Three years ago, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security funded a three year programme to strengthen human security in the border communities of Turkana County in Kenya. This programme culminates this year, with the official opening of a Community Peace Centre in Lokiriama, Loima Sub County of Turkana County this week.
Residents of Turkana have closely worked with IOM and five United Nations agencies including FAO, ILO, UNICEF, WHO, and UNDP, to facilitate peace processes, improve access to education, health, complementary livelihoods and create awareness on child labour.
The programme has also seen the residents and the County Government engage in peace building efforts. In the largely patriarchal community, women have made marginal gains in peacebuilding initiatives. They have actively been involved in campaigns to curb violent incidences and demanded for space on the peace negotiation table.
To mark this year’s International Day of Peace (21/09), the community launched a Community Peace and Cultural Centre in the region that has for many decades suffered intercommunity and cross border resource-based conflict, insecurity and poverty. In May 2015 alone, more than 100 people were killed in clashes that pitted the Turkana against their neighbours from Pokot.
The Center provides a platform for the promotion of the rich cultural expression and as a central point for the revitalization, development, dissemination and promotion of the diverse cultural expressions of the Turkana people and neighbouring communities. The center will also act as a connecting link with the rural communities and provides the opportunity to engage directly in development activities and as responsible cultural tourism the rich cultural heritage of Turkana People.
Speaking at the event, Most Reverend Cornelius Korir, Bishop of the Catholic Dioceses of Eldoret lauded the peace efforts exemplified by the neighbouring communities from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Sudan and IOM for the cross border peace along the countries respective boarders.
“I am calling on the leaders to create a peaceful environment for the coming generation. Development can only be realized when there is peace and the Catholic Church commits to support the County Government and the people of Turkana to propel peace initiatives,” he said.
The Peace and Cultural Centre was officially opened by Bishop Korir and handed over to the Turkana Peace Committee. The ceremony was witnessed by the Governor, Turkana County H.E Josephat Nanok.
The Centre was constructed by IOM in partnership with Turkana County’s Department of Culture, with funding from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, and is part of the initiatives cemented by IOM under the United Nations Development Assistance Framework objectives for Kenya.
Dignitaries from the National Government, South Sudan, Uganda, and Ethiopia, neighbouring Counties Governments, UN agencies, development partners, international public benefit organizations, local public benefit organizations, faith-based organizations and pastoralist communities in the region graced the event.
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