Peace, Security and Stabilization in Counties

The Danish country programme for Kenya 2015–2020 includes a Thematic Programme on Governance focus, under which CHRIPS partners with Act Change Transform! (ACT!) as the lead engagement partner and grant manager to deliver on initiatives aimed at improving peace stability and security in particular counties.

CHRIPS leads the research component and the work on evidence-based policy change and public discourse on the governance of security in order to promote practical measures that respond to the peace, security and stability needs in each of the selected counties. The main target counties are Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kisumu, Kwale, Mombasa and West Pokot, although ACT! retains a rapid-response focus on the counties that are flagged as hotspots during the life of the project.

Context of the Kenya peace, security and stability focus

Kenya’s peace and security challenges impede and slow down economic development and growth, and disproportionately affecting areas that are already poor and marginalised. Key issues of concern under the project focus are: (1) violent extremism (terrorism and radicalization); (2) conflicts over natural resources including extractives especially in arid and semi arid lands (ASALs); and (3) political conflicts (associated with elections, ethnicity and devolution).

The roots of the conflicts are multiple and overlapping.  They stem from economic and social inequalities, marginalisation, high youth unemployment, unsettled clashes over land and resource ownership, use, benefit and disposal, ethnic tensions related to political interests, and spillovers from conflicts in neighbouring South Sudan and Somalia. A number of these conflict triggers are longstanding while others are newly emerging.

The shift to devolved governance units after promulgation of the Kenya Constitution holds important opportunities that can turn around some of the conflict triggers, redress years of marginalization and poor access to services, increase participation of civilians in governance of their localities and increase the fronts on which Kenya can address the challenge of radicalization of youth, propagation of violent extremist ideologies and terrorist attacks.

However, devolution also comes with the risk of new conflict triggers with political actors stirring up ethnic tensions where they were previously minor issues, new marginalizations and exclusion, unemployed youth and the presence of organised criminal groups and militia including violent extremist ideologues, and the corresponding insufficient presence of policing structures and actors. Tensions can easily escalate into violence, and conflict, particularly around elections.

Theory of Change

The overall goal of the Thematic Programme on Governance is to support Kenya’s Vision 2030 through enhanced security, peace building and conflict management. A precondition of this change particularly at the local levels is the improved capacity and effectiveness of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), government and security oversight bodies to address two persistent conflict drivers in Kenya.

Violent extremism must be effectively countered and political and natural resource conflicts must be prevented and mitigated. ACT! and CHRIPS engagement will focus on facilitating local CSOs, national and county governments to strengthen their capacities to play diverse but complimentary roles, while providing technical assistance and expertise to government agencies on policy development backed by relevant, strategic, usable research on the conflict, safety and security dynamics.

Key outputs of this project are:

  1. Enhanced capacity of CSOs working at the local levels to identify and engage with emerging conflict issues and forestall violence.
    • Collaboration between CSOs and government agencies in addressing conflicts and extremism must also be improved; this includes better coordination, sharing of security information and building trust.
  2. Enhanced capacity of relevant national and county government agents to develop and implement coherent national security policies, action plans and strategies
    • Support will be provided through technical assistance.
  3. Strengthened role of women and girls in conflict resolution and countering violent extremism
    • The role of women and girls is pivotal and must also be recognized, strengthened and built upon towards practical solutions to conflict resolution.
  4. Development of a stronger evidence base to inform policy frameworks and decision making in order to promote peace and stability

These outputs achieved should lead to the intended outcome of improved capacity and effectiveness of CSOs, government and security oversight bodies to counter violent extremism, prevent political and natural resource conflicts in Kenya, and in turn, contribute to the goal of the project of enhancing the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030.

A key assumption in this logic, however, is that political goodwill will remain at a positive level, which welcomes and supports engagement by the various actors and remains focused on seeking ways to counter the existing and new security challenges and inclusive in the approaches to tackling the challenges.