IPPIA (USIU-Africa) partners with various organizations to host a blended workshop dubbed "Socioecological Changes and Conflicting Visions at Frontiers of Development in East Africa
By IPPIA and Diana Meso
The School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) through the Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs (IPPIA) in partnership with The University of Warwick, Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies (BICC), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) and the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC), held a blended workshop to discuss the “Socioecological Changes and Conflicting Visions at Frontiers of Development in East Africa” on Thursday, November 18.
The workshop which was physically held at the LT7 in the SHSS building and virtually through zoom, provided an avenue for experts and opinion leaders to debate and present their research on various conflicting and converging issues brought about by mega-projects.
In the opening session, Dr. Moses Onyango, IPPIA Director and Lecturer, International Relations thanked the participants and welcomed them to the workshop. Meanwhile, Prof. Munyae Mulinge, Ag. Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Student Affairs, emphasized on the integration of research as part of USIU-Africa’s vision and commended IPPIA establishment as a research center in the university.
Prof. Martin Njoroge, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, lauded the continued collaboration between USIU-Africa, The University of Warwick, Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), National Crime Research Centre and the Collaborative Research Centre.
Moving to the discussions of the day, Mr. Daisuke Mizoguchi, Director JSPS, spoke on how the discourse of the Mega-projects can be intensified and the effects it brings. He further said that JSPS is ready to support Kenyan researchers, universities as well as other institutions.
Mr. Gerard Wandera, Director NCRC, expressed the fear of indigenous communities missing out on the mega projects and the international organizations having their main objective as making profits. He also stated that NCRC is involved in policy making to solve the sociological changes that might bring about conflict.
Prof. Kennedy Mkutu, Professor, International Relations, unpacked the topic Understanding the Dynamics of Water Security and Conflict in Kenya, where he discussed how the project is exploring how communities cope with water scarcity during Mega- projects. He further stated that water security is an important issue to look into because Mega- projects are part of the competitors.
Prof. Conrad Schetter, Director BICC also highlighted the fact that Africa was a continent of the future and that, the future was made by socioecological transformation. Debatably, Dr. Erick Kioko, a representative of CRC, questioned on how the future of Africa was made and by whom? For whom?
The workshop further involved two panel discussions; the first panel discussion saw Prof. John C. Onyango, Educationist and Plant / Crop Physiologist, Maseno University, present a paper on Ecosystem Services and Infrastructural Development in a Changing Society as well as Dr. Charis Enns, Presidential Fellow in Socio-Environmental Systems- Global Development Institute present a paper on Mobility as struggle: Environment, Development, and the politics of Movement in Northern Kenya.
Additionally, Elisabeth Schubiger, a PHD researcher in Anthropology and Sociology presented a paper on Maneuvering Enchantment of Megaprojects in Northern Kenya: LAPSSET and the crude Oil in Turkana County, while Sylvia Kiamba, PHD Candidate-USIU-Africa and Dr. John Mwangi, Research Team Leader- The Global Centre for Policy and Strategy, gave insights on the papers titled Contested Development and shifting Realities in Northern Kenya and Revisiting the politics of indigenous land and infrastructure boom in Lamu: some reflections for peace building respectively. Dr. Onyango summarized the panel discussion and thanked the presenters for their effort and knowledge contribution to the field.
Six research papers were presented in the second panel discussion, Prof. Kennedy Mkutu, Dr. Klerkson Lugusa, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of International Relations-USIU-Africa and Ms. Evelyne Owino, Research Fellow-Department of Development Studies- University of Bonn (from 2022) presented a paper on Trends in Water Conflicts in the rangeland Ecosystem of Narok County. On the other hand, Mr. Guyo Haro, Researcher, presented a paper on Redress for exclusion or pastoralist land grab: development constrains in Northern Kenya while Ms. Elizabeth Ndinda, Ph.D. Candidate-Development Studies- University of Bonn presented on Grass root Institution and collective action: Conflict Management among Pastoral Communities in Northern Kenya.
Moreover, Prof. Fredrick Ogenga, Associate Professor of Media and Security Studies, Rongo University, presented a paper on Megaprojects, Conflicts and the Arts, Mr. Kepha Marube Deputy County Commissioner-Isiolo, presented on Community perspective of Government Involvement in Peacebuilding. Finally, Jaynisha Patel Project Leader for Inclusive Economies- Institute for Justice and Reconciliation presented a paper on Human Development as a pathway to Transformed and peaceful societies Trends from Kenya’s Ungoverned Spaces.
To sum up the second panel discussion Dr. Erick Kioko, Lecturer from Kenyatta University, stated that mega-projects were a source of conflict and therefore communities need to play an active role in ensuring that peace prevails. He further said that there are many cases of water conflict thus proper water management plays a key role in ensuring there is peace. Lastly, he pointed out that using youth, media, technology and culture is a perfect way to transform attitudes across the country.
Dr. Kennedy Mkutu in his closing remarks, thanked the participants and the partners for their immense contribution to making the workshop a success.