Various partners including the Government of Kenya have initiated community led counter terrorism program to counter radicalization and violent extremism in hot spot areas.
The program, known as (E-Space), involves engaging youth in the implementation of the National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism and county action plans in 10 counties of Western Kenya.
Young women and youth are among the targeted groups who will be supported in the Community Youth led activities to counter terrorism activities in the high risk areas.
Officers from the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) met Civil Society Organizations, Youth leaders, representatives from the boda boda sector and those from the business sector who are identified as partners in the project in Kakamega County.
The Director of Youths Arts Development and Entrepreneurship Network (YADEN), Sammy Gathii, said that since young people are targeted in violent extremism and radicalization, they need empowerment on strategies to counter any such forces.
“Today we are here on what we call youth ignition for a program called Youth E-space, which is part of a bigger program in 10 counties of Western Kenya, about implementation of the National Strategy to counter Violent Extremism and county action plans,” he pointed out.
He said young people are currently undergoing a lot of challenges which puts them at risk of being deceived with job offers, radicalized on religious and political lines.
Among other partners are Champions of Peace (COP), Smart Development Solutions (SDS) and the County Commissioner, Pauline Dola.
“The whole idea is to stand with young people as key partners in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE). A big chunk of this program is geared towards grassroots implementation,” he added.
The youth E-Space, an 18-month program, is supported by the Netherlands Government through the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi Kenya.
The Chairperson of Kenya Economic Youth Network, Kakamega County, Elphas Were, said to support the program, the organization has trained youths in parts of Kakamega to be voices for young people on peace and security matters.
Those trained are from Butere, Mumias and Matungu Sub Counties which have been identified as hotspot areas.
He said the youth, trained under youth for peace, are in turn grouped in cycles and supported to train other five youth each from the locality they come from to further spread messages of peace.
Were also said the organization has started sporting activities as a transforming strategy on matters of peace and security.
Kakamega County Commissioner, Pauline Dola, urged youth to avoid shortcuts and take advantage of government programs to start businesses or other income generating activities to earn a living.
She urged them to apply for Youth Enterprise Development Funds and also take advantage of the Kazi Mtaani program.
“We are ready as a government to support youth, if anyone has interest, come to the office. I will link you up to government empowerment programs,” added Dola.
By Moses Wekesa and Cynthia Kerubo