The Busia County has been listed as one of the hot spots for radicalisation of youth within Western Kenya region, a survey has revealed.
According to the survey carried out by a Researcher on Violent Extremism, Dr. Tom Mboya between November 2019 and February 2020, Busia, Bungoma and Kakamega are fertile grounds for the vice.
“There seems to be widespread recruitment of youth into terror organisations,” he said, citing unemployment and poverty as the major contributing factors.
Addressing participants during a stakeholder engagement forum on Countering Violent Extremism Forum at a Hotel in Busia on Monday, Mboya stated that majority of youth in the region have high level of education but lack of job opportunities made them vulnerable to recruitment into such illegal groups.
“Majority of the interviewees indicated that they would rather go for short life rather than long life and that is what is referred to as youth realism, a state of desperation and hopelessness,” Mboya said.
He urged the relevant authorities to rethink on youth programmes with a view to empower and keep them busy. “Only then can we deter most of them from being recruited into violent extremism,” he said.
The researcher further cited corruption as another contributing factor to the vice adding that most youth interviewed felt that they were being left out of job recruitment by County and National government due to nepotism.
“Those who are left out due to corruption and nepotism think that the only way out is to join terror organisations so that they come back and revenge,” he said.
Mboya urged the local political leaders to engage the youth meaningfully adding that findings revealed that young people do not have access to elected leaders.
He at the same time challenged MCAs to come up with legislations that minimise corruption an include the youth in decision making processes.
The survey was carried out in Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homabay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia counties through the support of the Champions of Peace Movement.
Speaking at the same forum, the Busia County Commissioner (CC), Joseph Kanyiri urged the youth to remain focused to avoid being recruited into terror groups.
Kanyiri stated that the youth should be true to the societal values and resolve all forms of disputes encountered through the relevant legal systems. “They should also collaborate with security organs by reporting any youth who is losing direction by being recruited into such illegal groups so that the situation is rectified in good time,” he said.
He at the same time urged the County Government to come up with tangible programmes that target youth empowerment.
“We would also like to see a bias on training our youth on business issues so that they can create employment in the micro and small enterprise sector to address the poverty levels that afflict our county,” he said.
The CC urged all religious leaders to take note of anybody propagating improper doctrines that are variance to normal religion.
He noted with concern that some youth were reluctant to apply for Youth Empowerment funds that would empower them to venture into business activities.
The CC said that there is need to sensitize the youth that there is employment and wealth creation in business as long as they remain focused.
“These affirmative funds by the government charge minimal interest, only an administrative cost of three per cent as opposed to 13 per cent charged by banks per annum which is quite high,” he said adding that the government does not need collateral unlike other banking institutions.
Kanyiri further urged Members of Parliament to support activities within the Youth Empowerment centres by facilitating computer training and also bringing resource persons to empower the youth.
“The County Government can also empower the youth to engage in Agri business,” he said revealing that an organization called the DIGI firm is willing to work with the youth within the sector.
On his part, the Busia County National Chairman of Youth Council, Benjamin Shireka reiterated that lack of empowerment was one of the factors pushing the youth to violent extremism.
Shireka appreciated the Government for the ongoing National Hygiene Programme, adding that it has meaningfully engaged the youth.
“We want to thank the government for coming up with the initiative. The programme has led to reduction of criminal activities among the youth,” he said.
He urged the Government to consider spreading the National hygiene Programme to all Sub Counties. Currently only the Municipality is covered.
“UWEZO fund was hijacked by politicians who misled the youth into believing that it was free money hence making most of them reluctant to repay,” he said.
He advised the youth to apply for government empowerment funds and invest in various income generating activities.
The forum brought together relevant stakeholders, including the County Security team, Education sector, County Government officials, Religious leaders Civil Society Organizations to deliberate on Countering Violent Extremism.
By Salome Alwanda