Inter-Ethnic Conflicts between the Gabra and Dassenetch Communities of Marsabit County, 1960 - 2011
Diba, Yattani I.
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African societies and the developing nations have been undergoing difficult times in terms of ethnic conflicts and antagonisms. The Northern part of Kenya is infamous for the frequent conflicts and counter conflicts as communities are pitied against each other since the pre-colonial times. Against this bedrock this study explored inter-ethnic conflicts between the Gabra and Dassenetch communities of Marsabit County between 1960 and 2011. The study was guided by three objectives which were: the causes of the frequent conflicts between the Gabra and Dassanetch communities; the socio-economic effects of conflicts between the two communities; and conflict resolution mechanisms. The study was justified on the basis that many studies done on inter-ethnic conflicts have tended to neglect the Gabra and Dassanetch communities of Marsabit County. Many researches done on conflict in Kenya have tended to emphasize the role of political leaders, neglect of the national government of the situation on the periphery and the proliferation of small arms, but little covered on the conflict between the Gabra and the Dassanetch. The study was guided by Edward E. Azar Protracted Social Conflict (PSC) theory which emphasizes reasons why Protracted Social Conflicts occur in developing countries by singling out the deprivation of basic needs, communal identity. A cross-sectional design was used to target community conflicts in Marsabit North Sub-County. Purposive sampling technique was employed in this study to get the location or district in which the units of observation had required characteristics, along with convenient sampling, which is useful where the researcher collects data from the population who are available and willing to volunteer information. Secondary information is obtained from books, journals and newspapers. The study revealed that competition for scarce resources was a major cause of violent conflict between the Gabra and the Dassanetch. The finding also revealed that the patterns of conflict in this region are complex. It was also evident that the conflict has led to marginalization, poverty and loss of lives in the two communities. Government intervention strategies have involved Joint Community Peace Resolution Committees coordinated and facilitated by security officials and community leaders. Unique pastoralists conflict resolution mechanisms that involve use of council of elders to amicably resolve the conflict, dialogue, traditional rituals and common utilization of resources especially dry-season grazing land have been given due consideration. There have been peace-pacts between these communities that have largely been hinged on availability of pasture and water. The study recommended that the various groups involved in the peace building process need to invest in training of the indigenous on peace-building processes. The groups also need to sensitization on the dangers of conflict and presence of illicit arms