Civil Peace Service: Fostering dialogue, reducing violence, strengthening civil society
Title: Civil Peace Service: Fostering dialogue and reducing violence – strengthening actors in civil society
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2008 to 2018
Most Kenyans live in poverty, despite their country’s strong economic growth. Marked social inequality and high youth unemployment, combined with inequitable distribution of natural resources, are a breeding ground for violence. Many of the conflicts run along ethnic lines and are often exacerbated by vested political interests and abuse of power. Crime and insecurity are rife across much of the country. In one of the worst outbreaks of violence, some 1,200 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced in the 2007-2008 post-election unrest. The process which followed focused mainly on the development of a new constitution (2010) and on judicial reform, with little progress made on reforming the security sector and land rights. Since 2013, an increase in repressive measures against the political opposition, civil society organisations and human rights defenders has also been observed.
The programme addresses the root causes of violent conflict, thus strengthening the processes of reconciliation, peacebuilding and democratisation in Kenya.
The Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme in Kenya was launched in response to the violent unrest that followed the elections in 2007. Since then, CPS has been supporting its partners in fostering multi-stakeholder dialogue and building capacities for non-violent conflict resolution. Specifically, this involves facilitating integrative forms of identity-building, dealing with the past, encouraging positive change in attitudes and mindsets, and promoting social justice. CPS also promotes impartial reporting by the media and aims to improve the psychological support available for survivors of violence. Its main partners are civil society organisations.
The joint projects build communities’ capacity for self-organisation across ethnic lines of conflict and enable them to engage in peaceful dialogue and joint conflict resolution. This is based on the premise that integrative and participatory opinion-forming processes lead to transparent decision-making and that positive experiences encourage people to consolidate their successes and continue the process.
Partner organisation Kituo Cha Sheria is one of the leading organisations in the field of transitional justice and victim support in Kenya. Its services include the provision of free legal advice and assistance for marginalised groups. Many of its clients have been traumatised by their experiences of displacement and expulsion. With support from CPS, Kituo Cha Sheria has set up a unit to deliver psychosocial support for displaced persons and has provided staff training on the effects of trauma, along with basic services for traumatised persons and IDPs.
Around 78 per cent of Kenyans are under 35 years of age. Due to high unemployment and inequitable resource distribution across the country, many young people have little chance of accessing training or employment, even with school-leaving qualifications, creating a sense of hopelessness. In response to this situation, and with support from CPS, Haki Yetu – another partner organisation – is providing training to build young people’s self-esteem.
Radio has considerable reach in Kenya. The Radio-for-Peace Program run by the Kenya Community Media Network (KCOMNET) helps local stakeholders to develop community radio by working together to produce quality programmes and making use of radio as an open forum. Training is also provided for community radio journalists, with an emphasis on impartial reporting.