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Community dialogue initiated in Baringo to counter banditry

A three-year peacebuilding process has been initiated to unite the warring Tugen, Illchamus and Pokot communities living in Baringo County.

The initiative dubbed “Dialogue and not guns, is the path to peace,” which is being spearheaded by Anglican Development Services (ADS-Kenya) seeks to promote dialogue and reconciliation among the three communities that have been at loggerheads for long .

Speaking during the commissioning of over 100 opinion leaders selected from the warring communities at Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) in Marigat town, Anglican Churches of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit stated that the perennial conflict will end when residents learn to love and value each other.

Sapit noted that the church has a leading role in guiding members of the affected communities towards healing and reconciliation following renewed animosity which has made thousands flee their ancestral homes as others become widowed and orphaned due to senseless killings by armed bandits.

The archbishop, while receiving a 19-point memorandum from the group, which will become peace ambassadors at the grassroots, advised residents to do good at all times and shun practices that hamper their development.

“I hope that soon the criminals will turn the guns into farming tools because when we are peaceful, we can do positive things,” he said.

Sapit was accompanied by Rt Rev Musa Kamuren (Baringo), Rt. Rev David Lebarleiya of Mararal and other local leaders including County Executive for Devolution Peninah Bartuin, her Youth Affairs counterpart Maurine Limashep, Saimo Soi Ward MCA Michael Chebon and John Aengwo of Saimo Kipsaraman, who joined the Archbishop in touring Moinonin IDP camp in Baringo North and Chepilat in Tiaty East Sub-counties thereafter the laying of a foundation stone for ACK Lorecho in Marigat Ward.

The ACK church leader stated that they are working closely with both the county and national governments as well as other peace actors to champion the community-led dialogue process.

Limashep, who urged residents of Tiaty to embrace churches, also advised parents to enrol all the children in school as a way of transforming the region.

She argued that the county will not develop if residents don’t change their mindset and forgo harmful retrogressive cultural practices, which will not benefit them in the long run.

Bartuin challenged residents to avoid the negative tagging of an entire community but instead identify the few criminals amongst them because they are the ones causing the county to lag behind in terms of development compared to other regions.

Some of the proposals raised by the peace steering committee include fostering peace and cohesion meetings, psychosocial support, provisions of bursaries to affected families, respect for colonial boundaries and a forced schooling campaign as a long-term solution to banditry in Baringo.

By Benson Kelio

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