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A Thesis submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree of

Master of Philosophy in Environmental Studies (Human Ecology) Moi University

October, 2007




This thesis is my original work and has not been presented for a degree in any other university. No part of this thesis may be reproduced without the prior permission of the author and/or Moi University.

Sign_______________________ Martin Pilly (SES/PGM/05/2001)

Date _____________________


This thesis has been submitted for examination with our approval as university supervisors

Sign________________________ Prof. J.J. Akonga Department of Anthropology Moi University, Eldoret, KENYA.

Date _____________________

Sign_________________________ Prof. J.J. Okumu Centre for Refugee Studies Moi University, Eldoret, KENYA.




To my mama Hajillo and my late grandfather, Buya Martin who was like a father to me.



The study set out to assess the conflict phenomenon in Garsen division, Tana-River district between pastoralists and peasant farmers. It aimed at finding out the causes of the conflict, factors which make the Orma and Wardei pastoralists to be perceived as hostile by their neighbours, the environmental, social, cultural, economic and psychological impact of the conflict and finally ways of managing the conflict.

The study was guided by the assumption that; one, the conflict is about ownership and use of land, pasture and water resources. Two, environmental factors and the distance between the Orma/Wardei and Pokomo cultures, leading to different perceptions towards resources and each other are probably some of the causes of conflict between the two groups that pursue different kinds of livelihoods. Three, owing to the intensity of conflict historically it is possible that the impact or consequences are multidimensional, and as long as environmental and cultural factors do not change, the conflict will continue.

The study targeted members of the two conflicting ethnic groups in the district, the Orma and Wardei pastoralists on the one hand and the Pokomo peasant farmers on the other. Five locations were purposively selected; this was because some locations were mainly inhabited by farmers and others by pastoralists. One hundred and fifty (150) households were interviewed randomly from three locations, fifty (50) households in each location. Five focus group discussions were conducted one, from the farmers side and four from the Pastoralists side, because the pastoralists were scattered and could not easily be available for informal interviews. In addition 100 students were interviewed randomly from two secondary schools (Tarasaa and Ngao Secondary schools) in the division.

Both field methods and secondary sources of data were utilized. The field methods combined various types of survey techniques such as questionnaires, participant observation, key informant interviews, informal interviews, focus group discussions and also extended residence in the community under study for five months. Secondary data comprised of textbooks, newspapers, archival research of written materials,

workshop reports et cetera. The data was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The results of the study show that; one, the conflict had multiple causes such as ownership and use of land, pasture and water resources. Two, the cultural distance between peasant farmers and pastoralists and difference in perception towards resources and each other are also causes of the conflict. Three, the factors that compel pastoralists to be war-like are harsh conditions in their physical and social environment. Four, the impact of the conflict are multidimensional, that is, physical, social, economic, cultural and psychological.

From the research findings, it is felt that there is need for proper policies on land in Garsen, Tana River. Taking into consideration the traditional ways of land use and ownership, the pastoralists need to be educated on the issue of land adjudication in the district. This is to be done in order to attain acceptable alternatives for peace hence development.


DECLARATIONS ....................................................................................................................................... II DEDICATION ........................................................................................................................................... III ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................................................. IV TABLE OF CONTENTS........................................................................................................................... VI LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................................................X LIST OF PLATES .................................................................................................................................... XII LIST OF APPENDICES ..........................................................................................................................XIII ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .................................................................................................................... XIV CHAPTER ONE .......................................................................................................................................... 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................................................... 1

1.0 PROBLEM STATEMENT ............................................................................................. 1 1.1 RESEARCH QUESTIONS............................................................................................. 4 1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY ..................................................................................... 4 1.3 SIGNIFICANCE/JUSTIFICATION .................................................................................. 5
CHAPTER TWO ......................................................................................................................................... 7 THE STUDY AREA ................................................................................................................................... 7

2.0 THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT ................................................................................. 7 2.01 Position and Location ...................................................................................... 7 2.02 Topography and soils ..................................................................................... 10 2.03 Climate............................................................................................................ 10 2.04 Water resources .............................................................................................. 11 2.1 THE HUMAN ENVIRONMENT .................................................................................. 12 2.1.1 Land tenure ................................................................................................... 12 2.1.2 Population ..................................................................................................... 16 2.1.3 Livestock and agricultural production activities ......................................... 16 2.1.4 Droughts ........................................................................................................ 18 2.2 THE PEOPLE OF TANA-RIVER ................................................................................. 18 2.2.1 Orma Mythology of their Settlement in Tana- River ................................... 20


2.2.2 Pokomo Mythology of their Settlement in Tana-River ................................ 21 2.2.3 Adaptation to the Environment .................................................................... 21 2.2.4 The Pokomo and Orma socio-political organization................................... 24 2.3 FUNCTIONS OF THE GASA AND MATADHEDA ......................................................... 29 2.3.1 Resource Management and Conservation ................................................... 29 2.3.2 Meetings ........................................................................................................ 30 2.3.3 Penalties ........................................................................................................ 31 2.3.4 Appeals .......................................................................................................... 32 2.3.5 Inter-Ethnic Conflicts ................................................................................... 32
CHAPTER THREE ................................................................................................................................... 35 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK.......................................................... 35

3.0 LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................. 35 3.1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 35 3.2 CAUSES OF CONFLICTS........................................................................................... 37 3.3 ETHNIC CLASHES AND THEIR IMPACT .................................................................... 38 3.4 CONFLICT MANAGEMENT ...................................................................................... 40 3.4.1 Settlement of conflict .................................................................................... 40 3.4.2 Conflict Resolution ....................................................................................... 41 3.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK .................................................................................. 42 3.5.1 The theory of dialectical materialism ........................................................... 42 3.5.2 Human Ecological theory ............................................................................. 43 3.5.3 Theory of perception ..................................................................................... 46 3.6 ASSUMPTIONS 0F THE STUDY ................................................................................. 47
CHAPTER FOUR ..................................................................................................................................... 48 METHODOLOGY .................................................................................................................................... 48

4.0 METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION............................................................................ 48 4.1 FIELD METHODS ..................................................................................................... 48 4.1.1 Participant Observation ................................................................................ 48 4.1.2 Informal Interviews ...................................................................................... 49 4.1.3 Questionnaires .............................................................................................. 49 4.1.4 Key informant method .................................................................................. 50 4.1.5 Focus group discussions ............................................................................... 50


4.2 SAMPLING METHODS .............................................................................................. 52 4.3 SECONDARY DATA ................................................................................................. 52 4.4 DATA ANALYSIS ..................................................................................................... 52 4.5 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY .................................................................................... 52
CHAPTER FIVE ....................................................................................................................................... 55 RESULTS AND DATA ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................ 55

5.0 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 55 5.1 GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SURVEY RESPONDENTS ........................................ 55 5.2 CONFLICT SITUATION IN THE STUDY AREA ........................................................... 63 5.2.1 Ethnicity in the study area ............................................................................ 63 5.2.2 Ethnic conflict ............................................................................................... 66 5.2.3 Types of conflicts........................................................................................... 66 5.2.4 Rules to guide the use of resources .............................................................. 71 5.2.5 Rules of the market ....................................................................................... 72 5.2.6 Factors that make pastoralists to be perceived as hostile ............................ 75 5.2.7 How the Pokomo peasant farmers have been able to build a force to counter the pastoralists .......................................................................................... 76 5.2.8 The Causes of the conflict ............................................................................ 81 5.3 IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ...................................................................................... 91 5.3.1 Socio-economic impact ................................................................................. 91 5.3.2 Cultural impact ........................................................................................... 106 5.3.3 Psychological impact .................................................................................. 109 5.4 GENERAL IMPACT AT INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY LEVELS ....................................... 114 5.5 POSITIVE IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ..................................................................... 117
CHAPTER SIX ........................................................................................................................................ 119 CONFLICT MANAGEMENT ................................................................................................................ 119

6.0 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 119 6.1 ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS THAT ARE INVOLVED IN MANAGING THE
CONFLICT IN TANA-RIVER ......................................................................................... 120

6.2 DIFFERENT ROLES IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT ................................................... 122 6.2.1 The role of farmers ..................................................................................... 122 6.2.2 Role of pastoralists ...................................................................................... 124


6.2.3 The role of the government......................................................................... 125 6.3 SOLUTIONS GIVEN TO THE CONFLICT BY THE TANA RIVER GASA ELDERS ............ 129 6.4 POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS OF THE CONFLICT OBTAINED FROM PARTICIPANTS OF A
WORKSHOP ................................................................................................................. 129

6.5 SOLUTIONS GIVEN BY THE ORMA AND WARDEI PASTORALISTS ........................... 131 6.6 TRADITIONAL METHOD OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION ............................................. 132
CHAPTER SEVEN ................................................................................................................................. 134 SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................................................ 134

7.0 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS ................................................................................ 134

REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................................ 141 APPENDICES ......................................................................................................................................... 149


Table 2.1: Land tenure in Tana River district ................................................................. 15 Table 2.2: Local Terminologies ...................................................................................... 33 Table 2.3: Rituals and ceremonies .................................................................................. 34 Table 3.1: Ethnic Land Disputes in Kenya by 1997 ....................................................... 36 Table 5.0: Summary of general information of the respondents who filled the standard questionnaire ........................................................................................................... 61 Table 5.1: Approximate ages of students in Garsen Division ........................................ 62 Table 5.2: Ethnic groupings of the students ................................................................... 62 Table 5.3: Distribution of Students in Secondary Schools ............................................. 62 Table 5.4: Gender of the students ................................................................................... 62 Table 5.5: The meaning of ethnicity in the study area .................................................... 67 Table 5.6: Rules to guide the use of resources ............................................................... 74 Table 5.7: Causes of the conflict .................................................................................... 83 Table 5.8: Hospital attendance........................................................................................ 93 Table 5.9: How necessities were obtained during the conflict period ............................ 95 Table 5.10: Impact of Conflict on students................................................................... 100 Table 5.11: Impact of conflict on pastoralist students .................................................. 101 Table 5.12: Form of psychological impact ................................................................... 113 Table 5.13: General impact of conflict at individual and family levels ....................... 115 Table 6.1: The role of farmers in conflict management ............................................... 123 Table 6.2: The role of pastoralists in conflict management .......................................... 126 Table 6.3: The role of Government in conflict management ........................................ 127


LIST OF FIGURES Figure 2. 1: Location of Tana River District in Kenya ..................................................... 8 Figure 2. 2: Location of Garsen Division in Tana River District ..................................... 9 Figure 5. 1: Distribution of respondents according to ethnic groups .............................. 59 Figure 5. 2: Distribution of respondents according to age .............................................. 60



Plate 2.1: Maize crop destroyed by floods ...................................................................... 14 Plate 5.2: A burnt house at Tarasaa village .................................................................. 103 Plate 5.3: An abandoned Manyatta ............................................................................... 104 Plate 5.4: An abandoned farm of banana plants across the River Tana overgrown with grass ...................................................................................................................... 105 Plate 5.5: A school boy killed at Golbanti village by raiders ....................................... 110 Plate 5.6: A schoolgirl wounded when raiders attacked her village ............................. 111 Plate 5.7: Youths attacked by heavily armed pastoralists in their village .................... 116 Plate 5.8 Pastoralists ferrying themselves across River Tana ....................................... 118


LIST OF APPENDICES Appendix 1: Standard Questionnaire..140 Appendix 2: Student Questionnaire146 Appendix 3: Checklist for focus group discussion.148



This section is for those who helped me with this work, without whom it would not have been possible to complete. I am greatly indebted to my supervisors Professor J.J. Akonga and Professor J.J. Okumu who in spite of their busy schedules patiently guided me in every step. I am also grateful to all the members of staff at the School of Environmental Studies who were like a family to me and who helped me in their different capacities.

My friends Jembe Boniface and Wanje Nyiro, my research assistants Komora, Wario, Jennifer and Gobu deserve special gratitude for their help, encouragement and support.

I acknowledge the assistance accorded to me by Mr. Bombe the coordinator of the Tana River Arid Lands Resource Management Programme, Mr. Koroso at the Tarasaa Catholic community centre, the Divisional Officer (Garsen) and the District Commissioner, in Tana River, Chiefs in the different locations under study and the people of Tana River (especially the Pokomo, Orma and Wardei).

I wish to express my deep appreciation to my mother Hajillo Rebecca for her understanding and support. I also owe gratitude to my brothers Arnold Buya and Eric Mungatana for their unwavering support.



1.0 Problem Statement

Conflict is inherent in every society as long as there is interaction between people either of the same culture or different cultures. There are a number of levels at which conflicts in the world today are experienced. These can be between nations, ethnic groups or even clans. There can also be interpersonal or intrapersonal conflicts. Whichever level at which conflict is experienced, it is mainly destructive, and therefore, a threat to the survival of the individual.

The conflict in Tana-River though highlighted especially in the media as ethnic, is not about ethnicity per se but it may have other causes such as resource use and land ownership between the Orma and Wardei pastoralists on one hand and the Pokomo Peasant farmers on the other hand. This is partly because the district is mainly a rangeland. The only productive areas are along the riverbanks where most of the Pokomo live and cultivate.

Throughout history the latter have therefore been termed as the riverine people (Prins, 1952:1; Bunger, 1970:1; Mollison, 1971:3; Salim, 1973:39) by their pastoral neighbors. While the pastoral people go for pasture and water resources considered by them as commons, the Pokomo peasant farmers view the riverine regions as their individual property containing cultivated and individually owned farms. Among the Pokomo land is first owned by the community, then portions of land belong to specific clans, and families within each clan own their own land and finally individuals within families own land that they consider their birthright. The pastoralists do not recognize this kind of land ownership and use. The conflict over land, pasture and water resources, has therefore, partly to do with perception, of what is a resource, who owns it, who has a right of use under what conditions and when.

Pastoralist groups generally cross borders of nations unrestricted for environmental and economic reasons (Duffield, 1991:15). The nomadic Orma and Wardei Oromo

pastoralists in Tana-River cross the border to Somalia and Ethiopia freely. This is partly because the District borders Somalia at one end through Garissa district and mostly because the Oromo inhabit a region that extends from Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia (Fukui and Markakis, 1994: 169, 230-231; Kassam and Megerssa, 2002:11). They can therefore move without inhibition among relatives, friends and stock associates.

The fact that there is no effective central government control in Somalia and southern Ethiopia (Jalata, 1993:144; El-Hinnawi, 1985) implies that the pastoralists are better equipped in terms of armory due to their exposure to the war torn country of Somalia and the Oromo guerrilla (Oromo Liberation Front) in Southern Ethiopia. This is because they have to trek for long distances in insecure areas within countries controlled only by Warlords in search of pasture and water.

More often than not the nomadic pastoralists in the Tana region pose a security problem in the district as the National Assembly of Kenya Report has stated (Republic of Kenya, 1992). They move in caravans with their camel, donkeys and other animals over long distances. As they migrate, they pass through locations where surprisingly the local chiefs feel completely helpless since these caravans are fully armed. The caravans ultimately find themselves in settled areas and the fully armed pastoralists guide their animals to the poor peasant farmers croplands thus destroying the crops. Such a scenario will not pass unnoticed by the farmers who then pick up arms ready to defend their farms in order to guard themselves against food insecurity. Nevertheless, life has to continue in this district during periods of relative peace as well as in periods of active violence. In times of relative peace the farmers have to worry about being waylaid and killed or raped by the so-called shifta-bandits (this terminology emanated from the shifta war experienced in Kenya immediately after independence, outlaws who are mostly Somali, but later Orma and Wardei engage in criminal activities such as attacking buses, robbing passengers and killing them) and in periods of overt conflict where actual large-scale violence occurs. In the recent conflict the first victim of the so-called tribal clashes was a peasant farmer attacked and killed on his farm on the 7th March 2001 by a group of armed

pastoralists. This happened as he was marking the boundaries of his farm ready for the land adjudication and registration exercise, which had begun in the district. This first incident led to the fully-fledged deadly conflict. Where counter attacks occurred, houses as well as Manyatta (a Kiswahili word for nomadic village) were burnt, livestock were slashed and killed, people were killed and wounded, farms and whole villages were abandoned, as public services such as schools and hospitals were interrupted.

Pokomo teachers in Pastoralist schools were threatened with death if they did not leave the schools with immediate effect. The government insisted that if teachers did not go to teach they would be sacked. Pastoralists who had to go all the way to the neighboring district of Malindi for treatment no longer attended public hospitals in Pokomo peasant farmers areas. The market structures between the pastoralists and the farmers broke down because neither of the groups would buy goods from each other. The neighbours had turned into enemies. The pastoralists had to go all the way to Malindi town to sell their wares especially milk. As the conflict escalated to great heights there were suspicions of an external force or third party in the conflict.

What is disturbing is that in all this the government seemed like a spectator. The government security officers seemed to have inspected weapons in a biased manner. The only weapons they would gather are mainly the Panga (machetes), bows and arrows, while people suffered gun wounds in hospitals (Daily Nation, Tuesday, December 11, 2001). It was apparently quite easy for the security officers to confiscate the crude weapons from farmers but not the firearms from pastoralists.

The people in Tana-River need peace and proper human security like any other Kenyans. As one approaches the district at the border with Malindi district one feels tense and probably afraid as one is hit by the realization that he/she is in one of the most insecure places in Kenya. All the vehicles must stop, sometimes for hours on end as each vehicle is allocated some police escorts. Not to mention that the constant insecurity hampers participation in development activities. In the educational sector for instance the district is always performing poorly in national examinations, because the students go to school in fear, have no secure home environment and are therefore, economically, socially, physically and psychologically deprived.

The main issues in this study therefore, are; causes of the conflict, factors that make pastoralists seem hostile, how peaceful co-existence can be brought about in the area so that the farmers can feel secure to cultivate and harvest adequate food for themselves and for the market among the pastoralists and why the government acts as a spectator in all these even though the conflict, involve gross violation of human rights and creates a perpetual human insecurity. While the government of Kenya seems to be interested in arbitrating for peace in fragile states such as Sudan and Somali at its own backyard, in districts like Tana River there is little arbitration and minimal government security presence.

1.1 Research Questions What are the causes of the conflict? What makes pastoralists seem hostile? Why and how have the Pokomo been able to build a force that can counter the Orma and Wardei? What are the social, cultural, economic and psychological impacts of conflict on the conflicting communities? How can the conflict be managed?

1.2 Objectives Of The Study

Overall objective To assess the conflict phenomenon in Garsen Division, Tana River District, Kenya.

Specific Objectives To find out the causes of the conflict. To find out the environmental and other factors that make pastoralists seem hostile. To find out the social, cultural, economic and psychological impact of the conflict in Garsen division, TanaRiver district.

To find out ways of managing the conflict that can lead to the two parties reconciling.

1.3 Significance/Justification

The study will contribute new data to the scarce literature available on the perennial conflict in Kenya and Tana River district in particular.

It has been argued that conflict has both negative and positive functions (Coser and Rosenberg, 1969:212), the positive functions in the conflict include the fact that it unites the in-group against the out-group, while highlighting the physical and conceptual boundaries between the two groups among other functions. In Tana River, there is need to find out whether there are both negative and positive impacts of the conflict. The world however, needs peace in general and this calls for the studies in conflict management and resolution. The conflict situation in the district has never preceded real peace. Some scholars have even been led to believe that the farmers and pastoralists at some point have been living together in peace. To quote Prins (1952);

By 1952, the Galla (Orma) were reported to be living peacefully side by side with Pokomo in perfect friendliness.

The relationship between the two groups however, seems to be strong only at the market place, otherwise their lives are full of tensions and suspicions. The farmers always suspect their neighbours of being up to something. For instance, when a group of pastoralists is seen, word spreads out very fast in Pokomo villages, and the youths are organized to guard the village in case of an attack (a group of pastoralists walking together is always taken to mean that they are bandits). Besides they seem to blame the pastoralists for the cause of general insecurity in the district. The farmers seem also to have a resigned mood of ever achieving sustainable peace in the district, expecting the government to help them have this craved peace; unfortunately the government seems to stand by as people slaughter each other.

All the vehicles passing through the district must have an escort from the Kenya police, even in times of relative peace. From the point of view of the researcher, this is not very helpful in that when the bandits attack these vehicles; the so-called security (only two per bus) will be the first to be attacked hence exposing the unarmed citizens to great insecurity. In addition the security personnel or the escorts usually cannot effectively deal with the bandits who have sophisticated weapons and attack as a group such that the two escorts in a bus cannot handle them. Therefore the escorts are at risk like all the other passengers in a bus.

The conflict in the Tana-River district must be studied at this time, especially, because, the recent conflict might be of greatest magnitude in the history of conflict in the district occurring in the year, 2001. There was the involvement of sophisticated machine guns, superior to those owned by the government security forces in the district. This is a serious problem if some members of the Kenyan nation can be allowed to have or to form their own armies at the expense of poor citizens elsewhere.

The conflict has led to social and cultural disruption such that even pregnant women and children were not spared death. This brings about a number of issues; what is happening to cultural rules of war is culture being degraded in regard to conflict? What about the psychological impact suffered on survivors who have watched relatives being killed? Peace is a necessary pre-condition for any kind of development to take-off, thus, the need to have a clear understanding of the causes and dynamics of the conflict.



2.0 The Natural Environment

Tana River can be divided into upper Tana and lower Tana. Upper Tana is mostly an Arid and Semi Arid area. The lower Tana is the delta region. In dry seasons there is movement of pastoralists from the Upper to lower Tana. This movement is often associated with conflicts.

2.01 Position and Location

The research project was conducted in Garsen division, Tana River District during the period, September 2002 to January 2003.

According to the Tana-River District development Plan (1997-2001), Tana River District is one of the six districts that constitute the Coast Province. It borders Kitui District to the west, Mwingi to the northwest, Garissa to the east, Tharaka Nithi and Isiolo to the north, Lamu to the southeast, Kilifi and the Indian Ocean to the south. The District lies between latitudes 0o (equator) and 3o south, and longitudes 38o 30 east and 40o 15 east and it has an area of about 38 782 sq.km. The district is divided into five divisions Garsen is the largest (15 624 km2) Galole is the second largest, it hosts the district headquarters. The other divisions are Bura, Madogo and Bangale. There are 31 locations and 63 sub-locations in the District. Figure 2.1 shows the location of Tana River district in Kenya, while figure 2.2 shows the location of Garsen division in Tana River district.


Lake Turkana
Turkana Moyale



West Pokot Samburu Trans NzoiaMarakwet Isiolo Mount Elgon Baringo Uasin Teso Bungoma Gishu Busia Keiyo Nyambene Laikipia Kakamega Koibatek Meru Nandi Vihiga Siaya Tharaka Nithi Lake Nyandarua Kisumu Nyeri Embu Kericho Nakuru Victoria Kirinyaga Kisii Homa Bay Mwingi Muranga Mbere Nyamira Bomet Suba Kiambu Thika Migori Trans Nzoia Nairobi Kuria Machakos Narok Kitui Kajiado Makueni



Tana River Lamu

International Boundary Provincial Boundary District Boundary Study Area


Taita Taveta

Indian Ocean


1:5 000 000

Figure 2. 1: Location of Tana River District in Kenya

Source: Republic of Kenya, Tana River District Development Plan, 1997-2001: p.3


MERU Mbalambala Saka MA DO GO



Madogo Bangale Nanighi


District Boundary Divisional Boundary Locational Boundaries Town and Market Centers Garsen Division


Chwe wele
Bura 1 2 WAYU Hola
# #

3 4 5


1 2 3 4 5 6

Bura Milalulu Zubaku Ndura Kinakomba Gwano


6 Ndera Salama




Ngao Bilisa KILIFI




0 Kilometers


Figure 2. 2: Location of Garsen Division in Tana River District

Source: Republic of Kenya, Tana River District Development Plan, 1997-2001: p.8


2.02 Topography and soils

Tana-River district is generally flat, with low hills in few areas. The main hills are Minjilla in Garsen Division, Bilbil in Bura and Madogo making these areas the highest points in the district.

