New Report Explores Legitimacy and Conflict in Two Kenyan Wards 

Washington, D.C. – Longstanding intercommunal conflicts in Kenya’s Bartabwa and Balambala wards (in Baringo and Garissa counties respectively) continue to disrupt fragile opportunities for peace and local democratic governance. Even though wide majorities in both communities want peace, ordinary Kenyan citizens still bear the brunt of conflict.

The International Republican Institute’s (IRI) new report The Struggle for Pluralism and Peace: Legitimacy, Conflict and Governance in Two Kenyan Wards explores how legitimacy and governance intersects with the conflict landscape in Kenya. IRI applied its Conflict, Governance and Legitimacy Assessment Framework by conducting community-level surveys, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews in Balambala and Bartabwa wards to uncover how the subtle concept of legitimacy can impact governance and dynamics in communities that struggle with intercommunal resource conflicts.  

The report has several key findings, including how intercommunal perceptions of resource scarcity drive conflict. Additionally, the report uncovered how traditional elites and politicians act as key actors that mitigate conflict, but also sometimes benefit politically or economically from conflict. According to the research, there is a crisis of legitimacy amongst formal actors and institutions, which has opened the door for informal actors to act as brokers between conflicting parties.  

As Kenya prepares for national elections in August, when tensions are expected to run high, policymakers and practitioners should consider the report’s findings and recommendations when aiming to promote peace. 

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