Kenya - Post War Programming Using Appreciative Inquiry: K-Note’s Heroic Journey through Kenya 2007 Post-election Crisis
Primary thematic focus: Capacity challenges in post-crisis and transitional situations
In a Nutshell:
Kenya went through trying period after 2007 polls that affected both individuals and organizations working within the community. Staff members whether from the “correct” or “wrong” tribe, went through personal tribulations. Each had their own ways of dealing with the conflict that was encouraged by a process called Appreciative Inquiry.
Background and Rationale
Every five years Kenya goes through a general election. Historically this period poses insecurity and instability. Moreover, the 2007 election had its own unique outcome; the disputed presidential polls triggered post election violence resulting in over 2000 deaths and more than 100,000 internal displaced. For about 3 months business could not be conducted as usual in most parts of the country until the peace accord was brokered by Dr. Koffi Annan in February of 2008. K-NOTE had its fair share of the crisis. The organization had to close its doors because of the rising insecurity for both the staff and the properties. Some key staff were displaced and other were deeply traumatized by the ordeal.
Actors and Processes
The main actors were staff of K-NOTE affected by the crisis, the community that the organization was serving, donors who funded the organization such as USAID (APHIA II RIFT VALLEY) and Kenya Community Development Foundation.
The close of year 2007 brought about an anticipation of newness and the desire for change both in the political front of the country and in programs run by K-NOTE, since there was a new year to look up to. However things did not go as wished. As the close of the year rushed hurriedly people waited things to normalize so that they could resume duty more energized. Unfortunately the beginning of the year was marked by chaos, confusion and skirmishes that brought the country and K-NOTE, as an organization to a state of fear and panic. The post-election violence was wedged along ethnic lines that saw people being evicted from their homes and workstations; this was followed by massive loss of property and lives. Vulnerable groups like the youths were used to propel the havoc in the spirit of hatred and nepotism. The perpetrators of the violence reclined into their tribal cocoons, formed their protégés and made their people believe that certain ethnic groups were “better” over others. The outcome of this was stagnation in carrying out of normal operations and more so for the K-NOTE the activities of the projects had to be derailed.
Processes and Interventions
1. Looking at the possibility in Kenya’s 2007 post election crisis challenge. Upon realizing that there was a challenge with the staff and program implementation, K-NOTE called for staff meeting where each had a chance to open up and bring out issues. Consultant briefing and discussion agreed on appreciative approach to handle the situation.
2. Group diagnosis of the challenge and dealing with emotions using AI: A workshop titled, “post war programming”, focused on helping staff identify what was holding them back. It introduced Appreciative Inquiry approach where the basics, principles and applications were used. The law of attraction was introduced and staff taken through the application of this law.
3. Retreats K-NOTE organized retreats to help heal the strained relations and enhance further bonding after the post election crisis. There were two, which emphasized on team building and teamwork.
4. Conflict Resolution and Management Skills Development: This training sought to equip staff with critical skills of conflict resolution so that they can reach out to the communities they were serving, who experienced the post election crisis. At the first workshop K-NOTE realized there is need to deal with internal conflicts (intra conflicts) before reaching out to others when they had reconciled themselves). First workshop equipped staff with skills on how to dealing with intra-conflicts. This second workshop focused on how they would handle external conflicts.
Results and Critical Factors:
The trainings assisted staff to confront their fears and develop a new way of thinking (focusing on the positives instead of the negatives) using the AI. The staff and volunteers realized their roles and responsibilities in preventing future conflicts. All staff and volunteers understand their roles as peacemakers within the organization and their beneficiary communities. There was a lot of healing in the staff and the volunteers after the interventions. Some staff went for counseling, further trauma counseling trainings. There was a deepened relationship among staff and others changed their negative assumptions about their colleagues after listening to their stories and reconciled. There was realization that they have to take control of their lives (what they focus on becomes their reality hence are responsible for their future realities not circumstance of the post election crisis).
The retreats enhanced the interpersonal relationships both at work and at personal level. This created a deeper understanding of each other’s feelings and thoughts. It thus enabled the group to understand the varied reactions each individual had because of the post election violence.
The conflict resolution and management skills development workshop led to:
- Commitment to having a positive attitude in conflict resolution and peace building initiatives;
- Community conflict resolution initiatives;
- Mainstreaming conflict resolution in KNOTE programs;
- Community peace outreaches where members of the community opened up more during the outreaches and even suggested things that could be done to ensure active peace. They even went ahead to ask for a facilitator from one of the antagonized tribes to facilitate an outreach. They were very happy to find out that it was being facilitated by one of the antagonized.
Now, the Community owns the circumstances around the challenges and is seeking solutions. With increased knowledge they are able to identify levels of conflict and respond to the early warning signs before it escalates to violence. During outreaches, the community is able to identify the roles that they play in conflicts. This has made them realize how they find themselves in conflict as well as how they can come out.
Name of Primary Contact Person: Ochieng Ogutu
Title of Primary Contact Person: Programs Manager
Image: Kenya_PEACE PICTURE.png