Set in far north-western Kenya, Lodwar is an important regional centre at the heart of Turkana County. For the area’s 150,000 residents, daily life revolves around keeping animals – even the question of whether or not someone is a pastoralist is met with bafflement: ‘Of course!’ says a local resident.
Livestock are therefore an integral part of life in the region, and for as long as anyone can remember, dangerous cattle raids have been too.
"Cattle raiding is a rite of passage for the youth and a way of replenishing the lost herd through drought. There has not been much influence from outside and they are simply not aware that you can live in any other way," says DRC’s Raphael Locham.
But over the last several years, DRC’s Humanitarian Disarmament & Peacebuilding team (HDP) has been implementing comprehensive community safety programming through its Armed Violence Reduction (AVR) project. The program facilitates dialogue at the local level and across the border between Kenya and Uganda, building trust and strengthening the relationship between security providers and local communities.
DRC and local authorities have joined hands to educate youth on the dangers of armed violence and try to show them that there are other career options beyond cattle raiding.
"We try to show them that there are other ways to live your life," says Sammy Tioko, who is the acting chief of Lokiriama. Chief Tioko works closely with DRC and has been to several trainings offered by the organization, including a course on mediation and conflict resolution.
"One of the things we do is to recommend that people sell some of their cattle before the dry season starts, so they do not die of thirst. They can then invest the money in a business and increase their income. Others can become construction workers, where the government is building new infrastructure. Or they can join a savings and loans group and get the opportunity to start a business through this," says Chief Tioko.