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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Public Health

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

David Buchanan

Second Advisor

Aline Gubrium

Third Advisor

Léonce Ndikumana

Subject Categories

Community Health | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | International Public Health | Peace and Conflict Studies | Public Health | Public Health Education and Promotion | Public Policy


War and violent conflicts make major contributions to morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is, however, an issue that is infrequently discussed, poorly understood, and under-conceptualized in the field of public health. Wars and violent conflicts impact public health in different ways: the effects of conflicts on people’s health, the destruction of public health infrastructure and public health human resources, the proliferation of new diseases due to the adverse impact on the environment, and the worsening of pre-existing health conditions. In analyses of the causes of conflicts in developing countries and Africa, western theorists have focused on identifying presumed essentialist traits with pathological proclivities that lead to outbreaks of violence. The purpose of this research is to apply an indigenous research methodology to examine the types, quality and perceived effectiveness of social practices that aim to reduce violence and bring about peaceful, non-killing communities in the Horn of Africa.

This research used a mix of indigenous research methodologies and elements of qualitative social science research to identify and recruit key stakeholders involved in peace work in Turkana. The participants were people who had direct and indirect knowledge of the negative impacts of violent conflicts in Eastern Africa. A total sample of 76 individuals were contacted individually from a pre-identified, theoretically robust target population: peace officers, peace promoters, peace committees, Kraal leaders, the directorate of peace of the Turkana County, national government representatives including the local chiefs and Turkana County administrators, and from other peace actors including representatives of the international NGOs, faith based organizations, community based organizations and national government agencies.

The results show that there are constellations of factors affecting historical events. These are: ethnicity and predisposition towards violence; access to natural resources—changes in environment, drought and famine & discovery of oil and gas; poverty and legacy of colonialism- desperation; political incitement; increasing access and ready availability of small arms and light weapons-raiding as show of power; shortcomings of international law; and socialization, early exposure to conflict and customary practices.

This study finds public health intersectoral approach as a unifying service that can play a role in mitigating the harmful effects of conflict. Thus, equipping community health workers with the knowledge and skills on conflict early warning, peace education, health promotion activities and livelihoods programs increases chances of conflict prevention and peace promotion. While many situations have many factors in common, it is important to remember that each particular conflict situation is unique. There are a broad range of factors that press towards the instigation of violence, but the relative salience or weight of any single factor will vary for each particular situation.