Civil Peace Service/Special Initiative on displacement: Integrating internally displaced persons
Project title: Civil Peace Service: Protection against renewed displacement - Integration of internally displaced people
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017
Kenya’s history has been shaped by refugee movements and displacement. European colonisation and the forced resettlements which followed changed the ethnic landscape, causing a steady rise in the number of internally displaced persons. To this day, numerous groups lay claim to certain areas and resources. Conflicts have been further exacerbated by the settlement and land allocation policy of successive Kenyan governments, which, based on ethnic origin, always favoured the elite. During violent clashes following the 2007/08 elections, around 600,000 people were forcibly displaced.
Most internally displaced persons have insufficient access to land, basic services and a means of securing a livelihood. Many have been forced to settle in ecologically and economically fragile regions. Host communities feel threatened or fear that, by taking in refugees, they themselves will be displaced in the fight for resources. The resulting conflicts are usually fought along ethnic lines.
The high number of internally displaced persons fuels existing conflicts over the distribution of resources, and leads to even higher levels of displacement and refugee movements in Kenya. The vicious cycle of tension, resource conflicts, new refugee movements and internal displacement continues to worsen. The situation is heightened by land disputes and unilateral government measures – regarding the resettlement of internally displaced persons and the implementation of infrastructure measures and development projects, for example – which fail to take into account the complexities of the conflict. Climate change and environmental degradation are also forcing more and more people to leave their homes.
Dialogue and trust between internally displaced persons and host communities has increased. Both groups are working together to resolve their conflicts by non-violent means and are thus contributing to the prevention of renewed refugee movements and displacement. Awareness of the rights of internally displaced persons has increased, and these rights are given greater consideration by local state actors in particular.
In the Rift Valley region, the relationship between internally displaced persons and host communities tends to be hostile. In conjunction with civil society actors, religious groups and international organisations, the CPS supports internally displaced persons and host communities, population groups at risk of displacement, local government structures and prominent leaders in this region.
The project works at two levels:
- Numerous measures directly target people living in areas in which internally displaced persons have been settled. These include dialogue processes between internally displaced persons and host communities, in which meetings organised by trained teams of local people take place every two months. The aim is to create a platform for exchange between the various sections of the population and give people the opportunity to develop solutions together, for example on enabling access to water, health, land and information.
- Training sessions inform administrative and government representatives at the local and regional levels about the situation of internally displaced persons and make them aware of existing legislation. Representatives of internally displaced persons and regional governments also build better relationships and a greater understanding of each other through dialogue events where they share their opinions and experiences.
The project is part of the BMZ Special Initiative entitled ‘Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees’.
The population of the Rift Valley region is working together to address challenges such as dwindling resources and the associated conflicts. Communication between the various ethnic groups has improved. Farmers and livestock herders are increasingly resolving their disputes without resorting to violence. In Nakuru, conflicting groups and the responsible member of the national parliament are working together to develop solutions to the region’s predominant land dispute.
Communication and the exchange of information between the population and state agencies as well as elders and district representatives in Banita and Majani Mingi have also improved. Consequently, marginalised groups now benefit from state services. Single mothers, widows and people with disabilities recently gained access to information and forms which enable them to apply for state support.
The initiative and hands-on approach of the population are contributing to a reduction in the widespread feelings of hopelessness and powerlessness – and thus also having a positive effect on the dynamics of the conflict. This is confirmed by participants in dialogue events and training measures.