The River Tana creates an extensive delta, which is characterized by wetlands. The delta provides a grazing area during the dry seasons and its waters are used for agriculture. According to the National Environmental Secretariat (NES) the District has a short coastline about 71 km long (NES, Lower Tana, 1985:35) Characterized by sandy beaches and sand dunes. The river flows into the ocean through a marshy delta.

The soils in the district are generally black cotton soils with clay, loam and alluvial deposits. They have low or moderate fertility in the hinterland, where there is no influence of flooding therefore unattractive to farmers. High fertility soils are found along the natural depressions and along the flood plains of River Tana. Their fertility is due to the accumulation of silt or clay brought about by flooding.

The soils in the hinterland are excessively drained while those in the flood plain of River Tana are imperfectly drained, making the flood plains good rice fields. Ranching is mainly practiced in the hinterland where the large expanse of grasslands provides ample forage for livestock. The soils are developed on flood plains and swamps, sandunes, plains, mangrove swamps and coastal ridges (Ibid. p3).

The presence of swamps, waterlogged and flood prone areas of the flood plain provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Also, the sandy soils lower the effectiveness of rainfall due to their high infiltration rates.

2.03 Climate

The mean annual rainfall range between 300mm and 500mm. Long rains are between April and May while short rains are between October and November. November is the wettest month. With the little erratic rainfall especially in the


hinterland, the district experiences drought almost every year. Drought brings with it movement of pastoralists towards the lower Tana.

The Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) influences the wind pattern and the non-seasonal air currents of the Indian Ocean and determines the pattern and amount of rainfall recovered in the district. It therefore follows that the coastline is wetter than the hinterland. The coastal region receives rainfall of up to 1250mm annually though the rainfall varies and is unreliable. The dry climate in the hinterland can only support nomadic pastoralism. The area is generally hot and dry.

2.04 Water resources

The main water resources in the district are the Tana River, seasonal rivers (lagas), groundwater, water pans and water holes in the interlaga areas. Tana River is Kenya's major river and the only river flowing through the district. There is abundant water flowing along the river into the Indian Ocean particularly after heavy rains upcountry, this water may be dammed for future use instead of being wasted into the ocean. A number of dams have been built in the upper catchment area of the Tana River for production of hydroelectric power, and to regulate the flow of the river for power generation and irrigation schemes downstream (NES, Lower Tana, 1985:9). As more dams are built, they will have considerable effect on the discharge downstream, virtually suppressing the usual annual floods and may substantially reduce the flood intervals. Currently, most farmers cannot farm rice because of the decrease in floodwaters. They have opted to farm maize, which does not do well in the area, leading to an increase in food shortages. There are two major water schemes in the lower Tana area the Garsen water supply and the Ngao-Tarasaa water supply, these draw water from the river but the quantity is inadequate. In areas further away from the river underground water from the wells is the major source of water. However, most of the groundwater is saline (Ibid.).

This implies that; one, the lagas have a disadvantage in that they are a major bottleneck to road transport as they cut off roads making the district virtually land locked during the rainy seasons. Two, the heavy rains experienced in the area


coupled with a flat topography, cause prolonged wetness and render roads impassable. Floods occur regularly and, although they replenish soil fertility through deposition of silt, they cause destruction of crops. Three, high agricultural potential is limited to areas along the river basin and to the wetter eastern side adjoining Lamu district. Also, Tana River is the main source of water for domestic and livestock use, especially during the dry seasons when other sources dry up. Plate 2.1 shows maize crops destroyed by floods.

2.1 The Human Environment

This section covers the interactions of the people of Tana River with their environment.

2.1.1 Land tenure The land tenure or system of land ownership perceived by the indigenous people living in the Tana area is two fold. Land according to the pastoralists is seen as a resource given by God and should be shared by all. According to the Pokomo farmers, to be Pokomo means you own the land inhabited by the Pokomo. In the Pokomo community there are Vyeti (sing. Kyeti) or lineages, each lineage has its own land, under the lineage there are clans and it is clear that each clan has its own land. Further, families under each clan are given land by their clans. Each individual wanting to use land has to see elders in his clan, who will sit together, after the individual pays for the elders sitting (barhe) and allocate him land for his familys use. These lands are not for sale. People owning land in Kipini (the Tana River mouth joining the Indian Ocean) are most likely to conflict with new land owners in future as land is being advertised to other Kenyans and sold at the district headquarters without the knowledge of peasant farmers according to a key informant. The future scenario is that indigenous farmers will be called squatters and will be forced out of their land as private developers move in to own their land. Settled people in many communities have elaborate systems of land tenure than nomadic or semi-nomadic people.


The coastal region has for a long time, been used as a place where loyal politicians to an incumbent regime will be given rewards in form of beach plots and land where they can invest. This system has led to further marginalization of the coastal people, and a further delay of land demarcation and adjudication, where people living in the coast, including the Tana area can have their land registered and issued with title deeds.

The government of Kenya sees the Tana land as mostly Government Land. The land has not been demarcated and the system of land tenure is largely communal (Table 2.1). The indigenous farmers in the district live in clustered villages for security reasons (NES, Lower Tana, 1985:14). The riverine land, where most of the Pokomo farmers live is mostly under Trust.

According to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), u nder the constitution, trust land is

vested in local authorities that are required to hold it for the benefit of the local residents; therefore it can neither be sold, transferred nor leased (LSK, July, 2002). However, the concept of trusteeship has generally been interpreted as granting powers to such authorities to alienate land without regard to local interests (Ibid.). Trends of this nature can be observed in Tana River, where large parts of the hinterland have been alienated to public corporations thus reducing the amount of land available for the use of local residents. This in turn has put pressure on local land-use and aggravated the conflict between pastoralists and peasant farmers (Ibid. p8).

Further, local authorities have sold most of the land in the Tana delta to other Kenyans who are not Tana River people, without thinking of the indigenous people, if this will not be corrected then a land use conflict is in store waiting to happen. When the Pokomo farmers and the Orma and Wardei pastoralists resolve their conflict they will realize that the conflict over land would have just begun.


Plate 2.1: Maize crop destroyed by floods

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Table 2.1: Land tenure in Tana River district km2


Description of type

Government land

Land owned by the government of Kenya

24, 179

Freehold land

Legal ownership of a piece of land for an unlimited period of time.

Trust land

A legal arrangement where land is vested in local authorities that are required to hold it for the benefit of the local people; therefore it can neither be sold, transferred nor leased.

1, 645

Available for small holder registration

An area of land that is usually used for farming, but which is much smaller than a typical farm.

12, 862

Already registered

Land registered for private ownership by the local people. The process is awaiting the land adjudication that had triggered conflict in Tana River.


Source: Government of Kenya, 1983, cited by NES (1985:14) the section on description of type of land is an additional.


2.1.2 Population

The 1999 national population census reported the total population of the Tana River people to be 180, 901 while the population of Garsen division was reported to be a total of 51, 592 (Republic of Kenya, 1999). The estimated population for 2001 was projected to be 190, 433 (Tana River District Development Plan 19972001). In 1989, the Pokomo population in the district was 47, 447, the highest, followed closely by the Orma who were a total of 42,220 according to the Kenya population census, in Tana River (Republic of Kenya, 1994: 6-15).

Nomadic pastoralism is common to the Orma and Wardei living in the Lower Tana River. The Orma practice seasonal internal migration in search of better pastures. Whereas the Wardei are believed to move mostly into the Somali region a lot, the Pokomo perceive them to be more of Somali than Wakalla (Oromo). There is also in-migration into the area by the Somali from North-Eastern Province who migrate during the dry season in search of water and pasture, returning to their home district when conditions improve (NES, Lower Tana, 1985:16). 2.1.3 Livestock and agricultural production activities

The district, which is mostly a rangeland, has a high potential for livestock development. Livestock production closely follows the precipitation pattern. The Orma Boran breed of cattle is common. Sheep and goats are kept in relatively small numbers. As one gradually moves to the north rainfall diminishes and the area becomes generally dry. Camel, sheep and goats are found in this area.

Small-scale subsistence agriculture is mostly practiced. The average farm size is 1.5 hectares per household. The crops grown include maize, rice, cowpeas, green grams, mangoes, bananas among others. Most of the farms are situated next to the River Tana and along the beds of the seasonal Rivers (lagas) where the farmers use residual moisture when the rain stops. The sizes of the farms depend on the total area of flood plain and/or the size of the village or clan. Plate 2.2 shows River Tana and Pokomo farms lined along its banks, in the middle foreground is a dug-out canoe used to ferry the farmers to their farms.


Plate 2.2 Mango farms lined along River Tana and a dug out canoe in the middle foreground

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


2.1.4 Droughts

Most of the Tana River district is susceptible to drought conditions (NES, Lower Tana, 1985:32). From January to August 1961, most of the inland areas of the Coast province received less than 57% of the average rainfall. In 1976, high temperatures and low rainfall characterized weather conditions in the Coast Province. The days were hot and humid. There were severe drought conditions in 1978-79 in Tana River district and subsistence had to be sought from outside. During 1984 severe drought in middle Tana River district forced many pastoralists to move into the Lower Tana River area (Garsen Division). High livestock deaths and some conflicts with agriculturalists were reported.

Drought conditions in the district have the implication that, dependence on rice and maize, as staple foods should be supplemented with other drought resistant crops such as cassava and other crops. Also, the large dams constructed upstream should include flood storage reservoirs to regulate water downstream.

2.2 The People of Tana-River

The Pokomo are a Bantu group of people said to have come from the proverbial Shungwaya, (Prins, 1952; Ogot, 1976:265; Osogo, 1968:54; Bonaya cited in McIntosh, 1969:150). It is believed that Shungwaya lies within the territory of the Somali republic. Traditions relate that it was in the vicinity of the present village of Chiambone or Kiamboni (Prins, op cit.; Ogot and Kierani, 1968).

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the Galla (Oromo) begun to attack the Shungwaya peoples thereby setting in motion a long period of migrations towards the south into the Kenyan coast (Bonaya, op cit.). In the seventeenth century Oromo pastoralists attacked the Pokomo farmers who settled at Kilimadzi (present Mambrui village in the Northern Malindi town of Kenya). This was in order to access water from the Sabaki River and pastureland. The Galla, as they were called then, left their mark by naming the river Sabaki, river Gallana. In Oromo Gallana means river. As a result the Pokomo farmers abandoned their villages and farms. The area was not


resettled until about 1861, when Arabs from Lamu refounded the town (Bonaya, Ibid.). Martin (1973:42) states that by the end of the 17th Century the war-like Galla were in control of the mainland coast of Kenya and most of the settled areas were abandoned during this period. The wave of Galla or Oromo that moved furthest into Kenya were the Wardeh (Wardei, Warday, Warra Daaya) whose descendants are the Tana Orma (Kassam and Megerssa, 2002:5, Martin, Ibid.). 'Orma' is a common southern dialect form of 'Oromo' (Schlee, 1989:35). The Warra Daaya (Wardei) are believed to have inhabited at one time or another almost all of northern and eastern Kenya and Jubaland. They originate from the Dirre and Liban areas of Southern Ethiopia, from where they are said to have been expelled by the Boran (Schlee, 1989; Kassam and Mergessa, 2002 Op cit.). After the Daarod Somali expansion of the late 19th century and early 20th century those Warra Daaya who had escaped death or captivity by the Somali were, for safety, restricted by the British to the right bank of the Tana River. This is the present group of Orma as noted earlier (Kassam and Mergessa, 2002). The Oromo people do not call themselves Galla others call them by this name (Ochieng, 1990; Jalata, 1993:3). The Galla reclaimed their ethnonym of Oromo in the 1970s in the course of their nationalist struggle against Abyssinian (Ethiopian) colonialism and rewriting their own history (Kassam and Megerssa, 2002:9). Salvadori and Fedders (1984:31) have given the meaning of the word Galla to mean wandering or going and coming. The name Oromo on the other hand is said to mean men, nation, race or brave men (Jalata, 1993:16). From their history we know that the Oromo left their homeland east of Lake Abaya in southern Ethiopia about 1530 and by the end of the century they had spread far north into Ethiopia and south and east into Kenya and Somalia, (Ogot, 1976:265; Spear, 1978:24).

The Oromo are made up of a number of named territorial groups that live in Ethiopia, Kenya and parts of Somalia as highlighted earlier. These are: Orma, Gabra, Boorana, Guji, Arsi, Ittu, Karrayyu, Qottuu, Wollo, Rayya, Azebo, Macha and


Tullama. The majority of these groups live in Ethiopia. They currently Number 2530 million (Kassam and Megerssa, 2002: 11).

Movements or migrations of people, attacks and defenses and lack of respect for ethnic boundaries characterized the pre-colonial and sometimes colonial people.

2.2.1 Orma Mythology of their Settlement in Tana- River

According to a peace building meeting with pastoralist leaders (Caritas Malindi Diocese, 2002:3), the Orma and Waata (Sanye) communities were the first communities to settle in Tana-River district. They covered areas from Ndera in Garsen division upto the Sabaki River where they bordered Mijikenda groups.

Later, the Pokomo community, who originated from Shungwaya near Kismayu, present Somalia came and were welcomed by the pastoralists. They settled along the riverbanks where they practiced farming and fishing activities. The Waata were hunters and gatherers.

The two different communities with different modes of livelihoods respected each other and the traditional structures that were set by their elders. As farming went on along the riverine areas some areas were set aside for the Orma to be used as pasture areas during the dry seasons. Other areas along the river were set aside as watering points or malka for the pastoralists. The Waata and the Orma are said to speak the same language Orma.

It is interesting to note that the Orma in their mythology do not mention the Wardei people even as they tell them they are closer than the Waata (Sanye), who they despise because they perceive them as being poor.


2.2.2 Pokomo Mythology of their Settlement in Tana-River

According to the Pokomo council of elders the Pokomo were the first inhabitants of the Tana River valley, (Gasa, 2001:4-5), having arrived from Shungwaya after the Digo people had already left Shungwaya but before the Giriama and other Mijikenda ethnic groups. The Orma were chased away during the civil wars with the Somali. When they reached Tana-River two Pokomo elders namely Wayu and Waldena crossed them to the western bank and the Pokomo protected them from the Somali. The first Orma manyatta were named after the above mentioned Pokomo, Wayu and Waldena and these places exist to date.

Under the colonial rule the Orma and the Pokomo were encouraged to live far from each other. The Orma pastoralists lived in the hinterland while the Pokomo peasant farmers continued to live along the flood plain areas. This should explain why Wayu and Waldena are over 100km away from the river. The colonial government designated water corridors that were used by the Orma and the Somali from Garrissa.

Each of the two communities claim the first comer right and hence justifying its right to ownership of land in Tana River to long and historical occupation. These claims are not important in present Kenya, where most communities migrated from one area to the other, what is important is how the farmers and the pastoralists can co-exist in Tana River peacefully.

2.2.3 Adaptation to the Environment

Organisms, human and nonhuman, respond to structural and functional characteristics of their environment. Adaptations results from exposure to physical and chemical factors, from interactions with other species, and from the interactions of individuals within the same species (Moran, 1982:7). The farmers and the pastoralists have been able to survive in their environments through adaptation. Human adaptability stresses the flexibility of human response to any environment. The people of Tana River have to adapt to an environment of low and uncertain rainfall or generally a semi-arid environment.


According to Stewards theory of adaptation there is a relationship among certain variables in adaptation, environmental resources, subsistence technology and the behavior of the human person to use his technology on the available resources (Ibid.p43). The most important needs in society are food and shelter, in resource utilization the type of technology used to exploit these resources matter and aid a community in adaptation.

Adaptability to humid heat experienced in the coast is seen when the population remain relatively sedentary at midday and follows a moderate pace in work. Physiologists have noted that tropical people move more efficiently and do not allow themselves to become overheated (Moran, 1982: 278-9). After thermal midday most tropical peoples avoid heavy work and engage in relatively unstrenous activity in shaded areas.

Pokomo peasant farmers The Pokomo people live along the riverbanks as a way of adaptation to the semi-arid environment of Tana River. They depend on the moisture from the river to plant their crops. The farmers also farm in the areas of natural depressions, which store water when it rains or when the river floods. Flood plains are also used as farming areas this is because of fertility brought about by silting when the river floods. The Pokomo farmers therefore cannot envisage a life away from the river into the hinterland where they will need new adaptive strategies.

Therefore there are permanent farm sets (along the riverbanks and around some oxbow lakes) for the farmers and there are other farms that are utilized when the river floods. This shows that there are two types of farms for the farmers, permanent areas and fallback areas.

Some few Pokomo people also keep small stock such as goats and sheep. A few Pokomo who had made friends with the Orma bought cows from the Orma and let them herd their cows for a fee. The charges are not made in monetary terms but depending on young ones being reproduced by the cows in the custody of Orma


friends. Pokomo farmers who insist on rearing especially, large stock by themselves risk loosing the animals to other Orma and Wardei who would not let non-pastoralist people keep livestock in the district. This behavior may be motivated by the conviction that livestock naturally belongs to them, and not even all groups of pastoralists have rights to own stock.

The Orma and Wardei Pastoralists

A reasonable working definition of pastoralism has been given by Cohen (1974:261) that pastoralism is a system of production devoted to gaining livelihood from the care of large herds of animals based on transhumance and is an adaptation to a particular habitat; semi-arid open country or grasslands, in which hoe or digging stick cultivation apparently cannot be sustained.

Most of the pastoralists practice mobility as an adaptation strategy.

Herding must take into account not only the presence of permanent water and the availability and nutritional status of grass (when dry perennial grass are nutritionally deficient), but also the necessity of avoiding sticky, wet clay soils where cows may fall, tall grasses that may shelter predators, tick-borne East Coast Fever, and the presence of enemy raiders. For these reasons cattle may be moved frequently over great distances. (Netting, 1986:47).

The Orma and Wardei pastoralists are ever on the move looking for the best areas to graze their animals. When it rains heavily they take their animals to higher ground in order to protect them from diseases such as foot and mouth disease and mosquitoes in the Tana region. The livestock therefore, in the arid and semi-arid climate have to be moved to where pasture resources are. The pastoralist must be constantly aware of the condition of each animal and meet its needs (Moran, 1982: 223). By the dry season pastoralists are to be found around the main permanent waterholes, where they will build huts from reeds to allow circulation in the heat of the day (Smith, 1992:12). Among the Orma and Wardei pastoralists of Tana River, there are areas set for grazing during the dry seasons and others set for the rainy seasons. This shows that pastoralist utilize land in two different aspects as dictated by nature and the seasonal calendar.


Keeping large herds is also an adaptation strategy. Since Tana River is prone to drought seasons the large number of cows act as protection against loss of stock caused by droughts such that even though the herder may loose some animals he shall still remain with some. A man who loses one-third of his stock is much better off if he begins with sixty cows than with six (Netting, 1986:51). There is no doubt however, that overgrazing occurs and large sizes of herds reduce range capacity and that pastoralists strongly resist herd reduction.

Another form of adaptation practiced by pastoralists is the distribution of their herds over a vast territory through complex forms of lending and borrowing (Moran, 1982:226). An individual pastoralist may lend his animals to another pastoralist who temporarily needs a greater number of animals. It is agreed that the owner will be paid back the equivalent of the animals at a later date.

Some few Orma and Wardei practice agro-pastoralism. This is a coping strategy against droughts. The practice also serves to compliment the food of the pastoralists.

2.2.4 The Pokomo and Orma socio-political organization

According to a research done by the Arid Lands Resource Management Programme (ALRMP, 2001a: 3), before the coming of the colonial government the Pokomo and Orma communities governed themselves through the following structures. THE POKOMO


This was the executive arm of the government. It enjoyed the power of making final decisions. All the reports were finally taken to them for final judgment. They had power to make judgment concerning all cases that were prevailing in the community.

The Kijo was also a secret organization, which had a lot of power and could even order for ones execution (capital punishment) in case their orders were defied or if


one was seen as a threat to their administration. The Kijo were the cream members of the witchdoctors in the Pokomo community.


These were the immediate followers and successors of the Kijo. They therefore executed all the duties assigned to them and performed all the witchcraft on behalf of the Kijo.


The Sesa also known as Matabule was under the administration of the Wagangana. They were mainly the chief advisors of both the Gasa and the Kijo.


This group performed all the administrative duties. It would hear and make judgment of all types of conflicts and cases. Whenever they got stuck they would seek the advice of the Sesa.


These were subordinates to the Gasa. They executed assignments given to them by the Gasa and in the process learning the functions of the Gasa. This was the group, which later was to be promoted to be the Gasa. On the same level some of the Wanampebfo were students of the Wagangana and would later take-over from the Wagangana. THE GASA

The Gasa has survived to the present time though with a number of modifications to its functions. As seen earlier its main function in the community is administrative.



According to ALRMP (2001a:5) the Pokomo community is characterized by age cohorts (groups), which are determined by circumcision events. This follows that all the group members who are circumcised during any given period of time fall under one age cohort. The Gasa therefore would comprise of a specific age group, which would take-over from the retiring one.

During the period of take-over or handing-over, the following procedure is followed; the retiring Gasa is promoted to the status of Sesa, the incoming group who used to be the Biso takes over the Gasa status and the immediate age group of the Biso is now promoted to the Biso status. The taking over ceremony is accompanied with feasting and dancing to mark the exercise.

The traditional political unit among the Pokomo is the Kyeti (pl. Vyeti). This is an alliance of three to eight patriclans (masindo) living in a common territory (Bunger, R, 1970:2). Each Kyeti had its own Gasa. It is believed that the Pokomo community had 12-15 Gasa groupings. Each Gasa had its own head. There was an overall chief of all the Gasa groupings referred to as the Haye ywa Kumbi or Haju; who was selected by the elders.

It is believed that there used to be two chiefs; one representing the interests of the northern communities (upper Tana), and the other representing the interests of the southern communities (lower Tana).


Presently as was also the case in the past the leader of the Gasa is chosen among the existing group. While choosing the leader certain qualities were (still are) considered; (1). Integrity - he should be a person of rectitude or moral virtue, (2). Respect he should be a highly regarded member of the community, (3). Ability - he should be competent in terms of being able to make wise decisions and contributing positively to the community, (4). Age he should be an elder preferably over 50


years of age, (5). Wealth he must be rich in terms of material and immaterial resources, (6). He must be knowledgeable about the rules and norms of the people and finally, (7). He must be experienced for instance, having been a leader of his clan.

All the members of that age-group are members of the Gasa and can join the deliberation. However, some of the members perform as an executive committee chosen with the same criteria as the leader of the Gasa. Usually all the clans are represented in the Gasa. Currently the Gasa has an executive committee of between nine to fifteen members where there is the; Chairman, Vice-chairman, Secretary, Vice-secretary, Treasurer, and Members.

Term of office

There is no defined tenure of office. Tenure is determined by the ability to perform and life expectancy. Meaning that the Gasa will hold tenure for as long as they are physically able and most of the members are alive. They will hand over when age has made them less productive or most of the members of that age-group have died. Therefore the chairman will step down only when; a) The tenure of the group has expired he retires with the group, b) The community he is chairing and especially the existing Gasa members loose confidence in him. However such a case has to be addressed by neighbouring Gasas executive committee if it is found that he cannot be transformed he would be obliged to resign, and c) One opts to resign after giving satisfactory reasons to the members. THE ORMA

The Orma had the following titles (ALMP, 2001a: 4); Hayu Kollo, Tolbicha-Tolbolle and Jarsa Warati/Mangudo.

Hayu Kollo

This was the president in the Orma community. He was also considered as the traditional spiritual leader.


Tolbicha (Tolbolle) / Sagalla

These were the representatives of the Hayu Kollo at the village level. They can be compared to the present village headmen or village leaders.

Jarsa Warati

These are the respected elders at the village who form the village governing council. They were given the title of Mangudo. This was the organ that would form the Matadheda or the council of elders.


