Natural Resource-Based Conflicts on Security in Tana River County, Kenya
Chikandah, Douglas Fanuel
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Access to natural resources is increasingly being considered a security issues and cannot therefore be taken for granted. This is because natural resources normally occur alongside other conflict issues like territory and regional predominance. In low-income countries like Kenya, access to natural resources is a serious issue especially when such countries lack enough capacity to deal with environmental challenges and scarcity. The study therefore assessed resource-based conflicts on security in Tana River County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were; to analyze the nature of conflicts between the pastoralist and agro-pastoral communities in Tana River County, to assess the security threats associated with natural resource-based conflicts in Tana River County, to establish the conflict management approaches used in Tana River County, and lastly to establish the challenges encountered in solving natural resource-based conflicts in Tana River County. Structural conflict theory and the Neo-Malthusian theories were used in this study. The study employed mixed methods approach. Data for the study was collected using questionnaire, interview schedule and focus group discussion guides. The respondents in the study were household heads in Ngao and Kilengwani divisions of Tana River County, Kenya, the sub-county police commanders and the ward commanders from the Kenya Police Service in Tana River County, the County commissioner for tana River County and the Deputy County commissioners in Tana River County. Sampling was through proportionate (household heads) and purposive (key informants) approaches. The target population was 8476 and the sample size was 382. Reliability of the study questionnaire was ascertained through test-retest method where Cronbach’s alpha Coefficient of reliability was computed and established to be 0.795. Validity of the study questionnaire was ascertained through expert opinion. Quantitative data was analyzed through descriptive and inferential statistics with the help of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 23 for windows. Qualitative data was analyzed using thematic themes. Study findings revealed that natural resource-based conflicts are a frequent phenomenon in Tana River County as was observed by 97.9 per cent of the study participants. The study established that the natural resources that led to frequent conflicts were water, pasture, and land. Three types of threats were linked to natural resource-based conflicts in Tana River County: personal, community and environmental security. Four conflict interventions were commonly employed in Tana River County: traditional dispute resolution approaches, alternative dispute resolution, litigation, and joint security meetings. The management of resource-based conflicts in Tana River County was hampered by two factors: the land tenure system and infiltration of small arms. The study recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Irrigation as well as the County government of tana River generate natural resources policies that will create the existence of sufficient water points in the hinterland. The two ministries together with the County Government of Tana River should revive the collapsed irrigation schemes in order to create livelihoods for community members thus reducing the tensions between the dominant Pokomo and Orma communities. The land tenure system be revised and amended with full participatory of all stakeholders and fair representation from both communities as a matter urgency.