Kenya—NiWajibu Wetu (NIWETU)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2016-2020

Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

Country: Kenya

Solutions: Fragile States

Kenya is one of Africa’s longest-running democracies, a regional economic powerhouse, and a critical ally in the fight against violent extremism. After Kenyan troops entered Somalia in 2011 under Operation Linda Nchi (“Protect the Country”), the terrorist group al-Shabaab and its Kenyan affiliate al-Hijra reacted by carrying out attacks on public spaces in Kenya. The violent extremist groups have also attempted to create a schism between communities and manipulate underdevelopment and perceptions of marginalization to fuel their victimization narratives and recruit disenfranchised individuals to their cause.

In response, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Kenya NiWajibu Wetu (NIWETU) activity to improve the capabilities of Kenyan communities and government to identify and respond to violent extremism. “NiWajibu Wetu” is a Kiswahili phrase meaning “it’s our responsibility,” and is inspired by the Kenya National Anthem and the 2010 Constitution of Kenya. The activity empowers communities and government institutions to take the lead in countering violent extremism (CVE). NIWETU builds CVE knowledge and skills among at-risk populations and empowers local, sustainable CVE networks to take action to address violent extremism. At the same time, NIWETU provides targeted CVE assistance to county governments, strengthens national and intergovernmental CVE platforms, and develops indigenous CVE research capabilities of Government of Kenya counterparts.

USAID recently drafted a new CVE policy, with significant portions drawn from NIWETU’s experience and lessons learned. These contributions include the demonstrated effectiveness of strengthening the commitment and capacity of governments and communities to create systems of trust to prevent violent extremism, rather than reducing risk factors of certain “drivers” of VE.

NIWETU_image2.jpgParticipants of CVE mentorship program for youth football teams put on by the Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims with support from NIWETU. The month-long mentorship program provides youth with a safe and productive space to talk about violent extremism, radicalization, leadership, and social action.

Sample Activities

  • Enhance the capacity of community members and security officials to work effectively with one another to counter violent extremism.
  • Help local community organizations detect early signs of radicalization and address them before they escalate to recruitment.
  • Support government officials at the national and local levels with CVE capacity building.
  • Partner with national government stakeholders, such as the National Counter-Terrorism Centre and the Kenya School of Government, to build better relationships and trust between communities and the government.

Select Results

  • Supported 41 counties across Kenya to develop inclusive, locally informed CVE County Action Plans. Each plan was developed through coordination between the national government, county government, religious figures, civil society organizations, and activists, ensuring that diverse voices informed each county’s CVE plan.
  • Trained 860 county and national officials in CVE skills and knowledge.
  • Supported 52 CVE Champions for Change to develop and implement locally specific CVE action plans across NIWETU’s five core counties. In addition to providing technical assistance to these champions, NIWETU supported the establishment of a Champions for Change Network, for stakeholders to develop partnerships to share lessons learned and collaborate on future activities.
  • Developed a CVE Facilitation Guide used to train 63 local facilitators, who in turn have led CVE sessions with more than 1,200 community members across NIWETU’s five core counties. These facilitators report using their new skills and knowledge to conduct additional CVE conversations and trainings without USAID support.
  • Utilized a robust Complexity Aware Planning Cycle Framework, which aids strategic and implementation decision making. For example, NIWETU completed research on the “10 Essential Ingredients” for successful development and implementation of a CVE County Action Plan and shared its findings with Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC). NCTC has since incorporated these recommendations into its CAP implementation efforts across Kenya.

Garissa3 page.jpgA chief from Garissa Township, at right, dances with community members at the launch of the Garissa County Action Plan to Counter Violent Extremism.

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