This study assesses the conflict dynamics in two regions of the eastern Horn of Africa, namely, five counties in northern Kenya and Sool and southern Togdheer2 regions of Somaliland. It considers the full range of actual and potential causes of conflict in the two areas, as well as conflict dynamics in the wider region, but pays particular attention to the role of hydrocarbon exploration.3 The study also provides policy recommendations for mitigating the risks of armed conflict and building local resilience to conflict drivers.
Both Kenya and Somalia/Somaliland have been the subject of numerous conflict assessments over the past fifteen years.This body of work provides an excellent set of baseline data on structural cases of conflict, as well as recent peace and conflict trends. But “game-changing” transformations taking place in both Kenya and Somaliland in the past several years warrant a fresh look at regional vulnerabilities to violent conflict. Hydrocarbon exploration, political devolution, increased terrorist activity by Al Shabaab, major new development projects, Kenyan armed
intervention in Somalia, Kenyan counter-insurgency operations inside its own borders, and the creation of a post-transitional government in Somalia are among the many factors that are reshaping the social, security, and political contexts of the regions in question. Some of these developments have the potential to advance peace and stability, while others may, in the wrong combination, constitute new conflict drivers.
Kenya and Somalia/Somaliland have also been the subjects of recent analyses projecting the likely impact of hydrocarbon extraction on regional economies and politics.5 Most of this literature focuses on the broad question of whether oil revenues will serve to catalyse development in the region, or become a “resource curse” for regional states. Less attention has been paid to the likely impact of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction on peace and conflict at the local level. This study provides a more granular investigation of that question, by exploring current
and expected impact of hydrocarbon exploration at the county or local level.