African Journal on Conflict Resolution

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Community resilience and social capital in the reconstruction and recovery process for post-election violence victims in Kenya

Julius Kinyeki


This study addresses three questions: how Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) following the post-election violence of 2007/2008 in Kenya are recreating their community resilience capacities; how the Kenyan government and non-state interventions are influencing the victims’ livelihood strategies towards their reconstruction and recovery process and how social support and social capital have accelerated their reconstruction and recovery process. The study adopted qualitative research methodology, and primary data were collected since January 2015, continuously and concurrently with data analysis. The key finding was that ownership of land is identified and perceived as a milestone in the process of post-conflict reconstruction and recovery, and as an avenue for community resilience. The study found that after the rather short-term programmes of the Kenyan government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and  Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs), the main means of livelihood for IDPs still is casual labour and other menial jobs. However, many IDPs, especially those who were not placed in camps or resettled on farms, but integrated with host communities, developed new emergent norms to support each other. The key recommendations are that government should evaluate the economic loss of every integrated IDP, and that those resettled in government procured farms should be provided with legal ownership documents. There should be an urgent re-profiling of IDPs in camps and a definite commitment to follow the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004). The findings of this study bring to light new knowledge on the theory of social capital. It shows how victims of displacement develop new emergent norms, values and culture to support each other, which eventually creates a new society/community.

Keywords: Internally displaced persons, Kenya, post-conflict reconstruction and recovery, livelihood strategies, social capital, community resilience

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