Kenya: Kindiki, Regional Peers Commit Joint Efforts to Secure the Mandera Triangle
Nairobi — Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have launched a joint borderlands project to promote peace and stability and strengthen cross-border cooperation among the three neighboring states.
The project funded by the United Kingdom was unveiled in Mandera on Thursday.
Its aim is to address challenges facing the three states, including violent extremism, illicit trade, illegal immigration, trafficking (in persons, narcotics, and weapons), and other security threats along their shared borders.
The project is part of the Kenya-UK Security Compact signed on Wednesday by the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki and UK Security Minister Tom Tugendhat.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua presided over the launch, alongside UK High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott.
CS Kindiki and Interior PS Raymond Omollo hosted high-level delegations led by Security Ministers from Ethiopia and Somalia.
Commenting on the project, Kindiki said that the joint venture would play a critical role in promoting regional peace, bolstering trade, and building resilience for the border communities.
“I am convinced beyond doubt that this borderlands project will go a long way in improving stability, peace, resilience, and empowerment of communities for our countries,” Kindiki said.
He stated that challenges facing the border counties are extremely complex and sensitive, emphasizing the need for collaboration within the region.
The Interior CS had said the project would only proceed subject to the three countries sitting down together with the UK to agree on an action plan to ensure that they work together and leave no detail unattended “because of the complexities and sensitivities of security matters in these parts of the world.”
“In principle, what we are presiding over today is the general project initiative, but there is some work to be done, maybe in the next two weeks or so, to be able to agree on an action plan that carries everybody along,” he said.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua termed the project a strategic investment for Kenya and the Horn of Africa, a region whose “people have always felt marginalized and neglected.”
Gachagua added that the initiative is a pragmatic and sustainable approach to the socio-economic challenges the region has grappled with for decades.
“As the government of Kenya, we are confident it will contribute to the ongoing peace and stability efforts and improve socioeconomic status for borderlands people,” he said.
The Deputy President called for more collaboration in the region to allow access to markets and expressed Kenya’s commitment to the successful implementation of the project, pointing out that stability of Kenya’s neighbors is vital for the economic prosperity and development in the region.
Marriott said that to address challenges in the region, there was a need to look at the root causes of instability, not “just the symptoms.”
She said the program would operate at three levels – national governments, counties, and communities – and would support effective policy and programming through understanding the local conflict dynamics and strengthen both formal and informal institutions, including cross-border mechanisms.
“It will address community needs to mitigate against drivers of instability and violent extremism,” Ambassador Marriott said.
The High Commissioner stated that the project would be implemented by an experienced team comprising individuals from three organizations: the Adam Smith Institute, the Danish Refugee Council, and the Royal United Services Institute.
The project was welcomed by security ministers from both Ethiopia and Somalia who expressed their commitment to its implementation.