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Kenyan charity promotes cohesion in
volatile regions ahead of August polls    

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- An innovative conflict resolution model pioneered by a Nairobi-based charity group is helping Kenya’s warring communities lay down arms ahead of hotly contested August polls.

The Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation said in a statement on Monday that its research and development centered peace-building initiative could strengthen cohesion in volatile regions like the arid north and urban slums as Kenya gears up for elections.

Father Patrick Devine, an Irish priest who founded the charity organization in 2009, said that a participatory and development oriented approach to conflict resolution is crucial to prevent skirmishes in Kenya and beyond the borders.

“By empowering Kenya’s grassroots to address the underlying causes of conflict like poverty and environmental degradation, a transformation will be realized,” Devine remarked, adding that provision of social amenities like education, health and clean water has reduced inter-tribal conflicts in Kenya’s arid north.

The Shalom centre was founded in the aftermath of 2007-08 post election violence in Kenya that claimed 1,300 lives and displaced more than half a million people.

Its conflict resolution model in northern Kenya where competition for scarce resources, small arms and incitement are to blame for inter-tribal skirmishes will soon be rolled out in strife-torn neighboring countries.

Devine said that local and international peace ambassadors will ramp up dialogue and empowerment of grassroots communities in Kenya’s violence hotspots like the arid north and urban slums to ward of election related chaos.

“So far this year, we have implemented over 50 workshops on the issue of election preparedness aimed at conflict prevention and ensuring a fair and just process,” said Devine.

He added that his organization has partnered with Kenyan independent institutions to empower local communities and ensure they own the electoral process to avoid manipulation by inciters.

“We are utilizing quality research to ensure that local communities’ capacity can be manipulated positively to ensure they take ownership for peaceful, fair and just process in the period before, during and after voting,” Devine remarked.

He noted that solar powered schools, health centers and water projects have boosted peace and development in Kenya’s northern frontier districts that are synonymous with conflicts and climatic shocks.



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