Conflict Resolution and Crime Surveillance in Kenya: Local Peace Committees and Nyumba Kumi

Eric Mutisya Kioko


In the wake of widespread interethnic "clashes" and al-Shabaab terrorist attacks in Kenya over the last few years, the state has embarked on the devolution of capacities for ensuring security and peace to the local level. The state gave the rights to handle specific local conflicts and crime prevention to local peace committees in an attempt to standardise an aspect of customary law, and to Nyumba Kumi committees in a strategy of anchoring community policing at the household level. These changes were conditioned and framed by ideas of decentralisation and the delegation of responsibilities from the state to the community level. In this paper, the following questions are raised: Are hybrid governance arrangements effective and appropriate? To what extent do peace committees and Nyumba Kumi provide institutional support for peaceful conflict management and crime prevention in Kenya? What guarantees and what constrains their success? The author draws on ethnographic data from the Maasai–Kikuyu borderlands near Lake Naivasha, a former hotspot of interethnic clashes.

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