In East Africa, Kenya has been more affected by violent extremism and radicalization compared to its neighbors. Although drivers of violent extremist and terrorist incidents in Kenya are a result of many factors—highly unequal economic growth, social and religious grievances, and its proximity with fragile Somalia—the scale and persistence of the issue has been exacerbated by the breakdown in relationships among stakeholders, particularly between police and communities.
In September 2018, Search for Common Ground (Search) concluded a two-year project called “Inuka! Community-Led Security Approaches to Violent Extremism in Coastal Kenya” (henceforth referred to as Inuka!). Funded by the US State Department’s Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Bureau (DRL), this initiative aimed at building increased trust and collaboration between community stakeholders to prevent radicalization and violent extremism in Kenya’s Coast region. AP evaluated the successes and challenges of the project.
The project was found to be very relevant on account of the needs and challenges faced by young people and communities in targeted areas, and also given the conflict dynamics affecting the region as a whole (as discussed above). Project activities—such as community dialogues where different stakeholders met and discussed how to work together, or grants that were provided to groups to host dialogues or tournaments between police and youth—were seen as very relevant for the type of approach that they utilized, which was a counterweight to the security-oriented approach of government stakeholders. Activities aimed at empowering local civil society organizations (CSOs).
A majority of CSO representatives reported to have little to no capacity in monitoring their activities against results, and to face financial personnel constraints. On the other side, these CSOs were already well established at the grassroots level, and were able to engage with the community effectively.