"The [village] chiefs from the different communities couldn't even be in the same room. Now, they arrange meetings on their own, without DRC even having to be involved", says Noah Tonui, deputy county commissioner for Loima in Turkana county.
"They used to see each other as enemies, but...the situation is very different now. DRC activities have helped improve relationships across the local communities”, continues Tonui.
DRC’s Humanitarian Disarmament & Peacebuilding team is behind several initiatives in the area, including confidence-building exercises between communities and security providers, community engagement, and conflict management training for police officers and local authorities. This training aims to increase the authorities’ professionalism, legitimacy, sensitivity towards gender issues and their general know-how on conflict management and cross-border dialogue, as Pokot and Turkana share borders with Uganda and South Sudan.
A bit further down from Noah Tunois' office, around 30 police officers, chiefs, assistant chiefs and county government officials are gathered for community engagement training. In front of a series of posters, a trainer from DRC is discussing respect and professionalism. He elaborates on how to create a secure atmosphere for the population and to manage conflicts and communicate in a respectful tone to decrease the potential for conflict.
One of the people present is acting chief of Lokiriama, Sammy Tioko, who works closely with DRC. He is very pleased with the training and uses it in his daily tasks.
"We don't keep this knowledge to ourselves. We share it by calling for meetings and passing it on," he says.
"Since DRC started its work here, crime has fallen and people have started registering their small arms. It is a slow process, but it is really improving day by day and we have seen the benefit of understanding the dangers of small arms in the communities," Sammy Tioko says.
For as long as anyone can remember there has been a tradition of cattle raiding across the Ugandan border to the west. Therefore, DRC facilitates cross border community meetings and maintains offices in both countries.
Some of these meetings took place in Lorengippi, near the triple border between Pokot and Turkana counties and Uganda. Despite the area’s violent history, recent years have seen relative peace both locally and across the border.
Chief Nathan Akal of Lorengippi explains: "When DRC facilitated the cross border dialogue meetings, they found out through these dialogues, that both communities were being destroyed by the raids and that they were both eager to achieve lasting solutions to the conflict.