Kenya pledges grassroots-led campaign against violent extremism

Martin Kimani, director of Kenya National Counterterrorism Centre. / Net photo

NAIROBI-- Kenya will implement a community-led campaign against radicalisation and violent extremism as the menace spread in traditional hotspots, officials said on Thursday.

Martin Kimani, director of Kenya National Counterterrorism Centre, said the Government has invested in education and awareness programmes to strengthen the capacity of local communities to combat militancy and other vices that are a threat to public security.

“We have developed county action plans that aims to empower local communities to fight violent extremism,” Kimani said on the sidelines of a Pan African conference on counter-terrorism underway in Nairobi.

He said the Government had mobilised resources from bilateral partners to hasten implementation of community based anti-terrorism strategies that leverage on youth empowerment and enhanced vigilance.

“So far, we have built robust networks across the country to assist in detecting, reporting and monitoring of youth at risk of joining terrorist groups,” said Kimani.

He said the Government has intensified campaigns in traditional radicalisation hotspots where armed groups are targeting disenfranchised youth for recruitment.

Kimani said that multilateral lenders, the private sector and civil society have rallied behind a national strategy to counter violent extremism that was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in September 2016.

“Our partners are keen to support bottom up approaches to stem radicalization and build the resilience of communities at risk of violent extremism,” said Kimani. 

He said the Kenyan counties are banking on citizen engagement and adherence to the rule of law to boost the war against violent extremism that is a threat to cohesion and rural development.

Hasna Mudeizi, speaker of western county of Vihiga said that enlightening local communities on the dangers of terrorism to their livelihood and peaceful coexistence has started bearing fruits. 

“County governments have prioritized good governance and delivery of critical services like education, health and housing to boost the capacity of local communities to resist terrorist networks that often exploit poverty and sense of marginalization to recruit fighters,” said Mudeizi.

Beatrice Opwora, county commissioner of central Kenyan county of Tharaka Nithi said that involvement of local communities is key to address the root cause of radicalization of youth that include poverty, illiteracy and absence of family support.

Xinhua

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