Kenya presidential election cancelled by Supreme Court

Kenya’s Supreme Court has annulled the result of last month’s presidential election, citing irregularities, and ordered a new one within 60 days.

The election commission had declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes.

Raila Odinga, Mr Kenyatta’s opponent, said the commission was “rotten” and demanded resignations and prosecutions.

President Kenyatta said he would respect the court’s decision but also branded the judges “crooks”.

Other elections in Africa have been annulled or cancelled but this appears to be the first time on the continent that an opposition court challenge against a presidential poll result has been successful. Continue reading…….,

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Women Become Governors In Kenya

For the first time in the history of Kenya, six women have been elected to key positions in the  East African country’s  governance structure, in the just concluded elections.

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Joyce Laboso, Member of Parliament representing Bomet and the  Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and  two former cabinet Secretaries, Annie Waguru and Charity Ngilu have become the first women to become Governors in the country.

Indeed, Laboso trounced the incumbent to emerge Governor of Bomet.

This without doubt, is a challenge to other African countries, where women  have stepped up  agitations to occupy  key positions in Government. Read more…….

 

Similarly independent candidates,  Mohamed Kuti of Isiolo and Ndiritu of Muhritihi of Laikipia also won Governorship seats in their respective states.  Read more……

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Kenya: President Mocks Opposition Over Free Secondary Education

Press release

NAKURU, 4 June 2017 (PSCU) – President Uhuru Kenyatta mocked the opposition today for copying his plan to implement free secondary education next year, and then pledging to do it a few months earlier.

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“You have to think. Then you have to plan. You cannot just copy, and then pledge to do it earlier,” President Kenyatta said on a campaign stop in Gilgil, as he wrapped up a three-day campaign blitz through Nyandarua, Laikipia and Nakuru counties.

President Kenyatta was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Nakuru Jubilee gubernatorial aspirant Lee Kinyanjui and a host of local Nakuru county leaders.

A day after the President unveiled key planks of his re-election bid that included free secondary education, scaling up the cash transfer programme for the elderly, increase and expansion of technical training institutes and health cover for mothers after maternity as the next steps in his transformation agenda.

“Politicians should not just wake up in the morning and tell Kenyans that they will do this and that and within a given period after they win elections without thinking or planning on how to go about such issues,” said President Kenyatta.

He added: “We’ve set aside Kshs 5 billion to expand infrastructure in schools to provide for the implementation of free secondary education. One cannot claim he can provide free education overnight without budgeting for it.”

The President and his deputy spoke on Sunday when they addressed thousands of Jubilee supporters at various stopovers as they at Free Area, Kikopey, Gilgil, Naivasha, Longonot and Mai Mahiu among other areas along the Nakuru-Nairobi road.

The President said the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga knows very well that policy making and implementation requires proper planning.

He said it is unrealistic for the Opposition to claim that it will implement the free secondary education a month after the August elections.

The Head of State point out that competition based on agendas and policy were key to the transformation of the lives of Kenyans.

“Our colleagues in the Opposition are doing ‘copy-pasting’ of our projects and now competing with us on dates and when to implement projects we have already put in the pipeline,” said President Kenyatta.

The President said Jubilee has promised to implement the free secondary education in January next year because it has put in place proper mechanisms that will ensure its successful implementation.

In this connection, the Head of State said Kshs 5 billion has been set aside to improve schools infrastructure to ensure the success of the implementation of the free secondary education beginning January next year.

He said Opposition leaders had no agenda for Kenyans and were now thriving on politics of tribalism, hatred and confusion ahead of the next General Election.

The President urged Kenyans to be wary of such leaders who were out to divide them on tribal and religious lines to achieve their selfish gains at the expense of the country’s unity.

He told Kenyans to be courageous and say no to ethnic based political parties, which derail development and national cohesion.

“Kenyans should judge Jubilee by its development track record. This is why I ask voters to support leaders promoting politics of unity and development and ignore those dividing us on ethnic backgrounds,” said President Kenyatta.

“Leaders must be courageous to unite the people of Kenya so as to attain accelerated development and achieve cohesion in our country instead of dividing them on ethnic backgrounds,” added President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta said Jubilee was committed to peace and stability of the country unlike the Opposition that cared less for the two key ingredients of Kenya’s development and prosperity.

