UNCRD Africa Office

Human Security in Northern Kenya: Assessment, Capacity-Building and Operational Tools to Promote Sustainable Livelihoods and Conflict Management

Outline | Objectives | Outputs | Activities


Ethnic wars, political violence, and border conflicts have led to a flood of refugees and displaced people vying for food and health care in camps throughout East Africa. In the formerly stable and prosperous country of Kenya, political and ethnic fighting has left 1,000 dead and over 300,000 displaced.

To stem the violence and open the doors of economic opportunity for its citizens, the UNCRD Africa Office and University of Denver, USA have embarked on a three-year research-cum-capacity-building project. The project is aimed at managing conflict and building economic survival skills for those in the hardest hit regions of Kenya. Research will focus on the displaced populations of the North Rift and North Eastern regions, among the ten poorest regions in Kenya. Largely inhabited by pastoralists who follow their cattle across the arid and semi-arid landscape in search of green pastures and water, these regions have seen an increase in conflicts between local residents, refugees, and displaced Kenyans. Political unrest, ethnic rivalries, and violent crime all add up to a disturbing conflict situation.

The UNCRD Africa Office and University of Denver researchers will begin assessing the situation in selected districts this year and, with their local partners, develop a tool kit of methodologies for conflict management and building capacity for economic development. They hope to teach displaced citizens and refugees the skills to deal with their disputes and work together to build sustainable communities. That includes developing job skills; finding access to food, health care and other basic services; and learning ways to manage their lives outside the camps.


Within the overall context of human insecurity in North Rift and North East Kenya, this project aims to reduce vulnerability and increase human security of communities affected by conflict in Northern Kenya by building the capacity of the community and empowering vulnerable groups affected by conflict through identification and promotion of sustainable livelihood and conflict management strategies. More specifically, the project aims to:

  1. Identify and address the human security concerns arising out of conflict, migration, and cattle rustling in Northern Kenya;
  2. Study and analyse best practices of increasing human security at the local level through community mobilization and the creation of sustainable livelihoods;
  3. Impart training on the human security concept and the methods to identify individuals and communities vulnerable to conflicts, and economic, social, cultural, and environmental threats;
  4. Identify the roles and responsibilities of the various agencies involved in development and the issues in creating complementary partnerships for human security;
  5. Disseminate the findings and results of the project widely among the various stakeholders in governmental, and nongovernmental organizations, and bilateral and multilateral agencies concerned; and
  6. Seek the means to integrate human security into integrated regional development plans by including a human security orientation in their action plans.


  • A preliminary research report based on desk research and discussions with research groups and professionals;
  • A preliminary research report based on field studies with information on primary local stakeholders, particularly in the selected case study areas;
  • Stakeholder identification and analysis for each case study. The stakeholder analysis will include data on the needs, risks, best practices, and roles and responsibilities of primary stakeholders in the case study areas in livelihood creation and (post)-conflict management;
  • A baseline study on external aid dependence; level of poverty and unsustainable livelihoods; and number of people involved, directly affected or in fear of being affected by conflict;
  • An overview of best practices, including traditional method of livelihood creation and conflict management strategies; and
  • Strategies for capacity-building designed.


After completing work in Northern Kenya, the research team will organize regional seminars on human security and conflict management throughout East Africa (July 2009, September 2009) and share information with key stakeholders throughout Kenya. The project is being fully financed by the University of Denver.

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