Conflict assessment in northern Kenya and Somaliland conducted by DDG

Danish Demining Group conducted in 2014 a conflict assessment in Northern Kenya and Eastern Somaliland, the findings of which suggest that the armed conflict is likely to increase significantly in both regions in coming years.


In collaboration with Professor Ken Menkhaus and with support from the Kenya School of Government, the assessment was completed in December 2014 and launched in March 2015. The exercise was funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).


Most indicators suggest that armed conflict is likely to increase significantly in both Eastern Somaliland and Northern Kenya in coming years. If and when oil extraction begins, it will intensify these potential conflicts by raising the stakes over control of land and politics still further. While Eastern Somaliland and Northern Kenya have for the past twenty years been areas of relative security set against the high levels of armed conflict and instability in neighboring South-central Somalia, current trends could produce a situation in which these two areas become as conflict-prone as their troubled neighbour.

Influencing factors

The assessment focusses on the potential impact of major contextual changes in five counties in Northern Kenya (Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Isiolo) and two regions in Somaliland (Toghdeer and Sool). It provides baseline information on the structural cases of conflict, conflict trends and peace. The recent transformations that are taking place in these two case studies; Hydrocarbon exploration, political devolution, increased terrorist activity by Al Shabaab, major new development projects, Kenyan incursion in Somalia, Kenyan counter-insurgency operations inside its own borders and the creation of a post-transitional government in Somalia are just but a few factors that are influencing the social, security and political contexts of the regions in question.

The report integrates desk study of existing research and media coverage with extensive field interviews. Field research was conducted from June to September 2014.


“Existing literature on armed conflict in northern Kenya cites dozens of underlying causes. Taken individually, these are rarely directly responsible for armed conflict. Instead, they contribute to conditions of conflict vulnerability. When armed conflicts do occur, the causes are typically a combination of structural factors, new conflict drivers, and a trigger event.

This study distinguishes between structural and proximate causes of conflict that have been present for an extended period of time (at least over the past 15-20 years) and new or emerging conflict drivers. Most of the underlying factors that have rendered parts of Northern Kenya susceptible to periodic communal violence in the past are still in play. While some are managed better now than in the past, thanks to grazing and peace committees and other measures, others are more virulent than before, due to aggravating factors such as small arms proliferation, new market forces, and environmental change.” (Dr Menklaus, K.  for Danish Demining Group, Conflict Assessment 2014, Northern Kenya and Somaliland, March 2015, side 25-26)