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MT. ELGON CONFLICT A Survey of Underpinning Factors

Report Written by Sami Maina

M T. E LG O N C O N F L I C T A Survey of Underpinning Factors


June 2009

Research Team Sammy Mutua Sami Maina Pastor Ndamwe Esther Chebet

Written By Sami Maina

Layout & Cover Design By Sammi Creations


INTRODUCTION�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 Objectives���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 About Peace & Rights Project������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 Mt. Elgon District�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 Geography and Population������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 1 History�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 2 The Economy������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 3 Profile of the Respondents������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 3 Methodology and Implementation����������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 Sampling����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 Survey Instruments����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 4 Survey Implementation������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 5 ANALYSIS OF THE CONFLICT�������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 Context and Underlying Causes ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� 7 The Intra-Tribe Conflict���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 The Inter-Tribal Conflict��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 8 Actor Analysis �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 9 1. The Youth������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 9 2. The Government�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 11 3. Politicians����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 12 4. Civil Society Organizations������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 12 5. Laibons ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 13 6. The Media���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 13 7. The Church�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Trends and Opportunities ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 15 HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 17 Women Rights������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 17 Children Rights ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 i

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)����������������������������������������������������������������������������� 19 Child Labour��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 20 Right to Education��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 21 Indigenous Rights ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 23 Violation of the Rights of the Sabaot Community ������������������������������������������������������� 24 Violation of the Rights of Ndorobo���������������������������������������������������������������������������� 25 Relationship with the Government������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 26 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27 Summary of Findings������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 27 On Conflict Resolution �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27 On Women and Children Rights �������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27 On Indigenous Rights����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� 27 Recommendations������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ 28



This report presents the findings of a survey conducted in May and June 2009. The survey was commissioned to asses the condition in Mt. Elgon following devastating cycles of violence which occasioned a military intervention by the government. The overarching goal of the survey is to reflect perceptions, altitudes and beliefs held by the residents about what is required to consolidate peace, and respects for Human Rights. The survey results serve as an initial measure that FPFK will use for monitoring and evaluation and to inform programmatic decision making. Objectives The objectives of the survey are: 1. Carry out conflict analysis as it relates to intra-clan, inter-clan and inter-tribal clashes. Identify the main actors and make recommendations for action. 2. Benchmark the level of awareness on gender rights, children rights and the indigenous rights among the inhabitants of Mt Elgon region. About Peace & Rights Project Mt. Elgon region has become a metaphor for violent conflict that plagues sections of our Kenyan Society. FPFK, and the church in general has witnessed halting and precarious efforts by communities in the region to pull themselves out of insecurity and conflict and into a developed society were all are empowered to exercise their rights and co-exist peacefully. Realizing the need to play an active role in facilitating the communities to transits to a situation of sustainable peace and development, FPFK has initiated projects aimed at resolving the conflicts, building lasting peace, and advocating for observance of Human Rights. Mt. Elgon District Geography and Population Mt. Elgon district is located on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, bordering Bungoma district to the south, Trans Nzoia to the east, and Uganda to the west. It covers an area of 944.3 Km2 of which 609.6 Km.2 of the land is made up of gazetted forestland.


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

The district has four administrative divisions which include Cheptais with a population of 48,163, Kapsokwony with 29,480, Kopsiro with 55,957 and Kaptama 28,710. The district headquarters is Kapsokwony whereas Cheptais acts as the main economic centre. According to the 1999 census the district has a population of 162,310 (2.3% growth rate) and a population of 166,088 as per the population projection for the year 2007. FPFK’s interventions cover two more divisions (Saboti and Endebbes) in Trans-Nzoia and Kwanza districts respectively. The main land formation in the region is geographically influenced by the Mt. Elgon which slopes gently through the area with a terrain that rises from 1,800m above sea level to about 4310m. Rainfall and temperatures are greatly influenced by the mountain. The rainfall received in the region ranges from 1,400mm to over 1,800mm per annum and is fairly distributed in the region. The temperature varies between 14oC and 24oC History Mt. Elgon Region has had a long and chequered history. The original inhabitants of the region were the Sabaot who are a Nilotic group closely related to Kalenjin and the Maasai. Before colonization the Sabaot who were pastoralist roamed the whole of the Trans Nzoia and Mt. Elgon region. At the onset of colonialism their land was alienated by the white settlers and they were expelled and dispersed to Uganda, Pokot, Maasailand and Tanzania. This dispersion deprived the Sabaot community off their only form of livelihood- pastoralism. During the colonial era, other communities (mainly the Bukusu but also Teso and others) began to move into Trans Nzoia to work in the white farms. When Kenyan attained her independence in 1963 the migrant communities acquired land at the expense of members of the Sabaot community. In 1965 the government made a decision to settle the Ndorobo who were living on the moorlands of Mt. Elgon on designated land below the forest belt (Chepyuk settlement scheme.) This decision began to be implemented in 1971, the area was earmarked for Chepkitale people but other people were still coming from exile and many more that had come earlier were still landless leading to the first signs of competition for land and gradual development of the conflict. Generally the settlement process was flawed characterized by delays, corruption and incompetence by the government officials further fanning tension and suspicion among members of the Sabaot community. The crisis was further infuriated by politicians and eventually a well organized quasi-military outfit the Saboat Land Defence Forces (SLDF) entered the scene. The well organized group which had good supply of arms and training has been blamed for majority of deaths in the area and for committing atrocities against the residents.



