Ilemi Triangle & Borderlands programme

Image: Sara Ketelaar

In 2019, the governments of South Sudan and Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreeing to demarcate their common border. In the past, unclarity and contestation about the location of this border has resulted in a disputed area, called the Ilemi Triangle. PAX has done research on the Ilemi Triangle, placing the pastoralist perspective in the context of the border demarcation process. 

The borderlands of South Sudan and Kenya are inhabited by pastoralist communities, who rely on livestock herding for their livelihoods. As such, cross-border migration in search for water and pastures is important for their subsistence, especially in the climate-insecure drylands of this area. Violent dynamics have characterized this area, as a result of cattle raiding, limited government presence or capacity to protect civilians, a large availability of weapons and ammunition, and the commercialization of cattle. This is exacerbated by local elites and politicians who use these communities as proxy forces to expand their territory in relation to the unclear border. As such, the border demarcation process is likely to impact these local dynamics. 

Some of these spoilers for peace have been addressed by PAX in its borderlands programme that ran from 2006 to 2016. PAX supported local organizations and churches in this area that act as intermediaries between rivalling communities and between communities and governments, army and police. Moreover, PAX set up the Peace & Sports programme, aiming to bring together youth warriors of different pastoralist communities to unite rivalling parties. It did so in collaboration with Bishop Paride Taban, the founder of Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron

With the border demarcation process set to be finalized by 2022, PAX wants to ensure the protection of the livelihoods of these pastoralist communities and the promotion of peace. Therefore, research has been done to start mapping some of the pastoralist interests and to advocate for community inclusion in the process of border demarcation. This has resulted in a report  that seeks to engage local actors to this purpose. 


Sara Ketelaar: 

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