Youths in Baringo County have come together to preach peaceful coexistence among warring communities in the region, following a recent spate of deadly attacks by bandits in border villages.
The youths from Tiaty East, Tiaty West, Baringo North and Baringo South sub-counties want to end inter-community conflicts that have claimed lives, displaced thousands from their homes and closed critical social amenities.
They have formed peace committees to spearhead their work of finding a lasting solution to the perennial problem.
More than 36 people have been killed since the beginning of the year.
Youth Senate Representative Sankale Ole Keiss stated that their aim is to strengthen democratic governance so as to end conflict in affected areas.
“We are involving the youth from the troubled villages in peace building to embed their role in conflict prevention and work with other partners in advancing peaceful coexistence,” Mr Keiss said at a forum in Kabarnet.
“Some areas in the region have been hit hard by the rampant banditry attacks and stock theft and we are trying to build a culture of peace by changing the mindset of young people to be our ambassadors.”
They have established a youth committee that will work on strategies for ending the archaic cattle rustling and championing sustainable peace by developing a county youth policy in collaboration with local government officials and other development partners.
“This will assist in future programming and have a framework that will guide the interventions and programmes and ensure youths are empowered through alternative sources of livelihoods and eradicating the retrogressive cattle raids,” he stated.
To enhance peaceful coexistence among the neighbouring communities, a sports tournament has also been organised to enhance social cohesion and create teamwork as a way of countering violence extremism among them.
Youth Affairs Chief Officer Gladys Kiseku said the devolved unit, through the county youth forum, has funded several development projects, including business ventures, to assist them make a living.
“We are assisting the youth to come out of that cocoon where they believe they have to go and raid to get dowry. Through business, they can expand their knowledge and get exposure,” she said.
“We are also partnering with development partners to support them in sporting activities and they will be able to mingle and end the bad blood among the warring communities.”
Government welcomes effort
Baringo County Commissioner Abdirisack Jaldesa acknowledged that the region is grappling with insecurity and involving young people in peace building would help.
He said the government is partnering with the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) to foster peace and end the bloodletting and security officers had been deployed in the region.
He urged youths to rally locals in far-flung villages to enroll their children in school, noting that bandit attacks are staged by young illiterate boys who are herders and are later recruited into banditry.
“Those bandits wreaking havoc in this region are very young boys who are supposed to be in school but have turned into criminals because they were introduced to guns at a very tender age instead of being enrolled in school,” Mr Jaldesa said.
“If children in the remote villages get education, then we will have won the fight on banditry and stock theft.”