While this recent conflict in Mt. Elgon was intensified by the nationwide post-election violence in late 2007 and early 2008, it is important to note that the conflict had been ongoing from December 2006. There were other violent conflicts in Mt.Elgon in 1963, 1975, 1983, 1987, 1992, and 1997. But the recent one was the worst leaving about 600 people dead, over 84,000 displaced and many injured, raped and property destroyed. The violence was quelled by a military operation. Although semblance of law and order has now been restored the devastating effects of the conflict continue to be exhibited. There is therefore need to implement measures to consolidate peace and create an environment which deters the emergence or escalation of new tensions while seeking to settle, or transform existing conflicts. The Economy The region’s economy is predominantly agricultural. The climate of the region is favourable for a wide range of agricultural and livestock production activities which account for about 90% of economic activities. The region has potential for agro-based industries whose resource bases can be major crops like maize, coffee and wheat etc. The cool temperate climate is also ideal for development of dairy industry. Profile of the Respondents The survey collected data from a sample of 400 households. Twenty four percent of the households interviewed were female headed, 6% were headed by children and, 70% were male headed. The mean age for household heads was 36.7 years. The majority of the respondents (70%) were married, 20% those interviewed indicated that they were windowed and 10% were single. Sixty percent of those windowed said that they were victims of the violent conflict. The proportion of respondents in each age group declines as age increases, reflecting the comparatively young age structure of the population. The distribution of population by age and sex closely resembles the general trend in Kenya. Households had an average of 6.5 living children. In addition 45% of the households surveyed had orphans living with them many of them 75% orphaned as a result of the violent conflict. A vast majority (89%) of households interviewed indicated that they were sending their children to school. A significant proportion of the household heads 58% have not gone beyond the primary level of education. Generally younger person have reached higher levels of school than older people, as have done non-Sabaots communities. Tabulation of respondents by ethnicity indicates that 76.4% are Sabaot, 20% are Bukusu, while 3.6% indicated their ethnicity to be other. While majority of household (95%) are


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

predominantly Christians the survey established that traditional religious practices and beliefs were common among residents. Seventy five percent of those surveyed considered themselves indigenous to Mt. Elgon Region while 25% considered themselves as settled from other parts of the country. Cross tabulation of these data with ethnic affiliation indicated that almost all 99% Sabaots considered then indigenous to Mt. Elgon. The survey asked people what their occupation was. Results show that 75% of the household heads considered themselves employed. The proportion of those employed generally increases with age which reflects high unemployment rates amongst the youth. 58% of those working are engaged in agricultural occupations. The next most common occupation is unskilled manual occupations engaging 35% of respondents; while only 7% work in professional, technical, or managerial fields. Incomes levels in the region where found to be comparable to those in other rural communities in Kenya. Methodology and Implementation A pre-test-post-test survey design is applied to evaluate the contributions of FPFK’s interventions to changes in the attitude and actions of people, institutions and the government. This survey documents the current conditions in Mt. Elgon prior to the FPFK’s interventions. Four survey methods were used to collect information. During the first week of the study consultative meetings/ FGDs were held with the key stakeholders. In the second week Key Informant Interviews were conducted and a household survey conducted. In addition to these three methods the researchers made direct observations on various issues relevant to the programme. Sampling A stratified, random probability sampling scheme was used to select the households to which household questionnaire was administered. The households were stratified by ethnic grouping (Ndorobo, Other Sabaots, Bukusu and Teso. Moreover, the sample, which included households from across all 6 divisions in the focus region. The sample was determined so that the results would be generalizable to the whole region. A random sample of 400 households was selected. The sample represents 30% of Ndorobo, 30% other Sabaots and 40% non Sabaot communities (Bukusu and Teso) To get information on access to education and trauma levels among the pupils, students and teachers, the region was divided according to administrative divisions and the relevant officers interviewed so as to get a picture of the education situation in each division. Survey Instruments Six survey instruments were applied for data collection in this survey. they included:



1. Household questionnaire 2. Key informant checklist 3. Checklist for FGDs and consultative meetings 4. Education status assessment checklist 5. Checklist for interviews with DOs 6. Observation guide Survey Implementation Training of Data Collectors Data collectors were drawn from the target region. Care was taken to ensure that data collectors were knowledgeable of the local culture, language and dialect. To ensure data quality, all the selected data collectors were at least high school graduates. Further, selected data collectors were trained in interviewing techniques, and familiarized with the project objectives. A participatory training approach was used and included role-playing, mock observations, and interviews. To ensure that the data collectors would have hands-on experience with the study instruments and be able to work in small groups, they were involved in the pre-testing of the instruments. Data Collection The survey team made initial trips to the field to study and get acquainted with the area and design the parameters of the survey. During the initial trip the survey team was introduced to the provincial administration. Data collection took place between May 15th and June 10th 2009. Data collection teams were supported and accompanied by the survey coordination team consisting of the consultants and FPFK project staff. The team performed quality checks on the whole process and helped address challenges on the field. Data Processing and Analysis Completed survey tools were handed over to research team by the data collectors. Questionnaires were reviewed and notes and observations from the data collectors shared. Data entry was done in Microsoft Excel and data analysis was done using Statistical Package for Social and Studies (SPSS). Analysis was done for the level of knowledge on relevant issues, attitudes, and perceptions from the datasets. Positive responses and percentages were calculated with missing and “don’t know� responses included in the denominator, unless otherwise noted. Therefore, percentages in some of the data tables may not add up to 100%. This approach ensures the presentation of conservative estimates. Data from focus group discussions and key informant interviews was reviewed by the research team and incorporated into the analysis.



The recent violence in Mt. Elgon region is the latest iteration in a problem that is as old as Kenya itself. Violent clashes were witnessed in the region in 1870, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. These clashes, especially from 1960 onwards, are grounded in ethnic, political, and/or economic tensions that mutually influence and exacerbate each other. The survey makes two distinctions on the basis of which conflict analysis proceeds, that is, there exists a conflict amongst different Sabaot groups (Mosop & Soy) and an inter-tribal strive between the Sabaots and other communities in the region. Findings from the survey also indicate that the result of all the previous violent clashes have accumulated to bring the two conflicts to where they are today. On the basis of this finding conflict analysis focuses on the most recent violent conflict as an iteration of all the other violent clashes. While the focus of this analysis is Mt. Elgon, it will also take into account the linkages between the local context in the region and the national level. The elements that the study looks at and which are described in this section are the context and underlying causes of the conflict and the actors.. The conflict analysis was done using a participatory workshop approach. During the workshop the following questions were posed: 1. What is the context and underlying causes of the conflict? 2. Who are the actors? 3. Are there any emerging trends and opportunities for resolving the conflict? Information analysed using the framework was obtained from a wide range of sources and actors in order to broaden the understanding of the context and to include a wide range of perspectives. Triangulation (use of a mixture of data gathering methods) was used to ensure reliable information was obtained. Such methods include review of secondary information, survey data, consultative workshops and expert interviews. Context and Underlying Causes The Mt. Elgon conflicts are a web of complex issues ranging from inequalities in development, to access to natural resources (land), to inequalities of opportunities accorded to the indigenous people and other communities by the government. Two kinds of conflicts which interact and reinforce each other are identifiable in the region, 1) the intra-tribe