He commended different ethnic communities in Rift Valley for living together harmoniously and peacefully, saying development was elusive if there was no peace.

“Peace is paramount for development and this is why I ask you to continue embracing peace for accelerated development,” said President Kenyatta.

Deputy President Ruto urged voters to ignore the Opposition leaders who have nothing new to offer the country after failing to deliver when they served in senior positions in previous regimes.

“The August elections will be competition between those serious in service delivery and those engaging in propaganda,” said the Deputy President.

He said Jubilee’s development track record in less than five years cannot be compared to what others did in 30 years when they held leadership positions.

Source : Kenya Presidency(Nairobi)

Kenya: President Kenyatta Orders 18pc Minimum Wage Increase

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered an 18 percent increase in the minimum wage. He said he appreciates concerns by employers on ballooning wage bills and asked Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed to hold a meeting with them to discuss non-labour factors that impact production.

“After consultation with key stakeholders, I have directed that the minimum wage be increased by 18 per cent. In addition, we have increased the non-taxable bonuses and overtime to Sh100,000,” he said at the 51st Labour Day celebrations.

President Kenyatta also told workers seeking jobs overseas to only use approved agencies.

Kenyans Stare At Bleak Future As Job Cuts Loom

As Kenyans marked the 128th international Labour Day, the country’s employment outlook continued to be bleak amid economic uncertainties.

A wave of job losses across sectors including banking, construction, media, agriculture and tourism has caused concerns, with an unpredictable future.

As the country lost its job creation momentum for the first time in four years — managing 832,900 in the formal and informal sectors in 2016 from 841,600 a year earlier — the government maintains a freeze on hiring.

AUSTERITY MEASURES

A December 2016 memo from Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced cost-cutting measures as it narrowed down to hiring only for essential services such as security, health and education, in the public service.

The 2017 Economic Survey shows that 747,300 of the new jobs, or 89.7 per cent, were in the informal sector, from 713,600 in 2015.

The rest, 85,600, were white collar jobs — meaning the formal employment market lags far behind the number of graduates, with more than 500,000 leaving college yearly.

JOB CUTS

The gap means Kenya’s projected working age growth by nine million in the next decade will present a big headache.

Kenyans continue to stare at looming job cuts, even as the latest data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the economy grew at 5.8 per cent.

The private sector, which accounted for 67.2 per cent of the new formal jobs last year, expects to see more job cuts.

A recent Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) study found that a fifth of Nairobi-based firms plan staff cuts in the next six months, citing an unfavourable business climate.

Banks, microfinance institutions and transport companies foresee staff cuts arising from information technology (IT) disruption and completion of the standard gauge railway.

Other sectors expect a slowdown in growth linked to political uncertainty and harsh weather, which has depressed agriculture, the report says.

RETRENCHMENT

The worst hit in the wave of layoffs that characterised the better part of last year were banks.

The sackings, blamed on a tough economic climate, spilled into 2017.

KCB Group recently unveiled an early retirement scheme in a bid to save Sh2 billion per annum in staff costs.

The bank, whose staff count dropped by 223 last year, had carried out personnel cuts, spending Sh186 million in compensation to the affected employees.

Last October, Sidian Bank announced it was retrenching 108 workers under a voluntary retirement plan to trim its payroll.

Less than a week earlier, Family Bank had made a similar announcement, also citing costs.

The year saw more than 10 major firms implement or announce massive job cuts.

They include Kenya Airways, which started it off by sending home 600 staff, and Coca-Cola, which laid off 80 workers in July.

Airtel had started the year with an announcement to shed off 60 staff members.

INVESTORS HESITANT

The multibillion-shilling railway builder China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) shocked many when its 109 workers, based at a manufacturing factory in Kathekani, Kibwezi East Sub-County in Makueni County, were paid their monthly dues and told to leave in July.

Come this year, regional lender Bank of Africa Group closed 12 branches around the country, declaring an unknown number of its 520-strong workforce redundant.

The Sharia-compliant First Community Bank (FCB) laid off a third of its workforce — 106.

Ecobank’s decision to close nine of its 29 outlets also came with human capital consequences.

This being an election year, the situation is likely to get worse as most investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude because of political uncertainty ahead of the August 8 General Election.

