Peacebuilding through Health in Kenya’s Urban Informal Settlements: Insights for Policy

Roseanne Nijru
Content Type
Working Paper
Social Science Research Council
This briefing note is based on exploratory research in two informal settlements in Nairobi: Mathare and Kibera. It makes recommendations for engaging health workers in peacebuilding processes in urban informal settlements in Kenya. The recommendations are based on study conclusions showing that health care sys- tems, especially community-centered primary health care services and workers, have great potential to promote peace and security in Kenya. Violent conflicts constitute a public health challenge because of their adverse effects on health, social, and economic systems, which lead to declines in population well-being. Thus, peace and health are mutually reinforcing, and development cannot take place without good health. Despite this health-peace nexus, Kenya’s National Policy for Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (2015) and National Cohesion 1 and Integration Commission (NCIC, 2008) , both formulated in a volatile political climate, have not recognized the contribution of the health system to peace- building. In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted “Health as a Bridge for Peace (HBP)” as a policy framework on the premise that the role of health care providers in promoting peace is significant for the attainment of “Health for All.”2 This study suggests that health care systems in Kenya can be part of the multifaceted peacebuilding effort in urban informal settlements that experience a range of violence—political, ethnic, extremist, resource-related, gender-based—and vicious cycles of retaliatory attacks.
Health, Peacekeeping, Urban, Community
Political Geography
Kenya, Africa