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

conflict pitting different sections of the Sabaot community (the Mosop and Soy) and 2) the inter-tribal conflict between the Sabaots and other communities in Mt. Elgon. The Intra-Tribe Conflict This conflict is fuelled mainly by a flawed land allocation process which was meant to settle the Mosop (also called the Ndorobo) from forest areas to Chepyuk settlement scheme. The allocation process was marred by delays, incompetence and corruption by the government officials, and political interference leading to a feeling of helplessness among the Sabaot community and consequently degeneration into violence. Critical events in the development of the conflict began in 1971 when the process of relocating the Ndorobo of Chepkitale began. By 1973, six hundred and thirty (630) Ndorobo families and 76 leaders and influential people from the soy had been settled. However these allocations were later on annulled and the process restarted, this, in spite of the fact that some beneficiaries had sold their land to other people mainly the Soy Sabaots. People who had bought land from beneficiaries of the annulled allocation were not considered in the reallocation, creating acrimony. Knowledgeable people in the allocation process contend that the allocation should have been done in one go, but the government elected to do it in three phases. This allowed for corruption and political manipulation adding to an already growing list of grievances. While phase 1 and phase 2 were done without major incidents, phase 3 become problematic. The delay in implementation – the exercise was still going on in 1989 – caused a lot of confusion and allowed for complete politicisation of the exercise. In the meanwhile, Soy elders successfully petitioned the then president to allow them settle on land earmarked for phase 3, which they did. When implementation of phase 3 began the Soy, some of whom had been staying here for almost two decades were required to move out. This was not tenable to many of them and when the government moved to forcefully evict them their anger was crystallised resulting to people taking law into their own hands and a flare up of violent clashes started. It emerged from the survey that the aggrieved elements felt nothing could be done to address their grievances unless they resulted to violence. This attitude led to development of a culture of violence. Further, it emerged the recent violent clashes were partly driven by vengeance. Participants at a FGD in Kaptama division suggested a significant portion of those killed in the recent clashes had or their relatives been involved in 1992 killings. The consequences of this conflict are far reaching, loss of human life, shattered economy and infrastructure, dispersed families and weakened social institutions, disarticulated civil society and widespread distrust of government and political authority. The Inter-Tribal Conflict This conflict pits the Sabaot community against the other communities in Mt. Elgon


Analysis of the Conflict

region. There is a perception amongst the Sabaot community that the other communities occupy what is rightfully their ancestral land. The other communities mainly the Bukusu, Teso, Kisii, and Kikuyu among others settled in the region following the advent of colonialism. The migration and settlement of these tribes intensified after Kenya attained independence and their population has grown greatly outpacing that of the Sabaot community. The feeling of dispossession amongst the Sabaot has led to their resentment of the other communities. This emotion has been exploited for political mileage leading to violent clashes especially before and after national elections for example in 1992, 1997, 2002 and recently the most violent and profound clashes following the 2007 elections. On the other hand, the other communities are very suspicious of the Sabaot community and have historically looked down upon the Sabaot as being backward and uneducated further reinforcing the conflict. The population of the Sabaot is tiny compared to non-Sabaot population especially in Saboti and Endebbes divisions. This means that they cannot – in a democracy like Kenya where tribal affiliations are more important in an election than anything else get representation in parliament or local authorities. This has led to allegations real and imagined of political marginalisation and an inability to express voice. Leading to the attitude that violence is the only way Saboat concerns can be heard and taken seriously. The impact of this conflict has been deep-seated mutual distrust and suspicion among these communities. Political grandstanding has made resolution of this problem in an amicable way very difficult. Actor Analysis The term actor is used in this survey to refer to all those engaged in or being affected by the conflict. This includes individuals, groups and institutions contributing to the conflict or being either directly or indirectly affected by the conflict. Seven major actors were identified, and their interest and the roles analysed. 1. The Youth The youth played a major role in the conflict and their responses to events and pressures has had a big influence on how things unfolded during the clashes. They formed the bulk of the militia (SLDF), and it can also be said that as members of the militia they committed most of the atrocities. A Key informant who was a victim to the violence bewailed the actions of the youth and suggested that a lot of attention should be given to them to help them heal from the effects associated with the atrocities they committed willingly or unwillingly. The conflict had serious consequences on the youth, there was loss of education oppor-


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

tunities (most schools and training institutions had to close down and some of them though now operational, are yet to recover from effects of the violence). There was loss of economic opportunities as violence disrupted businesses in the region, together with this there were deaths among young people, displacement, impoverishment and division among different identities. A key finding of this survey is the acknowledgement by all sections of the community in Mt. Elgon that there is need to help the youth especially those who found themselves in the militia to overcome what they participated in or went through and be reintegrated back into the community. This is an important entry point that the program needs to take in helping a departure from adversarial approaches and guide the community towards home grown restorative justice solutions from within. The responses that the youth had to the conflict did not happen in isolation rather they were informed by certain underlying factors. The survey conducted FGDs to identify these factors. Overwhelmingly, participants were in agreement that illiteracy and low levels of educational attainment amongst the youth was the most important factor. Most of the youths recruited into (SLDF) where primary school drop-outs and thus easier to manipulate. Poverty is another factor that was identified. This coupled with high unemployment levels mean that youths were mostly idle and easy to be misled or pick up any engagement that can take advantage of their idle energies. Poverty on the other hand creates a feeling of helplessness and the youth were eager to do anything that they imagined could change their position - including violence. Also the youth do not seem to have full sense of control over their life resulting in their weaker capability of analyzing and coping with what they have had to face in Mt. Elgon. A special group to consider within this large group of the actors are ex-combatants (former SLDF Members). At the time of the survey, there were rumours that SLDF was reorganising. It emerged from the study that, residents of Mt. Elgon are still fearful of SLDF. Many participants in FGDs voiced concern that majority of the SLDF fighters were still in the community and that as long as the root causes of the problems in the region remained unresolved, there was an eminent risk of a return to violence. The participants emphasised the need to demilitarise the mends of youths in this group, rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into community life. Other not very proximate, but nonetheless important factors are: Youth are not accepted as community level decision makers and problems are solved by elders, and therefore have little power to influence decisions in the community and most of the time, they are manipulated and negatively used by people with ulterior motives. In the course of the survey it was realized that there exists a generational