Source : The Nation Nairobi

Kenya: Teachers Employer Issues New Guidelines to Protect Students

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Caning, sex and drug and substance abuse will not be condoned in learning institutions, teachers have been warned.

Even keeping canes in staff rooms, classrooms or any part of the school is illegal, according to new guidelines issued by the Teachers Service Commission to enhance the safety of learners.

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School administrators also have a duty to protect the learners against sexual abuse by reporting cases to the police and other security agencies.

“Cases of sexual abuse, whether within or outside the school, should be thoroughly investigated, documented and action taken with expediency,” says a circular to headteachers in primary and secondary schools by the commission’s chief executive Nancy Macharia.

The circular is seen as a response to cases of bullying in schools, whether by prefects or other students.

“Any form of bullying, including physical, verbal or psychological abuse, should be eradicated in the learning institutions,” says the circular.

“Under no circumstances should corporal punishment or use of physical force to inflict pain be administered to learners,” said Ms Macharia in the communication.

The circular also affects principals of teacher training colleges, institutes of science and technology and national polytechnics.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

All teachers are cautioned that corporal punishment or any other degrading treatment constitutes a professional or criminal offence and can lead to disciplinary action or prosecution in a court of law.

For the prefects who have lately been at the centre of the bullying cases, the commission has directed that they be sensitised on their role in school governance, which does not include punishing learners in any way.

Recently, the principal of Alliance High School, Mr David Kariuki, opted for retirement following allegations of bullying at the school that left scores of students injured.

The bullying is said to have been carried out by prefects and senior students for a long time, yet the principal had not taken action.

Parents raised the alarm with the Ministry of Education early this year, leading to an investigation.

Maseno High School principal Paul Otula was interdicted and is currently under investigations over claims that a student at the national school was sexually molested by senior students.

EXPOSURE TO DRUG

The learners should be protected from exposure to drug and substance abuse through stringent surveillance programmes to make the learning and surrounding environment free from drugs.

“Guidance and counselling should be intensified to sensitise learners, parents and guardians on the dangers of drug and substance abuse,” said Ms Macharia.

The TSC boss has also warned headteachers against forcing or allowing students to repeat classes after it emerged that some schools were forcing academically weak students to repeat or were asking them to register in other schools, to ensure the schools perform well.

“Forced repetition is prohibited under Section 35 of the Basic Education Act. All learners should be assisted to transit to the next class and complete any given segment in the learning cycle,” she reminded headteachers.

School administrators who are still allowing holiday tuition have been put on notice after the commission made it clear that all schools should operate within the term dates issued by the Education Cabinet Secretary.

The circular is copied to the Cabinet secretary, county directors of education, regional coordinators of education, headteachers’ associations, and other education stakeholders except the teachers’ unions.

TSC has also asked headteachers to ensure learners report and leave school within the prescribed hours.

Source : Daily Nation

Kenya: National Exams to Be Scrapped Under New Education Plan

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A new education system that will replace the 8-4-4 was unveiled Monday and will phase out the national examinations currently done at the end of primary and secondary school cycles.

Unlike the current system that is heavily focused on examinations, the new one will be competency-based and will give more emphasis on identification of talents and nurturing them.

The new system puts emphasis on continuous assessment tests rather than end of cycle tests.

The focus is to equip learners with skills rather than having them cram and reproduce facts.

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Learners will take two years in early childhood education, three in lower primary, three in upper primary, three in lower secondary and three in senior secondary.

The National Basic Education Curriculum Framework that has been working on the system has not, however, indicated how many years will be spent in tertiary institutions.

According to the new framework, the new system will give every child a chance to succeed in life by carving out pathways that develop their interests and allow them to live and work locally, nationally and globally.

Initially, it had been planned that the new curriculum would be piloted in May and rolled out in January next year, but that is not conclusive yet.

This is because the syllabuses as well as teaching and learning materials have not been produced.

Neither has training been done for teachers nor the modules for teacher training been concluded.

CONSULT MORE

Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who launched the system at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, asked Kenyans to continue making suggestions on it with a view of improving it.

“We should make it better and avoid negative views,” he said and directed the Kenya Institute of Curriculum development to hold quarterly meetings with stakeholders to enrich the system, adding that the government had a specific budget for the review.

