As we approach the General Elections in 2022, and the unknown ruling of the BIB referendum it is imperative that Religious Leaders take up their mandate in ensuring the Country stays hopeful and peaceful. They are the voice of the people in our society thus important opinions shapers.
With such alarming bylines about the County of Baringo, there is a need to equip Religious Leaders with knowledge and skills to enable them to guide and ensure there is social cohesion and peaceful just society. These skills play a key role in curbing conflict and tension in the counties. Religious Leaders consisting of clergy, women of faith and the youth were trained on conducting rapid conflict scans, scenario building and conflict assessments on peace, integration and cohesion, preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE). They were also taught how to assess the immediate, short term and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to best align PCVE actions within the COVID-19 context.
One of the resolutions from the training was to consult with the County Commissioner. The Religious Leaders among them the chair, Bishop Kamuren, Bishop Enoch Keitany; Pastor Sammy Kiptui; Bishop Losute, Bishop Chepsat, Veronicah Kipsang assured the Baringo Deputy County Commissioner, Mr Ruben Ratemo that they were ready and willing to work with and collaborate with the county on matters affecting the community.
Peace and Conflict Resolution in Baringo County
The Religious Leaders raised their concerns about ensuring there is peace in Baringo County and informed Mr Ratemo that one of their agendas was to visit and dialogue with communities to address issues of peace and give hope to the communities affected by the various conflicts.
The Chairman, Baringo Interfaith Network Bishop Kamuren briefed Mr Ratemo about their intention to visit different areas in the County to hold dialogue and sensitize communities on issues of conflict resolution and peace as they also conduct research of conflict issues in the County.
The Religious Leaders also emphasized the need for collaboration with the county government to address retrogressive cultural habits. They noted that erecting religious centres to help give hope and spiritual guidance to the communities and schools in different communities as schools will help alleviate illiteracy thus addressing the issue of poverty.
The Baringo Interfaith Network members were also worried about COVID-19 in the County. They appealed to the County to enforce COVID-19 measures and address the issue of drug and substance abuse as it affects adherence. They also want security officers to stop harassing congregants in places of worship as they are adhering to the guidelines given by the Inter Faith Council. “The people have relaxed on following the protocols thus there has been an increase of deaths in Baringo North,” – noted the Deputy CC and appealed to the Religious Leaders to continue sensitizing the community and encouraging them to follow the guidelines for their safety.
Drug and substance abuse (especially Bhang); COVID-19; peace and conflict resolution are the dominant issues affecting the County of Baringo. The Interfaith Leaders assured the Deputy County Commissioner that they are ready and willing to collaborate to address issues affecting the community.
The Religious Leader’s skills were enhanced through the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) Transcending Foundations of Peace and Security for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Kenya project which is a collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government. The project seeks to address the immediate and underlying causes of conflict and division such as perceived exclusion and marginalization, youth vulnerability, negative ethnicity, divisive political processes, poverty and inequalities, small arms proliferation, limited engagement of women in peace processes, violent extremism, and disputes over natural resources and adverse effects of climate change.
Similar projects were held in six other counties including Mombasa, Kwale, Isiolo, Marsabit, and Kisumu. Some other issues addressed were SGBV, child marriages, and FGM. After the Peace and Conflict training, the Religious Leaders were branded champions of peace.