Analysis of the Conflict

disconnect with the older generation more rigid and purporting to speak for the younger generation while the younger generation seemed to be more tolerant and open- minded about (inter- clan) and inter tribal harmony, human rights, and taking responsibilities for their own lives rather than always passing the buck. From the above analysis, the survey team was convinced that , there is need to engage young people in peace building not only to create an alternative to violence, but also to harness their and energies and networks among different clans and other ethnic groups in Mt Elgon to promote peace in the region . Youth need to be facilitated to grow to their fullest potential in an environment devoid of conflict by, among other things, bringing young people from across dividing lines and do a dialogue process for their leadership and capacity building in peace building. Specific recommendations for possible actions in this direction are made in section on conclusion and recommendations. 2. The Government The government has been a major actor in the Mt. Elgon conflict. The contribution of the government in the conflict is for the purposes of analysis divided into two roles which while linked are distinct enough to warrant separates treatment. Generally, 99% of respondents identified the government as a main actor in the conflict. The first of government’s roles is the implementation of Chepyuk land settlement scheme and the actions of government officials on the ground. The government has completely mishandled the settlement exercise especially the third phase where initially it allowed a group from one divide to settle (the Soy) and then after almost 20 years required them to move away so that it could settle the group from the other divide (Mossop). Definitely this is a recipe for conflict and to a greater extent the resolution of the intra-tribe conflict between the Soy and the Mossop groups of the Sabaot community hinges on the amicable resolution of the differences that have emerged from this exercise. Government officials mandated to implement the scheme are to be blamed as they have more often than not abated corruption leading to even more grievances by the common person. The second role played by the government was in quelling the violence once it had began. When asked what could have been done to avert bloodshed, 76% of the respondents said that bloodshed would have been avoided if the government had deployed adequate security personnel on time to act divisively to restore law and order. This assertion was collaborated by FGDs and key informants where it was added that the government was slow in arresting the spread of violence and when it finally decided to act the violence had already assumed gigantic proportions. It would seem that, when an assessment is made of the feelings of the residents towards the military operation that quelled the violence, they are very guarded in their responses. Majority of the residents 85% says that the military operation was necessary and that it did more good than harm, a view collaborated by key informants. However, most of them


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

75% resent the method the military used saying they generalized the people who caused the violence so much that many innocent people suffered. There were also claims that the whereabouts of some people arrested during the military operation are yet to be known. However, when asked if they welcomed the military’s continued presence in the region, the overwhelming response was in the affirmative, with many saying that if the military left from the district, there was a possibility of a return to violence. This is a very tricky situation for any people in their situation to make a choice - because while the military operation brought in peace, the fact that innocent people were victimized during the operation creates another mix of helplessness, which calls for careful handling of similar situations in future and a need for the military now to try to engage the community in more a humanitarian developmental work to re-establish lost confidence and allay fears. That the government’s role in peace building efforts in the region is of pivotal importance is a fact that is widely acknowledged. Many of the problems including the land question, poverty, lack of education etc. - that bedevil Mt. Elgon can only be adequately and sustainably be resolved by the government. There is therefore need to work cooperatively with government and for the church to advocate and lobby government at all levels towards policy and actions that contribute to building of sustainable peace. 3. Politicians According to the survey, politician have in the past played a largely spoiler role in the conflict. Eighty five percent (85%) of the residents identified politician at civic and parliamentary levels as having played a catalytic role towards violence. Some politicians rallied their followers around hard line positions and incited them towards violence. Politician’s interests in the conflict are enormous; some have been involved in questionable land deals and would rather that status-quo continued. Often Kenyan politicians at the national level depend on the politicians at local level to mobilize support from their communities and thus deliver votes, this has at times led to government supporting politicians who are not necessary interested in moving the peace process forward. According to key informants, this was the case in Mt. Elgon. On the other side of the coin, while a lot of blames has been heaped on politicians it is important to recognize that they can also play a potential role towards peace building and hence the need to engage them constructively at this early age. It is instructive to compare the role of the politicians on the Kenyan side with their counterparts in Uganda among the Sabiny. Among the Sabiny, there has been minimal interferences by the politicians which has meant according to Sabiny elders the process of land allocation has been smooth. 4. Civil Society Organizations Anderson (2001), in the Do No Harm Tool suggests that Aid is not neutral in the midst of conflict. In fact, aid and how it is administered can cause harm or can strengthen


Analysis of the Conflict

peace capacities in the midst of conflicted communities. Majority of aid programmes in Mt. Elgon involved and still involves transfer of resources (food, shelter, health care etc.) into a resource scarce environment. Where people are in conflict, these resources represent power and they become an element of conflict. While the main humanitarian aid agencies such as the Red Cross, Action Aid, FPFK and Medicins San Frontier (MSF) did and are still doing a commendable job, dozens of other NGOs have been operating in the area without any transparency and impact. This has led to growing apathy among residents as they feel that these NGOs are taking advantage of the situation in Mt. Elgon to benefits themselves. This is a concern that the program needs to take into careful consideration as negative attitude towards the program could jeopardize its impact. 5. Laibons Laibons are traditional healers and spiritual leaders. They inspired a lot of respect from section of the Sabaot community. Laibons were identified as actors in the conflict with 60% of the respondents. In sections of Cheptais and Kopsiro the survey established that traditional beliefs are more pre-eminent than Christianity and therefore the Laibons there command a lot of respect and following. This strong belief and respect for Laibons among the Sabaot community has been a key driver in the conflict. To appreciate the influence of the Laibons in the conflict a comparative study was done among the Sabiny in Uganda who are closely related to Sabaot. Among the Sabiny there are no Laibons and elders from the community contend that this is a key factor in the cohesion of the community as there are no polarising individuals a role that Laibons in Kenya have played as is illustrated by the struggle between Sangula and Sangaiwa two Laibons in the Mt. Elgon region. In a consultative meeting with the Sabaot community elders it emerged that the struggle between the two Laibons has been a major dynamic in the conflict with each trying to gain pre-eminence over the other. Also it emerged that during the settlement exercise one of the Laibons living in the mountains was resettled in the domain of the other Laibon further intensifying the conflict between them. This, the elders contend, was the first in a series of the mistakes that the government made in implementation of the settlement scheme. A question probing whether the Laibons actively participated in the violence revealed that they actually sanctioned the violence. The SLDF militia received blessings and had an oath administered to them by some Laibons. This underscores the need to fully involve this group in the conflict. While it was established that it is not possible – because of traditional beliefs – to make direct contact with the Laibons the survey found out that they can be engaged through intermediaries such as the clan elders. 6. The Media At the height of the post election violence in Kenya sections of the media especially the vernacular FM stations were accused of fanning the violence by airing inflammatory 13

MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

news. While there is no evidence that the media has played an active role in Mt. Elgon conflict, the survey team is of the opinion that the media has played a passive role in the conflict. While the region has received a lot of media attention the reporting has been mainly sensational and lacking in its ability to influence the attitudes and perceptions of people towards peace. Because of publicity and contact potential, the survey recognizes the power of the media to highlight peace-building initiatives and personal plights on range of issues from human rights violations to HIV/AIDS. By skilled advocacy through the media the programme may be able to manipulate public opinion towards peace not only in Mt. Elgon region but also country wide. 7. The Church The church’s role in the conflict was marked, 55% of the respondents identified the church as a major actor. A fundamental vulnerability in the fabric of the church body in Mt. Elgon was exposed by the calamitous events in the region. The church was factional and fractious on issues related to the conflict. Participants in almost all FGDs when asked what the role of the church was -were unanimous that the church did not do enough to ensure resolution of the conflicts in the region. In fact an accusing finger was pointed at pastors and church leaders for promoting the use of violence and blessing combatants. The church, key informants and FGDs participants pointed out, the church needed “to be delivered first before it can play any effective role in peace building efforts�. The mainstream churches present in the region include Catholic Church, Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), African Inland Church (AIC), Free Pentecostal Fellowship in Kenya (FPFK) and the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA); in addition there is a plethora of Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. An important finding of the survey regarding church and its leadership is that the church itself has realised of its failings and the need to redeem its image in the community as a force for goodwill. There is therefore an abundance of good will towards the programme from the church community which the project needs to harness, however, there is no doubt that the project will have to invest time and resources to rehabilitate the image of the church in order to regain lost trust and glory because of the partisan role it played during the conflict. There exists an inherent institutional capacity within the church in Mt. Elgon for promotion of peace and protection of human rights. This capacity has remained an utilised and needs to be harnessed for the promotion of rights and peace building. To harness this capacity there is need to capacity develop church leaders and other church based groups in the said areas so that they can become agents of positive transformation in their areas. Nevertheless care should be taken to ensure that church leaders who actively took part in the conflict are assisted to heal and seek open forgiveness from the community for them to be accepted as peace makers.


Analysis of the Conflict

Trends and Opportunities The survey isolated several trends that the conflicts in Mt. Elgon exhibit. The first is the re-emergence, repetition and intensification of violent clashes in tandem with the electoral cycle in Kenya. Communities, individuals and groups of individuals take the opportunity to direct their frustration at the perceived enemies or oppressors -all this at a time when national and regional attention and resources are directed towards the electioneering process. The violent clashes in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2007 illustrate this trend. The other trend is the emergency of a legacy of vengeance seeking. Some survey findings indicate that, some attacks in the recent violence were revenge attacks for acts committed during previous violent clashes. This is a very dangerous trend that needs to be arrested as it has the capacity to escalate the conflict. The last trend identified is group paranoia. Following years of conflict divisions have emerged around different identities often on ethnic basis. Groups in the opposing divides feel that other groups are out to harm. The non-Sabaot communities fear that Sabaot are out to harm them a feeling that reciprocated by the Sabaot. Windows of opportunity and the starting points for the process of change were also identified. One of the opportunities is that common people who have bore the brunt of the violence have become weary of the conflict and would rather that the issues are resolved amicably. With the public opinion turning against violence, hardliners and those fanning the conflict -be they politicians or local leaders may find themselves isolated. This is an opportunity that needs to be seized to drive the peace process forward. Another opportunity is that nationally there is a strong drive to end the culture of impunity and resolve the historical injustices and human rights abuses since independence. Some of the issues in the region like issues of land can be addressed through this avenue.



Information obtained from the baseline survey provides an opportunity to asses the level of knowledge and practices regarding human rights and indigenous rights. This section therefore discuses the key findings in regard to the level of relevant knowledge, perceptions, attitudes and behaviours towards the said rights. This will be useful for the programme to target those individuals and groups of individuals most in need of information The survey included a series of questions in the household questionnaire and in the interview guides to elicit responses on the theme. The respondents were asked to indicate women, children and indigenous rights they were aware of; if the rights were respected and protected ; if not, what were the reasons for their abuse; who they thought were most responsible for violation of these rights; and what needed to be done to improve the situation in Mt. Elgon. Similar questions were asked in key informant interviews and in the focus group discussions. The results to these questions are presented below. Women Rights The term women’s rights is used in this survey to refer to freedoms and entitlements of women and girls of all ages The survey revealed that women rights take a back seat on almost all elements of life in the region. As table 3 demonstrates, awareness on the rights of women is very low and even where there is awareness this rarely translates to their respect and protection. As shown in the table 1, it is only the right to enjoy adequate living conditions that has a fair level of awareness (58%) even though the recognition and respect of the same is very low 15%. Enjoying of adequate living conditions is closely linked to development or its lack thereof. In fact the United Nations (1948) observes that development and the respect for human rights go hand in hand. Table 1: Awareness, Recognition and Respect for Women Rights Right

Percentage Aware of Right


Percentage Who feel the right is respected & adequately Protected

MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

Right to enjoy adequate living conditions



Right to property (including inheritance/ succession)



Right to freedom from violence and any 32% form of discrimination ( GBV FGM etc.)


