Kenya-Ethiopia Cross-border programme success inspires hope for peace in Karamoja cluster

karamojaHon. Eugene Wamalwa, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and ASALs (Kenya) and Hon. Eng. John Byabagambi, Minister for Karamoja Affairs (Uganda) shake hands at the end of the Kenya-Uganda Cross-Border Peace Initiative meeting on 31 August 2018


Positive signs from the Kenya-Ethiopia Cross-border programme, which was initiated to reduce vulnerability and increase the resilience of communities affected by conflict and climate-induced migration along the Moyale border, have now incubated prospects for a similar initiative in the Karamoja area along the Kenya-Uganda border, to bring sustainable peace and development.

The cross-border initiatives are an expression of the vision of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his report on Peace-building and Sustaining Peace, which observed that UN agencies must “rally stakeholders to action within the entire peace continuum – from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable long-term development”.

The Ethiopia-Kenya cross-border programme has now inspired a similar initiative in what is known as the Karamoja Cluster, also a conflict-prone border region shared by four countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda.

On 26 July 2018, ministers from four countries in the Karamoja cluster - Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda - held consultations in Uganda, where they signed a communique on cooperation for conflict prevention and the development of the Karamoja cross-border area.

The communique was signed by Uganda’s State Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hon Musa Ecweru, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and ASAL Areas Hon. Eugene Wamalwa, Ethiopia’s Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Prof Fekadu Beyene and South Sudan’s Minister for Environment and Forestry Hon. Josephine Napwon.

The objective is to develop the Karamoja Cluster as a single socio-economic zone, with joint policies and programmes that will build the resilience of the community to overcome the challenges of climate induced drought, conflict and scarcity of resources and erode current fault-lines--critical if this region is to realize SDGs.

The long-term vision is that prevention strategies will be driven by private investment as a sustainable pathway to countering inequity and promoting inclusivity for the region’s peripheral communities.

To move the initiative forward, the Governments of Kenya and Uganda supported by their respective UN Resident Coordinators, held a workshop in Nairobi on 31 August 2018 where the technical teams from the two countries developed a draft MoU and programme framework that will put in place concrete modalities of cooperation by the affected countries.

The proposed project will initially focus Turkana and West Pokot regions and will expand to the other regions of Ethiopia and South Sudan in the future. The project aims at assessing the causes, dynamics and effects of conflicts as well as strengthening the existing capacities for sustaining peace in these areas to reduce vulnerability and increase human security of the communities.

The programme will adopt an Integrated area-based development approach, extending support services to the population of the target area rather than focusing on any sector or group, while strengthening inclusive local governance arrangements.

The Integrated Area-Based Approach will bring together stakeholders within the marked geographical area to work towards a common goal. In this regard, prevention of violent conflict, peace building and improved livelihood of the communities who live in the Karamoja Cluster will be the main focus of the programme.

The project will demonstrate the application of Integrated Area-based Development Approach through joint programming by UN agencies and build the capacity of local/national governments amongst others to work together with each other as well as with local civil society organizations in prevention of violent conflict, peace building and enhancing human security.