The new system is crafted around three levels — early, middle and senior schools — with a focus on continuous assessment tests as opposed to the summative evaluation that defines the 8-4-4.

In the initial plan, the curriculum should have been rolled out next year in pre-primary and lower primary schools. But this has not been concluded.

In the framework, the curriculum provides that pupils join pre-primary at the ages of four and five followed by lower primary at between six and nine years.

Middle school will comprise upper primary and junior school while graduates of junior school will branch out to either senior school, tertiary or higher education depending on their competencies.

They will also have the option of joining talent schools, general education on technical and vocational skills or basic education and training.

Under the new structure, pupils will progress from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

However, experts and teachers union leaders who attended yesterday’s national conference asked the government to allow for more consultations for the system to become acceptable and successful.

Religious leaders, led by National Council of Churches (NCCK) General-Secretary Peter Karanja said they supported the review.

Education scholar Gilbert Oluoch said the new system will be expensive because it will require re-training of teachers and the construction of more facilities to accommodate a higher transition rate.

TRAIN TEACHERS

The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) cautioned the government against rushing the process without having re-trained the teachers who will implement it.

“At this time, observing the progress made, we feel that the process is being rushed because of signs that we are reading,” said Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, warning that since the review was not a political flagship project, politics should be kept out of it.

“It is the teacher who needs to understand these reforms more than the curriculum developers who will never implement it,” Mr Sossion told the forum.

He also demanded that more time be allocated to testing the curriculum.

“In this case, considering the timelines given, 2018 school year may be the best timing for this pilot.

“We should create space for a good evaluation of the pilot outcomes, both internal and external and measure the results of the proposed changes.

“A rushed process, and one that is both implemented and measured by insiders may miss the target,” said Mr Sossion.

He added: “We need to carefully define the outcome levels that will measure success and carefully introduce sound measures that will inform the review.

“While it is important that KICD evaluates the process, we need to invest also in a external evaluator.

“This way we can guarantee that we shall deliver to Kenyans valuable reforms.”

Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori asked stakeholders to study the system keenly.

“Both angels and devils are in the details of the curriculum review process and therefore we must provide 21st century facilities for effective learning to take place,” he said.

Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich asked stakeholders and the government to be open on the review and not to introduce contentious issues such as sex education.

LEARNING AREAS

The system gives students in secondary school a chance to specialise in the subjects they wish to pursue in tertiary institutions and learning areas have been divided into three categories: arts and sports, social sciences and science and technology, engineering and mathematics.

Under sports, students will pursue games, performing arts and visual arts while social science options will be languages and literature, humanities and business studies.

The third option will have pure and applied sciences, engineering and technical studies.

Subjects to be taught in lower primary will include literacy, Kiswahili, English and indigenous languages, as well as mathematical and environmental activities (science, social and agriculture activities).

In upper primary, pupils will be taught Kiswahili, English, home science, agriculture, science and technology, mathematics, religious studies, moral and life skills, creative arts (art, craft and music), physical and health education, social studies (citizenship, geography and history) with an option of foreign languages (Arabic, French, German, Chinese) and indigenous languages.

At junior secondary, a learner will be required to take the 12 core subjects — including English, Kiswahili, mathematics, integrated science, health education, pre-technical and pre-vocational education, social studies, religious education, business studies, agriculture, life skills education, sports and physical education.

They will also take a minimum of one and a maximum of two subjects according to personalities, abilities, interests and career choices.

The optional subjects are home science, computer science, performing arts, foreign languages, Kenya Sign Language, indigenous languages and visual arts.

In senior secondary, a student will take two core subjects irrespective of the pathway identified.

They include community service learning (life skills, citizenship, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and research) and physical education.

Source :  Daily Nation

East Africa: What Makes Nairobi the Only African City in Global Investors Top Five Watchlist

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Nairobi is on the global watchlist of top five fast modernising cities that are attracting new global business on growing realisation that big companies cannot operate from one sub-Saharan location in South Africa.

The city is also taking off as a hub for global corporations looking to establish an office to cover the East African region, according to Global Cities – The 2016 Report by Knight Frank.

Big companies with global reach have come to the conclusion that they need to operate from multiple locations and Nairobi is a natural starting point in entering or expanding to new regions.