Right to participation and representation in decision making apparatus Source: Field Data



The survey identified development or lack of it as a major concern for women. FGD participants observed that women have borne the brunt of the suffering due to underdevelopment. For example where the government has failed to provide adequate health, productive and prenatal care services, it is women who suffer most because of their biological inclinations. Suffice to state that underdevelopment in the region has an incredible bearing on women rights. Another right women are denied in Mt. Elgon is the right to property and especially the right to deal in land. Table 1 show that only 20% of the respondents were aware of this right and even a smaller proportion 18% thought this right was respected and protected. A key informant emphasized that women interest are largely not noted on title deeds and therefore the land on which they have customary user rights and on which they may depend for their livelihoods can be disposed off without their knowledge or consent. Further, Key informants opined that because of the patriarchal patronage systems in Kenya, it is highly likely that women concerns were no taken into account in the process of land allocation in the settlement schemes. Women in Mt. Elgon still endure violence and other forms of discrimination that are an infringement upon their human rights, chief among this are domestic violence and female genital mutilation (FGM). A key finding in this survey is that women themselves are socialised to accept, tolerate, and even rationalise domestic violence and remain silent about such experiences. A number of participants in FGD attributed these two violations to traditional cultural practices; however it was noted that this two practices and especially the FGM are on the decline as more and more people abandon retrogressive cultural practices. Other forms of abuses in this category included sexual violence which was directly attributed to the violent conflict and the blame was squarely placed on the local militia (SLDF) and the government security agents. The survey revealed that participation and representation of women in societal decision making apparatus was wanting. Only 10% of the respondents felt women adequately participated and were represented in decision making bodies. Although the government has a policy where a third of either gender is supposed to be represented in all public 18

Human Rights Issues

decision making organs the survey established that in reality, practice has yet to catch up with theory in Mt. Elgon A probe into why women rights status were low elicited a number of explanations, such as that, among others: women are hindered by culture; that patriarchal nature of our leadership structure marginalizes women; that education levels of women are wanting; and that the region as a whole is marginalized leaving the women even more vulnerable. An assessment of who were most responsible for the violation of women rights implicated men as the main culprits (78% of respondents). Other sections implicated government agents i.e. police, military etc. (40.2%) and the local militia and vigilante groups (28.6%). In conclusion, violence against women is an area that is increasingly being recognized as affecting women health and autonomy. Violence against women has serious consequences for their mental and physical well-being including their reproductive and sexual health (WHO, 1999). It therefore must never be tolerated or accepted in any society. Children Rights There are many definitions of Children’s rights but for the purpose of this study the term is taken to refer to rights accorded to those below the age of majority by the United Nations Convention on Children Rights. Some of these rights are: basic needs for food, care and nurture, as well as freedom from emotional or physical abuse and right to education and health care. The survey findings show that children rights in Mt. Elgon are ragging behind. Many children were forced to flee their homes because of violent clashes and live in inhuman conditions in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps that deprived them of their rights as children. Most of the issues affecting women as discussed in the section above also impact heavily on children. As such, there is need to recognise the family unit as the basis of society and therefore strengthen it. Better protection of women and children rights must be sought and there must be abolition of discrimination against them and cultural practices which dehumanize or demean women and children. Issues such as right to adequate living conditions, freedom from violence, and property rights discussed were discussed in the section on women rights. Since they affect children in similar ways they will not be repeated here. This section will focus on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child labour and the right to education. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) FGM is a fundamental violation of the rights of girls. It is discriminatory and violates the rights to equal opportunities, health and freedom from violence, injury, abuse, torture and


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

cruel or inhuman and degrading treatment, protection from harmful traditional practices, and to make decisions concerning reproduction. Participants in a FGDs and key informants were in agreement that while the practices was in decline in the region as a whole there were pockets (especially in Cheptais and among the indigenous Ndorobo people) where it was still common and therefore the need for concrete action to encourage speedy diminishment of the practice. Key informant interviews revealed that FGM is mainly performed on children and adolescents between seven and thirteen years of age in Mt. Elgon region. However, because of the secrecy involved in the practice the survey was not able to establish specific details on the intensity and impact of the practice in different locations. Child Labour UNICEF defines child labour as work that exceeds a minimum number of hours, depending on the age of a child and on the type of work. Such work is considered harmful to the child and should therefore be eliminated. The table below shows what is considered to be child labour for particular ages. Table 2: Classification of Child Labour Age 5 - 11 12 - 14 15 - 17 Source: UNICEF

No. Of Hours considered as child Labour At least one hour of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week At least 14 hours of economic work or 28 hours of domestic work per week At least 43 hours of economic or domestic work per week

Child labour is still rampant in Mt. Elgon. The survey examined the extent of child labour and the effect it has on education. Eighty seven percent of all the schools surveyed cited child labour as having a significant consequence on the education of children. Further it was revealed that because of poverty and ignorance parents often require their children to assist in a number of activities that deny them a chance at education. According to the head teachers in the schools surveyed, the most common types of child labour were subsistence farming, household chores for girls and livestock herding among others. It was not possible to obtain direct statistics on child labour in the region. However, the survey used proximate determinants like absenteeism from school to measure the extent of child labour. The survey established that 55% of absenteeism was as a result of child labour. The problem seemed to be prevalent in all the divisions but Cheptais, Kaptama and Saboti exhibited higher prevalence rates. Further, it was revealed that because of poverty young girls engage in promiscuous behaviour which is a major 20

Human Rights Issues

cause of early pregnancies and early marriages. For similar reasons older boys in primary schools drop out of school to engage in income generating activities usually casual labour. A participant at an FGD emphasized the import of this child labour to the survival of families saying “it is a necessary evil”. This attitude seems to be very prevalent in the region with an overwhelming majority (89 %) of the households surveyed saying that children must help in boosting the family income and that it was justifiable for them to miss school some days to assists in farming activities. Right to Education The right to education is recognized as a human right by the United Nations. In addition, it is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and reaffirmed in the 1960 UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education, 1st Protocol of European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discriminations against Women. The right to education as envisaged in these instruments implies an entitlement to free, compulsory primary education for all children, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all children, as well as equitable access to higher education. It is one of the primary duties of any state to educate its citizens. Education paves way to development and a reduction to poverty that can cause conflict. However, this duty of the state must be augmented by the efforts of all the stakeholders’ partnerships between government and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups, and families are necessary that all children have adequate and quality education that empowers them to compete on equal terms with the rest of the world. This is the exception rather than the rule in Mt. Elgon. To assess the status of education in Mt. Elgon an assessment tool was developed based on the 4As framework. The 4As framework, developed by UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomasevski asserts that for education to be a meaningful right it must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. In this context availability means that education is free and government-funded and there is adequate infrastructure and trained teachers able to support education delivery, accessibility means that the system is non-discriminatory and physically accessible to all, and positive steps are taken to include the most marginalized, acceptability requires that the content of education is relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, and of quality. The school itself is safe and teachers are professional finally adaptability means that education can evolve with the changing needs of the society and contribute to challenging inequalities, such as gender discrimination, and can be adapted locally to suit specific contexts. Availability Since 2003 the government of Kenya has been providing free primary education, the


