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UNV volunteer fosters social cohesion
by Matiko Bohoko

A UNV volunteer Peace Monitor hands out a peace flyer to a resident of Baba Ndogo in Kasarani District during a peace caravan on the eve of the 2010 referendum in Kenya. (UNV)A UNV volunteer Peace Monitor hands out a peace flyer to a resident of Baba Ndogo in Kasarani District during a peace caravan on the eve of the 2010 referendum in Kenya. (UNV)
08 October 2010

Kuria, Kenya: I am a national UNV volunteer in the larger Kuria comprised of two districts, Kuria West and Kuria east and inhabited by the Kuria people. During the referendum the Kuria people were largely against the constitution while their neighbors in the north, the Luos, were in support of the constitution.

Tension that included hostile speeches from community leaders and local councillors became the order of the day. I constantly alerted the security team within the district to be alert and watchful of eminent attack by the Kuria on members of other communities in support of the then draft law.

I also managed to convince the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to conduct a peace and consensus building meeting between the Kuria and the Luo communities of Migori district where an agreement was reached by both communities to maintain peace during and after the referendum.

Fears of assimilation by the Luo community were eased, and both communities agreed to share positions fairly in Migori district. There was also an understanding that resources within the Migori County would be shared equally amongst communities living in the county.

The referendum was held peacefully with an estimated 16,000 Kuria people voting for the new constitution and another 21,000 voting against.
In the last two months (August and September), I have successfully participated in organizing peace caravan meetings sponsored by USAID in Kuria and the neighbouring Tanzania in a bid to find lasting peace within the Kuria clans and neighbouring communities.

I am currently engaged as a peace coordinator in identifying and initiating a social project to be undertaken by the Maasai and the Kuria people along the Kuria/Transmara border (in southwestern Kenya) under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional affairs. The project aims at developing social cohesion amongst the two feuding communities with a view of ending their historical and cultural animosity.

UNV is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)