Nairobi has been termed as demonstrating Africa’s rapid modernisation and joins other cities like Dubai, United Arab Emirates capital, which is said to have pulled clear of past difficulties and is expanding as a hub for investment, tourism and transport.

Others are Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia, Bangkok in Thailand and Moscow, Russia.

The report indicates that around 1.8 million square feet of modern shopping mall space was opened in 2015 and the space forecast to increase.

“Given that the mall stock previously had totalled 980,000 square feet, this amounts to a revolution in the city’s retail experience, which matches the huge economic and demographic changes that have unfolded in Kenya,” said James Roberts, the chief economist at Knight Frank.

With the world’s cities predicted to add 380 million new citizens in the next five years, new mass transit systems, utilities and faster connections to markets will be needed.

The Lamu Port and Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport Corridor (Lapsset) has been termed as one of the global infrastructure projects that will be generating new business clusters and creating real estate opportunities.

The project consists of a new 30-berth port and oil refinery at Lamu, which will be connected to Nairobi and the borders of Ethiopia and South Sudan by rail, road and oil pipeline.

Other mega infrastructure projects include; China’s global railway links – China is using rail to speed up freight transport to Europe on a route running through Russia or via Iran and Turkey.

The Chinese are also constructing the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the Port of Mombasa to Nairobi and these projects form part of China’s one belt, one road programme to enhance trade routes.

In Ethiopia, a new Chinese-funded railway line between Addis Ababa and the Red Sea port of Djibouti was expected to begin operations before end year.

In Nigeria, a Chinese firm won the $12 billion (Sh1.212 trillion) contract to build an 870 mile railway between Lagos in the West and Calabar in the East.

Other projects are; The Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor – This is a development zone that will be targeted for investment to build up new industries to support India’s rapid urbanisation.

Expanding the Panama and Suez Canals is another mega project. Presently, ships queue to transit the Panama Canal whose original locks are restricted to ‘panamax’ ships that carry around 5,000 containers.

A new set of locks completes construction by end year that will offer passage to ‘post-panamax’ ships that can carry up to 13,000 containers.

A super airport – In Dubai, Al Maktoum International Airport which opened in 2010, is to be expanded from a current freight capacity of one million tonnes of cargo per annum to 16 million tonnes.

The report notes that Kenya is seeing a surge in electronic payments via mobile phone.

“The country is undoubtedly a developing world success story,” said Mr Roberts.

Kenya’s Economic Survey 2016 Outlook showed that last year mobile telephone subscriptions increased to 37.7 million, resulting to penetration rate of 85.4 per cent.

Swelling middle class

Internet subscriptions increased significantly from 16.4 million in 2014 to 23.9 million in 2015. The number of licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) increased from 177 to 221 over the same period.

The number of mobile money transfer service subscribers grew to 26.8 million last year, with total amount of money transacted through mobile platform expanded by 18.7 per cent to Sh2.816 trillion over the review period.

The global cities report said that while agriculture retains a large share of Gross Domestic Production (GDP), the country is developing a broad-based economy with rising services and production industries.

“The country is a fast growing centre for Information Technology (IT) and telecom industries in Africa, and output from Information and Communication industries has risen by 30 per cent between 2011 and 2014 in constant prices.

Finance and insurance output is up by 24 per cent over the same period,” the report showed.

For 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting Kenyan GDP to expand by nearly 7.2 per cent, compared to 2.1 per cent for South Africa and five per cent for Nigeria.

As a result of this economic transformation, Mr Roberts said the ranks of Kenya’s middle class are swelling thanks to so much growth in service industries.

“They are now living, working and shopping ever more in line with developed world expectation, as well as a modern retail experience and international brands, there is rising demand for food and leisure outlets, now that shopping is increasingly combined with socialising. This is why Nairobi needs more modern retail stock,” said Mr Roberts in the report.

United Nations (UN) is forecasting that by 2020, the country’s urban population will expand to 14.7 million people, an increase of nearly 2.8 million.

Knight Frank’s head of London Residential Research, Tom Bill said that for investors and landlords there are clear long-term rewards in the world of short-term rental accommodation.

“Cities that embrace the flexibility of models like serviced apartments will reap the economic rewards,” said Mr Bill.

The report said ensuring quality levels of short-term accommodation will be a challenge, particularly given that future economic growth will be dominated by emerging markets.