According to ALMP (2001a: 6) the Matadheda performed similar duties to the Gasa. It was composed of respected elders at the village level known as the Jarsa Warati (Mangudo). Each village or community used to have its own Matadheda council and there used to be the head of the communities known as the Hayu Kollo.

Hayu Kollo

He was chosen from a specific clan. It was a must for the Hayu Kollo to have special leadership qualities observable from childhood. THE MATADHEDA

Members of the Matadheda were supposed to be; elders of the village preferably above 50 years of age, respected members of the community, virtuous, wise, wealthy and willing to assist at any time.


Term of office

There was no defined term of office. Like the Gasa, office tenure was determined by ones ability to perform. This means that one would hold office until he becomes senile.

2.3 Functions of the Gasa and Matadheda

As mentioned earlier the Gasa and Matadheda were administrative arms of the Pokomo and the Orma government structures respectively. Their traditional functions (ALRMP, 2001a: 7) were to settle disputes ranging from civil to criminal cases which would be referred to them or when they felt necessary to intervene. They also maintained peace and order in the community and actually saw to it that the law governing the community was adhered to. They were responsible for all the resources ranging from land, water, forests et cetera.

They could deliberate issues related to individuals, clans and inter-tribal conflicts. The decisions arrived at these structures were binding and respected.

2.3.1 Resource Management and Conservation

The Kijo had clear rules on land ownership and conservation of natural resources. The Gasa and Matadheda had powers over all the available resources in a community (ALRMP, 2001a: 7) such as land, rivers, lakes, forests, grazing areas et cetera. They could impose some regulations on the use of certain resources, which became law to all members of the community. Some of these regulations included; restrictions to the use of certain resources like grazing areas, the river, lakes, forests and even food crops.

The Gasa would ban the use of certain methods of catching fish for example, the spear or the net in some parts of the river. Small fish were returned to the river for growing and reproduction. Fishing in the lakes was to be done on specified days of the week. The Gasa could restrict the felling down of certain trees in forests; big


trees were cut only with clearance from the council of elders for purposes of making canoes. Other trees such as Munguri, Mchambaya, Mnyambembe, and Mkindu were important particularly during droughts for their edible fruits. The fruits were eaten during famines. Wild animals were not killed carelessly, unless they became too many and started invading villages.

There was the imposition of some kind of curfew for entry into some areas like the mango tree farms until at given times of the day. When people would be allowed to go and collect the mangoes that would have fallen down. People were not allowed to cultivate too close to the riverbank for fear of causing soil erosion.

The Gasa used to have their own soldiers who were there to make sure that rules were adhered to. Whoever would be seen violating these rules was given the appropriate penalty. Nkambi was imposed this is restrictive law meant to conserve natural resources.

2.3.2 Meetings

There was no defined period for meetings to be conducted (this has currently not changed). According to a research done by the Arid Lands Resource Management Programme (2001a:Ibid.). It was revealed that meetings could be called under the following circumstances; when an offended member of the community brought the subject to the attention of the elders, when there was an emergency for example when suspicious-looking people would be sited around the villages, the elders would also meet to lay strategies on prevailing circumstances for example, droughts, famine, disease outbreaks et cetera, and where elders felt that it was necessary to intervene in a case.

When a meeting would be called to settle disputes or conflicts between individuals or parties, both the offended and the offender were required to pay for the elders sitting. This allowance or fee is called Barhe, Nyungu ya wayume, among the Pokomo and Sororo Mangudo Bisan Mangudo among the Orma and Wardei.


Some of the penalties or fines that would be imposed as part of regulation were as follows; it was an offence to deliberately sharpen the horns on ones bull with the intent of injuring another during bull fighting (Orma and Wardei). In addition, among the Pokomo it was a taboo for the opposite sex to learn or perform the rituals of the other, for instance a man should never be seen near a house where a woman had just given birth Nyumba ya Heremani. Likewise, women were restricted access to areas of newly circumcised boys rigi. It was highly treacherous to reveal the secrets of the Ngaji government. Further, it was an offence to deliberately destroy the property of another person and an offence to kill or injure another. In addition, it was an offence to look into your neighbors fish trap during the morning and evening sessions however; during the afternoon session traps were free for all. These regulations were an endless list for as long as the community was seen to live in peace and harmony.

2.3.3 Penalties

Each regulation is given its own penalty in accordance with its merit. Fines range from simple ones to death. When one for instance, was suspected of selling the secret of the government then he was liable for a death sentence.

If one defied the orders of the Gasa or Matadheda he would be treated as an outcast Kuyavigwa Yumeni (Pokomo), Yakka (Orma). The people who became outcasts were denied the use of all the resources and amenities of the community. They would not be attended to by anyone including the members of their own families. One would suffer until he repented and begged for mercy before he was allowed to perform certain rituals. And be received back to the community.

The council of elders (Gasa and Matadheda) today does not authorize heavy penalties such as death; instead they can authorize that those who defy cultural norms become outcasts. When such people die before pleading for forgiveness, the family members will bury them without the help of other villagers who would also become outcasts if they would offer to help.


2.3.4 Appeals

When one felt discontented with the decision arrived, at his council of elders he would refer the case to the neighboring councils for hearing. If, thereafter he still felt dissatisfied he would appeal to the head of all the Gasa/Matadheda who would then call a meeting of all the community elders to hear the case.

2.3.5 Inter-Ethnic Conflicts

When such conflicts would occur, elders from both communities would involve a neutral community Msidhacha. The parties to the conflict would convene, look into the causes of the conflict and where possible, settle the conflict and then reconcile. The offender would be identified and fined. Thereafter a ceremony would be conducted to make peace Ibisa. Ibisa is an Orma word for a reconciliation ceremony and it is used by the Pokomo to mean a reconciliation ceremony between the Pokomo and the Orma. There has been no need to have reconciliation ceremonies with other neighbours such as the Giriama who are seen as brothers and sisters of the Pokomo.

Table 2.2 shows the definition of some of the terms, malka, nyungu ya wayume or sororo mangudo, barhe, Nkambi, msidhacha.

Rituals and ceremonies

There are a number of rituals and ceremonies conducted by the people of Tana River for instance, ibisa, miri, majambura, biga madzi/bifa maji, ebb naghea, jilfenno, magassa, balchoma, darmin, hinesse, wale as shown in Table 2.3.


Table 2.2: Local Terminologies

Local term Malka

English meaning Point identified and reserved as a livestock watering point along the river

Nyungu ya Wayume or Sororo Mangudo Barhe

This is a fee paid to the elders as a sitting allowance. It is also referred to as Barhe This is a fee paid when one assembles elders or members of a clan to seek favors, property or use of a resource, example, when asking for farming land, negotiating for a marriage et cetera


Quarantine imposed in a certain area to restrict the community from misuse of a certain resource


This is a middleman. When two parties are in conflict, a middleman or a neutral community is invited in order to make a fair judgment. This man or community that does not come from any of the conflicting communities or clans is called Msidhacha

Source: ALRMP, June 2001


Table 2.3: Rituals and ceremonies

Local term Ibisa

English meaning - A blessing ceremony usually conducted during the opening of a malka. It is also conducted during severe drought to pray for rain. - Reconciliation and blessing ceremony usually after conflicts especially where there was bloodshed.

Miri Majambura

A dance conducted during circumcision ceremony. Funeral ceremony. All the bereaved families in a given period would assemble at an identified place usually the headquarters of that community to conduct the ceremony. This would take a number of days usually a week

Biga maji


- This is a ritual to bless one. Elders from the community or the clan would assemble the identified people to be blessed. They would then sip some water and spit it over the body of those being blessed. It is believed that after this ritual one will succeed in everything that he/she undertakes. - It is also performed upon somebody who has repented and asked for forgiveness. -It is a ceremony performed when couples divorce; they get blessings from the elders to start a new life successfully.

Ebb Naghea

This is conducted when there is severe predation of livestock by wild animals. Prayers are conducted to cleanse the calamity. It is also a funeral ceremony

Jilfenno, Magassa, Balchoma, Darmin Hinesse, Wale

These are Orma dances usually played by the youth, also during wedding ceremonies

Source: ALRMP, June 2001 (and Key Informant Interviews held from September 2002January 2003).




3.0 Literature Review

3.1 Introduction

Conflict as a concept poses many problems, although its effects can be felt. Some outsiders may see a conflict in a society but those involved in it may not see it, until later when they suffer from the unpleasant consequences (Mwagiru, 2000:1). Mwagiru goes ahead to point out that some cultural gestures may be reconciliatory in one culture but offensive in another hence there are different cultural perceptions about conflict (Mwagiru, 2000:1-2).

A conflict arises when two or more parties have incompatible goals (Mitchell, C.R., 1998:15-25). Some of the effects of conflict, wherever it is located, is to dislocate valued relationships, and to cause stress on the structure on which relationships are based (Mwagiru, 2000:4). However, some scholars have argued that conflict can be beneficial too (Reuck and Banks, 1984:96-111).

Early studies of the interaction between pastoral and agricultural land use in Africa emphasized the symbiotic, rather than the competitive dimensions. The positive ties took the form of exchanges of agricultural products for livestock products, and exchanges of organic fertilizers (manure) for post-harvest fodder (Peter Little, 1987: 195). However, occasional occurrences of conflicts were not adequately reported. The reason for poor reporting may have been because of ineffective media or remote geographical location of the sites of conflict.

In Kenya a number of ethnic conflicts have been experienced in recent years. The table below shows the ethnic groups involved in conflicts and their respective territories or provinces. As the table below reveals, most of the clashes were in the Rift Valley, followed by Nyanza provinces.


Table 3.1: Ethnic Land Disputes in Kenya by 1997

Clash zone Gucha/Kericho Gucha/TransMara Mois Bridge

Province Nyanza/Rift valley Nyanza/Rift valley Rift valley

Ethnic groups involved Kisii versus. Kalenjin Kisii vs.Nandi/Kakamega Bukusu Kalenjin (Luyia) vs.

Narok Nakuru Uasin Gishu Rombo Area Likoni/Kwale

Rift valley Rift valley Rift valley Eastern/Rift valley Coast

Kikuyu vs. Maasai Kikuyu vs. Kalenjin Kikuyu vs. Kalenjin Kamba vs. Maasai Upcountry Mijikenda groups vs

Migori/Gucha Migori /Kuria Mt Elgon

Nyanza Nyanza Western

Luo vs. Kisii Luo vs. Kuria Sabaot (Kalenjin) vs.

Bukusu (Luyia) Transnzoia/ West Pokot Rift valley (Pokot) kalenjin vs. Luo

Source: Kagwanja, 2002:p.13


3.2 Causes of Conflicts

Conflicts at whatever level, have, many different causes (Mwagiru, 2000:4). It can be argued that, the major cause of conflict, be it interpersonal, inter-communal or interstate is due to lack of fulfillment of needs.

The main reasons for the conflicts that occurred in Western, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Coastal Provinces of Kenya in the year 1992 have been that ethnic groups fought for land resources, designated as ethnic territories (Kagwanja, 2002:16). Natural resources of land form the most basic requirement in any social organization (Chisholm and Smith, 1990:1). There was delineation of some regions by some ethnic groups and an increased clamour for the federation of Kenya, which led to ethnic cleansing (Republic of Kenya, National Assembly, 1992).

The conflict in Tana River and Lamu districts during 1992 were attributed to the influx of refugees and repudiation of age-old traditional grazing zones set-aside for specific ethnic groups (Ibid.). The ethnic groups that had kith and kin in the neighbouring countries were accused of lack of cooperation in assisting to disarm incoming refugees (Ibid.).

Homer-Dixon (1993:38) states that some skeptics claim that scarcities of renewable resources are merely a minor variable that sometimes links existing political and economic factors to subsequent social conflict. This is to say that other factors usually act as triggers to merely resource limitation, such as inflammatory statements issued by politicians with the sole reason of mobilizing ethnic groups to fight for a political gain among other factors.

Okidi (1994:1) has given the causes of conflicts in Africa as a by-product of political and social tensions, some of which may be aggravated by the widespread poverty and squalor associated with drought as well as water shortages. Thus droughts and conflicts often coincide and suggest direct causal relations. In addition to the argument that poverty begets conflict and vice versa, whether due to droughts or general human insecurity, which creates, fear and lack of investment. Droughts and limited resources in an area leads to movement of people which more often than not,


leads to clashing as people of different cultures and modes of livelihoods come into contact.

Maasai leaders said that the 1993 Enoosupukia clashes were caused by Kikuyu settlers who were suppressing the Maasai, taking their land, and degrading their environment. The settlers it is argued, had cleared forests, used the trees for charcoal burning, practiced agricultural activities which degraded the environment and put the Maasai at great ecological risks (Kagwanja, 2002:15). The Enoosupukia clashes occurred on a background of drought (1993/94) which threatened the Maasai pastoral economy and hence leading to conflict with the Kikuyu farmers. The main issue was that the Maasai could not graze their animals freely on individually owned plots of land.

Recent land acquisitions for development efforts such as the Bura and the Tana delta Irrigation Schemes, proposed ranches and grazing block allocations, and proposed land adjudication, considerably increases the pressure on pastoralists grazing areas and their lifestyles as a whole according to Baxter (1991:119). Baxter does not mention that such changes are potential causes of conflict. People are generally wary of social change, this is because they do not know what to expect, and this can cause resistance to new ideas, especially at the implementation stage. These land use changes if they do not offer alternatives to the affected people, can lead to tensions which can give birth to conflicts.

3.3 Ethnic Clashes and their Impact

Clashes displace people leading to creation of centers, which would be highly detrimental to the environment because such areas place people with nothing but the immediate environment to exploit according to the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK, 1992).

In October 1993, Maasai Morans attacked Kikuyu settlers, killing over twenty (20) people and displacing more than thirty thousand (30, 000) others, from Enoosupukia in North Narok. The displaced were forced to stay at camps or centres for example, the Maela camp near Naivasha town leading to pressure on public services


(Kagwanja, 2002:15). Ethnic conflict has led to people abandoning their farms this has a gross bearing in their domestic economy and lack of adequate security which usually continually hinders farmers from going back to till the land (NCCK, 1992).

In Endebess, Gituamba and surrounding areas (in Kenya) where it is mainly the Luyia, Kikuyu, Teso, Luo and Kamba ethnic groups people believed to be of the Kalenjin tribes of the Sabaot and Nandi sub-groups attacked them. Houses were torched, together with maize farms with unharvested corn, animals were stolen, farms were abandoned, people were displaced who later overpopulated some neighbouring centres, social services provision were haltered (for instance, water supply, education et cetera), they could no longer be available with the displacement of people.

On March 7, 1992, a Daily Nation correspondent reported on the unsettling revolution;

Scores of displaced men, women and children, their salvaged personal effects on their heads and shoulders, stream endlessly to makeshift shelters.

This referred to conflict victims, who in the long run, having nothing for survival would start exploiting the natural resources in an unsustainable way leading to environmental degradation.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya, which sheltered thousands of displaced victims, estimated that within six months of the clashes, in 1992 approximately a hundred thousand (100,000) people had been displaced. An official Kenyan Parliamentary Committee Report in September 1992 indicated that the clashes had resulted in 779 dead, 600 injured and 56 000 displaced (Kagwanja, 2002:14-15). In 1997 violence which had erupted in the Coast left 100 people dead, and displacing over 100 000 others. It can be estimated that between 1991 and 1997, ethnic violence throughout the country left over 3000 people dead and over half a million others displaced (Ibid. p15).

With these figures Kenya is not at war, but it seems to be competing with countries affected by war. There is a great need of enhancing human security in Kenya so that


citizens can be free from fear and free from want. The immediate step is to manage these conflicts so that durable peace can be obtained.

3.4 Conflict Management

There are two major methodologies of conflict management; these are settlement and resolution (Mwagiru, 2000:38).

3.4.1 Settlement of conflict

Settlement of conflict is based on the knowledge that, given the anarchical nature of society and the role of power in relationships in situations of conflict, the parties involved may be forced to live with accommodations that they may not be happy with. The parties to a conflict it is argued each possess some power, and it depends on whose power will be dominant. Power and its manipulation are seen as the basis for relationships. Therefore power determines the process and the outcome of conflict settlement (Ibid. p40).

The disadvantage with this approach is that, since the outcome of settlement depends on existing power relationships between the parties as soon as the balance of power between them changes the bargain once reached will have to be re-evaluated. Another disadvantage of this method is that the weaker party accepts the outcome because it has no power to contest it, and may therefore not be happy with the outcome or bargain. Therefore settlement is generally Zero-sum in nature because; the gains made by one party represent a loss to the other party. Settlement of conflicts cannot therefore lead to sustainable peace because of dissatisfaction of one party.

An advantage with this approach is that it is fast and therefore time is not wasted to manage the conflict.


3.4.2 Conflict Resolution

Resolution of conflict is non-power based, and non-coercive. The outcome is likely to endure because the parties find the outcome legitimate. Resolution of conflict is not Zero-sum. The gain made by one party therefore does not entail a corresponding loss to another party (Ibid. p41).

Resolution is based on the belief that at the bottom of every conflict there are needs that are not negotiable (Burton, 1990). The non-fulfillment of these needs causes the conflict in the first place. Conflict management it is argued should aim at identifying ways in which these needs can be fulfilled for both parties. An advantage with this approach is that, there is mutual fulfillment of needs to the parties involved. Therefore peace obtained is likely to be sustainable. One disadvantage is that the process of resolution of conflicts may take a long time. On Wednesday 29th April 1992, the National Assembly in Kenya passed the following resolution:
THAT, while appreciating the Government efforts to stop tribal clashes in western and other parts of Kenya, and in view of the continued fighting in the region despite these efforts, and considering the repercussions this has on our government locally and internationally; This House resolves to appoint a select committee to probe the root causes of the fighting and to make recommendations with a view to averting such incidents in future (Republic of Kenya, The National Assembly, 1992).

The government here is mainly concerned not with the number of people who are dying, the crippling of their economic activities or even their displacements, but rather with the image of the government at the local as well as the international arena.

There are usually early warning mechanisms of potential ethnic violence. For instance in Kenya, the Weekly Review of May 26th 1995 quotes Mr. Ole Ntimama (a minister in the Government of Kenya) as having said;
You Kikuyus, if you do not vote for me, I will be elected and if you dont vote, for me, you shall be attacked and shall be evicted from Narok.


However, the government usually takes a helpless stance in circumstances that would otherwise be considered incitement and a breach of the peace, which is punishable before the laws of Kenya.

This is the kind of violence, which Adedeji (1999:9) also describes. He argued that there is enough evidence to support the view that the elites in African societies, particularly members of the political class, have shown no restraint in manipulating the people through feeding them with prejudices about ethnic groups in order to win their support for achieving their own self-centred objectives. In Africa this is done to win votes usually and no action is taken against such inciters by the government, as long as they remain loyal to the government in office.

On March 7, 1992, a Daily Nation correspondent reported that property belonging to the occupiers of Koguta settlement scheme along Kisumu-Kericho road had been burned as anarchy prevailed. The policemen were said to have passively stood by as houses were looted and set alight by Kipsigis tribesmen. If the government takes such kind of a position then facilitating conflicting groups with an aim of managing the conflicts is made increasingly difficult to attain positive results.

3.5 Theoretical Framework

3.5.1 The theory of dialectical materialism

According to Karl Marx (Rosenberg and Coser, 1969) the great industry brings together a crowd of people who are all different. Competition divides their interests. However, one common interest is the maintenance of their wages, which unite them against their employer. Thus they are united in the idea of resistance and combination. This combination or cooperation has double ends, one, of eliminating competition among themselves and two, enabling them to make a general competition against the capitalist. The capitalists combine with the aim of repression.

Marx discusses intra-group conflict. He does not, however, discuss anything to do with inter-group conflict. According to Marx therefore, whenever, there is a conflict one group tries to dominate the other. In the case of the Tana conflict, both groups


claim to be the original inhabitants of the land. The farmers think they have a right to continue living in their land and the pastoralists think they have a right to return to their land whenever they want to.

Duffield (1991:14) has suggested that pastoralists, usually, are not interested in controlling territory, what is at stake for them is free access and use. None of the groups may want to dominate the other in the Tana. They would nevertheless desire that the other leave the land completely so that freedom to use the natural resources in the region can be experienced. This brings about conflict because they have conflicting goals in the use of the same resources land, pasture and the river water.

The conflict is therefore between two different groups with different ideas of using the resources of land, pasture and water. Both groups have different interests thus. The farmers would like to keep farming near the riverbanks and the pastoralists would like to graze near the riverbanks once in a while. What seems to be the problem from the point of view of the researcher is how best adaptation should take place without necessarily encroaching on the others right to use the same resources.

3.5.2 Human Ecological theory According to Julian Steward the principal meaning of ecology is adaptation to the environment (Steward cited in Bohannan and Glazer, 1973: 322). The concept of adaptive interaction is used to describe the web of life in terms of competition, succession and other auxiliary concepts. Initially ecology was employed with reference to biotic assemblages. However, the term has been extended to include human beings as part of the web of life.

The theory assumes that people respond to environmental factors through their culture and they keep generating another culture through the process of adaptation. The theory aims to explain how human beings employ cultural resources to exploit their physical environment in order to meet their needs. Culture makes possible the acquisition of new techniques or new use for old techniques, regardless of origin to any environment for survival. It is assumed that the Tana-River people had adaptive


strategies to cope with the fact that they are of different cultures but have interests in common resources. The problem with Stewards theory is that it emphasizes on subsistence. However, it has been argued that historical and political factors are part of the total environment to which populations adapt and must not be dismissed as secondary (Moran, 1982:44). Steward had little to say on competition with other groups in a given area.

A small group of the pastoralist Orma is trying (though at a rather slow pace) to live sedentary lives and practice agro-pastoralism, however the majority depends solely on livestock for their livelihood, and this is because almost all cultural practices are centred on livestock. As Smith (1992:15) has argued to be pastoralist or not to be depends on ones self-definition. The Orma and Wardei communities in Tana-River prefer to be referred to as pastoralists. The community looks at a person with less stock as being very poor despite the fact that he may have a lot of money. This may explain why the pastoralists seem to be static with regard to adapting to new ways of survival.

The farmers on the other hand farm various crops and also keep mainly small stock such as goats and sheep. It is important for the conflicting groups to adapt to social as well as ecological changes in the arid and semi-arid district of Tana-River. The pastoralists adapt to new ways or techniques of ensuring that their herds and the community as a whole survive during drought periods by being mobile and having stock associates among other coping strategies. However this movement affects sedentary communities, because the livestock may pass through farms or graze in planted farms causing tensions and finally conflicts.

Rosenberg and Coser (1969: 218) have argued that both Coser and Simmel see conflict within a group as helping in establishing unity or re-establishing unity where it has been threatened by hostile and antagonistic feelings among members. Yet, not every type of conflict is likely to benefit group structure. Whether social conflict is beneficial to internal adaptation or not depends on the types of issues over which it is fought as well as on the type of social structure within which it occurs. Internal


conflicts in which the contending parties no longer share basic values upon which the legitimacy of the social system rests threaten to disrupt the structure.

Intra-group conflicts may allow for change of norms because they may not be deadly violent conflicts. Among the Pokomo there is a ban on the use of any weapons other than fists and sticks in brawls with other Pokomo (Bunger, 1970:3). Further, any Pokomo pointing a knife or sharp object at another or telling another person that I will kill you, is perceived as having killed in his mind. This is strongly discouraged during the socialization process. However, use of weapons was allowed in fights with the Orma and Wardei. Our hunch is that intergroup conflict may cement intragroup cooperation as long as the conflict is still in existence.

