Department of Sociology, Gender and Development Studies Effects of Social Conflicts on the Livelihoods of Households in Kerio Valley Basin, Kenya
Chirchir, William K.C.
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The United Nations (UN) and World Bank (2017) indicate that the emerging forms of violent conflicts have tended to be more complex and protracted. They involve more non-state and state agencies and are characterized by substantial loss of lives, displacement of population, destruction of property, social and economic wellbeing. Conflicts in the North Rift Region of Kenya, particularly in Kerio Valley, similarly have had severe effects on the socio-economic wellbeing and livelihoods of households. This study sought to examine the effects of the social conflicts on the livelihood of the households, and necessary intervention measures in Kerio Valley Basin. Specifically it sought to establish: the characteristics of the households and the scope of hostilities; effects on the livelihood, social and economic wellbeing; and interventions undertaken to mitigate the conflicts. The study adopted a descriptive cross-sectional survey design. The site of study were locations most affected by conflict and these included; Chesegon Division in Pokot County, Tot Division in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, Kolowa Division in Tiati Sub-County of Baringo and Kinyach location in Baringo County. Data collection entailed an interview schedule, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The unit of study was the household and through systematic sampling, from an estimated total of 3170 households, a sample of 422 was interviewed. Key stakeholders were identified for key informant interviews while a cross section of community leaders participated in an FGD. Qualitative data was analysed thematically while quantitative data was entered into SPSS and results analysed and presented descriptively. Ethical and logistical issues were addressed through seeking approvals and permissions from relevant authorities such Graduate School, KUERC and NACOSTI. The study established that foremost, the typical characteristics of respondents were that the majority were male, married, middle aged and occupied mainly in pastoralism and farming; Secondly, Kerio valley conflict assumes inter-clan and inter-ethnic dimensions and are fairly frequent; Thirdly, main causes of conflict included theft of cattle, access to and control of pasture and water. Fourthly, social conflicts have negatively affected the lives and livelihoods of communities by way of, among others, loss of household income when livestock, the main source of family income, is stolen; loss of lives; strained relationships among family members and also neighbours; and loss of marketing opportunities.; Fifthly, some of the interventions undertaken included development of integrated county development plans; diversification of livelihoods through introducing irrigated agriculture and agro-processing, and intensification of security interventions. The study concluded that communities in Kerio valley have been experiencing periodic conflicts which have adversely affected the households in Kerio region and negatively affected pursuit of livelihoods; interventions put in place have to an extent contained the conflicts and especially the engagement with stakeholders. So as to mitigate the adverse effects of conflicts on livelihoods, the study recommends diversification of livelihoods by way of adoption of high value crops through irrigated agriculture; institutionalization of peace committees in the community, and enhancing infrastructure development so as to ease movement of people and their produce as well as quicken the response time by security agencies.