Dorina Prech is an active team member of the Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI), Kenya Project. She has been a member since 2012, joining after attending MBBI’s international peace conference held at her university. With a background in mediation, peacebuilding, and conflict studies, Dorina is a community mobilizer and a pastoralist people’s activist championing peace and security in conflict-prone areas of Kenya.
If there is something that breaks your heart and gives you sleepless nights, it is a sign that this is what you are meant to do. That is the duty of the mediator. For me, it is the insecurity and disempowerment of the pastoralists in the Horn of Africa.
Northern Kenya is one of the most socio-economically marginalized regions in Kenya, resulting in glaring inequalities between its counties and the rest of the country. The ongoing instability in the Horn of Africa and the persistent inter-ethnic violence continues to threaten regional, county and local peace and cohesion. In the North Rift region, deadly cattle raids and widespread violence is common, as communities clash over water and pasture resources for their most valued source of livelihood: livestock.
Language Bridging Peace
Dorina is from a community deemed ‘one of the most violent in Kenya’, largely due to negative media perception. She felt compelled to change the conflict situation in the North Rift. As a member of MBBI’s Kenya Project, she participated in the design of the Warriors to Peace Guardians framework. The goal of the program is to enable ethnic communities – largely the youth – in remote Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu counties to interrupt the existing cycle of violence through the adoption of conflict analysis and mediation promoting sustainable co-existence and fostering social stability environment through nonviolent resolutions of conflicts. The Warriors to Peace Guardians framework was successful as it built a broad, diverse, and inclusive network of peace guardians in the three communities.
The Warriors to Peace Guardians framework main goal is resolving the disputes between the warring communities; however, it places a large emphasis on finding common ground and shared aspects between the communities. This method, entitled the Peace Caravan, helps deescalate tension and decrease the outbreak of violence between communities with the end goal of poverty alleviation. Dorina has been a large advocate of cross-community engagement in order to facilitate a more peaceful and a prosperous Northern Kenya. The Warriors to Peace Guardians framework utilizes the influence of local professionals to educate their communities about the need to embrace peace and live in harmony with their perceived enemies.
Holding Half the Sky
Dorina wholeheartedly follows the mantra women hold half the sky. She has seen an outstanding transformation of intra- and inter-community relations resulting from actively including women in dispute resolution processes. She advocates for women inclusion by emphasizing the importance to “come to the table with your ideas, not with your titles,” which makes an equity statement by everyone sitting at the same level and standing side by side.
The Warriors to Peace Guardians framework has seen significant successes in Northern Kenya as the community peace guardians report increased collaboration and friendly relations with sections of the community where the programme reached. One of its most effective uses is amplifying the voices of local women who during a Peace Caravan in 2009 said: “We are tired of being widows and losing our sons. Stop the conflict.” A program primarily focused on women Peace Guardians will start soon in Samburu County, and a Rotary Global grant to train the next cadre of Peace Guardians in Laikipia will kick off in early 2019.
A Brighter Future Awaits
A lot still needs to be done, particularly in terms of making peace dividends available to these communities, to sustain the peace. The Kenya team is thrilled about its collaboration with MBBI’s recent partner Rotary International and local partners to soon be launching a livestock improvement program in Laikipia. This program promotes livestock quotas, redistributes grazing areas, and creates a more sustainable lifestyle for the pastoralists.
Juggling between strengthening the work of MBBI’s Kenya Project and her full-time job in Nairobi, Dorina recently co-founded Twasoma, an initiative that taps into the skills and talents of schoolchildren in her home county, as a means of building and sustaining peace and development. She will soon be presenting at a webinar on balanced media reporting in conflict situations.
Article by Ben Lutz, MBBI Writer