kisumu, Nandi and Kericho Regions. A total of 328 church board members and pastors at the grassroots level were reached; many of them attending such
trainings for the first time. The project will continue with follow ups in the regions and conduct similar trainings in 2019 for Kilgoris and Isiolo regions.
In summary, Peace and Rights project will focus more in strengthening groups and structures for sustainable peace and development in the target area. Strong civil society groups, effective councils of elders backed by legislative and administrative systems and structures; responsive committees for the Muhoroni project and informed and empowered community is the main focus for the Peace and Rights project in 2019. This is part of the exit and sustainability strategy as the project Phase comes to an end in 2020.