Cross-Border Cooperation Between Ethiopia and Kenya for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding in Marsabit-Moyale Cluster



Kenya and Ethiopia share a large porous border, straddling a length of 861km that traverses Marsabit, Turkana, Waji and Mandera Counties on the Kenyan side, and Borana and Dawa zones on the Ethiopian side. This cross-border area is characterized by poorly developed physical infrastructure, remote from the respective capitals (Nairobi and Addis Ababa), and low school enrolment rates combined with low literacy levels, poor education indicators and high poverty levels. All the development indices in this cross-border area are much lower than the national averages of the respective countries. The population is largely mobile, and their movement is not confined to one country, but transcends international boundaries into Ethiopia and vice-versa. These inter-regional and cross-border movements oftentimes lead to conflicts over water and pasture. Human poverty in the regions co-exists with a rich store of natural wealth and biodiversity, which includes livestock, wildlife, forests, minerals and medicinal plants which are critical to the lives of the people. The youthful population, poverty, inadequate water supply, recurrent droughts and the resulting land degradation creates natural resource-based conflicts, among others. In these borderland areas, prolonged underinvestment in basic public goods such as education, health, security, and roads has exposed the communities to vulnerability and external shocks.

Conflict stands directly in the way of achieving the SDGs. Conflicts over resources manifest at ethnic and clan levels. The target region faces major challenges of disputes and a series of intercommunal conflicts that have been witnessed over the years. This has led to massacres and huge losses of property among the affected individuals and communities.

Local capacity for conflict prevention is weak, characterized by weak border patrols and reliance on traditional mechanisms of conflict resolution rather than the State. While peace committees exist, they have poor communication infrastructure and poor linkages with the local authorities. Youth unemployment has increased the vulnerability to radicalization. Women's participation in decision-making is hampered by cultural prejudices and the social norms driven by patriarchy. 

Project objectives

This Governments of Kenya and Ethiopia have been involved in developing, leading and implementing the cross-border programme, hence communities will remain at the heart of the success of the interventions through customized and fit-for-purpose solutions to the development challenges identified. The project focuses on the following result areas within the broader cross-border programme:

a) Improved capacity of local governments for preventing conflict and promoting sustainable peace;
b) Enhanced peace and strengthened community resilience to prevent conflict and promote sustainable peace; and, 
c) Efficiency and effective delivery of outputs and activities on conflict prevention and peacebuilding enhanced. 

Gender considerations are an integral part of the project implementation through specific actions such as ensuring that, at community level, stakeholder identification and analysis form the foundation for participatory planning processes, capacity development and project implementation. The overall aim of the cross-border programme is to transform the region into a prosperous and peaceful cross-border area with resilient communities.

The project contributes to: the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) Strategic Priority 1, Transformational Governance, focused on Outcome 1.3: By 2022 People in Kenya live in a secure, peaceful, inclusive and cohesive society; Outcome 2 of the UNDP Kenya Country Programme Document; and the Big 4 Agenda. This is in line with the goal of SDG16 - to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.