Pastoralist leaders from Ethiopia and Kenya met in Koora, Kajiado District (Kenya) from 26th – 30th August 2008 at a gathering supported by the DFID DGPP project. They forged agreements to decrease tension and reduce violence. Several groups agreed that whenever conflict is sparked by raid or rumour elders from each group involved will notify each other and attempt to prevent escalation.
The Government of Kenya announced at the gathering that it will work to provide resources for transport in remote areas of Kenya, not only for police, but also for elders to move to sites of tension.
On 6th September, 77 cattle were taken from a grazing area in northern Kenya. Within a week the lost animals were back with their ownders and the perpetrators brought to justice. Ethiopian and Kenyan pastoralist elders are quietly confident that they may have found a new way of delaing with an intractable problem.
On 27th September, elders from northen Kenya and southern Ethiopia agreed to a meeting along with officials of both governments to build a new system for peace based on coooperation between government and tradtiional institutions.
“We like the idea of having at least one Koora type gathering each year. We have selected a few elders to provide leadership and coordination of this work. We are already working on Turkana and Marsabit gatherings after Koora. Government statements at such gatherings require follow-up. Elders should continue to call on Government offices to ensure implementation of promises at elders’ meetings. This can lead to building trust and good working relationships between governments and pastoralists…The government must feel comfortable to let us do what is good for us and allow us to enjoy freedom and democracy like other Kenyans. Elders love debate and will come willingly to discuss important life matters with politicians and civil servants. We want them to come to our gatherings always.” Mogole Haibor, Rendille elder from Marsabit district in Kenya.