Simmel admits that conflict can cause or modify groups. He also agrees with Gluckmans view (Gluckman, 1959:2) that conflict is a form of human relationship and that it leads to the establishment of cohesion. However conflict means more than the trivial si vis pacem para bellum (if you want peace prepare for war); it is something quite general of which this maxim describes only a part. According to Simmel therefore, it is not a fair judgment to say that conflict is always negative and retrogressive (Simmel, 1955). In the Tana conflict the negative effects of the conflict seem more pronounced than the positive effects. These negative impacts of the conflict leave nothing to be desired of the conflict phenomenon having significant positive functions. However, it may be possible that the conflict will be resolved as a result of modern methods merged with traditional laws of conflict resolution. However, this does not mean that all types of conflict can be completely resolved once and for all. This brings us to the unfortunate realization that conflict cannot be erased completely from the face of the earth (Dahrendorf, 1969: 224).

Dahrendorf (Ibid.) argued that with social change it is important to look at special causes or circumstances that lead to conflict. To be sure we do not have to assume that conflict is always violent and uncontrolled. In formulating explanations for conflict we must never loose sight of the underlying assumption that conflict can be temporarily suppressed, regulated, channeled, and controlled but that neither a


philosopher-king nor a modern dictator can abolish it once and for all Dahrendorf states (Rosenberg and Coser, 1969:237). In Tana-River, the conflict between the pastoralist Orma and the Wardei on the one hand and the peasant Pokomo farmers on the other has a perennial character (as stated earlier). Initially rules were respected. The pastoralists were allowed pasturelands and water corridors called malka in the dry season by the farmers. Immediately after the dry season was over they would go back to the hinterland, this was respected. Today there is no such respect and it may be time for the Government to actively get involved in making sure that set rules, traditional or a merger of traditional and modern are followed especially if there is no willingness by both groups to stop the conflict. This may be due to the fact that hostility has been institutionalized and that it is partly a problem of perception. 3.5.3 Theory of perception Children build a self-image partly because they are trained by others to do so, especially adults. For a full sense of I, social interaction is required, since the I develops through awareness and acceptance of the evaluations made by others (Chadwick-Jones et al., 1979:72). While thinking about other persons, we have to consider our feelings about them, what we think are likely to be their responses, and what they assume or think about us. Moreover, we may have to guess what others think that we think about them or even what others believe we think that they think about us. In this way we touch on the subtle ways in which we think about other persons even in everyday situations. (Ibid.p73). An individual or a group of people such as a community will see reality from the side of their culture. Correspondingly one sees a resource and its uses according to their culture or community. This depends on their socialization. The pastoralists perceive certain resources as being pastoral and they may think other people have no right over their use and the farmers the same way.


The Orma pastoralists and the Pokomo peasant farmers share resources and though they perceive these resources differently they should not fight but should come up with a solution for these conflicts.

3.6 Assumptions 0f the Study

1. Under normal circumstances, conflict like cooperation is multidimensional and multifaceted in cause and consequence. Tana River being an arid and semi-arid District, it is however, expected that conflict between the pastoral Orma and Wardei and the agricultural Pokomo is about ownership and use of land, pasture and water resources.

2. Environmental factors and the distance between the Orma, Wardei and Pokomo cultures leading to different perceptions towards resources and each other are probably some of the causes of conflict between the two groups that pursue different kinds of livelihoods.

3. Owing to the intensity of conflict historically it is possible that the impact or consequences are multidimensional that is, physical, social, economic, cultural and psychological and as long as there are no environmental and cultural changes the conflict will continue.




4.0 Methods of data collection

The study put to use both field methods and secondary sources of data collection, which were relevant to the study. The collection of data was done during the period starting from September 2002 to January 2003.

4.1 Field methods

A field methodology was used combining a number of survey techniques such as interviews with key informants, focus group discussions, informal interviews, questionnaires, participant observation and also extended residence in the community under study for five months.

4.1.1 Participant Observation

The researcher attended peace meetings organized by the two conflicting groups and was requested, in one of the meetings, to give a talk on the conflict situation in the area and the way forward. This method enabled the researcher to see how the people behaved in their natural setting when they know they are not being observed. Therefore the method enabled the researcher to get information that could not be obtained in the other methods applied for data collection.

The problem with this methodology is that the researcher, at some point got very terrified and uneasy when the farming community went to a neighboring pastoral village to make peace and were all confined in one room. The Orma Pastoralists preferred to stay out, as the Pokomo felt surrounded. A sudden feeling of suspicion engulfed the researcher. While the rest of the participants, indoors, kept watching out for danger. The researcher then requested the Pokomo headman to talk to the Orma headman that an open-air meeting would be better since it was too hot to conduct the


meeting indoors. Following the request an open-air peace meeting was held and many people looked more comfortable, it was observed.

The meeting went on well and people ate and danced after the peace talks. However, the researcher became expressively involved when after all went well, and the Pokomo crossed the river to their village, everybody had crossed the river well except one canoe which was hit by a hippopotamus and capsized. All swam except one person who was attacked by the beast. Everybody in the village was griefstricken, the researcher then decided to stay with the family of the victim as village rescue teams were sent with canoes to look for the body. The researcher became distressed and could not go about her work as usual until after the funeral. Meanwhile the incidence was seen as lack of good will by the Orma to go for peace.

4.1.2 Informal Interviews

Victims of the violence, and other people were interviewed while travelling in the buses, on their farms and the peace meetings that were attended. This method acted as a check to see whether people were giving honest responses or not as they would fill the questionnaires.

4.1.3 Questionnaires

This technique relied on the administration of questionnaires to the community in Garsen division in three locations. A sample of 150 people was drawn from the three locations namely; Ngao, Shirikisho and Oda-Wachu locations. Also 100 questionnaires were randomly distributed to students in two secondary schools in the division; Tarasaa and Ngao.

This method was time consuming and expensive due to the training of research assistants, production of the questionnaires and travelling expenses involving distribution and collection of the questionnaires. A lot of time had to be used in explaining to the people that the research was just an academic exercise. After people had become suspicious of the exercise and afraid they will be jailed for giving the researcher information relating to the conflict. The research assistants


helped greatly in assuring the community of the academic nature of the research and the people trusted them because they came from their areas. This in turn was an advantage because apart from the research assistants facilitating the acceptance of the respondents to fill the questionnaires they also facilitated the explanation of the questions in terms and concepts that were understood and familiar to the respondents.

The suspicion by the local community may be explained by the fact that the government had taken a helpless stance in all the insecurity situations in the area.

4.1.4 Key informant method

Key informant interviewing is a form of interviewing in which only some of the questions are predetermined. This method was used to get information from selected key informants who were knowledgeable on the conflict situation in the study area. This method entailed the interviewing of key informants from the Pokomo as well as the Orma communities.

In Ngao location one Chairman of the Pokomo council of elders (Gasa) was interviewed and in Oda-wachu location one chairman of the council of elders of the Orma and Wardei (Matadheda) was interviewed with the help of a translator. An Orma ward (a ward is an area administered by a councilor) councilor from the Odawachu location was also interviewed. Government officials, two chiefs, the Divisional officer and the District Commissioner were also interviewed.

Information collected from these people included their experiences and their roles in the conflict. A key informant interview is useful when one wants to gain some insight into a particular subject or when data collection is done on a complex or sensitive matter.

4.1.5 Focus group discussions

Focus group discussions take advantage of group dynamics. This method allowed the respondents to be guided by a skilled moderator into increasing levels of depth


on key issues to be covered by the study. The people involved were able to talk in a free environment on general issues related to the study such as; causes of the conflict, its impact and traditional methods of conflict resolution.

The focus group discussions therefore provided an opportunity for group interactions, which generally stimulated richer responses and allowed new and valuable thoughts to emerge. In addition, the moderator (the researcher) was privileged to gain first-hand insights into the respondents behaviors, attitudes, language and feelings. The discussions involved five groups. One from the farmers side and four from the pastoralists side. Interviews were conducted in a relaxing manner so as to probe the group to discuss issues about the conflict. The group discussions enabled clarification to be sought. Further, most of the members of the group tried to answer a question in their own perception of the situation and when a person seemed to have forgotten something a response from one member of the group triggered another to remember.

The group discussion was also helpful in that the researcher needed to just start a discussion on a single issue and the rest picked it up and discussed it exhaustively. Probes were used to elicit additional information where need be. This method took a lot of time because rapport had to be built to keep the group at ease. The people were generous with the information as they narrated how they dealt with conflicts in the olden days, how today the traditional administrative structures have been weakened and what can be done to strengthen them.

The elders appreciated that their traditional methods of governance and resource management was going to be documented and gave information generously. However, they liked diverting from main issues and this was not very interesting sometimes, and sometimes it was interesting because it made people laugh and thus acted as an ice breaker to those who felt ill at ease. Even after about three hours the elders were not ready to let the researcher go because they said young people no longer asked for maghaghisa (asking about the traditional way of life) a thing they used to do themselves when they were young.


4.2 Sampling methods

A total of five locations were purposively selected for the study; this was because some locations were purely inhabited by farmers and others by pastoralists. One hundred and fifty households were interviewed randomly from three locations, 50 in each location. Five focus group discussions were conducted one, from the farmers side and four from the pastoralists side. The pastoralists focus group discussions were conducted in two other locations. In addition 100 students were interviewed randomly from the two secondary schools in the division.

4.3 Secondary data

The secondary data presented in this study have been derived from documented information that existed in one or more of the following forms; 1. Textbooks and archival records 2. Reports example, workshop reports. Published and unpublished reports 3. Newspapers

These sources served to complement primary data and were also used to corroborate oral testimonies.

4.4 Data analysis

Data analysis in this study has largely taken the form of tabulation, frequencies et cetera.

4.5 Limitation of the study

This section deals with the main problems encountered in the field during the research and some of the shortcomings of the data collection.

The data collection coincided with great insecurity in the area partly due to the fact that conflict experienced in the year 2001 was far from being resolved and therefore there was poor community relation. Also because of the fact that the district had


suffered insecurity since independence due to the shifta-bandits menace. The shifta war was as a result of Somali people in Kenya wanting to secede to join the Somali republic. The shifta-bandits are a remnant of shifta-war and they would attack riverine villages, rob, rape and kill their victims as well as attack public transport such as buses.

The researcher in September 2001, during an extended stay in one village shiftabandits attacked the little village of Sera at night demanding for money as they beat up people, as a way of creating fear and giving them what they want, fortunately, nobody was killed. However, the attackers kept shooting wildly in the air and the villagers said they were used to such incidences. Although the researcher is an inhabitant of the division under study she had never come face to face with the socalled shifta-bandits. Asked who they thought the attackers were, the people suspected their Wardei neighbors, because some of the attackers spoke a language that was closer to Orma but not Somali (most of the shifta-bandits have been Somali). The Wardei reported that they did not attack their neighbours. This occurrence affected the researcher who decided to abscond doing research in the area altogether since it was alleged that the attackers were likely to be visiting the place again.

The researcher decided to leave the village for the reason that her life would be in danger upon further stay. She then boarded the only available vehicle to the nearest town of Garsen. While in the vehicle (the vehicle carried both people and small stock) the Wardei kept pushing the animals towards the researcher and saying kaffir (unclean) to the researcher and the animals. It was uncomfortable to travel with goats in the same vehicle not to mention having to sit too close to them. The researcher could not tell the driver to stop so that she could alight because the area was bushy and the researcher would not have known her way out from that bush, besides there were wild animals so the researcher had no choice but sit near the animal. From that experience the researcher was so taken aback that she decided to take some two or three days of respite. After the break she felt confident again knowing what to expect and then decided to reduce her extended residence to a few places where she felt secure.


Some areas were inaccessible due to inadequate infrastructure. Few proper roads are available and the researcher and her assistants had to trek for long distances before they could reach their destination. The rains (November and December) had cut off some areas from main centres consequently affecting road transport. Bicycles were used to shorten the walking distance, so that people only walked in the muddy areas.

The administration of the questionnaires was laborious and time consuming. This is partly because some of the respondents wanted to be paid for giving the researcher valuable information. There was a general feeling that the researcher was going to benefit alone from the results of the study since some Non-governmental organization was thought to be funding the research project. Some of the respondents were scared to give information thinking that the investigation was being done by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the government of Kenya and then security people would be sent to arrest people. However, the use of local research assistants coupled with detailed explanation of the nature of the study eventually eliminated or minimized the suspicion.

Religious leaders, such as pastors in the churches helped in informing the people that the research was purely an academic exercise. The results of this were exquisite because many people kept coming to look for the researcher so that they could get the questionnaires and fill them. Many were disappointed when the questionnaires were over.

The focus group discussions were a bit slow in some areas this was because translators had to be used. However, even when the meeting took too long the researcher managed to get the information that required.

This study was seriously confounded by lack of reliable information on the state of ammunition within the communities and whether or not the communities formed tribal armies to fight each other.




5.0 Introduction

The previous chapters have presented background information to the study. This section focuses on findings of the study. The results and data analysis section is organized into three main themes. The first of these is a general view of the conflict situation in the study area and its causes; the second theme is the impact of the conflict and lastly conflict management.

Before going into the discussions of the three themes, the characteristics of the respondents will be shown.

5.1 General characteristics of survey respondents

During the administration of the questionnaire, respondents were required to give some general information about their socio-economic backgrounds. This information was on gender, age, level of education and ethnic group. These variables are important in that they show how the two conflicting parties perceive the conflict in terms of causes, impacts and how the conflict could be resolved.

The survey sample consisted of 250 respondents. One hundred of whom were students (filled a student questionnaire). Socio-economic characteristics of households Standard questionnaire

By gender 71% (106) of the respondents were males while 29% (44) were females (Table 5.0). The fact that there were more male respondents interviewed than females is because when the interviewer went to a home and found both husband and wife or a man and a woman, the man would dominate the conversation. The interviewer then ended up giving the man the questionnaire. Sometimes the woman in the house directed the interviewer to the man probably sitting outside the house.


The woman shied away from accepting to fill the questionnaire and where they accepted to take a questionnaire they promised the interviewer that they would give it to their husbands, claiming that they do not know the answers to most of the questions. Most of the women would not talk in the presence of their husbands though the interviewer noted that the men kept encouraging the women to participate in the discussions.

The Pokomo and Orma communities have a patrilineal system of culture, where ones identity is through the fathers line. Women who are married stay at their husbands home or village (partrilocal). Most of the women from the two communities have not been exposed so much to the outside world. Most of the Pokomo women get married after secondary school education. However, the Orma women rarely go to school, and are not allowed to converse where men are. Orma men discipline their women for standing to talk or greet men, particularly men who are not Orma or Wardei. The researcher therefore had to go to Orma and Wardei villages alone without her two male assistants. The women (at their homes) from the two conflicting communities seemed to dread being the betrayers of their families and their respective communities by jeopardizing their familys and community security through answering sensitive questions. Therefore they would choose generally to let the men control the discussion.

Most of the Pokomo women are married to men who are more educated than they are and prefer that the men fill the questionnaires. However, Pokomo women comfortably speak in public forums (not in their homes, where they might feel inadequate) while Orma women cannot speak comfortably in public (as observed in one of the women peace meeting, with participants from the two conflicting communities attended by a few male elders). However, it was possible to informally interview some Orma/Wardei women who gave informative answers (though not very clearly since most of Orma and Wardei women did not know Swahili, the Kenyan national language). However, these women asked the researcher to assure them that the she will not reveal to the rest of their community members about the conversation, which took place. This is because they claimed that they might be killed, if it is known that they provided any information at all about their communities to strangers.


The respondents were also asked to identify with their ethnic group. Majority of them, 67% (100) were Pokomo, 18% (28) were Orma, 9% (13) were Wardei and the group, which formed other ethnic groups, were 6% (9). Most of the respondents were Pokomo because most of the Orma and Wardei are relatively more illiterate and could not fill the questionnaires in large numbers (however, their views have been represented in other methods of data collection such as the key informants and the focus group discussions). Out of the five focus group discussions held, one was from the Pokomo farmers side and four from the pastoralists side; two from the Orma community and two from the Wardei community.

The variable of age was also assessed by classifying the respondents into seven categories: those under 20, those between 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and those of age 70 or over. It was found that 3% were those who were under 20, 29% were those falling in the group of 20-29, then those with ages 30-39 were 19%, 4049 were 18%, 50-59 were 19%, 60-69 were 8% and 70 or over were 5%. The questionnaires were mostly filled by youths in the age-category of 20-29 years old.

Respondents were also asked to indicate their level of education attained. Levels of education were categorized into seven groups too: no formal education, primary school and less, secondary school and less, college, diploma, degree and post-graduate categories. Those who had not received formal education were 10%, while the rest had the following percentages, primary school and less 14%, secondary school and less 25%, college 33%, diploma 11%, degree 4%, postgraduate 2%. Most of the respondents who filled the questionnaires were either in college or had cleared college education.

The pie chart (figure 5.1) illustrates the distribution of respondents according to ethnic group, while the graph (figure 5.2) represents distribution of respondents according to age.


Socio-economic characteristics of students students questionnaire The socio-economic characteristics of the students respondents were found to be mainly female Pokomo and most of the respondents were in form four (Tables 5.1, 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4). The fact that most of the students were in form four is because the data collection coincided with the teachers strike in the country such that only form four candidates were allowed to be in school. Most of the male students were not comfortable to accept filling the questionnaires because they were involved in the conflict to a great extent (for instance, some of them were involved in actual fighting). However, with a lot of convincing that the research is going to be confidential they accepted to fill the questionnaires. The Orma and Wardei students were few because most of them do not attend school; once they become teenagers they are expected to go to Ureni (far into the hinterland) to herd livestock and the girls stay at home to help their mothers in selling milk.



Pokomo Orma Wardei Others

Figure 5. 1: Distribution of respondents according to ethnic groups


50 45 40 35
Absolute no./percentage

Absolute no.


30 25 20 15 10 5 0 under 20 20 - 29 30 - 39 40 - 49 50 - 59 Age of respondents 60 - 69 70 +

Figure 5. 2: Distribution of respondents according to age


Table 5.0: Summary of general information of the respondents who filled the standard questionnaire

Variable name

Variable description


Percentage of respondents


Male Female

106 44 100 28 13 9 4 43 28 27 28 12 8 15 21

71 29 67 18 9 6 2.7 28.7 18.7 18 18.7 8 5.3 10 14

Ethnic group

Pokomo Orma Wardei Others


Under 20 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69 70 or over

Level of education

No formal education Primary school and less Secondary school and less College Diploma Degree Post-graduate



50 17 6 3

33.3 11.3 4 2

N=150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Table 5.1: Approximate ages of students in Garsen Division Age bracket 12-14 15-17 18-20 21-23 24-26 N= 100 Source: Fieldwork 2002 Table 5.2: Ethnic groupings of the students Ethnic group Pokomo Orma Wardei Others Frequency 66 18 2 14 100 N=100 Source: Fieldwork 2002 Table 5.3: Distribution of Students in Secondary Schools Form 1 2 3 4 N=100 Source: Fieldwork 2002 Table 5.4: Gender of the students Gender Female Male N=100 Source: Fieldwork 2002 Frequency 59 41 Percentage 59 41 Frequency 8 10 31 51 Percentages 8 10 31 51 Percentages 66 18 2 14 100 Frequency 7 39 50 3 1 Percentage 7 39 50 3 1


5.2 Conflict Situation In The Study Area

5.2.1 Ethnicity in the study area

Ethnic groups according to Martiniello (1995:109) are seen as having specific territories that function as closed containers. Once the pressure inside the container reaches a critical stage, it explodes, allowing the ethnic sentiments to emerge freely. Therefore, ethnicity provides a fine example of a circular argument in that, being ethnic presupposes owning a given area and thus control of resources. Max Weber defines an ethnic group as a subjective belief in common descent whether or not an objective blood relationship exists (Horowitz, 1985:53).

Ethnic identity is a fact of the natural world. Everybody belongs to an ethnic group even if one does not realize it or does not want to acknowledge the fact (Martiniello, 1995:109). It has been argued that ethnic sentiments are seen as a result of external pressures perceived as threats to a groups objective identity such that people who have lived side by side for generations turn to burn each others houses (Ibid.). Ethnic identity itself may come about due to interactions between people with different origins and identities (Levinson and Ember, 1996:394) and it may be a cause of conflict but not a sufficient cause.

In the farmer-pastoral conflict in Tana River, the different kinds of livelihood, land ownership by one group in the riverine area and land adjudication exercises, which had hardly taken off in the district, seems to be at stake and hence violence resulted. The situation of ethnic identity in the study area is made worse due to perception of territorial ownership, each of the ethnic groups are supposed to own specific areas, the Pokomo peasant farmers, the riverine areas and the pastoralists the hinterland.

Ethnic identities can lead to ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism can be defined as the belief that ones culture is superior to other cultures, it is also a rational choice made by members of an ethnic group that is competing with other ethnic groups for scarce resources (Levinson, and Ember, 1996:404). Levinson and Ember further reported that;


Ethnic groups that are culturally and linguistically similar, that live near one another, and `that interact regularly are less ethnocentric toward each other than are groups without such close ties.

The Orma and Wardei in times of farmer-pastoralist conflict seem to be less ethnocentric toward each other than the two against the Pokomo who have a different culture. It is argued that in situations of violent conflicts ethnocentrism is accompanied by stereotyping, physical separation, prejudice and discrimination (Ibid.).

Stereotyping in the Tana conflict may have aided the flareup of conflict in the region given that one group feels superior to the other because they believe they can fight better. The ethnic identities (Pokomo peasant farmers and Orma/Wardei pastoralists) underwent physical separation such that even in areas where the conflicting groups had lived close to each other, they were displaced and separated. The pastoralists who were a minority in Pokomo areas went to live with fellow pastoralists such that in some areas they overwhelmed the Pokomo in those areas, who then, became the minority group. The result was that either the Pokomo migrated to join other Pokomo or remained to protect their land.

Prejudice and discrimination may be seen in situations where both of the conflicting groups never sold goods to each other and never boarded the same vehicles, such that there were vehicles only boarded by the Pokomo and others only boarded by the Orma and Wardei communities. The two conflicting groups also stopped sharing public roads in the period of active conflict.

Stereotypes are in place due to these ethnic identities where the pastoralists tend to view the farmers as poor and munyo an old word used to mean slave. In response the farmers consider the pastoralists as resistant to change, hostile and wadondo meaning animals; perceiving them as people who think like their animals thus causing trouble everywhere they go. Comparable with the way pastoral clan-families in Somalia view their agropastoralists as backward and on the other hand the agropastoralists considering the nomads as anarchists, unable to manage anything besides their herds (Mukhtar, 1988). Stereotyping is exacerbated by ethnic identities and violent conflict.


Ethnocentrism is advantageous in that it can create group solidarity. It is argued that, kin groups may aid the reproductive success of group members when in competition with members of other groups for limited resources (Ibid. p 105).

Ethnicity may be defined in terms of the consciousness such that people who share cultural and linguistic, and sometimes kinship and religious roots conditionally affiliate for purposes of political mobilization and political action (Glickman, 1995:161). There is the sharing of a feeling of a common political destiny relative to other groups with whom they have to compete for scarce resources (Ibid.). The Orma and Wardei pastoralists share the same physical characteristics, culture, language, kinship and religious (Islam) roots. The Pokomo on the other hand share culture, language and kinship roots, but not necessarily religion (some are Christians and others are Muslims).

Ethnicity may also refer to that which pertains to, or belongs to, an ethnic group. It also refers to both seeing oneself and being seen by others as part of a group on the basis of presumed ancestry and sharing a common destiny with others on the basis of this background (Levinson and Ember, 1996:393). Common features that ethnic groups share may be racial, religious, linguistic, occupational, or regional; often a combination of such features marks the contents of such identities (Ibid.).

