Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Children in peace-building and violence during political instability in a Kenyan informal settlement.

Vertigans, Stephen; Mueller-Hirth, Natascha



Despite increasing attention to a wide range of actors in conflict in the scholarly literature, the roles and experiences of children have been largely considered only in terms of their victimhood. Similarly, in global policy discourses, children and youth are predominantly understood in relation to their vulnerability and the protection of their rights, or alternatively as a threat to security (as is notable in ideas around the so-called youth bulge and violence). In this paper, we contribute to the emerging literature within peacebuilding that considers children both as actors in conflict and as potential agents of change. In particular, we link these arguments to debates about individual and community resilience in settings of regularised or long-term violence, and how children navigate through challenging relationships. Drawing on recent semi-structured interviews with community members who were classified as children during the events and older CBO youth leaders in Kibera, Nairobi, we examine perceptions and understandings of children's involvement in peacebuilding and in violence during the contested elections of 2017 in Kenya. Our findings highlight how children connect with interethnic resentments and aggressive behaviour, or develop higher levels of agency, in terms of overcoming such social learning and of peacebuilding activities. How children behave during the period of election tensions is being shaped by differing relationships and experiences, which are interwoven within ethnic, gender and place identifications. The paper concludes with considerations of children within peacebuilding and violent processes in the forthcoming 2022 elections.


VERTIGANS, S. and MUELLER-HIRTH, N. 2022. Children in peace-building and violence during political instability in a Kenyan informal settlement. In Children, peace and security. Nairobi: Save the Children International; International Peace Support Training Centre [online], chapter 10, pages 170-187. Available from:

Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2022
Publication Date Dec 31, 2022
Deposit Date Mar 22, 2023
Publicly Available Date May 1, 2023
Publisher International Peace Support Training Centre (IPSTC)
Pages 170-187
Book Title Children, peace and security
Chapter Number 10
Keywords Children; Young people; Conflict zones; Peacebuilding; Resilience; Kenya
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations