By Caroline Katana
Youth in Kwale County have been asked to familiarize themselves with the Kwale County Action Plan to counter violent extremism.
The plan is a localized version of the national strategy to end Violent Extremism that was launched by the former president on September 7, 2016.
Speaking in a meeting with youth leaders from Matuga Youth Watch at Tiwi in Matuga constituency, Kenya community support centre, KECOSCE field officer Mwalimu Rama said it is good for youth leaders to understand the five pillars of the action plan document.
“The document has psychosocial, ideology, economic, media, and education pillars. We have so far sensitized 60 groups of youths in Matuga and Msambweni constituencies, and we are encouraging them to be in line with the document’s existence, youths being the targeted group of radicalization,” he said.
Rama confirmed that radicalization cases have reduced in the county unlike before when violent extremism cases were alarming.
“Violent extremism cases have gone down in Kwale County following peace and security sensitization forums conducted by different organizations among youths, and we believe our leaders will walk together with them to end this menace,” said Rama.
At the same time, the Jisra project officer condemned police brutality against youths.
“We want police officers to use a soft approach while enforcing the law because they are in one way or another youth leaders; they should respect and advocate for change among the radicalized youths and ensure peace is maintained in the area,” he noted.
On matters of gender-based violence, Halima Khamisi of the Hope organization said they are collaborating with different organizations to end gender-based violence in the area and ensure a safe space for women and young girls.
“In Tiwi, we have managed to reduce early pregnancies by 15 per cent, and we are still following up on some cases. We aim to see zero violence in this area. We want to be a role model to other youths in the country,” said Halima.
On her part, Beatrice Ong’era of the Linda Mazingira youth group called upon the community to ensure equal rights to education for their children.
“Children have equal rights as per the constitution, so it’s very sad to see some parents failing to take girls to school. Let parents end the harmful cultures and traditions that undermine the lives of young girls in society,” lamented Ong’ero.
Hakika Mwabidia of Hope Organization affirmed that different youth leaders from different groups in the Matuga constituency formed an umbrella body called “Matuga Youth Watch” to push youth agendas in different sectors.
“We want to speak with one voice on matters affecting youths like juvenile gangs, drug abuse, gender-based violence, lack of employment, and terrorism. We want a society that is free and safe for everyone to benefit economically,” said Mwabidia.
This comes after the president, on May 5, 2023, formed a task force to collect views and contributions on how to counter violent extremism and on the bill aiming to regulate religious organizations.