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

survey sought to establish the adequacy of basic infrastructure and staffing in both primary and secondary schools in the region. Findings from this survey illustrate that basic infrastructure in a majority of schools (88%) is generally wanting. Three elements were considered to establish the status of the basic infrastructure. The first element was adequacy and the safety of classroom, the research observed the status of buildings and classrooms in majority of the schools (78.4%) were found to have adequate classrooms conducive to learning and able to protect pupils and teachers from the elements. However in a few schools the classroom windows did not have window panes and this in the opinion of the survey team has the capacity to impede learning. Table 3: Enrolment Levels in Primary & Secondary Schools Primary Boys





17,126 18,178







11,891 13,321







29,017 31,499 122,065






















Total 1,341 1,043 1,884 (See data table 4 in annex A for more details).

The other element considered was whether the school compound was secured. It was found that 85% of the sampled schools did not have secured compounds, secure compounds are important especially in ensuring safety of children and ensuring that outsiders have no contact with students during school hours especially since it is known that drug peddlers particularly target school children. The last element considered was provision of clean water and sanitation facilities in schools. This was found to be poor in almost all schools (90%). Toilet facilities were inadequate and dirty and there was no running water in almost all schools. Availability of water and adequate sanitation facilities is a prerequisite for a clean healthy environment that is conducive for learning. Lack of these facilities was found to be having profound effect especially on the girl child education. In several schools it was observed that girls had to queue to use the toilet and this caused them to be late for their lessons. One head teacher observed that because of lack of private sanitation facilities in schools teenage girls opted to stay out of school during their menses impacting negatively on their education. He added that lack of the same contributes to high drop-out rates among the girls.


Human Rights Issues

Staffing is a problem in a majority of schools. Less than a quarter (20%) of the primary schools surveyed had the recommended teacher pupil ratios. The average teacher pupil ratio is 1: 61 as opposed to recommended ratio of 1:35. The situation seems to be better in secondary schools were the average teacher student’s ratio was found to be 1:26. However, according to the district education office this is as a result of low transition rates from primary to secondary schools. The survey also established that there was a shortage of mathematics and science teachers in secondary schools further diluting the quality of education. At the time of the survey, 6 primary schools and 1 secondary school were still closed in Chepyuk phase 3, Kopsiro division. Accessibility In total there are 207 primary schools and 45 secondary schools across the six divisions. Physical access to primary schools across the sample villages is fair, most villages have a school. Physical access to secondary schools is difficult in some areas especially Kopsiro and Cheptais divisions. In all the division enrolment levels, quality of education, retention and completion rates both at primary and secondary levels is below average. The reasons adduced for this low retention and completion rates varied but largely included: disintegration of social fabric due to displacement, poverty leading to hunger, ignorance among parents and cultural practices that do not encourage education especially girl child education. Accessibility is skewed against the marginalized Sabaot community with secondary schools few in Mt. Elgon District and far between. In Saboti and Endebbes divisions there were claims of discrimination in admission for Sabaot community and in the allocation of Constituency Development Fund monies to schools. Acceptability and Adaptability The survey did not delve much into the issues of acceptability and adaptability this is because they deal with the content of education which is determined at the national level and an inquiry into this subject is beyond the scope of this survey. Indigenous Rights Indigenous people are defined by conventions 107 and 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) as any ethnic group of people who inhabit a geographic region with which they have the earliest known historical connection, alongside more recent immigrants who have populated the region and may be greater in number (ILO, 2004). They can also be regarded as a tribal people who have continued with their traditional mode of life that is distinct from the rest of the society and are heavily reliant on natural environment for their livelihoods. Under these conventions indigenous people have some recognized rights. These rights include a right to their ancestral lands, recognition of their cultural and social practices and protection of their natural resources. In addition


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

it obliges governments to consult with indigenous people about laws affecting them. The rights of the indigenous people are reaffirmed by the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People, which emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. Indigenous peoples, the world over, still face marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. They are often dragged into conflicts and land disputes that threaten their way of life and very survival; and, suffer from a lack of access to health care and education� (UN, 2007). This statement encapsulates the situation of the indigenous Sabaot people of Mt. Elgon region. But are Sabaots really an indigenous? Mbage (1998) argues that all Kenyan people are indigenous. This seems to suggest that recognition of certain groups of people as indigenous would exclude other Kenyans and therefore violate the Kenyan constitution. This notwithstanding, it seems that an argument for the indigenous rights in the region can be made on two kindred divides, the first is that Sabaot community as a whole is an indigenous group and the second pertains to Ndorobo, a sub-group of the Sabaot community as an indigenous group. Violation of the Rights of the Sabaot Community According to Wilberforce Kasielo, a Sabaot elder, and documents available from the Kenya National archives notably the Anglo-Maasai treaty of 1904. The Sabaots are the original inhabitants of the whole of Mt. Elgon region including Mt. Elgon district, Trans-Nzoia district and parts of Kwanza district. This view is however contested by some non-Sabaot communities, it however seems to this study that the Sabaots have the earliest recorded connection to the geographical area in question. During the colonial era the community was dispossessed their lands by the white settlers in the early 20th century. This can be said to the beginning of the violation of the right of the community to its ancestral lands. Records from the colonial era shows that the British government recognized the rights of the Sabaots to the land in question but because the Saboat at the time were considered as Maasai (Elgon Maasai) the treaties made with the Maasai at the time are purported to have included them. When Kenya attained her independence, the post-colonial government failed to recognize Saboat community claim to their ancestral lands a situation that persists to date. Other communities, mainly from western Kenya, were allowed to settle on the same land, further alienating the Saboat Community. Today the community finds itself in a precarious situation as a minority in a land that they consider their ancestral home.


