The impact of COVID-19 on peace and conflict dynamics

A case study of Korogocho informal settlement, Nairobi, Kenya

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has had a major impact in Kenya, not just through illness and deaths caused by the virus, but also due to the effects of measures put in place to limit its spread. Kenya’s economy has contracted and household food insecurity has increased markedly. Many women, young people and members of vulnerable groups are worst affected by the socio-economic impacts.

There is a growing body of literature on the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 in Kenya and elsewhere, but less attention has been paid to the impact on conflict and peace dynamics. These are critical, especially in countries or places known to be fragile, such as informal urban settlements, where conflict and insecurity interact with high levels of poverty and informal (and illegal) economic livelihoods.

This research sought to understand the impact of COVID-19 not just on people’s livelihoods, but also on social cohesion in Nairobi’s informal settlements, with a focus on the Korogocho informal settlement. Korogocho was known to have a history of conflict and had experienced particularly high levels of violence following the 2007 general election. It was also thought to be less ‘researched’ than some other informal settlements in Nairobi.

The study specifically sought to answer the following research questions:

  1. What were the responses by practitioners and policy-makers to the economic impact of COVID-19 in the informal settlements in Nairobi?
  2. How have the COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it impacted economic livelihoods in informal settlements in Nairobi?
  3. In which ways has the economic impact of COVID-19 affected conflict and peace dynamics in informal settlements?
  4. How have political and social economic dynamics during the COVID-19 crisis affected conflict risks in the informal settlements in Nairobi?
  5. From the above analysis, what can policy-makers and practitioners do to ensure that Kenya’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery is both conflict sensitive and conducive to peace?

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