Stabilizing Kenya by solving Forest related Conflicts (STAKE)

Project summary

Kenya is riddled with conflict associated with instability, as evident in the widespread violence after the national elections 2007. Much of the violence took place in rural areas, where conflict and competing claims over natural resources appear closely entangled. The underlying drivers of conflict and violence remain contested and poorly understood. Solving or mediating these may comprise an important contribution to the building of a more stable Kenya empowered to support development for and bring prosperity to its populace.

In search of stability and prosperity, the government of Kenya in 2005 enacted a new Forest Act aimed at improving natural resources management by decentralizing responsibilities and rights of forest management to civil society bodies, called Community Forestry Associations (CFA). Such reforms can be seen as an exercise of State building through adherence to democratic principles, whereby State-led governance becomes inclusive in the sense that it recognizes civil society based governance. In practice, however, top-down State-led governance reforms often ignore or disrupt pre-existing civil society based governance processes, which leads to further conflict and destabilization.

This project seeks to further our understanding of how to build inclusive governance that furthers stability and prosperity by investigating the drivers of forest related conflicts in the Mau Forest Complex, and the role of the Forest Act 2005 in changing patterns of conflict.

Outputs

Completion report 2016:

Besides having obtained (most of) the expected results in terms of research results, with a few deviations caused by unhappy incidents like passing away of a dear colleague, we have managed to break the barrier between practitioners (NGO/GBM) and academia and also managed to break barrier between academia community and local resource managers.During the data collection, we learnt that informants gave isolated and disjointed information. The data collected on conflicts indicated broken communication lines among community groups/stakeholders. To address this, we decided to hold joint workshops for individuals from different respondent categories comprising of forest managers, local administrators, community forest association (CFA) and local community; rather than hold four separate meetings that would have made a total of eight meetings. The combining was found to facilitate cross learning and establishment of communication lines. This has helped to not only break barrier but build bridges for the sake of implementation of inclusive governance in the future.

Also the National Conference held in Nairobi was organized inclusively, with so called high and low level participants, which facilitated a joint discussion of STAKE-policy briefs.

A high level internationally organized mediation process in Naivasha between a
government institution and three Maasai communities was initiated by Danish Participants and undertaken by key participants in Wangari Maathai Institute (WMI) STAKE project in 2015/2016 with follow up from STAKE in February 2017.

To enhance capacity of both PhD, South senior researchers, community members and post graduate students they attended a Mediation course (equivalent to 5 ETS) that was provided as an additional course in STAKE project to strengthen capacity of conflict management.

WMI is building peace labs that are useful for mediation and mediation courses once completed.

In order to effectively document our lessons in this project, including how to build strong relationsships, the STAKE team has decided to write a synthesis book, which is in the final stages before publication. The target of the book is researchers wanting to write an international application (e.g. for Danida), students and middle level managers. The book also serves as a presentation of the (until now) biggest project at WMI.

Outcomes: 2 PhD.graduates, 5 published articles, 3 being finalised for submission, 3 policy briefs, one national conference in Kenya, 2 Conflict Resolution workshops and 1 Participatory Forest management-course (including two manuals), synthesis book being finalized, 2 BScgraduates, 14 MSC scholarchips and MSc programme in environmental governance.

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