Ethnicity therefore may mean different things to different people. In the study area, (Table 5.5) the majority of the people (81%) reported that ethnicity was due to the difference in culture and modes of livelihoods. While 15% reported that ethnicity was because of differences in religion. All the pastoralists are Muslims in the study area, while some Pokomo farmers are Muslims and the majority of the Pokomo in the study area are Christians. In areas where the Muslim pastoralists interacted with the Pokomo Christians, ethnicity for them is partly based on religious differences, where one religion looks down on the other and calls each other names like kaffir which is not taken kindly by the other group. Other respondents (9%) gave the meaning of ethnicity as lack of respect for the wealth of a specific group by another and one group feeling superior and therefore can do anything they want, even against the will of the other group.


5.2.2 Ethnic conflict

According to Rupesinghe (1989:160-1), ethnic conflict can be defined as;

The direct or indirect pursuit by members of different ethnic groups, of incompatible objectives where the winner takes all there is of what is available, in a situation involving interaction which consciously or unconsciously is characterized by overt or covert acts meant to neutralize, injure or eliminate the rival group before, during or after the said pursuit.

In the Tana River conflict, the pursuit of incompatible goals can be seen in the use of resources. The ethnic conflict therefore can be defined as the competition for scarce natural resources of land, pasture and water. Ethnic conflict is foreseeable where a group of outsiders suddenly occupy a territory belonging to others (Glickman 1995: 81). In Tana conflict, the farmers see the pastoralists as occupying some of their land (along the river bank) and the pastoralists view the farmers as doing the same.

It is argued that ethnic affiliations serve current specific needs and as long as these needs remain and the ethnic affiliation addresses them, then ethnic consciousness, and possibly conflict, is likely to persist (Ibid. p 82). The parties in conflict in the Tana River, acts as two main interest groups. The ethnic groups therefore maintain ethnic affiliations that aid them in the fulfillment of their needs, which are directly related to their different modes of livelihoods. Thus these needs are encased in farming and pastoralism.

5.2.3 Types of conflicts

Tana River district is faced by different types of conflicts (ALRMP, 2001b: 4) these can be categorized as external, internal, and land conflicts. External conflicts

At independence the boundary of Tana River District with North Eastern Province was three miles (5km from the Eastern banks of the River Tana). The Pokomo council of Elders would like this boundary to be respected and observed by Garissa


Table 5.5: The meaning of ethnicity in the study area Ethnicity means

Number respondents



Differences in languages



Differences in culture and modes of livelihoods Others




N=150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


As well as the recently created Ijara district. Garissa town is just on the eastern bank of River Tana thus it is reported, to be in Tana River district. This administrative arrangement of one district being located in another district is an anomaly and is creating a lot of confusion administratively and should be addressed as a matter of urgency according to the Pokomo elders.

Some areas like Masabubu, Bura East and Mbalambala are in Tana River but are being administered from the North Eastern Province. It is proposed that the District Officers from North Eastern Province who are in Tana River should be relocated to where they belong or be answerable to the District Commissioner, Tana-River and Provincial Commissioner, Coast Province, according to key informants.

Influx of human and animals from outside the district is another cause of conflict that is externally based. These movements usually take place in dry seasons; pastoralists tend to move towards the river from the hinterland hence, creating competition of land, pasture and water resources. According to LSK (2002:8-9) the influx of immigrants escaping the war situation in neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Somalia has generally had an escalating effect to the conflict in Tana River as the implements of the conflict have been transformed from benign arrows and spears to sophisticated and lethal weaponry hence escalating the conflict to calamitous proportions.

Sometimes pastoralists versus pastoralists conflicts occur because some pastoralists invite other pastoralists from outside the district. According to the Judicial Commission Appointed to inquire into tribal clashes in Kenya (Republic of Kenya, 1999:281-2).
The Degodia (Somali herdsmen) were invited by the Orma in Tana River to help them fight the Ogaden (also Somali) of Garissa district. But thereafter the immigrant Degodia did not only outnumber the indigenous Orma, but also dominated them socially and economically. The Degodia for instance occupied key water points and grazing areas in the district and even sought to nominate candidates for parliamentary and civic elections, which incensed the Orma who demanded that the Degodia go back home to Wajir. The Degodia refused to do so, and this led to fierce tribal skirmishes, which left many dead and injured.

This conflict between the Orma and the Degodia led to the defeat of Orma who were pushed to the deltaic areas (Ibid. p.281) which are mostly settled by the Pokomo


peasant farmers causing farmer-pastoralists conflicts in the Lower Tana (Garsen Division). Internal conflicts

Internal conflicts are experienced between farmers and pastoralist, such as interethnic conflicts between the Pokomo, the Orma and Wardei. The conflicts between farmers and pastoralists tend to involve all the farmers irrespective of their ethnic groups. On the other hand the conflicts involving the Pokomo on one hand and the Orma and Wardei on the other are tribal but are based on farming and pastoralism. When a conflict occurs between farmers and pastoralists and when protracted to violence levels, it is reduced to Pokomo and Orma/Wardei such that all the farmers are assumed to be Pokomo and therefore Pokomo villages are attacked. On the other hand all the pastoralists are assumed to be Orma and Wardei and therefore the Pokomo attackers.

There are exclusive Pokomo, Orma and Wardei villages. However, the physical distance between the villages matter, some villages are too far away from each other and others are too close from each. It is claimed that some Pokomo chiefs helped to settle their Orma friends near Pokomo villages, and the manyatta always some distance away from the Pokomo villages kept growing or reducing mostly in times of droughts where the pastoralists would move to stay with their kith and kin in other areas where pasture and water would be accessible. However, due to the conflict some areas where the communities had lived separately the villages are almost mixing in areas where the pastoralists numbers have increased and have overwhelmed the local Pokomo people due to internal displacement. However, in areas where the Pokomo are the majority, all the pastoralists settlement nearby are no longer present, according to the researchers observations. Land-use conflicts

Land-use conflicts involve the conflicts in ranches and game reserves (for example, the Tana River Primate reserve.



According to the National Environment Secretariat (Lower Tana, 1985:20-21) there are four operating ranches in the district: three company ranches and one cooperative ranch. Ida-sa-Godana is a co-operative ranch which was started in 1964, it has an area of 51 000 Ha and membership of 100 people. Other ranches include; Giritu company ranch (an area of 42 340 Ha and 242 members), Hagganda private ranch (an area of 12 000 Ha and 20 members), Wachu company ranch (an area of 32 000 Ha and 75 members), Kitangale private ranch (an area of 20 000 Ha and 50 members) and Dalu ranch (5000 Ha), which is owned by a village polytechnic. The ranches are therefore owned by very few pastoralists meaning that most of them still practice the free-for-all system of grazing. The Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) finances the ranches. The animals are usually sold to local butcheries in the district.

Some of the ranches in the district have a problem according to the Gasa, for instance, the Ida-Sa-Godana ranch has its boundaries including the farming land of the Ndera people, one of the Pokomo groups. This was done without the knowledge of the Ndera community. It is claimed that the Commissioner of lands issued the title deed without going to the ground to establish whether there were people living there or not. The Gasa propose that the boundaries of the ranch be reviewed to exclude the ancestral land where the Ndera people have been farming all along.

In the Giritu ranch pastoral intruders have settled there and have refused to leave. Efforts to evict them have failed and the matter is still in court, it is claimed by the Gasa that the court file has mysteriously disappeared. It is feared that if land is not registered in Tana River most of the Pokomo farming areas will be converted to ranches.

Primate reserve under Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS)

For many centuries the Ndera and Gwano sub-groups of the Pokomo communities have co-existed with the primates without any conflict according to the Pokomo council of elders. It is claimed that the forceful efforts by KWS (Kenya Wildlife


Service) with the silent support from the provincial administration to evict the people will defeat the intended purpose of conservation. At the moment the forcefully resettlement is not being discussed by KWS.

The local community was to be resettled to some areas in Lamu district to pave a way for the primate reserve to be put in place. It is proposed that the primate reserve be degazetted so that the people can be free to own and use their ancestral land according to their wishes to avoid the extinction of the primates. This is because there is not a memorandum of understanding between the Tana County Council and KWS. The K.W.S. went ahead to gazette the reserve before the memorandum of agreement was made and the matter is still in court.

5.2.4 Rules to guide the use of resources

According to the study 99 of the respondents (66%) said that there were rules to guide the use of resources, while 27 (18%) reported that there are no such rules. 20 (13%) of the respondents did not know whether there were rules or not and 4 (3%) of the respondents did not attempt to answer the question.

According to a group discussion, the people of Tana River shared resources. When members of the pastoral community wanted to utilize a resource from the Pokomo community, elders from both communities would converge and agree on modalities for the use of the resource in question. Clear rules were to be observed by both parties. Only agreed upon water points were to be used by pastoralists. The pastoralists would provide a bull, which was slaughtered. In return the farmers provided rice, tobacco or bananas, which they called ndarara. Ceremonies would be conducted and the site offered for the pastoralists to graze their animals or water them is blessed through a prayer for naghea kapana. Thereafter the animals use the site for as long as there was need.

Table 5.6 shows the rules used to guide the use of resources. During drought seasons the pastoralist groups were to ask for permission from the farmers to use land and water resources according to 25% of the respondents. According to 29% of the


respondents, the identified water corridors were not to be encroached by the farmers, since such areas were to be used whenever there was a need by the pastoralists. While 13% of the population reported that pastoralists were not to use any other water corridors apart from the accepted ones, this is because most farms were lined along the riverbanks.

On the other hand 19% of the respondents said that it was a rule that pastoralists graze away from the farms, whether these farms were near the riverbanks or around ox-bow lakes and other natural depressions. Seventeen percent of the respondents reported that the pastoralists had to ask for permission from the owner of the farm to graze their animals on the after-harvest. Ten percent of the respondents said that the watering areas for the animals were to be different from the watering points used by humans to bathe, fetch water for domestic use et cetera, this is because it was feared that the smell of the animals would attract crocodiles that would then attack people. Finally 13% of the respondents reported that in case of crop damages made by livestock then, elders would preside over such meetings and decide whether the person grazing should be fined or forgiven. According to a group discussion conducted among the Orma people, the Pokomo usually forgave them. Another group discussion with Wardei people revealed that they do not know of any rules to guide the use of resources between them and the farmers. However, they are aware that in the olden days the Orma and the Pokomo used to have such rules.

Unfortunately it is reported by a key informant that these rules are no longer followed. It has been revealed that there are too many pastoralist visitors who do not know the rules, or do not want to follow them, since Kenyas independence.

5.2.5 Rules of the market

With regard to the rules of the market 112 (74.3%) respondents reported that there are no market rules, while 9 (6%) respondents reported that there are rules to guide market operations. According to a key informant it was a rule that whenever a pastoralist crosses the river using a canoe owned by a Pokomo he must pay some fee for the service while fellow Pokomo people would cross the river for free. In the past


the pastoralists paid the Pokomo for crossing the river with milk or milk products, in recent times they pay in cash.

According to observation made by the researcher each group sells their wares in their own villages (probably due to the conflict). A key informant reports that there are no markets shared by the two groups. In most areas, he reveals, before the conflict broke in the year 2001 the pastoralists moved to neighboring Pokomo villages to sell door to door or sit at strategic positions to sell their goods. The items they would sell were usually milk and milk products. The farmers on the other hand, sold goods in their own villages or the neighbouring farmers villages and when they needed to buy livestock they would order for the animals to be brought in their villages.

According to a peace meeting attended by the researcher the Orma asked the farmers to allow them to have their own canoe, in order to ferry themselves across the river. The farmers seemed to hesitate. According to informal interviews done, the farmers fear that if the pastoralists are allowed to own their own canoes then insecurity incidences will increase. However, the researcher observed that in some areas the pastoralists have their own canoes and ferry themselves to and from farmers villages. This meant that they do not have to pay the farmers for being ferried across the river. In the past only the Pokomo farmers used to own the canoes and they are still the ones with the skill of making the dug out canoes.

In the past pastoralists who wanted to attack the Pokomo farmers were slowed down by the river, which acted as a shield for the farmers against the raiders. Since the pastoralists did not have the skill of making canoes, they could not cross the river without the help of the farmers. This continued until in the recent past when some chiefs ordered that the Pokomo farmers in some areas must allow the pastoralists to operate their own canoes, meaning that the raiders can easily attack Pokomo villages, a key informant reported. Therefore the proliferation of canoes in the pastoralist camp has the potential of increasing unsupervised guests in the Pokomo areas and thus introducing an element of insecurity.


Table 5.6: Rules to guide the use of resources


Number of respondents


During drought seasons pastoralists were to ask for permission from the farmers to use land and water resources Identified water corridors were not to be encroached by farmers Pastoralists were not to use any other water points apart from the accepted ones It was a rule that animals grazed away from the farms Pastoralists would have to ask for permission from the owner of the farm to graze animals on the after harvests The water corridor for livestock (malka) should be different from the one (chiko) used by humans In case of damages made by livestock to crops the case has to be presided over by elders















Source: Fieldwork, 2002


5.2.6 Factors that make pastoralists to be perceived as hostile

Culture is one of the factors that can make pastoralists to be perceived as hostile. According to the Akiwumi report (Republic of Kenya, 1999:279) some cultural practices such as cattle rustling are meant to be signs of bravery or an essential part of the initiation of boys into manhood. Often cattle rustling involve violence for those who resist letting their livestock go.

Another factor that makes pastoralists to be seemingly hostile is their exposure to sophisticated weapons. The seemingly unstoppable influx of firearms and ammunition into some regions of Kenya such as Tana River and the Northeastern province from neighboring Ethiopia and Somalia has increased banditry and made fighting almost a hobby by pastoralist groups according to the Akiwumi report of the Judicial Commission appointed to inquire into tribal clashes in Kenya (Ibid.). Pastoralists are exposed to gun power and are using then to defend their herds against raiders and to fight when their needs or the needs of their animals are not met.

Schlee (1989:54) has argued that the pastoral Rendille asserts that the culture of keeping camels is only one (entailing the ritual treatment of camels), and that other pastoralist groups, which do not observe this culture, are not true owners of camels. Therefore, in Kenya the Rendille believe that the Nilotic Turkana pastoralists got their camels through raiding them (Ibid). The belief by some pastoralists that they are the only ones who should keep livestock or specific kinds of livestock for that matter may motivate these pastoralists to be hostile and confrontational with their neighbours and therefore cause conflicts with other herdsmen or agro-pastoralists. The harsh physical environment may have contributed to the pastoralists perceived hostile nature as well. Pastoralists walk for long distances in bushy areas and need arms in order to protect themselves from fellow human beings and wild animals too. In order to be a successful herdsman therefore one must be able to defend his animals as Netting has argued;
Since cattle are a volatile form of wealth, a man has the freedom to raise his status through initiative and skill. On the other hand he must be willing to defend his


animals aggressively from predators and military raids to show fortitude and endurance when he meets with hardship (Netting, 1986:55).

5.2.7 How the Pokomo peasant farmers have been able to build a force to counter the pastoralists

The period under focus is the colonial, pre-colonial and post-independence times. Pre-colonial times

The Pokomo in the pre-colonial past had preferred to have a settlement pattern where clan or lineage villages were scattered along the river with one village recognized as the ritual center (Bunger, 1970:3). When the Somali invaded Tana River after 1870, the people of each sub-tribe came together in a large stockaded town called Ganda (Ganda the concentration of the Pokomo into fortified villages because of Somali raids can be compared to the similar development among the Mijikenda people who were compelled to dwell in fortified towns called Kaya by raids of certain Maasaispeaking people) situated between thick bush and the river and usually accessible only by canoe (Ibid.). Colonial times

An important revelation as pointed out by the respondents in a focus group discussion and also the Law Society of Kenya Report (LSK, July 2002:7) was that, though the colonial government exercised control over land use and ownership, it however sought to distinguish between the different uses of the land by the pastoralists and the farmers. Consequently the colonial government took the trouble to demarcate land for pastoral use and for farming.

During the colonial regime, therefore 'reserves' for both Pokomo farmers and the Galla or Orma were established.

The proposal for the Tana land reserves (Kenya National Archives, 1920-1925) indicated that, the Pokomo were not only required to live in their specific riverine


reserves but could also cultivate any unoccupied riverineland. Although the reserve areas would be theirs for keeps they would be squatters in the unreserved areas and likely to be expropriated whenever companies or individuals turn up and promise to develop the land. Those Pokomo people, who would be displaced as a result, would be compensated. It was found in the same letter to be unreasonable to exclude the Pokomo from tilling the land until it was wanted since; nobody had appeared who wanted the land. Therefore the Pokomo have continued to till the riverine land to date.
Special access routes to the river were reserved for pastoralists who used them during

the dry periods. According to a colonial intelligence report dated 4th October 1949 (Kenya National Archives (KNA), 1940-1950), the colonial regime tried to diversify watering points for the pastoralists as far as the Sabaki River. The point of gazzeting a native reserve was given as; enabling preservation of land for a tribe against the alienation or encroachment by other tribes and also to curtail the incessant conflicts, which were inherent in the relations of the pastoralists and farmers. The proposal for the Tana land reserves (Ibid.) further indicates that;
The only natives in any way likely to encroach were the Somali and the Galla, who require access for their livestock to water on the riverit is not desirable that they should be allowed access everywhere, for the Somali especially are upto to carry Pokomo women.

This argument justified the creation of reserve areas by the colonists in the study area. In an Intelligent report dated 5th January 1950 from the District Commissioners Office (DC) Kipini, Tana River to the Provincial Commissioner (PC), Coast Province (KNA, 1940-1950) it is reported that;
Fighting amounting to native war broke out on the 9th and again on the 11th (December 1949) between Oromo and Pokomo. One Pokomo man was killed; two Pokomo women and three Pokomo men were injured. One Oromo is believed to have been killed though the body has not yet been found and two Oromo women were injured.the initial blame lies clearly on the Oromo who begun the first attack.

Therefore the Pokomo created some strength in coping with their pastoralist neighbors through revenge attacks. Generally, during the colonial period the Pokomo


managed to build a force against the pastoralists through the help they obtained from the colonialists who protected them by separating them from the pastoralists. Post-independence period

In post-independence Kenya, the government tends to helplessly look on as people slash each other in the perennial conflict of Tana-River district between the Pokomo peasant farmers and the Orma and Wardei pastoralists. In such an instance, the community wonders, whether they should arm themselves to ensure community security when the state fails to protect them. In general the Pokomo people have not been able to comfortably fight back when attacked by pastoralists in their villages. In smaller villages almost all the people would run away to hide from the pastoralists who would attack villages in form of shifta-bandits (heavily armed Cushitic men) with sophisticated weapons. In most cases the cause of such attacks was never known. However, in case of conflicts arising from pastoralists grazing their stock in farms the people would prepare to fight back according to the views of a focus group discussion.

The following are incidences of insecurity in the district since the year 1980 to 2001 according to a document made by the Gasa (2001), to be taken to the Minister of State, Provincial Administration and Internal Security, dated 23rd August 2001. 1. 1980 at Ngao Irrigation Scheme, Ngao location Orma from Kipao village attacked Pokomo farmers and killed two. 2. 1995 Peponi village, Bilisa location Orma ambushed and killed six. All culprits were identified and arrested. Within days, all of them were released. 3. 1996 at Ngomeni village, Chara location Orma killed two Pokomo. The killings were sparked by the creation of two exclusive locations for the Orma. 4. 1996 at Dumi village, Salama location An Orma drove his animals into a Pokomo farm and destroyed his crops. When the farmer protested, he was killed plus other eight. In this incidence, a total of nine Pokomo people were killed. 5. March 2000 at Laza village, Zubaki Location Three Pokomo men were killed in their farms.


6. March 2001, Duwayo, Kinakomba location Two Pokomo were killed in their farms by Orma pastoralists. 7. March 2001, Ngao village and environs Orma people waylaid and killed seventeen Pokomo men. 8. 27th May 2001, Mnazini village According to the Daily Nation of June 2, 2001 seven Pokomo people were killed and 22 Wardei suspects were arrested. They were later released. Two more Pokomo were killed on the same day at Mikameni village, Mwina location. 9. 3rd June 2001, Idsowe village, Shirikisho location A retired Pokomo teacher was attacked and killed in his farm. The sixteen year old Orma herdsboy who was found responsible was arrested and later released. 10. 12th July 2001, Nduru village, Chara location Neighbouring Orma people evacuated their families and animals at night and attacked Pokomo in the wee hours of the following morning. They killed one Pokomo man. This happened exactly a week after a peace meeting was held in the village involving the two communities. 11. 13th August 2001, Semikaro village, Chara location Orma people killed a Pokomo man using a poisoned arrow.

All these incidences led to the Pokomo preparing themselves for resistance against the pastoralists. The elders approached their cousins the Mijikenda people of Kwale district to help them fight the pastoralists through some supernatural powers, according to an Orma key informant who said that the Pokomo are involved in what he called, Kaya Bombo (this is the name of a Digo shrine). The Pokomo themselves did not give this information to the researcher, but the pastoralist groups informed the researcher that this is what the Pokomo people did and that they also wanted to get the Kaya people to help them. The reason why the Pokomo may have built this force against the pastoralists is that they have no access to sophisticated weapons like the pastoralists. However, fascinatingly the pastoralists feel even guns are not as good as the Kaya Bombo power.


Kaya Kaya means homestead in nearly all the Mijikenda (the Mijikenda comprises of the Rabai, Ribe, Chonyi, Giriama, Jibana, Kauma, Kambe, Digo and Duruma sub-tribes) dialects (NES, Kwale, 1985:22). The kaya areas were initially places of refugee by the Mijikenda peoples of coastal Kenya, when they had to hide away from pastoralists attacks such as the Masai and the Galla. Later as this threat subsided the forests were used by the elders for prayers and ceremonies. These areas were revered by the rest of the community because they had protected their ancestors (Ibid.). The elders used the plants in the forests for medicinal and religious purposes and stayed there when close to death and were buried there.

The forest or shrine called Kaya Bombo is west of a place called Ngomeni in Kwale district (Ibid. p.25). This is where it is claimed the Pokomo obtained their mystical powers for fighting the pastoralists Orma and Wardei. It is claimed that during the Likoni-Kwale clashes which pitted the Digo coastal people against the upcountry people, the Kaya mystical powers were used and all the government security people who had committed some inhuman acts like raping were all affected and later died in the Coast General Hospital according to a key informant.

It is also claimed that government security men who tried to hit the Pokomo old men, were affected in that their hands remained stretched out. Therefore the security men feared these powers from the Pokomo side and the sophisticated weapons from the Orma and Wardei. They therefore did not commit the same acts they had committed against the people of Kwale to the Pokomo but these inhuman acts were committed to the pastoralist women, of whom, it was perceived were not protected by magical powers. Though the Orma and Wardei people look exactly the same physically, they live in different manyatta and the Orma women were not raped because it is claimed the Member of Parliament at the time being an Orma used the government security to protect his own people and not the Wardei people who were used in the fighting and taken to the frontline of battle and not the Orma according to a Pokomo key informant.


