From 3rd – 6th June, 130 people from both Ethiopia and Kenya attended a gathering hosted by the people of Dukana, Chalbi District, Kenya to discuss and extend recent peace agreements made between them and the Borana community at Dillo, Ethiopia. Participants included senior government representatives from both countries, and traditional and civic leaders, youth and women from the pastoralist communities living along both sides of the Ethiopia/Kenya border. The Pastoralist Shade Initiative, a group of pastoralist elders representing the different pastoralist communities of Kenya, assisted the Dukana community to organise the gathering. The Oromia Pastoralists Association assisted the Ethiopians to attend.
The gathering heard the story of how the Dillo and Dukana communities have worked together over the last four years to attain peace and how they finally agreed a peace declaration in November 2008. This declaration lays out a system for dealing with incidences between the two communities using customary rules. The communities have also started trading together and set up markets for livestock.
The gathering agreed to extend the declarations made between Dillo and Dukana to the areas the meeting delegates were drawn from, which extend across Chalbi, Moyale and Marsabit districts in Kenya, and Miyo, Dire and Dillo districts in Ethiopia. Pastoralists living at Firole, Kenya and Magado, Ethiopia explained that they have already started using the Dillo example of weekly meetings between the communities to work towards peace in their area. The meeting also declared the tree under which gathering took place a “peace tree”.
There was a significant presence of women and youth at the gathering, some of whom entertained the delegates with songs about peace, the history of the Borana and Gabra and events in recent history, such as the 2006 plane crash which killed important local leaders. The songs were emotive and highly appreciated by the gathering as it made them think about the effects of both conflict and peace.
It was agreed that a second gathering will be held during July, which will include the Borana of Silolo, Uran, Walda and Rawan, Kenya. People attending the Dukana gathering also requested that local MPs from both sides of the border should attend.
The Dukana gathering mandated a group of Gabra and Borana elders to visit Moyale District to brief the Kenyan administration and pastoralist leaders of the area on the outcomes of the meeting and pass the news of the July gathering.
On 10th June, this team concluded meetings with the Moyale District administration and the communities of Silolo, Rawan, Walda and Uran. These communities, along with the district administration, have agreed to attend the gathering in July to extend the discussions of the Dukana gathering and join the Borana/Gabra peace. They have requested that this second gathering should also be held in Chalbi District. As a gesture of good faith and good will, the Borana of Walda have now opened their wells for use by Gabra livestock from Turbi.