Rebuilding Kenya

Giving people a voice

Published on ReliefWeb, by Action Aid, Febr. 21, 2008.

2 excerpts: … Since the peace talks began, there has been an uneasy calm in the country, although amongst those who are living in deplorable conditions in relief camps, there is still a palpable sense of fear, anxiety and insecurity. Tellingly, the plight of the poorest people is slipping down the agenda.

Back page news: …

… An opportunity to move forward:

On the economic and political front, all investments and development funds must be treated as opportunities to rebuild peace and to act as an insurance against any further conflict. Most importantly they should not be used to amplify the violence.

Now is a timely opportunity to guide members of the Kenyan parliament on making Constituency Development Funds conflict sensitive. Constituency Development Funds are funds devolved to the constituencies from the central government to address poverty and inequalities. If properly used, they could be a vital peace building tool.

Local media houses should also take on responsibility to spread conciliation messages. Unfortunately the media has been blocked from covering the mediation talks and the constructive role they could play is being sidelined.

This is an historic moment, and one in which the media needs to go the extra mile. It means not limiting their potential to the usual role of reporting. Editors can and should show sensitivity to educate, inform and empower their audiences.

Kenya must learn from history and from its neighbours. Learning from reconciliation and peace building efforts from Rwanda, Burundi and elsewhere could help, as would community-based initiatives to engage people from all walks of life and different ethnic groups. Lives lost must not be in vain. That is everyone’s collective responsibility. (full text).

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