• NCIC official says it is easier to promote peace than bring people together during conflict.
• He says many communities leave the responsibility of resolving conflict to elders and leave out women and youth.
The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has started a nationwide campaign tapping women and youth to promote peaceful co-existence among communities.
Speaking in Garissa town on Thursday, commission secretary Hassan Mohamed said bringing people together in times of conflict was more difficult than promoting peace among communities.
“We want to see how best we can resolve conflicts before they erupt. When a problem has occurred it becomes difficult to bring people together,” Mohamed said.
Many communities, Mohamed said, have left the responsibility of resolving conflicts to their elders, excluding youth and women "who bear the brunt of the conflicts".
Women are used in campaign mobilisation through song and dance whereas the youth are armed to cause violence, he said.
“Women play a leading role mostly during political campaign mobilisation. They attract crowds through dance and songs. Our youth are used to throw stones when rival groups fight.”
The official said the advocacy developed by the NCIC will bring women and youth on board to better understand how to avoid communal conflicts.
NCIC is a government agency intended to address and reduce inter-ethnic conflicts. It was created by the National Cohesion and Integration Act 2008 following the 2007-09 post-election violence.
Dubat Amey, an elder and member of the Garissa committee, urged the commission to be proactive and not wait for trouble before they act.
“In the past, the commission has failed to stop some things when it is obvious the situation on the ground is not very good, only to act when it is too late and people have lost their lives,” he said.
Amey urged the commission to walk the talk and engage the communities. He cited the perennial border dispute between the Somalis from Garissa and Boranas from Isiolo county.
“This dispute has gone on for far too long resulting in loss of lives, destruction of property and killing of livestock. I believe if the government got serious and engaged communities from both sides in a series of security meetings and identified the genesis of the problem, then it can be sorted for good."
Edited by R.Wamochie