The overall objective of the “Preventing Inter-Community Conflicts in East Africa” is to contribute to effective conflict-prevention strategies to address inter-community tensions around natural resources in East Africa. It has been implemented across three countries in the East Africa region; in Kenya in the Districts of Baringo, Koibatek and East Mau, in Uganda in the regions of Karamoja, Teso, Kabale, Kasese and Kisoro and in South Sudan in Jonglei State.
Competition over natural resources is an increasing and chronic source of conflict across East Africa. This state of affairs has been exacerbated in recent times with variable weather patterns negatively affecting crop yields, creating different patterns of water availability and grazing in pastoralist rangelands. These changes increase pressure on livelihoods and result in increased tensions over access, use and ownership of natural resources. Furthermore these tensions can easily tap into existing conflict ‘fault lines’ between different communities and be triggered by the most minor of incidents. Those who live in marginal lands are the most affected by this situation. They are simultaneously the least close to the centres of power and least likely to be able to raise their voices to the government to challenge decisions, policies, and unjust actions that do not take their perspectives, livelihoods or at worst their fundamental human rights into account.
Minority communities in the three countries have suffered consistently from unfavorable Government policies and even development interventions aimed at assisting them do not take into account the local context and dynamics between different groups. At worst such humanitarian or development actions can do harm and increase or create conflict through a thoughtless distribution of resources to needy communities that may be perceived to have benefited unfairly and at the expense of desperate neighbours. Conflicts can be between minority communities themselves or among minorities and majorities. It is MRG’s perspective that taking a minority rights approach will empower all the groups involved to obtain solutions that consider all of them equally.
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