The kaya bombo powers only protected a few people who were to fight in defense of the community, these powers, it is claimed also protected Pokomo villages against attacks according to a key informant. However, the Orma and Wardei pastoralists raided most of the Pokomo villages supposedly protected by these supernatural powers. Are kaya mystical powers real? It is possible that the so-called Kaya bombo powers are only meant to psychologically boost the morale of the young men required to defend their villages without fear. Some of the so-called protected by kaya powers, Pokomo fighters died during the conflict. A possible analysis of the situation is that Pokomo people are not fighters and they always ran away from pastoralist attackers. The Pokomo therefore might have needed this Kaya Bombo assurance that they can fight the pastoralists. 5.2.8 The Causes of the conflict There are a number of causes that have been identified for the conflict in the study area (Table 5.7). The study revealed that 69% of the respondents gave the cause of conflict as fear of displacement by pastoralists due to land adjudication, 26% said the conflict was caused by incitement by politicians and council of elders from both communities (the Gasa and Matadheda). Twenty-three percent of the people gave the cause of the conflict as grazing of stock in farms, similarly 23% pointed out that land ownership and creation of new administrative locations contributed to the conflict. Further, 13% attributed the conflict to closure of water corridors for watering livestock, while 13% reported that lifestyles and different uses of the same resources contributed to the conflict. Thirteen percent of the respondents have added that, drought and creation of unknown water corridors is a cause of the conflict and likewise 13% attributed the conflict to the influx of foreigners and their animals into the district. Each respondent gave more than two causes of the conflict. Land adjudication In July 1995 the Government declared and gazetted Tana River district as an adjudication area (the legality of the land to be decided in the courts). Adjudication has bred a lot of animosity between the two conflicting groups owing to different perceptions over the consequences. According to a group discussion the Pokomo


peasant farmers accepted this move since it is a major step towards poverty alleviation, with the hope of acquiring title deeds they can be able to obtain loans from banking institutions which usually ask for collateral and they can also protect their land from grabbers. Farmers claim that about 90% of the district is rangeland and ranches have been registered and allocated to pastoralist groups. The farmers occupy only a tenth of the district and therefore they should be allowed to have title deeds on this land. However, the pastoralists Orma and Wardei have resisted the land adjudication exercise. This is because with land adjudication their free movement with their livestock will be constrained. Furthermore, it is feared that the exercise will only benefit farmers, and it will not take into consideration the reality of dry seasons and therefore the need by pastoralists to access fallback areas. The pastoralists would like to be educated more on land adjudication because they are also interested in the riverine area. Besides some of the pastoralists have farms and they fear that the Pokomo will take them away since they are already claiming that these farms are theirs by ancestral claim, and that they had deserted the farms because of insecurity. This is according to a group discussion with the Orma. The Wardei, according to a focus group discussion, assert that they are also interested in farming. They however complain that, once they acquire a piece of land, work on it for some time the Pokomo all of a sudden, begin laying claim on the land, on the alleged reason that it is their ancestral land. The Wardei state that they are then left with no option but fight for the land because since they are Kenyans they have a right to own land like other Kenyans. Incitement by politicians, Gasa and Matadheda elders During the Njonjo Land Law Commission meeting held at Ngao village (Ngao location), the local Member of Parliament for Garsen constituency, supported sentiments echoed by the chairman of the Matadheda (Council of Orma elders). The legislator asserted that, if the government insisted on land adjudication it would govern forests and baboons and warned that there would be problems similar to those of Isiolo, where conflict had erupted and many people got killed. These references according to the group discussion were indications of a looming conflict.


Table 5.7: Causes of the conflict

Cause of conflict

Number of respondents


Fear of displacement by pastoralists due to land adjudication Incitement by politicians, Gasa and Matadeda elders Grazing in planted farms Land ownership and creation of new





35 35

23 23

administrative locations Closure of water corridors or malka Lifestyles and different uses of common resources Drought and creation of unrecognized water corridors passing through farms Influx of aliens and their animals into the district 20 13 20 13 20 20 13 13

N= 150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


In another meeting presided over by the Coast Provincial Commissioner on the 17 th March 2001. It is reported that the local Member of Parliament for Garsen warned the government not to impose the land adjudication procedures on the people of Tana River who want a homegrown solution. This prepared the populace to be ready for an imminent conflict. There is consequently a conflict in that one group consider the land adjudication exercise as an imposition, while the other group seem to be content with the exercise.

The traditional administrative structures were also blamed for inciting people. The Gasa (Pokomo council of elders) according to a group discussion has become extremely political and had discarded traditional means of dealing with conflicts. When livestock are injured and the Orma and Wardei pastoralists report to the Pokomo elders no action is taken. The Pokomo on the other hand held responsible the Matadheda for not taking any action when they received reports that Pokomo farms have been grazed on. When a fight breaks both communities complain that the elders support their young men to fight.

Grazing in planted farms

According to a group discussion pastoralists have been accused of intentionally grazing their livestock on farms. However, according to another group discussion with the pastoralists, Orma blame the Wardei for grazing in Pokomo farms claiming that most of them are new in Garsen division and are therefore not aware of agreements made between the Orma and the Pokomo. However, the Orma also maintain that Wardei and Orma are one and the same people explaining that Wardei were taken as slaves by Somali men and that the war in Somalia has led to their forced movement to look for their Orma kith and kin in Tana-River for refuge. One Orma councilor claimed that the Kenyan government was aware of the Wardei people coming to Tana-River from Somalia.

The Pokomo argue that both Orma and Wardei take their animals to graze in their farms. This may be because they cannot differentiate the two groups who physically look alike. It is also possible that the Orma use the Wardei as scapegoats because they have internal conflicts amongst themselves.


Land ownership and creation of new locations

Tana River is a district, which has not been adjudicated and has mainly two types of land Government and Trust land. Much of the riverine land is Trust land. Traditionally the community, among the Pokomo, owned the land. The community here is the clan. The clans have their own units as per the settlement patterns and are characterized by rules and regulations of the clan. The clan land is subdivided further into areas belonging to the constituent lineages (Bunger, R, 1970:2) as noted earlier.

According to a key informant the Pokomo customary law does not allow women to inherit land except for special cases. Daughters could get pieces of land from their fathers and once given it remained with them for their use but not their descendants. For one to get a clan Shamba, (farm) a barhe must be paid to the clan elders who will consent to the use of that land. Upon the death of the individual (a man), his children will do the same (pay barhe for use of the land) until the third generation then the land will belong to the new family. The Pokomo according to a group discussion believe that anybody without land is a foreigner.

The Pokomo peasant farmers have been accused of desiring the riverine area for themselves and interested in displacing those Orma living in such areas. The Pokomo also fear that the pastoralists want to displace them from their ancestral lands.

It was reported, in a group discussion that, the Orma have manipulated the creation of exclusive locations for themselves out of the existing Pokomo locations, which have existed since independence the creation of these locations has led to attacks of the people going to their farms as the Orma assumed ownership of ancestral farms belonging to Pokomo simply because they were in their locations. The creation of new locations is perceived by the Orma and Wardei pastoralists as creation of their own land, a land they can call home, this means that all other people should leave, and farmlands should be relocated as well. This feeling is brought about by the fact they have been nomadic and can loose out on ownership of land if the land gets


demarcated. According to a government official new locations were created for ease of administration.

The researcher noted that Pokomo peasant farmers lived in villages on one side of the river and have their farms on the opposite side of the river, which in most cases meant that a village could be in one location and the farms in a different location. The problem is that the river has been used as a boundary for the creation of the new locations. The pastoralists needed land they could call their own, and needed their own locations. One Orma woman wondered why the Pokomo restricted pastoralist movements in their location (Pokomo locations) while pastoralists do not restrict farmers to farm in Orma locations. Both groups perceive the idea of administrative location differently. The Pokomo farmers seem unconcerned with the idea of their own locations and that is why they did not oppose the creation of new locations from the existing ones as long as they can access their farms, according to a group discussion.

Mostly in any location the farms belong to the Pokomo, however, in the recent past the pastoralists also have owned gardens where they mostly grow tobacco and a little maize. However, all the ranches belong to the pastoralists. A few Pokomo people who dread rearing their own cattle entrust the pastoralists to take care of their livestock for a fee (usually pay a cow per year) as mentioned earlier.

Closure of water corridors

According to a group discussion among the pastoralists, the farmers deny them a place to water their animals claiming that those are farm areas. Therefore farmers have been held responsible for encroaching into water corridors (Malka). In another group discussion among the pastoral group again, the issue of water corridors is not a problem; they declare that they have a lot of access to the river.

The researcher noted that in areas where the farmers and the pastoralists had lived close to each other for a long time there was no problem, as the Malka areas existed. However in areas where there are new settlements of Manyatta this was one of their major causes of the conflict. This is because the same traditional Malka areas that


were set during the colonial British administration were still the ones which farmers recognize. Plate 5.1 shows a malka

Lifestyle and different uses of common resources

The fact that the farmers and the pastoralists have different lifestyles was cited as a cause of conflict. In one group discussion a Pokomo elder said that in the past (no longer practiced) in order for an Orma to get married he must kill a lion or a human being and that the Pokomo were an easy target and they were sometimes killed by their trusted friends when they invited them to attend their ceremonies. If they were lucky some of their Orma friends would alert them and plan their escape. The Orma man, after killing, he would cut the private parts of the person or a part of the animal, tie it on the hand (halibwora), in order to show his bride to be that he is a man. Pokomo people report that they knew that this was happening and whenever a Pokomo man disappears or his body is found lacking some parts of his body. They would suspect the Orma and would therefore revenge by killing an Orma, and throwing his body into the river. Therefore the Pokomo had been socialized not to be alone with the either the Orma or the Wardei pastoralists, and the cycle of mistrust and suspicion continues.

Today, different uses of the same resources have remained a major problem. In a village where the Wardei and Pokomo lived close to each other, it was reported that water corridors are not a problem however; the use of the resources is the problem. The researcher was shown two water points called Chiko (pl. Viko) for human use, and malka for animal use. There was a general complain that livestock is taken to drink water at the Chiko which is for human use this then would attract crocodiles and wastes time for other users of the Chiko who must wait for the large herds to be watered. The Wardei wondered why the farmers were creating a problem where there was none; according to them there is nothing wrong in having a water point shared by human beings and animals. According to focus group discussions. This is a case of different perceptions on the use of the same resource. The group of Wardei were new in the area and did not understand the differences between a chiko and a malka.


Drought and creation of unrecognized water corridors passing through farms Due to different livelihoods practiced by the pastoralists and the farmers, the pastoralists over time have been moving from the hinterland towards the riverine areas in search of water and pasture for their animals during dry seasons (ALRMP, 2002b). This is due to the drainage of the lagas to the river leaving the hinterland dry and with no source of water for the dry period.

Drought periods, which are common in Tana River, create tensions to the people of the riverine areas because the traditional structures, which used to deal with such migrations, have been weakened and are therefore no longer strong partly because the chiefs in charge of locations have absorbed their powers. In the past there were strong elder set-ups, which administered the movement of animals from the hinterland to the riverine from both sides (farmers and pastoralist). These elders used to agree on terms to resolve their problems in case animals invaded the riverine farms.

Pastoralists having trekked for a long time, would use the shortest distance to access the river water, which may not be the recognized water corridors. Further, during and after the conflict, farmers in some areas, it is claimed were farming on water corridors, which they claim are not the traditional ones agreed upon by elders but that they are shortcuts made to the river by the pastoralists. The Nduru-Orma agree that some of the agreed upon water corridors are too far from their new settlements and that the livestock gets exhausted moving for long distances in the heat, and therefore the need to create shortcuts. Therefore the farming on these new water corridors impact negatively on pastoralists who then have to take their livestock to the recognized water corridors tiring their livestock in the process.

Influx of other people into the district

Influx of animals and people from neigbouring districts - Wajir, Mandera and Garissa has led to conflict in the study area. It has limited the grazing areas hence invading farms as a result, according to a key informant.


According to group discussions traditional methods of resolving conflict are no longer pertinent on a large-scale because of the presence of aliens or visitors who do not understand the rules. The Orma have been blamed for inviting people who are not indigenous in the district to live there and hence strain resource-use. The visitors mentioned were the Wardei, Galjeel Somali, Degodia among others. These are people whom the Orma have close kinship ties with and some are self-settled refugees from Somalia.

The police were reported to be patrolling the River Tana banks to prevent suspected influx of bandits on October 1, 2001 (Peacenet, 2001). This patrolling is probably not effective since people still move in and out of the district at will with their animals this movement has led to pastoralist-pastoralist conflicts with the Somali pastoralist being stronger and emerging victorious against the Orma and Wardei according to an Orma key informant. Therefore as the Pokomo blame the Orma for inviting visitors into the district leading to conflicts the Orma themselves have been having conflicts with some of these visitors.

Other causes

Apart from the above causes of the conflict, the Arid Lands Resource and Management Programme in Tana River district (ALRMP, 2002:3) identified other causes of tensions in the division, which had perpetuated the conflict in the year 2001. It has been reported that, since the 1980s conflict has been pronounced due to a number of factors among them, utilization of fertile land by the government for development activities for instance, areas around Gamba in Garsen division (Tana and Athi River Development Authority TARDA). Thus, leaving ox-bow lakes for the use of the pastoralists limited, and further, limiting the area under farming. Another cause of conflict is the weakening and disrespect of the traditional structures, of the Gasa and Matadheda, which used to resolve local farmerpastoralist conflicts in the past.


Plate 5.1: A malka or water corridor

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


According to a key informant, the conflict, in addition to some of the above causes was caused by; wounding and killing of livestock that damage crops, disregard of other peoples wealth, negligence of early warning signs by leaders (rumours of impending conflict and illegal gatherings). Further, lack of adequate grazing lands caused by competition among pastoralists and diversion of The River Tanas water by pastoralists in Lower Tana through canals hence affecting the flow of the river are causes of conflict in Tana River. This diversion has consequently led to desertion of rice farms, because the farms which are lined along the river banks no longer get enough water due to the main river channel drying up as a result of the presence of a new river channel elsewhere according to the researchers observation in November 2002 (Chara location). The pastoralists claim that the government gave them a goahead to divert the water in order to use it in the hinterland, according to a group discussion with Nduru-Orma in Chara location.

5.3 Impact of the conflict

The Tana conflict led to a number of socio-economic, cultural and psychological impact.

5.3.1 Socio-economic impact Internally Displaced persons

In the Tana River conflict violence had increased to uncontrollable level in the year 2001. Ryan (1995:78) has argued that the more violence that occurs the more bitter and protracted the conflict becomes. This led to several impacts; the experience of violence had triggered several destructive processes to the social environment. Ninety eight of the respondents (65%) admitted that they were displaced from their homes either to the neighbouring districts or to churches where they camped until they felt that they were safe. Forty seven (31%) reported that they were not displaced and stayed back to guard their villages.

92 Health

The displaced people suffered ill health. The nurse in charge of the Catholic Church dispensary where many Pokomo families had camped reportedly appealed to the government to send in medical supplies to combat diarrhoea and typhoid before the situation got out of hand as there were worries of impending deaths in the camp (Peacenet-Kenya, 2001:26).

Most of the pastoralists could not go to hospitals due to insecurity reasons Table 5.8 reveals the results of hospital attendance.

Ninety-six respondents (64%) attend the same hospitals they used to attend before the conflict broke, while 27 (18%) of the respondents said they do not attend the same hospitals due to insecurity reasons. According to a group discussion conducted in a pastoral region, pastoralists cannot attend public hospitals. This is because; some members of one ethnic group (the Pokomo) dominate the main sub-district hospital and dispensaries in the division as staff members. In addition, the hospitals are located in regions inhabited by people of the enemy camp and although the hospital staff may not necessarily be Pokomo, it is feared that they may take sides and inject pastoralist patients with poison thus killing them.

This is because during the period of active conflict the pastoralists who had gone to seek medical attention in these hospitals, it is claimed, were attacked. As the farmers brought their first victim of the clashes in the hospital where he died, they attacked all the pastoralists who were found in their village including the sick ones who were seeking medical attention according to a pastoralist key informant.

However most of the respondents 123 (82%), still attend hospital within the district, while 21 (14%) go for treatment outside the district as far as Garissa and Nairobi. Because of inadequate health care most of the pastoralist groups suffered from diseases such as typhoid and malaria, those who could afford went to Malindi for treatment, and those who could not afford waited to borrow drugs from friends and families.


Table 5.8: Hospital attendance

Hospital attendance Still attending the same hospital that I used to receive treatment before the conflict broke Do not attend the same hospital that I used to attend before the conflict broke

Sample 96

Percentage 64



Source: Fieldwork, 2002

94 Necessities

In any conflict area getting basic necessities is a problem. The most common methods of getting necessities in the study area during the conflict are shown in Table 5.9. It is reported that 46% of the people obtained their necessities through moving in groups, to farms, herding fields, trading centers et cetera. Of the sample 13% sold their goods outside the district since the market structure between the conflicting groups had broken down. Seventeen percent of those interviewed revealed that they obtained their necessities from relief aid; the aid was in form of drugs, food, clothing and building materials. The organizations that assisted these people included; Catholic Relief Services, the African Inland Church, The Red Cross Society among others.

Thirty three percent of the respondents reported that they bought goods from the nearby shops from their salaries as government employees. Wild fruits, vegetables and animals were utilized for food by 13% of the respondents

Government security escorted some respondents (20%) to work on their farms and go to shopping centers. In addition, 10% of the respondents reported that the whole village cooked food in a single pot and shared; this is in areas where most of the villagers were displaced such that very few villagers remained in the village. According to 13% of the respondents, families with extra food, clothing and extra space in their houses assisted those who lacked, for instance due to their houses and granaries being burnt. Thirty three percent (33%) of the respondents reported that they bought goods from the nearby shops from their salaries as government employees. Seven percent (7%) of the respondents went to towns to work as casual laborers while 17% of the respondents sold their sick livestock in order to get some money for survival. Lastly, 13% of the respondents said that they kept on slaughtering their animals for food.


Table 5.9: How necessities were obtained during the conflict period

How necessities were obtained People walked in groups to their farms, forests and trading centres. Went outside the district to sell goods Relief aid Bought goods from the shops around, from government salaries Utilized wild foods Government security took people to their farms and shopping centers The whole village shared food cooked in one pot Families with extra food, clothing and shelter helped those with none Got casual jobs in building houses that were burnt Sold the sick livestock Would slaughter livestock for food N=150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002

Sample 69

Percentages 46

20 25 50

13 17 33

20 30

13 20

15 20

10 13

10 25 20

7 17 13

96 Insecurity

Mair (1964:16) has argued that a government protects members of the political community or its citizens against lawlessness within and enemies without; it takes decisions on behalf of the community in matters that concerns them all, and in which they have to act together. The political system of any society is concerned with the use of force. From a global perspective therefore, only the government has the monopoly of legitimate coercive power to master compliance in ensuring protection of life and property and in pursuit of law, order and justice. When the government falls short of this expectation, those in need of protection and justice lose hope and confidence. The Kenya government seemed to have failed in one of the oldest roles of states ensuring that they provide human security for the governed. This led to people arming themselves in order to provide their own security.

The following were the responses given regarding government security in the division during the time of conflict. Of the 150 respondents 90 (60%) said that they were not safe when government brought its security during the conflict, while 60 (40%) said that they felt safe. Those who said that they were safe when government brought its security gave the following reasons; that, the presence of the security personnel gave them hope, the security went round disarming people, security would go to villages and inform people that they would be attacked in advance, they brought relative peace and escorted people to their farms and sometimes to the shopping centers.

Those who said that, they were not safe gave the following reasons; that the security men harassed people and beat them up for no reason; they raped pastoralist women but not Pokomo women apparently because of the Kaya Bombo factor - security officers it is claimed, feared that something wrong would happen to them if they raped Pokomo women. In addition, the respondents reported that, the security took people to prison for acquiring legal tools such as pangas (machete), spears et cetera. The government security personnel, it is reported, were few and lacked sophisticated weapons to deal with attackers. Further, they disarmed police reservists who were a hope to the people. Government security, it is claimed were biased and went to disarm one group of people and not the other, they would also go to conflict areas


too late after attacks had already occurred. They were also involved in some of the village attacks, thus they formed an external force, depending on how sympathetic they felt towards a given group and at some point people were puzzled as they did not know whether to trust them or not. This led to the government transferring Pokomo and Orma police to other duty stations outside the district. It was also reported that, the police were glued in their stations most of the time and seemed undisturbed by what was happening in the areas under conflict.

Despite the presence of security, raids still occurred. In fact, the security actually informed people in advance that, they should anticipate raids. The raids would then take place while the so-called security disappears. The security were said to be after money and looting. Therefore according to a group discussion it was better if government security was not sent to the areas that were conflicting, because they protracted the conflict. Impact on education

The two secondary schools in the division were not attacked however a primary school in Ngao location was attacked by pastoralists who kept shooting wildly in the school compound when the students were having their usual night studies. Nobody was killed. This incident frightened the secondary school students, whose school bordered the primary school in question according to a key informant.

According to the respondents, the assessment of their overall marks for the subjects done in school were as follows; None of the students had an excellent average mark, while 17% rated their performance as being good, 44% reported that their performance were fair and 33% said that they had performed poorly.

Students seemed to be most affected in the third term of the year 2001. Fifty three per cent (53%) reported that their third term performance was the worst compared to the first and second terms, while 31% said that the second terms performance was the worst for them, finally 18% said the first term was the worst term since they had performed poorly then. The clashes begun in the beginning of the year, then it


appeared to have cooled a little in mid-year and this may have raised the hopes of the students; however, the third term or late that year the conflict had escalated again.

In comparing the performance for the years 2000 and 2001; most students reported that they had a better performance in the year 2000, 61%. While 3% said there was no big difference between the 2000 and 2001 class performance. The conflict in the year 2001 had certainly affected the performance of the students.

It was reported by 69% of the student respondents that their parents could not pay their school fees at the beginning of the year 2002. However, 22% of the students reported that their parents did not have a problem in paying their fees; this may be because these students have parents who receive salaries from the government working in the civil service or other organizations. Parents who were peasant farmers or pastoralists had problems paying school fees for their children.

Education was negatively affected when teachers stopped teaching altogether due to the conflict. Sixty six percent (66%) of the respondents said that teachers were not teaching regularly during the conflict period, while 26% of the respondents reported that teachers were teaching regularly. Teachers live in villages and were affected and afraid like other people to go about their normal routines. However, the government had issued an order that all teachers had to go back to the schools and continue teaching according to the students.

Table (5.10 and 5.11) reflects the opinions of respondents for the two secondary schools studied. Table 5.11 shows some of the impacts that are specific to the pastoralist students.

Of the 100 respondents, 30% reported that they had delayed to attend schools when they were opened beginning of the year 2002 because they were terrified that the conflict might still go on. During the December holidays of 2001 tensions in the villages were very high. 29% of the student respondents said that they were socially affected by the deaths of schoolmates and relatives. On the other hand 5% of the respondents said that their parents restricted them from attending school, these were mostly pastoralist students whose parents feared that since the two secondary schools


in the division are situated in Ngao location, which is inhabited by mainly Pokomo people their children would not be safe. Other students who were restricted to go back to school by their parents were neither from the Pokomo nor the Orma and Wardei communities.

All the students (100%) said that they could not concentrate while in class, and gave several reasons such as; some of the students kept thinking about their families at home and whether they were alive or not, this led them to sneaking out of school in order to ask for information about their families from the villages nearby. Other students said that they never slept at night because they thought that the school would be attacked while they would be asleep since some of the primary schools were burnt in the division. Some of the pastoralist students were afraid because they were in schools that were in Pokomo areas and therefore could not concentrate.

Ten percent (10%) of student respondents were involved in conflict as they guarded their villages at night. Five percent of the respondents became orphans as a result of the conflict. While, 10% of the respondents had no houses to live in, because their houses were burnt. Thirty percent (30%) of the respondents said that the teachers went to school irregularly to teach and therefore never managed to clear the syllabus on time. Further, twenty percent (20%) of the respondents said there was no peace even after the closure of the schools and that they had to look for hiding places for fear of imminent attacks.

The students in these schools do not trust each other; this is because some of the students carried knives in school, according to 30% of the respondents. It is reported by a key informant that some of the students, since they were minority they used to go to the bushes during class breaks. This frightened other students. It is possible that the minority students (from pastoralist families) were afraid of the majority Pokomo students just in case they would be attacked and would therefore not wish to linger around during class-breaks.


