Mombasa has been termed as a hotbed for radicalization and violent extremism. The town has also been fertile ground for sprouting of secessionist groups like the hotspot for MRC which has been demanding for the secession of the coast region from the Kenya. For years, youth and law enforcers in Likoni have not been in good terms, a condition which has contributed to security agencies ability to counter violent extremism in Mombasa. Due to the misunderstanding, it was hard for the two crucial sectors of society to build trust and confidence to work together in bid to counter violent extremism in the area.
Under the BRICS project in Mombasa, KECOSCE identified youth challenge activities as a way to build, strengthen and promoting good relationship between security officers and youths. These youth challenge activities comprised of voluntary services by the youth to government stations including police stations, chief camps, DCC offices etc.
The voluntary activities brought together the government officers and youths in a hands-on activity and dialogue sessions. The activities included cleanups at the police stations, chief camps, DCCs’ offices etc, and the topics of discussions included the role of youths in countering violent extremism, identity card acquisition, and dangers of forging documents, functions of police service, national values and principles of governance.
These interactions have yielded fruits and over 900 youth benefited directly from the activities. A good number of them say they can freely visit or report crime incidents and security breaches. “I can now visit police station any time unlike before when I used to fear,” Kassim a youth from Likoni said.
The level of trust between the youth and security officers has increased with some of the youths being incorporated in police sniff teams as informants.They have also established a WhatsApp group where the youths share information with security officers.
Another beneficiary Ms Mwanahamisi said that due to the interactions she no longer fears the police. “I have realized that they are our brothers and need our support which I am willing to offer to ensure there is peace and security in Mombasa,” she said.