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 looked at 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 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 sought to answer the following research questions:

  • What were the responses by practitioners and policy-makers to the economic impact of COVID-19 in the informal settlements in Nairobi?
  • How have the COVID-19 pandemic and the responses to it impacted economic livelihoods in informal settlements in Nairobi? How has the economic impact of COVID-19 affected conflict and peace dynamics in informal settlements?
  • How have political and social economic dynamics during the COVID-19 crisis affected conflict risks in the informal settlements in Nairobi?
  • 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?

Peace Research Partnership

This report was produced as part of the Peace Research Partnership (PRP), a process of participatory research with partners and communities in conflict-affected areas around the world. The aim of PRP was to generate and share knowledge about how international actors, like INGOs and donors, can best support peaceful and inclusive change in conflict contexts. The research partnership was funded by the UK government. However, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.