Table 5.10: Impact of Conflict on students


Number of respondents


Delayed in attending school when they opened in the year 2002 to make sure it is safe, catching up was difficult Death of school mates and relatives Cannot concentrate in school. Guarded the village at night no time to study Orphaned as a result of the conflict No house to live in hosted by neighbours Teachers came to school to teach irregularly No peace at home looked for hiding places We students do not trust each other some carry knives Schools closed early Fainted in school people passed the school with spears and livestock ran towards the school



29 100 10 5 10 30 20 30

29 100 10 5 10 30 20 30

50 10

50 10

N=100 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Table 5.11: Impact of conflict on pastoralist students


Number of respondents


Parents removed me from school because they are in Pokomo areas Lost a lot of cows payment of schools became a problem



Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Fifty percent (50%) of the respondents reported that schools closed too early because of the conflict. While 10% of the respondents said that their families had lost a lot of livestock as a result of the conflict and that payment of their school fees became a problem. Ten percent (10%) of the students reportedly fainted (because of profound fear) at the site of heavily armed villagers passing by their schools. During an incident the students thought they were about to be attacked when they saw livestock running towards their school away from pursuers. Other social impacts

Livestock herding became a problem, the herders could not freely move around for fear that their animals would be attacked. Houses and manyatta were burned. Farms as well as villages were abandoned. The Plates 5.2 and 5.3 show a burnt house and an abandoned manyatta respectively. The Plate 5.4 shows an abandoned farm across the river Tana.


Plate 5.2: A burnt house at Tarasaa village


Plate 5.3: An abandoned Manyatta

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Plate 5.4: An abandoned farm of banana plants across the River Tana overgrown with grass

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


5.3.2 Cultural impact

In Oda-Wachu location, at the Oda village the Orma and Wardei internally displaced persons had settled on Pokomo graveyards. The Pokomo claimed that they had no place to bury their dead. The researcher was taken to see these sites. Most of the graves had not been built in a permanent way; they were just mounds of sand, and the displaced pastoralist groups had resided near the graves. The Pokomo were therefore afraid to go bury their dead because they had to pass by the newly erected manyatta (built on older graves which are unmarked and therefore it is possible that the displaced did not even know that they had settled on graveyards).

At Oda-village, the pastoralists had overwhelmed the Pokomo in number due to the displacement of pastoralists from other areas. The pastoralist Orma and Wardei had even started constructing some permanent houses contrary to the usual style of Manyatta in the Pokomo village (the two villages of the Pokomo and the Orma were initially separated by a road). The pastoralists Orma and some Wardei new comers had crossed the road and were putting up some buildings at the Pokomo side of the village. This situation has exacerbated tension in the area. However, according to the local Divisional Officer, he is handling the situation, by trying to have a discussion with the pastoralists not to continue building permanent houses in the Pokomo area. By the end of the research period this situation had not been resolved.

The researcher talked to some of the displaced people (mostly the Wardei are the ones displaced from the manyatta at Tarasaa village to Oda) and they had divided opinion some wanted to move back to their former areas while others did not want because they doubted if there will be any peace at all. This is because at Tarasaa where they had put up their manyatta some distance away from the Pokomo village is still a Pokomo area and that is why they may not be able to go back. In fact the pastoralists in this area are not concerned about making peace like the other pastoralists in other areas that the researcher visited, because they believed that there will never again be tranquility in the area according to a key informant.

The Pokomo would wish to see that the Orma and Wardei who had been displaced due to the conflicts never return to where they used to stay before the conflict


because they claim that the pastoralists had imposed their stay in their (Pokomo) villages whereas Pokomo people had by no means forced themselves to live in the pastoral areas, therefore the Pokomo farmers still guard their villages day and night lest the pastoralist group come to put up their manyatta again in their villages according to a key informant (a man who guards his village).

Traditional rules of war

In most of the African communities there are cultural rules of war. Among the Nuer (Gluckman, 1959:8-9) for instance, men of the same village fight each other with clubs, not spears while men of different villages fight each other with spears. There is no raiding within the community for cattle, and it is recognized that a man ought to pay cattle as compensation for killing a fellow tribesman. When raiding foreign people, men, women and children can be killed, and granaries can be destroyed but not when raiding fellow tribesmen.

According to focus group discussions and key informant interviews the Orma and Wardei pastoralists have the following rules of war. That;

1. Women, children, the very old and mad people are not to be killed or attacked and should not go to war. People who kill such people become Yakka or outcasts. Also it is believed that killing such people leads to bad luck in the war e.g. defeat. 2. Food stores and livestock were not to be destroyed or killed. 3. Women should not be raped. Women and children may be captured. Women in captivity should not be touched until they are socialized into the community and then married off properly in the community alternatively if they wish they could be returned to their own communities after the conflict is over. 4. In the process of spying or Doya, spies should not be killed. They should be taken to the Matadheda elders where they would be warned not to spy the area and never to be seen in the surrounding area again. They would then be released. 5. People who are worshipping should not be killed. 6. Taking loot is acceptable. 7. War has to be declared in order to be fought. Many a times the Orma and Wardei informed the Pokomo that they will be attacking them.


8. Pokomo should be fought only with walking sticks and not any other kind of weapon such as spears and the like, so that no blood is shed since they are weaker in strength and are like brothers. 9. Fugitives even if they belong to enemy camp should not be killed, but should be taken care of until it is peaceful for them to go to their land. 10. Should not go to war unless there is a good reason. The Matadheda elders decides this, and a leader to lead the people to war is then chosen. Pokomo traditional rules of war

Most of the interviewed reported that the Pokomo do not have rules of war; five of the respondents held that the Pokomo people are not supposed to kill women and children. According to a key informant an old man of 90 years old, the Pokomo people never killed children and women in times of war. In the past when the Pokomo realized that some of their kinsmen had disappeared they would mostly suspect the Orma. When the Orma would ask the Pokomo to ferry them across the lakes in order to go to their homes further into the hinterland the Pokomo men would then kill the Orma men while they ferry them across the lakes to revenge for the disappearance of their kinsmen. The Pokomo never openly declared a war with their neighbours. They would never kill the women and their children who want to be ferried across the lake, because the pastoralist women in many occasions saved Pokomo men who had visited their pastoralist friends innocently and unsuspecting that their death was being planned. The women saved them by making sure that they would leave before their pastoralist friends realize.

Observation of rules of war

The recent conflict activities were carried out outside the norms of war making a flagrant violation of norms of war - what the local communities would consider a violation of human rights. This means that cultural expectations in intergroup relations are fast disintegrating.

The penalty for breaking any of these rules is that somebody will be isolated according to the rules of war of pastoralist groups. Even his own relatives are not


supposed to associate with him. When the law-breaker dies he is not supposed to be buried. However, if the person realizes his mistake and ask for forgiveness a cleansing ritual will be performed and the person will be received back to the community.

These rules of war were not observed according to group discussions and a key informer and the necessary penalty for the law-breakers was not given. This brings us to the fact that culture is being degraded as a result of conflict. Plate 5.5 below shows a boy from Golbanti village, Ngao location killed by raiders and his sister (Plate 5.6) who was attacked and wounded but later survived. Being children they should not have been attacked if the rules of war were followed.

5.3.3 Psychological impact

A number of respondents reported that they knew people who were psychologically affected 70 (46.6%) people said they knew of some affected people, 33 (22%) said that they did not know and 47 (31.3%) did not attempt to answer the question at all.

Table 5.12 shows that, 27% of the people known to the respondents seem confused, and are depressed. Seventeen percent (17%) had nightmares and hallucinations (for example some people see everybody in a bus as skeletons). On the other hand 8% of the psychologically affected people lack adequate sleep after witnessing people being killed, the elderly people had developed hypertension and others had died so fast in the conflict period without being killed by the enemy. Nine percent (9%) had seen mutilated bodies and had helped to collect them for burials and yet appear very calm, some of them who used to make jokes have become very quiet and they did not show any emotion even after they saw the bodies of their relatives. Some of the affected persons reacts very violently to loud noise, even the breaking of utensils these form 23% of the affected persons. The researcher noticed in one village during the celebrations of New Year (January, 1st, 2003) some people fainted when they heard the fireworks thinking they were gunshots.


Plate 5.5: A school boy killed at Golbanti village by raiders

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Plate 5.6: A schoolgirl wounded when raiders attacked her village

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Thirteen percent (13%) of the psychologically affected persons are reported to run whenever they see some specific people from the enemy camp. A key informant supports this view that some members of one ethnic group (pastoralists) run whenever they see or imagine they have seen people of the enemy camp who they consider perilous because they are allegedly strengthened with the Kaya Bombo powers. The researcher informally interviewed a Pokomo young man who is always seen by the Orma people as going after them and reported to the authorities. However, on many occasions when he was purportedly seen around the man had alibi and claimed he was not even around the district at the time when he was seen. This young man has decided to spend most of his time outside the district so that he can stop frequenting the offices of the authorities whenever he is reported. According to the respondents, 23% of the affected people are full of fear, and are rude even where there is no proper reason to be rude. Further, 1% of the psychologically affected persons are reported to be insane. The researcher was shown a woman in one village who kept on singing endless songs about the conflict. The songs made sense but the fact that the lady tires herself singing the whole day is the problem. Finally, 7% of the affected persons had been maimed. Some people felt anomic because they had lost everything and had to adjust to a life they were not used to. Other people were scared of their own homes assuming that the neighbours house was safer than their own houses. Some suffered from incoherent speech and felt so bitter they could not co-ordinate their speech well. Still others felt that they were very ugly, the researcher was shown some gunwounds and a man whose face was half gone because he was slashed using a panga Or a Machete (the people did not want to be photographed) these people hide their wounds and feel so inadequate and cannot comfortably attend public ceremonies lest somebody wonders why they are hiding themselves. Seven percent (7%) of the affected people suffer physical deformity. Some people that the researcher talked to had a strong sense of hatred towards the other group. One Orma woman laments;
The Pokomo people are heartless people, they killed the sick people who went for treatment in the hospital located in their village, and they also killed a pregnant woman, removed the child from her womb and threw her body into the river.


Table 5.12: Form of psychological impact

Form of psychological impact Seem confused and are depressed Nightmares and hallucinations Lack of sleep, witnessed somebody being killed Hypertension and sudden deaths to old people Staying abnormally calm after seeing mutilated bodies of relatives Reacts violently to loud noise Runs whenever one sees a person of the enemy camp Full of fear, and very rude Completely insane. Physical deformity, covers the whole body, stays indoors

Frequency 40 25 12 30 14

Percentage 27 17 8 20 9

35 20 35 2 11

23 13 23 1 7

N= 150 Source: fieldwork 2002


On the other hand one Pokomo young man admits;

I hate the Orma, they killed my father and they killed my relatives and stole their internal organs, the heart, liver and private parts.. They hanged others, passing a tree through them. So I felt mad and I just killed. and I resigned now I was ready to die. I waited for them to come but they did not come. I was disappointed because I felt I was ready to die, because I had already avenged the death of my father, my three relatives and my own death in advance

The local people believe that the Young man is mentally sick as a result of the conflict. There is unmistakably a strong hatred between the two conflicting parties.

5.4 General impact at individual and family levels

Table 5.13 shows the general impact of the conflict experienced by the respondents in the study area both at an individual and at the family levels. Fifty three (53%) percent of the respondents reported that the conflict led to their small-businesses stalling, 33% reported that education stagnated, meaning that schools were closed. On the other hand 97% held that the conflict created food insecurity because the population could not go to their farms or herd their stock. In addition, 75% reported that there was increase in poverty due to loss of property, 93% asserted that free movement was restrained, while 37% stated that their families were displaced. The respondents could not access necessities and these were 63%. Those who still felt insecure were 67%. According to 53% of the respondents there was loss of lives of relatives and wounded persons. The interviewer talked to two respondents who were wounded when a heavily armed group of pastoralists attacked their village (Plate 5.7) Another impact of the conflict is that some parents who had become non-resident found it prudent to stay home with family. Children had been reported (17%) to have been traumatized by seeing people being killed. Finally people live in fear suspecting and hating each other, (33%).


Table 5.13: General impact of conflict at individual and family levels

Impact Business stalled

Frequency 80

Percentage 53

Stagnation of education



Food insecurity



Poverty through loss of property People could not move freely.

75 140

50 93

Family was displaced Cannot access necessities Feel insecure

52 94

37 63



Loss of lives of relatives and some are wounded Parents who were non-resident found it wise to stay at home Traumatized children after seeing the killings Fear, suspect and hate the other group

80 20

53 13

25 50

17 33

N=150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Plate 5.7: Youths attacked by heavily armed pastoralists in their village

Source: Fieldwork, 2002


5.5 Positive impact of the conflict

According to a group discussion one of the positive impact of the conflict is that the sub-tribes usually divided were united during the conflict period. The Pokomo peasant farmers are usually divided, likewise the Orma/Wardei communities. Such that when either of the groups is not conflicting with one common enemy they conflict internally.

The pastoralists, who had to pay a little fee to be ferried across the river by the Pokomo, have in some places managed to cross themselves and have acquired their own canoes. Plate (5.8) shows pastoralists ferrying themselves across River Tana in their own canoes.


Plate 5.8 Pastoralists ferrying themselves across River Tana

Source: Fieldwork, 2002




6.0 Introduction

Conflict being an unending human problem can be a healthy aspect of society if proactively managed (Deusdedit, 2002:13). Conflict if properly managed can open up new possibilities and alternatives. In order for the conflict to be managed in the study area the conflict situation must be well analyzed, such that issues relating to the conflict can be identified and the best suitable action taken.

Conflict is a complex social reality with many layers and root causes (Deusdedit, 2002:15). Identifying and addressing the root causes of a conflict will not necessarily resolve the conflict, because so many other layers of causality remain (Simon Fischer et al; 2000:57). Only when all the issues, especially the root causes of a conflict are seen to be addressed by the parties to the conflict and are convinced that a solution to their problems will be found, conflict will then be nearing a settlement. It is argued that different people may be required to work together on different aspects of the conflicts in order to receive the best results in managing conflicts. That means political leaders, religious leaders, Non-governmental Organizations, all have a part to play (Ibid. p15). In the case of Tana River, the farmers, pastoralists and the government must play their roles too. Conflict can be managed in different ways depending on the parties involvement, and the type of conflict experienced. In the Tana conflict seminars, workshops and open-air meetings (baraza) have been arranged in an attempt to manage the conflict. All in all good leadership is an indispensable factor in conflict management. A good leader will work towards managing the conflict as an entry point before conflict resolution and reconciliation can be done.

This chapter deals with opinions given on how peace can be achieved and probably sustained.


6.1 Organizations and institutions that are involved in managing the conflict in Tana-River

There are a number of organizations and institutions that have been involved in the management of conflict in the study area. Eighty one percent (81%) of the respondents agree that there were some external interventions in conflict management, while 5% reported that there have not been any such organizations managing the conflict in their areas. Moreover, 1% did not know whether there were such organizations that have been involved in managing the conflict in their respective areas or not.

The organizations/institutions that have been involved in conflict management include; Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, World vision, The Red Cross Society, Council of elders, Arid Lands resource and Management Programme in Conjunction with Ox-fam, among others.

According to 91 (61%) of the respondents there are no positive signs of achieving sustainable peace. The local people do not seem to trust the peace meetings that are conducted outside the district by some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in collaboration with government officials. One chairman of the Gasa informed the researcher that he was picked from his house at night to go and represent his people at a peace meeting to be held outside the district. The elder complained that he was not informed in advance hence he could not call for a meeting to inform the villagers concerning this appointment. When he went to the meeting he did not therefore participate in it because he argued that if he had participated he would have given his own views and not those of his people.

According to a group discussion, people got suspicious of peace meetings taking place outside the district. It is reported that NGOs select their own people considered as being poor representatives by the population, to attend workshops for peace on behalf of their communities. The community would like to choose their own people to represent them in such meetings. However, according to the District Commissioner of Tana River District, workshops conducted outside the district for


peace are good because they enable participants to discuss issues in stress-free environment, and without fear.

It is revealed that pastoralists were still taking their livestock to graze on abandoned farms and that farmers cannot access fishing areas as usual. In one of the peace meetings attended by the researcher, one Orma chief said that, there are people of Cushitic pastoral origin leaving in the forests near the fishing grounds, who have never heard of the word peace before and therefore even though the Pokomo and the Orma were talking peace, no Pokomo should go fishing lest they are attacked by these people. This particular chief suggested that if the Pokomo men desire to go fishing, they should make sure that they are escorted by the Orma chief himself.

The Pokomo told the Orma chief that he should tell these people to go back to where they came from since they were visitors of the Orma. The Chief admitted that these Cushitic people were visitors and that as he goes to contact these people trying to make peace with them, sometimes he does not even understand their language.

According to a key informant there will not be sustainable peace unless the land and water corridors are demarcated and registered. Also, the Wardei were the most affected compared to the Orma and are not ready for peace. They believe that the Orma have taken advantage of them, such that they were taken to the battlefront and were more involved in the fighting than the Orma. This has caused tensions between the Orma and Wardei.

According to 46 (31%) of the respondents there are positive signs of achieving sustainable peace. It is felt that people are generally drained because of the fighting and want to stop the violence and the conflict since they have lost too much. The farmers have high hopes that the making of boreholes in the hinterland for the pastoralist by some Organizations such as the Red Cross will bring about sustainable peace since this will reduce the competition for resources at the riverine areas. The provincial administration has informed the community that whichever group rouse attacks will face the wrath of the government; this has caused the fighting to cease. However, the key issues, which have acted as root causes of the conflict, are far from being addressed and no lasting peace will come if these issues are not addressed.


Some of the respondents, 8 (5%) reported that they were not sure of sustainability of peace but they prefer to wait-and-see. 6.2 Different roles in Conflict Management In order for the conflict to be managed there are a number of roles for the different parties to the conflict and the government. When asked about these roles that the various parties could play in conflict management, the respondents provided a number of suggestions as recorded in Tables 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3. 6.2.1 The role of farmers The study revealed (Table 6.1) that, 8.6% of the respondents said that in order to manage the conflict all the farmers ought to fence their farms so that animals may not stray into farms. While, 36.6% of the respondents reported that farmers need to press for land adjudication to continue in the district. The pastoralists perceive land as a common resource where everybody has a right of use, whereas the farmers have a customary system of land ownership based on the clan system as highlighted earlier. Furthermore, 3.3% of the respondents said that the conflict may be resolved if the water corridors are increased where there are not sufficient for the use of livestock. According to a group discussion, visitors, in the district, should not expect new water corridors to be allocated for them. Instead they should use the available ones that are recognized by the pastoralists who live in the district, instead of forcing their way to access the river through farms. Instead of taking the law into their own hands the farmers should report the destruction of their crops to the authorities, according to 3.3% of the respondents. According to a key informer, by the time somebody goes to report the animals may have fed on the entire farm, since the farm plots per person rarely exceed 1.5 hectares. In addition, the authorities have been reported not to take any action, since farmers in most cases finds it tricky to identify individual pastoralists who guide their livestock into farms. Sometimes farmers go to a nearby pastoralist manyatta to try and identify the culprit but in vain. Then the Matadheda are blamed for hiding such culprits. The problem is that sometimes the Matadheda may not even know the person being implicated for such offence this is because the pastoralist groups in Tana River increase seasonally, and then go back to their areas as far as Garissa.


Table 6.1: The role of farmers in conflict management

Role Farmers should fence their farms Press for the land adjudication exercise to continue Increase water corridors where they are not sufficient Should report to the authorities in case livestock graze on their farms Should not encroach into the recognized water corridors Get their farms that have been grabbed by the pastoralists back so that people do not have to fight for what does not belong to them. Insist on separate areas for grazing and farming Individual farmers should not allow their farms to be used as grazing fields as this affects other farmers

Frequency 13 55 5 5

Percentage 8.6% 36.6% 3.3% 3.3%

29 49

19.3% 32.6%

10 30

6.6% 20%

N=150 Source: Fieldwork, 2002


Others are Some Somali refugees (the Galjeel) who also live in the district. All the areas that are culturally recognized as water points should not be encroached, according to 9.3% of the respondents; on the other hand 32.6% of the respondents said that the farmers should get back all their farms from the pastoralists that they had grabbed. In addition, 6.6% of the respondents said that the farmers should insist on separate areas for farming activities and for grazing activities. Further, 20% of the respondents proposed that individual farmers should not allow their farms to be used as grazing fields after harvests or before, this is because the livestock end up grazing in other peoples farms, since none of the farms are fenced. Also it has been reported by one key informant that when one pastoralist is allowed to graze in a farm from after harvests, the person then invite very many people claiming that they are relatives. Such people keep grazing on the farm and extending to other farms bringing about conflict. 6.2.2 Role of pastoralists The study was also interested in knowing what role the pastoralists can play in bringing about amicable relations with their neighbors since it appears that conflicts more often than not begin with pastoralists encroaching on farms. The responses were as recorded in Table 6.2: Seventy two percent of the respondents said that, in order for the conflict to be managed, the pastoralists should graze their livestock in the hinterland, far away from the farms, while 36% said that the pastoralist should water their stock only on the specified water corridors. In addition, 33% reported that pastoralists should surrender land they had allegedly grabbed from the farmers, 39% reported that even in case of emergencies such as droughts pastoralists should respect farmers property by not grazing their stock on planted farms. Further, 10% of the respondents proposed that grazing should be confined on the ranches, 10% added that the pastoralists should reduce the size of their herds so that the herder may not find it difficult to control the animals not to enter into farms as they are taken to the river to drink water. Also according to 7% of the respondents, pastoralists should accept the land adjudication exercise because ranches were registered without any objection from the farmers.


According to 13% of the respondents for the conflict to be well managed the pastoralists need to hand over their guns to the government. Some of the respondents (3%) have suggested that the pastoralists should do away with some cultural beliefs that they are more superior to the farmers and take their children to school. Education may help reduce strong ethnic sentiments, which are culturally deeprooted. Lastly, 7% of the respondents said that the pastoralists should not misconstrue individual wrangles for ethnic conflicts, as this may spark a large-scale ethnic violence. 6.2.3 The role of the government The role of government in conflict management was sought and the following responses were recorded. In order for the conflict to be well managed (Table 6.3) 30% of the respondents said that, the government should dig boreholes in the hinterland for use by the pastoralists in order to reduce competition for water resources. Sixty three percent proposed that the government need to continue with the land adjudication programme so that free movement of people and stock may be controlled. On the other hand, 33% reported that the government need to improve the security of the area for the conflict to be managed, security may be improved by introducing more police stations in villages, arming the police force with sophisticated weapons, training police reservists and giving them sophisticated weapons too. Others considered that an army barracks ought to be established in the district due to the position of the district bordering politically unstable states such as Somalia through Garissa and Lamu district. According to 5% of the respondents the government should ensure that each group does not encroach into the others land. Further, 7% said that the government should mediate peace talks in the district. Whereas 10% were of the view that all the visitors in the district should be sent back to their lands, because they increase competition for the limited resources. Also, 13% said that the government should take legal action against leaders who utter inflammatory statements. According to 10% of the respondents the government should stop creating new locations out of the existing ones for specific ethnic groups.


Table 6.2: The role of pastoralists in conflict management

Role Pastoralists should graze their animals in the hinterland far away from the farms Pastoralists should use the specified water corridors to water their animals Pastoralists should surrender the land they grabbed from the farmers In case of emergencies like droughts livestock should not be left to graze on farms but pastoralists should respect farmers property Grazing should be confined in ranches Reduce the number of livestock to reasonable size Should accept land adjudication for farmers because farmers did not object when ranches were registered Hand over guns to the government Do away with some cultural beliefs and go to school Tackle individual cases as such conflict with one person should not lead to ethnic war

Frequency 108

Percentage 72







15 15 10

10 10 7

20 5 10

13 3 7

N=150 Source: Field Work, 2002


Table 6.3: The role of Government in conflict management

Role of Government Dig boreholes in the hinterland for use by the pastoralists Continue with land adjudication in order to restrict free movement Improve security in the district Ensure no encroachment by either group on the others land Mediate in peace talks visitors in Tana River should be sent back to their lands Take legal action against leaders who utter inflammatory statements Stop creating exclusive locations for pastoralists from existing locations Stop behaving like the conflict and the people in Tana River do not exist Encourage pastoralists to take their children to school Search for arms from both communities and should not be biased Should separate farmers from the pastoralists Do nothing

Frequency 45 95

Percentage 30 63

49 7

33 5

10 15

7 10






5 38

3 25

47 5

31 3

N=150 Source: Field Work, 2002


Some of the respondents (7%) were of the opinion that the government has neglected the district and has not been taking the conflict seriously. The government should therefore take action in managing the conflict and making sure that the people in Tana River are safe. In addition, 3% said that the government should encourage pastoralist groups to take their children to school.

