Community engagement silver bullet on extremism

A lorry that was hit by a terrorist’s explosive on the Hayley-Garissa road

A lorry that was hit by a terrorist’s explosive on the Hayley-Garissa road on February 16, 2023.

Photo credit: Manase Otsialo | Nation Media Group

Community engagement is the silver bullet in the war on terror and Fafi residents in Garissa are keen to exemplify this.

Reports indicate that elders in this constituency have pledged to work with the Government through information sharing, given that Garissa has borne the brunt of Al-Shabaab attacks with the worst being the Garissa University attack. 

The importance of collaboration between security agencies and the community to eradicate this rag-tag militia cannot be gainsaid and the fact that these miscreants live amongst the local communities will make it even easier to flush them out.

Terror outfits have threatened to destabilise peace in border counties and the collaboration of elders to create awareness and restore the confidence of the community in the ability of the government to protect them should be replicated countrywide. 

The goodwill of the elders and, by extension, the community to expose terrorists and their sympathisers is also bringing the government closer to realising the Africa Union Agenda 2063 of Silencing the Guns in pursuit of transformative development.

This renewed way of fighting terrorism comes in the wake of many successes in the war against terror, most recently, the sentencing for 20 years of Victor Odede after he was found guilty of conspiring to stage an attack at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

School enrollment

Fafi MP Salah Yakub is leading this war from the front by working closely with local administrators and parents to encourage school enrollment. Additionally, the lawmaker’s Zero Fees Programme is geared towards a 100 per cent transition in institutions of learning.

Garissa has made commendable progress in both formal and adult learning. It ranks top in adult education enrollment and learning. Statistics provided during the 2022 International Literacy Day show 5,380 learners listed in adult and continuing education programmes.

This progress towards literacy is threatened, unfortunately, by threats of terrorist attacks; several schools had been closed for fear of attacks. However, with the renewed vigour to complement security agencies' efforts in the war on terror, learning is likely to go on uninterrupted.

The terrorists’ infiltration in the community also hampers development, a case in point being the suspension of construction of the multi-billion-shilling Lapsset project that is expected to provide immense economic opportunities to the north besides opening up the country and the region.

Al-Shabaab’s continuous targeting of such key infrastructure is geared towards exploiting the people using the marginalisation card. Civic participation in the war on terror will help to prevent such attacks which hamper local and regional development.

The nexus between fragility and extremism can only be cured through a multi-faceted approach that includes accountable government structures and civic participation.

Mr Mugwang’a, a communications consultant, is a member of the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya (CJAK). [email protected].