For the serviced apartment market, it underlines the growing importance of branding and the uniform quality of services and booking systems.

For example, the report said the quality of serviced apartments in Kenya matches that of a hotel, but it’s done relatively informally to date. “The next level will mean more professionalism and a branded type of offer,” it stated.

The country has also been identified as easy in doing business.

In the World Bank’s Doing Business Index for 2017, Kenya climbed 21 positions to rank 92nd out of 190 countries.

That included jumps of 34 positions for ‘Starting a Business’, 21 positions for ‘Getting Electricity’, 25 positions in ‘Protecting Minority Investors’, and 48 positions for ‘Resolving Insolvency’.

UN notes that there is going to be more demand for modern retail over the next five years, although the shopping development pipeline is ready to meet the challenge.

By next year, a further 1.3 million square feet of modern retail space will complete development in Nairobi, as the city is expanding from being the economic focus of East Africa into its biggest modern shopping destination.

Source : The East African

Kenya: Wabukala Nominated for Top EACC Post

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Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated Retired Anglican Church of Kenya Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to be the new chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi on Tuesday informed the House that he had received a message from the President communicating the nomination for parliamentary vetting.

Wabukala is set to be vetted for the position that was left vacant by Philip Kinisu following his Acrimonious exit in August.

Kinisu had been under fire after it was discovered that a firm owned by his family and where he was a director and shareholder, had dealings with the National Youth Service (NYS), while it was under investigation by the anti-graft agency.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) had submitted the name of retired Archbishop Wabukala alongside that of former Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Managing Director William Kipkemboi and Philemon Mwaisaka, who served at the defunct Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution.

The PSC had earlier shortlisted six candidates including former Inspector-General of State Corporations Peter Bita Ondieki, Rose Bosibori Osoro, who is on the Commission on Revenue Allocation, and Erastus Iguna Rweria.

Source : Capital FM

How Communities Resist Violent Extremism

By:
Lauren Van Metre

In 2003, the women of Tononoka, an ethnically and religiously diverse neighborhood in Mombasa, Kenya, organized security to protect themselves after a series of violent rapes had gripped the community. This movement, which they dubbed Sauti Ya Wanawake (Women’s Vioces), has spread nationally to prevent sexual violence, and the precedent has inspired Tononoka to mobilize repeatedly for its own security, including during the violence that followed the 2007 Kenyan elections. Today, this resilience is at play again as the community works to resist violent extremism.

Friends and family of victims of the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya during a memorial service. The siege by the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab left more than 60 people dead and many wounded. Photo Courtesy of the New York Times/Tyler Hicks

In the case of the election-related violence, citizens in Tononoka heard that ethnically based vigilante groups on the payroll of political parties were on their way to incite the community’s youth. Citizens mobilized to guard the community’s perimeter and repelled them. This same vigilance about security has allowed the community to resist violent extremism, as mosques, community watch groups and the local administration (elders and chiefs) work together to report on newcomers, screen religious speakers and manage mosque events.

Such citizen-led security organizations that work together and cooperate with the government are one of the key factors that build a community’s resilience to—or ability to resist—violent extremism, based on a comparative research study I conducted for USIP with Sahan Research and Development Organization in Kenya. The study looked at six urban communities (Eastleigh, Pumwani, Tononoka, Majengo in Mombasa, Kisuani and Kongowea) that were equally at risk for violent extremism, but exhibited different levels of violent extremist activity.

“Communities similarly at risk, but with less violent extremist activity, had high degrees and varieties of connections across religious groups.”

As the head of the research team, I selected Kenya as the study site because it is accessible and relatively safe and because it has a growing extremist problem.  Since the Kenyan military’s invasion of Somalia, Kenya has seen an increase in activity, including violent attacks, by Somali-based Harakat Al-Shabab Al Mujahideen, commonly known as al-Shabab. Recruitment for the war in Somalia, the radicalization of youth, the infiltration of local mosques and illicit financial transactions linked to extremist groups also have risen.

At the same time, the heavy-handed response of the country’s security forces to growing levels of violent extremism has antagonized Kenya’s local communities and angered youth, increasing their vulnerability to radicalization and recruitment. Kenya’s experience demonstrates the need for effective alternatives to traditional law enforcement and intelligence approaches to prevent violent extremism and terrorism.