The government should not take sides in the conflict according to 25% of the respondents, and should therefore search for weapons from both groups; the question is, why should the people want the government to mediate the conflict management exercise, if they think the government is biased? The people realize the government has coercive force and could help bring peace to the district. Without the government people will kill each other year in, year out because the conflict seem to be institutionalized.

According to a group discussion, the government should act as a witness in the intercommunal peace talks. The government according to 31% of the respondents should separate the farmers from the pastoralists because living together is directly proportional to conflict and this may be a good solution for the conflict. However, according to a group discussion with the pastoralists they do not want to be separated from the farmers because they cannot live without them, they need to be exchanging their pastoral goods with them. The farmers on the other hand report that they can live without the pastoralists, by the time the researcher left the study area no farmer was buying milk from the pastoralists. The government should do nothing according to 3% of the respondents, this position shows a resigned mood on the part of some respondents

According to a report made by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK, July, 2002:10) government administrators whether at the local level or otherwise have never been in a position to sufficiently deal with the conflict situation in Tana River. In dealing with the conflict emphasis is laid on peace for its own sake and not justice obtained through punishing the perpetrators of the conflict. This is further reported by one key informant who said that the government administrators would call for a public meeting and simply ask how many people want peace. The people therefore


complain that the real issues to the conflict are not addressed and pastoralists are quick to accept peace and quick to repeat atrocities.

6.3 Solutions given to the conflict by the Tana River Gasa elders

According to a report made by the Gasa (August, 2001); 1. The killers should be brought to book 2. In the district 70% of the land is government land. Out of this 58% has been allocated to group ranches namely, Idasa Godana, Kon Dertu, Nairobi, Kitangale, Kurawa Holding, Giritu, Mpongwe, Wachu and Galana. All the above ranches have been issued with title deeds that belong to Orma and there are plans to register five more ranches namely, Assa, Hangada, Jama Komoro, Waldena and Bura Group. The government should not deny the Pokomo land registration under the pretext of insecurity 3. No more allocation of group ranches. The five ranches should not be registered 4. The Pokomo occupy only 10% of the land. It is unfair to deny them this small percentage; therefore the land adjudication should be commenced with immediate effect.

6.4 Possible solutions of the conflict obtained from participants of a workshop

According to a workshop report prepared by, Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP, 2001b). In order to manage the conflict the following should be done;

Strengthen traditional structures of council of elders

It is important to revitalize the cultural conflict resolving institutions, such as the Gasa and Matadheda this can be done through; Identifying two elders from each location to form a peace management committee Local leaders, making sure that the youth respect the decisions arrived at in meetings of the council of elders


Elders nominated in the Gasa and Matadheda should be faithful and committed elders of the community Peace ceremonies Ibisa should be conducted after conflicts occur to ensure reconciliation Peace committees should be chosen by the village elders themselves During deliberations elders should be open and truthful Matadheda and Gasa should avoid indulging themselves in political affairs Chiefs should stop interfering into the activities of the Gasa and Matadheda Matadheda and Gasa to deliberate peace related issues.

Land adjudication Land conflicts to be dealt with by the Gasa and Matadheda Avail at least two water corridors or malkas in every location Elderly people to take responsibility of herding especially near the farms

According to a Peace and Reconciliation Workshop for Councilors (Caritas Malindi Development office, February, 2002) propositions that were made with regard to the issue of land adjudication include the following; Involvement of all community members on issues related to land adjudication, so that both farmers and pastoralists can know what is at stake. Involvement of the community elders for they are the backbone of the community Land to be adjudicated following cultural and traditional structures as done in other areas in the country Consideration of dry and wet seasons for both farmers and pastoralists for the sake of different livelihood set-ups Land to be adjudicated following traditional and ancestral ownership Formation of land adjudication committees should be inclusive of all communities Government land should be adjudicated to the people for example, the moribund irrigation schemes.


Recurrent bout of drought Kenya electricity generating company (Ken gen) and Kenya Power and lighting company to assist drought related development projects in Tana River district, since the damming activities upstream has resulted in reduced flooding in the delta causing destruction of ecology and affecting fall-back areas Construction of dams/reservoirs to harness water for use during dry spells

Reluctance of appropriate measures by administrative arms Peace management committees that are formed should form regulations which conforms with laws of Kenya and to involve all stakeholders Rumor mongers to be dealt with accordingly Victims of conflicts should be penalized in accordance with the law Office of the District Commissioner to facilitate elders deliberations

Poor community relationship Conflicts occurring in one area should not spread over the entire district Communities should respect each others culture and lifestyles People to form a spirit of apology and forgiveness Abide with religious teachings Tana River residents to have a common understanding towards visitors in the district

6.5 Solutions given by the Orma and Wardei pastoralists

Riverine land should not be registered according to Pokomo customs alone, but the government should also consider traditional ways of land-use among the pastoralists. This is because the pastoralists have found out that the land in the hinterland is not productive for those who want to practice or are already practicing agro-pastoralism. Thus, the pastoralists in Tana River would like to share the riverine land with he farmers.


The pastoralists would like to be educated on the land adjudication processes and what is at stake for them.

6.6 Traditional Method of Conflict Resolution

In the past when the Pokomo farmers conflicted with the Orma (not the Wardei) pastoralists they would perform a ceremony called ibisa usually done in the area worst hit by the conflict and this was therefore always done in the Pokomo villages. The pastoralists would provide a bull and the farmers, farm products, usually rice. People would talk of the causes of the conflict and the perpetrators of the conflict. A prayer would be made, and anybody who would initiate the conflict afresh would be cursed such that bad luck would befall him and his entire family. The last serious conflict that occurred in the 1980-1981 was not resolved traditionally and people feared that the conflict could erupt anytime. The Pokomo farmers therefore had an agreement with an Orma who wanted to be a legislator in 1997 that they would vote for him, if he could assure the voters that during his term he would facilitate ibisa. Unfortunately the said Orma became a Member of Parliament and did not facilitate the traditional peace-making ceremony. Instead during his term conflict rose to its worst peak in the year 2001.

According to a group discussion some of the members of the group felt that sustainable peace could be obtained through the traditional ceremony of ibisa. However, there are a number of issues to be addressed; to what extent will ibisa be effective keeping in mind that the parties to the conflict have changed? The only people who can conduct ibisa are Pokomo and the Orma. Now the conflict scene has new actors such as the Wardei. According to a group discussion with the Wardei, they are aware that the Orma used to resolve their conflicts with the Pokomo people through ibisa but they have never conducted this with the Pokomo themselves, although some of them have settled in the district since 1967.Ibisa may not be effective unless it is modified to fit the values of the new actors in the conflict scene.


At a peace meeting conducted in an Orma village between the Orma and the Pokomo. The researcher observed that, the Pokomo elders called all the Pokomo who attended the meeting and briefed them on what to talk about. There was to be no mention of the causes of the conflict, and no mention of ibisa, people were to talk about impacts of the conflict (not to mention the killings but talk generally on impacts on education and economy) and why they wanted peace. The Orma, the researcher noted talked about bitter experiences of the conflict. This stance taken by the Pokomo was probably used to act as a balance so that the meeting could be successful, because if both parties talked resentfully then people would have left the meeting feeling bitter after they would have been reminded of their losses.




7.0 Summary of the findings

The general objective of this study was to find out the causes of the conflict, what compels the pastoralists to behave in a war-like manner, the impacts as well as the management of the conflict.

The first specific objective was to find out the causes of the conflict and it was found out that the cause of the conflict was multidimensional as well as multifaceted in that a number of causes were cited and these include; fear of displacement by the pastoralists due to the land adjudication exercise which had hardly taken off, incitement by politicians, Gasa and Matadheda elders, grazing in planted farms, land ownership and creation of new administrative locations this was a problem in that the two conflicting communities perceived the locations differently, one of the groups viewed the locations as areas comprising of specific ethnic groups. The other causes are closure of water corridors, lifestyles and different uses of common resources, drought and creation of unrecognized water corridors passing through farms and influx of aliens in the district. This study did cover any longitudinal comparisons of causes of conflicts but this can be an area for further research. The implication is that the first assumption of the study, which states, Under normal circumstances, conflict like cooperation is multidimensional and multifaceted in cause and consequence. Tana River being an arid and semiarid district, it is however, expected that conflict between the pastoral Orma and Wardei and the agricultural Pokomo is about ownership and use of land, pasture and water resources, was proved to be correct. As a consequence of this, the following recommendations can be suggested:


1. The pastoralists should be educated on the land adjudication issue. Land tenure should be governed through customary or communal rites. 2. Community relations can improve if both groups respect each others wealth. Farmers should not attack livestock that graze in their farms but may tie the animal and report to the relevant authorities. The pastoralists should also respect the farmers crops and should not deliberately graze their animals in farms 3. All leaders should desist from issuing negative statements. The council of elders from the conflicting groups should avoid issuing inflammatory statements. The traditional institutions of the Gasa and Matadheda should be revitalized to enable conflict to be treated at an early stage before it erupts to uncontrollable violence. 4. On the issue of land ownership and creation of new locations, the farmers should not be dispossessed of the riverine land, which is only 1/10 of the land in the district. 5. With regard to malka areas the government should demarcate the existing watering points and maintain them, where possible fence them, though this may be expensive, but in the long run it will be cheaper than the cost of conflict. 6. New locations created out of existing ones should be revoked and the old ones remain as before 7. There are no proper droughts coping mechanisms. There is a lot of surface run off through seasonal rivers. Instead of wasting this water which ultimately drain into the Indian Ocean. The water may be dammed at several points so that it can be used for irrigation or livestock. This will keep the pastoralist groups inland 8. There should be proper and controlled movement of pastoralists from neighboring districts or countries as the case may be

The second specific objective was to find out the environmental and other factors that compel pastoralists to be war-like. It was found out that the culture of the pastoralist groups might be a contributing factor in that some of the pastoralists seem to hold a conviction that they are the only ones who should keep certain kinds of livestock and if others keep them they will be dispossessed. The culture of cattle rustling contribute to the war-like behavior of pastoralists where it may be practiced Also the harsh environmental conditions may be a contributing factor in that


pastoralists have to walk for long distances often in areas with wild animals. They also need to constantly protect themselves against military raids by fellow human beings in new areas that they go for purposes of grazing. They therefore need to prepare themselves for such eventualities.

It is important to note that historically, the pastoral groups (Orma/Wardei) have oscillated between Tana River to the south in Kenya, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the east. In the neighboring countries that is, Southern Ethiopia and Somalia they have both relatives and stock associates. These are areas of insecurity from where they have acquired sophisticated weapons. This also encourages them to bully the Pokomo.

Under normal circumstances the pastoral communities do not value land per se but in terms of the resources there in, that is, water and pasture. This is why the idea of open corridors to River Tana and grazing in the fields of farmers are significant causes of the conflict. Thus, the different perception of what is a resource, who owns it and how it should be used differs from society to society, depending on the mode of livelihood and culture. Thus the second assumption, which states environmental factors and the distance between the Orma and Pokomo cultures leading to different perceptions towards resources and each other are probably some of the causes of the conflict between the two groups that pursue different kinds of livelihoods, has been confirmed to be true. There is no intergroup, intercultural communication between the Orma/Wardei and the Pokomo due to institutionalized conflicts and contradictions based on ethnocentrism, stereotypes and social segregation. It is therefore recommended that; aspects of cultures, which are no longer useful, should be done away with. The belief that only pastoralists have a right to livestock is retrogressive and should be done away with. The culture of raiding among pastoralists should also be left and new ways of coping with calamities for example, drought should be sought. Governments should ensure its citizens are secure.


The third specific objective was to find out the socio-economic, cultural and psychological impacts of the conflict.

The socio-economic impacts included the following; there were internally displaced persons, some members of a specific group could not attend public hospitals because most of the workers of the hospital are from the enemy camp. Necessities became difficult to obtain and the people obtained them through walking in groups for security reasons as they go to their farms, shopping or to the forests to get building materials as the case may be. Relief aid was distributed in form of food, drugs and even building materials to both the affected parties although the relief aid was slow in coming and inadequate most of the times. Most of the people did not feel safe when government security was taken to their villages because they complained of harassment.

In the education sector, students reported lack of concentration in school, some of the students kept thinking about their relatives at home and whether they were still alive or not, some lost their relatives, others were involved in the conflict through guarding their villages, other student respondents were orphaned as a result of the conflict, in the schools studied the students do not trust each other because some of them carry weapons like knives, among other impacts.

The cultural impacts were as follows; some of the displaced people have settled on graveyards such that another group is not able to bury their dead. In addition the traditional rules of war were not observed during the conflict and this brings the realization that cultural expectation in intergroup relations are fast disintegrating.

The psychological impact is manifested in the following ways; confusion and individuals getting depressed, some people are ever miserable, some get nightmares and they hallucinate, still others experience sleeplessness. Old people have suffered from hypertension and sudden deaths, some people are abnormally calm even after seeing mutilated bodies of relatives, others react violently to loud noise, at least two people are completely insane while others feel ugly due to physical deformities they succumbed to and they fully cover their bodies and stay indoors.


It is recommended that intervention strategies in the study area by the government or Non-governmental organizations should find a way of dealing with the psychological impact apart from giving aid on physical needs alone. People need to have their psychological needs attended too.

There are some positive impacts that have occurred as a result of the conflict. The sub-tribes from both the conflicting groups that usually are divided were united during the period of active conflict. Some Orma pastoralists have acquired their own canoes and can ferry themselves across the river meaning that they do not have to pay the fee to be ferried by the Pokomo farmers in some areas.

The fourth specific objective was to find out ways of managing the conflict. A number of views have been obtained from the study area. There are a number of organizations/institutions, which are involved in the management of the conflict. Some of the organizations include the Red Cross, Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, World vision, the Arid Lands and Resource Management Programme in conjunction with the ox-fam group among others. The institutions involved include the Pokomo elders of council (Gasa) and the Orma/Wardei council of elders (Matadheda).

For the conflict to be managed different groups have their roles to play. The farmers it is reported should fence their farms, they should press for the land adjudication exercise, should increase the water corridors where they are not enough, ought to report to the authorities in case pastoralists graze their animals in their farms, must not encroach on water corridors, should take grabbed farmlands from the pastoralists. In addition the farmers are to insist on separate areas for themselves and the pastoralists and finally individual farmers should not allow their farms to be used as grazing areas as this is likely to affect other farmers.

The pastoralists are to graze their animals in the hinterland far away from the farms, they are to use specified water corridors, they are to surrender the land they grabbed from the farmers and in cases of emergencies like droughts livestock should not be left to graze on farms but pastoralists should respect farmers property. The pastoralists should confine grazing in the ranches, they should reduce their herd size,


should accept land adjudication for the farmers because the farmers did not object to the ranches being registered. The pastoralist in order to manage the conflict it is proposed that they should surrender their guns to the government; they should do away with cultural beliefs and take their children to school. Finally, they should tackle individual cases of conflict as individual instead of letting the conflict between two people spread to the whole society leading to ethnic war.

The solutions given to the pastoralists themselves are that, the land should not be registered according to Pokomo customs alone but consideration should be given to pastoralist traditional system of land-use. In addition the pastoralist would like to be educated on the issue of land adjudication before they can be expected to accept the exercise.

The solution given by the Gasa generally is that, the government should not deny the Pokomo an inalienable right to legally own their land under the pretext of insecurity while the pastoralists own ranches legally.

According to participants of a workshop there is need to strengthen the traditional structures of the council of elders in order to handle the conflicts, at least two water corridors should be availed in every location and registration of land should continue.

In another workshop, the views of the participants include; that the community members should be involved on issues related to land adjudication so that both farmers and pastoralists can know what is at stake, the community elders should be involved, land to be adjudicated following cultural and traditional structures, consideration of dry and wet seasons for both farmers and pastoralists for the sake of different livelihood set-ups, land to be adjudicated following traditional and ancestral ownership. In order to address the issue of droughts there should be the construction of dams/reservoirs to harness water for use during dry spells.

With regard to reluctance of appropriate measures by administrative arms the government should deal with early warning signs of conflict such as rumour mongering among other things. To improve on community relations conflicts


occurring in one area should not spread over the entire district and the communities should respect each others culture and lifestyles. With regard to conflict management it is recommended that the government should as a matter of priority establish a barracks in Tana River considering its strategic position to some unstable countries such as Somalia and Ethiopia.

The research findings show that there is a great need for proper policies on land in Tana River district taking into consideration the traditional ways of land-use and ownership of the locals.

An unbelievable amount of human suffering has already occurred in the district, resulting from the conflict. It is to the credit of the local people mostly, that a fragile peace now holds as a result of different committees for peace (Elders, women and the youth), which enabled the visitations of pastoralists and farmers at their respective villages to talk about peace.

At the base of the human suffering are the complex problems of natural resources of land, water and pasture. If these are not managed with reasonable priority and in a way to lead to the settlement of the conflict, the existing peace will suffer strains it may be unable to endure.


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Dear respondent,

This interview is part of the requirements of getting an Mphil degree in Human Ecology, in the School of Environmental Studies, Moi University. It is conducted in an attempt to learn about the conflict in Tana-River district and its socio-economic impact. The results of this study, it is hoped will lead to sustainable methods of resolving the conflict and also, enable policy makers and government administrators in the district to make informed decisions concerning the perennial conflict.

Most questions involve what has been experienced during the period of active conflict and it may be distressing to express yourself. But please do try and take your time to answer the questions aptly and sincerely. This is because if some solutions to this problem are going to be attained we need you to be strong enough and tell us what you think.

If you find it difficult to answer some questions sincerely say so. But since we are asking only a few people to answer these questions your full cooperation is extremely important. All your answers will be kept completely confidential and your name will never be associated with them.

Pilly Martin Research Executant Human Ecology, School of Environmental Studies, Moi University - Eldoret.


Section A

1.What do you understand by ethnicity? In the Tana-River conflict?

a. Differences in religion b. Differences in languages c. Differences in culture and modes of livelihoods d. All of the above e. Others (specify)

2. How did the Pokomo farmers and the Orma/Wardei pastoralists find themselves in Garsen division together? a. Is there any myth that relates the two (above)?

3. How are the Pokomo adapted to the environment?

4. How are the Orma/Wardei adapted to the environment?

5. What is the social organization of the Pokomo?

6. What is the social organization of the Orma/Wardei?

7. What are the causes of the conflict in Garsen division?

8. Are there any rules in the society to guide the use of resources by the farmers and the pastoralists?

9. Did you stay in your village throughout the period of the conflict in the year 2001? a. If the answer is No above, where did you go?

11. Are there any houses or manyattas that were burned in your village in the year 2001?


12. Were schools closed during the period of active conflict in the year 2001 or learning continued in your location?

13. Are you attending the same hospital you used to attend before the conflict broke? a. If No why? b. Where do you go for medication when you are sick?

14. Are there any rules of the market shared by the pastoralists Orma/Wardei and the Pokomo farmers? a. If yes, what are they?

15. How were necessities obtained during the conflict period?

15. What are the traditional rules of war? a. Were they observed during the period of active violence? (Please explain) 16. What are the regulations regarding grazing areas near the farmers settlements?

17. How was the trend of farming during the period of active conflict?

18. How was the trend of herding livestock during the period of active conflict?

19. How does the community organize itself in anticipating for attacks?

20. What kind of form did the attacks take? a. Were the attacks done during the day or at night?

21.What was the stand of the politicians during the period of active conflict?

22. Do you know anybody in your village who is psychologically affected as a result of the conflict? a. What form does this psychological impact take?

23. How did the conflict affect you as a person and your family?


24. Were you safe when the government brought its security personnel in the area? a. If yes in what way? b. If no, in what way?

25. What do you think should be done to restore peace? a. What should the pastoralists do? b. What should the farmers do? c. What should the government do?

26. Are there any organizations/institutions that are involved in resolving the conflict in your area? a. If yes, which are they? b. Are there any positive signs of achieving sustainable peace?

27. Whenever there was tension in the past between the farmers and the pastoralists how was it resolved?

28. What is the role of the Government in; a. Conflict and b. Conflict management?


Section B: Personal information

The information you have given is strictly confidential as stated above. However, the following questions form an important part of the research.

Q1. What is your age category?

a. Under 20 b. 20-29 c. 30-39 d. 40-49 e. 50-59 f. 60-69 g. 70 or over

Q2. Your sex? Male/Female

Q3. What is your level of education attained?

a. No formal education b. Primary school and less c. Secondary school and less d. College e. Diploma f. Degree g. Post-graduate

Q4. What is your ethnic group? a. Orma b. Wardei c. Pokomo d. Others (please specify)


Q5. Please indicate whether you agree with each of the following statements by answering (T) true, (F) false or (D) dont know. i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. I found the interview very interesting The interview took too long I felt I did not have enough information I felt I did not have enough time to consider Offering my opinions generally comes easy to me I answered the questions hoping the conflict will be resolved soon I dont like being asked questions about the conflict

Thank you for completing this survey

Section C: Interviewer comments 1. Understanding Complete 1 Great deal 2 Somewhat 3 Little 4 Not very much 5 Not at all 6 2. Consideration given to questions Prolonged 1 Careful 2 Some 3 Very little 4 3. For what length of time did the interview appropriately last? .minutes. 4. Site of interview 5. Date of interview 6. Questionnaire number I certify that I conducted the above interview, to the best of my ability and have correctly recorded the answers given by the respondent. Signed. Supervisor.. Date. Date..



Section A: Instruction

1. This questionnaire is aimed at acquiring knowledge on the causes, impacts and resolution of the conflict that took place in Tana River, Garsen division in the year 2001. 2. You may not consult your friends your opinions are very important 3. Thank you

Section B: Personal Details Age Sex F/M Ethnic Group (E.g. Pokomo, Orma etc.).. Form (e.g. 1, 2, 3, or 4)...

Section C

1. How did the conflict affect you?

2. Was your school attacked? a. Yes/No

3. If the answer is yes for question two (2) above. a. Are there any students who died in your school as a result of the attack? b. Please give details of the attack?

4. How are your marks per subject for the year 2001? (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor) a. Which term did you perform the worst during the three terms? b. How can you compare your performance for the year 2000 and 2001?

5. For how long did your school closedown in the year 2001? a. Which term was it (for Q5. above)?


6. What was the relationship among students from pastoralist families (especially the Orma and the Wardei) and those from the Pokomo families?

7. Did your family move to another area during the period of the conflict? a. If yes, where did you go?

8. Have your parents or guardian been able to pay fees for you as usual immediately the schools were opened in the year 2002?

9. Were your teachers teaching normally in the whole of the year 2001? a. Describe the situation

10. What do you think are the causes of the conflict?

11. What do you think should be done to attain sustainable peace in the district?

12. Were you involved in the conflict in any way? a. If yes how?

13. Have you witnessed anybody who was been murdered during the conflict? a. If yes what type of weapon was been used? b. Do you still think about it or you got used to it?




What are the causes of the conflict?


What are the types of conflicts in the Tana region?


What are the rules in the society used to guide the use of resources between the farmers and the pastoralist?


How have the Pokomo farmers been able over the years, to build a force to counter the pastoralists?


What need to be done to resolve the conflict once and for all?


What are the needs of the pastoralists?


What are the needs of the farmers?


What are the impacts of the conflict?


Who do you think should conduct the conflict resolution procedures? The government, village elders, or some Non-Governmental Organization. Give a reason for your choice.


What kinds of weapons were used in the violent conflict? Did the community form an army to defend or attack the enemy? What has been the local politicians attitude throughout the conflict period?



13. led

Do you consider yourself to be peaceful now that the conflict is inactive? What to this state of affairs?