Laikipia District in Kenya is a microcosm of Kenyan society with a multitude of people from different ethnic groups, social and economic backgrounds. It has a varying environmental makeup with Mt Kenya in the east, the Aberdares to the South-west, an abundance of wildlife in private conservancies, large agricultural business to small scale subsistence farming and as a result has extremes of wealth and poverty.
Historically, it has also been the scene of violent conflicts between different pastoral groups clashing over scarce water resources and access to lands. These clashes were amplified as a result of increased pressure on natural resources arising from the recent 3 year drought in the region.
The linkages between environment and peace building
Environmental stress sometimes coincides with rising outbreaks of inter-community conflict and deaths. The severe and prolonged drought that affected Kenya in 2009 for instance had a devastating impact on much of Laikipia. Vast areas became barren, rivers dried up, wildlife numbers suffered and thousands of livestock died of thirst and starvation.
One of the primary drivers of inter-community conflict is the increasing scarcity of natural resources, such as water and pasture, leading to increased competition and increasingly violent conflict between different groups to access these resources. This scarcity is caused by ever growing environmental degradation, increased human densities and increasingly by climate change.
In Laikipia, degradation of the environment is a pressing problem that undermines people’s livelihoods and threatens our children’s future.
The Power of Sport
‘Sport is far more than a game. One only has to savour the global excitement in the run-up to this year’s football World Cup to get a feel for its power and transformative potential’
The LUC will harness the powerful, unifying force of sport to bring the diverse people of Laikipia together in unity. A brief chat with the youth throughout Laikipia about the LUC reveals the similar power for transformation that sports holds for Laikipia. As the recent South African movie ‘Invictus’ bears testament too, sports can not only help overcome deep-rooted conflict and tensions, it can also help to heal deep scars build common understanding and be a catalyst for positive change.
What the LUC will do
Activities around the LUC will draw attention the linkages between environmental degradation and the raising levels of conflict amongst the people of Laikipia. The LUC will also unite the people of Laikipia. Only by working together can the people of Laikipia sustainably manage their natural resources for the benefit of their future. During the LUC thousands of youth throughout Laikipia will commit to do this by taking the LUC pledge:
‘The Earth is our home and together we must conserve our precious water, land, forests and wildlife. I am proud to pledge that I will unite with others throughout Laikipia and that I will give a red card to environmental destruction and defend our natural heritage'
Laikipia & Beyond Unity Cup Pledge
The LUC is the first event of its kind in Laikipia, involving the active collaboration of multiple agencies/institutions/individuals in its implementation; encompassing multiple events taking place over a two month time period in 5 different locations throughout Laikipia.