Human Rights Issues

Many members of the Sabaot community surveyed (66%) feel that some form of restitution is necessary to remedy this violation. This position is also collaborated by the Key informants and the FGDs. When asked what needed to be done most key informants avoid the question but suggested that if the land occupied by others cannot be regained that government should find some alternative land within Mt. Elgon region to settle those among them who were landless. However Key informants and leaders from non – Sabaot communities held that the indigenous land claim by the Sabaot community ignores current reality by ‘appearing to require the recognition to lands now lawfully owned by other people’. While this position is true to some extent, it seems to ignore that many lands now “lawfully owned”, have been based on an initial theft from the Sabaot. It essential that the matters raised above be dealt with in a sombre way as they form the foundation on which the conflict in Mt. Elgon region has existed. If resolved carefully and amicably the same can be the bedrock on which to build sustainable peace. Away from the indigenous land rights, the Saboat community as a whole rag behind in access to education, health care and other essential services and infrastructure for no apparent reason other than they are indigenous. It is also the finding of this survey that they have been considered by other communities and government officials as being backward and this has been a basis for discrimination. This marginalization extends into politics where the voice of the Saboat community has not been effectively heard. Violation of the Rights of Ndorobo The Ndorobo’s of Chepkitale claim to be indigenous people is even more valid. They are a hunter gather group who have lived in Mt. Elgon forest till the government decided to move them out and settle them in Chepyuk. It is important to note the Ndorobo also called the Mossop are not a distinct group from the Sabaot. In fact the name Mossop means those who have settled on the highlands while Soy the name used for other Sabaots refers to those who have settled on the lowlands. Because of their lives in the forest the Ndorobo have maintained a distinct culture and mode of life from the rest of the community. The other groups of the Sabaots have also had more contact with the outside world and are more educated as compared to the Ndorobo’s. All the indigenous rights violations discussed in the section above apply wholly for the Ndorobo’s and therefore will not be repeated. The aspect that this section focuses on is that the settlement scheme that has been basis of intra-tribal conflict among the Sabaots. The scheme was originally meant to settle only the Ndorobo’s who were moved from forest land by the government. Being at the centre of this conflict, and having been settled from the forest only recently the Ndorobo’s lag behind in almost all spheres of life. The status of education is poor


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

in Chepkitale, there are 2 secondary schools and 11 primary schools (at the time of the survey 6 of the primary were not yet open following closure as a result of the violent conflict in the area). These learning institutions are also in very poor state of repair and having inadequate teachers. Health facilities and other social amenities and utilities are almost non-existent. This severely marginalises the people of Chepkitale. The bulk of the people displaced in Chepyuk were Ndorobo’s and some of them are still displaced in Cheptais, Kaptama and other areas. The elders from Sabaots community contend that the settlement was done without consulting the Ndorobo’s themselves. The survey found out that the forced transition from hunter gatherer to sedentary farming lifestyle was a shock to the Ndorobo’s so much so that after being initially settled they sold out their land and moved back to forest. This has created one of the conflict dynamics because this initial settlement was later annulled and those who had bought the land from the Ndorobo’s lost out resulting in discontent. All in all, it is a key finding of this study that the Ndorobo man is highly marginalized, lacking in access to education and health care and looked upon as backward not only by non-Sabaot communities but also by fellow Sabaots Relationship with the Government The indigenous people or the Sabaots community as a whole views the government with suspicion. There is a feeling among the members of the community as it emerged in FGDs across the region that the government has not paid enough attention to their concerns a view that is also collaborated by the key informants. Members of the community accused the government especially at the local level for outright discrimination giving an example where all the Saboat chiefs in Saboti division were interdicted. Majority of the residents blame the government on all the problems that have befallen their community further making interactions with the government difficult.



Summary of Findings The survey has made the following major findings: On Conflict Resolution 1. The conflict in Mt. Elgon is a web of complex issues that has to be addressed before sustainable peace and stability can be achieved. 2. Issues that contribute to the conflict include flawed land allocation process and corruption, historical injustices and competition for resources 3. As long as the land issue is not resolved there will always be grievances and there is a danger that this grievances may blow up into violent conflicts. 4. Actors in the conflict include the youth, the government, politicians, civil society organisations, Laibons, the media and the Church. 5. The ex-combatants who during the conflict committed atrocities are in the community and have not been reached in anyway. 6. Most of the ex-combatants were coerced to join the militias. On Women and Children Rights 7. Generally the status of human rights is low in the region, particularly those of women and children. 8. Domestic violence and spousal abuse is rampant and women accept, tolerate and rationalise it 9. Women are economically and socially dis-empowered 10 FGM continues in the regional although its practice has somewhat diminished 11 The status of education in the region is below par in terms of physical infrastructure, quality of education, access, retention and completion rates. 12 The reasons for this state of affairs were identified as lack of adequate teachers, disruption by conflicts, unsanitary conditions in schools, poverty, and retrogressive cultural practices. On Indigenous Rights 13 Generally the Sabaot community is economically and politically marginalised.


MT. ELGON CONFLICT: A Survey Of Underpinning Factors

14 Recent and historical injustices committed against the Sabaot contribute to the conflicts witnessed in the area. Recommendations The following recommendations are made: 1. Advocate for speedy and transparent resolution of the land issues. 2. Initiate activities that enhance collaboration between different groups 3. Use Media in peace building 4. Identification, rehabilitation and reintegration of the ex-combatants 5. Fight against domestic violence 6. Empower women to agitate for their rights 7. Empower women financially and economically 8. Advocate for complete eradication of FGM 9. Advocate for redress of recent and historical injustices 10 Lobby the government for more teachers and training of the current ones 11 Explore sustainable ways of implementing a school feeding programs 12 Advocate for Improved access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities in schools 13 Lobby for creation of centres of academic excellence


Mt. Elgon Conflict: A Survey of Underpinning Factors  
Mt. Elgon Conflict: A Survey of Underpinning Factors  

This report presents the findings of a survey conducted in May and June 2009. The survey was commissioned to asses the condition in Mt. Elgo...