With this research, I really wanted to understand how communities on the frontlines undermine and rebuff violent extremist groups. If the study could identify core capabilities and successful strategies that could be compared with similar studies across different communities and geographies, it could provide solid evidence for how to prevent violent extremism.

Deep Social Bonds

Previous research on how communities resist other types of violence had identified specific capacities and strategies to test on the ground in Kenya. Seminal works like Ashutosh Varshney’s Ethnic Conflict and Civil Life:  Hindus and Muslims in India, while focused on communal rather than extremist violence and not formally described as resilience research, identified key resilience factors. They included bonds among different societal groups that specifically work together on projects across ethnic and religious divides, rather than simply meeting at sports games and at markets. That distinction, Varshney concluded, has a direct relationship to the ability of a community to manage violence.

We wanted to test whether similar dynamics were at play in communities facing violent extremism. In addition to social cohesion, the Kenya study looked at other resilience factors drawn from other research. For example, collective efficacy—the belief that a community has the power and ability to successfully confront problems—and citizen participation, or the ability to work with the government to make change, were some of the resilience capacities that were tested in the six urban neighborhoods in Kenya.

A key challenge for the research team was security.

“We had to take measures to ensure the security of the surveyors and the respondents, since we were asking questions about violent extremist activity in their community,” Scofield Muliru, who managed the two surveys and one focus group discussion organized in each neighborhood.

The resilience research team also considered how to translate the resilience capacities identified in the literature review and describe them in ways that made sense to survey participants. By asking how communities responded to other crises and incidents of violence, such as the 2007-2008 unrest after national elections and a cholera outbreak not long before the study, survey participants were able to identify the key factors that they believed helped them resist violent extremism.

The key factor they cited was Christian-Muslim association. Communities similarly at risk, but with less violent extremist activity, had high degrees and varieties of connections across religious groups that allowed them to stop cycles of retributive violence and build greater levels of trust across religious lines. That trust allowed Christian leaders to assure their congregations that Muslim leaders were doing everything they could to prevent radicalization and recruitment.

Another capacity that existed in communities with less aggregate extremist violence of various types was community-organized, but unarmed, security groups that worked together and with the government to report violent extremist activity. The groups might be young people performing community watch-like patrols, or religious leaders sharing information, or tribal elders maintaining contacts with their communities.

Risks of Bribery, Informant Networks

The configuration of these groups was critical – there had to be more than one group sharing information, or community members would manipulate it. Also, if there was only one existing security group, it would have to rely on informant networks and bribes to cover enough territory to be effective, decreasing its legitimacy with certain populations. Multiple security groups, on the other hand, could verify information with each other, and they were in a better position to protect community members who made reports from being arrested or being subject to retribution from extremist groups.

Andia Kisia, who lead the Sahan research team, noted that communities that experienced heavy-handed police action – detentions, unwarranted arrests and beatings—stopped talking about violent extremism in their community. When these conversations “went underground,” it severely impeded a community’s ability to identify the violent extremist threat and develop successful strategies.

The study showed us that police brutality not only increases levels of recruitment and radicalization, it undermines a community’s resilience—its ability to act. It hits them on both sides by making them more vulnerable and less resilient.

The study’s recommendations are limited to urban communities in Kenya, because rural communities might have different dynamics. But non-governmental organizations and government officials trying to prevent or counter violent extremism in such areas should prioritize Christian-Muslim association in their activities, and support coordinated, community-led security organizations that work with the government to resist violent extremism.

The research results were briefed to Kenya’s National Counter-Terrorism Center and to participating community members. A leader in Pumwani said his community was preventing violent extremism by tapping into the same capacity they used to resist electoral violence in 2007-2008 – high levels of social cohesion based on widespread inter-religious and inter-ethnic marriage, which reflected the community’s tolerance and also strengthened its resistance to the electoral violence, much of which was based on ethnic divisions.

Perhaps communities that recognize the strengths they have and know how to use them can develop resilience strategies for different shocks, such as the potential risk of repeat electoral violence in Kenya in 2017.

Lauren Van Metre, the former head of USIP’s Center for Applied Research on Conflict, teaches at George Washington University and conducts research on community resilience.

Source : USIP