Militianisation of resource conflicts: The case of land-based conflict in the Mount Elgon region of Western Kenya - GSDRC

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2008-10

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GSDRC

Abstract

In the early 1970s, the government of Kenya set out to implement a land resettlement programme for squatters in the Chepyuk area of Mount Elgon District, intended primarily for the Mosop (Ndorobo) and Soy clans of the district’s ‘autochthonous’ and dominant Sabaot community. From its inception, the programme was derailed by claims and counterclaims of state favouritism and corruption by both clans, leading to a cycle of allocations, annulments and evictions. Th is has engendered discontentment and exacerbated intra-community tensions and confl icts, which took a more violent turn in 2006 aft er the fi nalisation of the land allocation process, during the third phase of the resettlement programme. One of the outcomes of the process required some members of the Soy clan, who had already settled, to vacate their land and others to give up part of their land for subdivision and allocation to other families from the Mosop clan and a section of the Soy clan. However, they mobilised young people to defend their land and resist any evictions, culminating in the formation of a militia group called the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF). It is the activities of this militia that have defi ned the confl ict in Mount Elgon District

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