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Peace from below: Governance and peacebuilding in Kerio Valley, Kenya*

  • Emma Elfversson (a1)

Under what circumstances can non-state actors become successful local peacemakers? A growing body of research documents the involvement of non-state actors in local conflict resolution in Africa. However, there is large variation in such actors' power, legitimacy, and ultimately their ability to contribute to conflict resolution. The ways in which contextual and dynamic factors at local and national levels, and in particular the relationship between non-state and state actors and institutions, affect local conflict resolution are not sufficiently understood. To address this gap, this paper analyses the peace process addressing a long-standing conflict in Kerio Valley, Kenya. The analysis illustrates how the failure of the state to provide security and basic services led non-state actors to fill important roles in governance. Through this process, they were endowed with legitimacy and power which enabled them to play key roles in a peace process that led to a mutually acceptable peace agreement.

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The author would like to thank the Anna Maria Lundin Foundation for fieldwork scholarships, Sylvester Kipkosgei Rotich for valuable field assistance, and two anonymous reviewers for their insights and constructive comments which significantly improved this article.

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