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Countering violent extremism and economic inequalities through sustainable peace groups in Kenya

In peace groups, members share and identify their real issues and possible solutions, receive training in peace and economic empowerment.

Photo of Isaac Gogo
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

We will establish sustainable peace groups of young people and provide them with training to build their capacity in peace building and counter radicalization of youth into violent extremism. Alongside training in peace, peace groups take part in income generation activities, including vocational skills training, financial literacy training and access to markets. Kenya has been a frequent target of terrorist attacks. In recent years, the Somali-based Al-Shabaab has perpetrated two large scale attacks in Kenya and the country has become a prime location for Al-Shabaab radicalization and recruitment of youth. The drivers of youth radicalization into violent extremism include poverty, unemployment and marginalization especially for youth in the coastal region of Kenya. The youth are vulnerable to Violent Extremist Organization recruiters, who offer them a strong sense of purpose, community, and even financial compensation. The project programming in addressing drivers of youth radicalization into violent extremism will address the inequality that exists between poor youth and the rich in Kenya. The project will begin by mobilizing youth leaders and training them as champions for peace in their communities to counter radicalization of young people into violent extremism. After the training, the youth peace champions will reach to their peers and mobilize them to form peace groups. Hold mentorship outreaches to engage youth, empower and educate on dangers of radicalization and counter radicalization/extremist ideologies. Organize safe forums for youth to develop their own thought on the issues and peace champions provide right information on culture and traditions, leadership and citizenship. In addition, the peace groups will receive training on entrepreneurship/financial literacy, vocational training/life skills including knitting and soap making, agribusiness and access to markets. Link peace groups to government and private sector institutions.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are vulnerable youth between the ages of 15-35 years, high school to college level students and out of school youth and from different religious and cultural groups within the community. Majority of the recruits into violent extremism either have primary level school certificate or are secondary school level drop outs. A few have completed secondary school and fewer have gone to college. We acknowledge that our youth at all levels are vulnerable to recruitment.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

This project unique in the sense that it addresses the root causes of radicalization into violent extremism through education and economic prosperity especially among vulnerable populations as keys to helping people escape extreme poverty and relieve pressure to accept dangerous recruiter ideologies. Current interventions have failed and especially state focus on militarization. Violence can be prevented and stopped through efforts to deter and disrupt recruitment or mobilization, building resilient communities, immune to recruitment by violent extremists, by catalyzing community-based programs and correct perceived state discrimination and exclusion through provision of services (socio-economic empowerment) to all vulnerable groups to improve state-society relations.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Action for Research and Development (AFORD) is a not for profit Kenyan Organization serving the vulnerable youth, the marginalized and the poor by facilitation access to basic health, social and economic needs through capacity building, skills empowerment, education, advocacy and action research. The central focus of the Organization is therefore, to test new ideas in women and youth development for replication and provision of information and knowledge resources. Website:

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The September 2013 siege of Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that left 67 people dead and I was terrified because I was leaving in City then and I was a frequent visitor to the shopping mall. The other one was the April 2015 attack on Garissa University in northeastern Kenya in which Al-shabaab militants killed 148 people –And the worst is that all the two attacks were masterminded and carried my Kenyans who had joined Al-Shabaab terrorist group. It is then that we thought something can be done

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

This project directly relates to peace and prosperity which is intertwined in the sense that poverty, unemployment and marginalization in the coastal region of Kenya has led to vulnerability of youth to radicalization into violent extremist organizations and has led to breach in peace in which radicalized youth return and unleash violence and terror. In addition, prosperity in tourism sector in the coastal region of Kenya has been impacted by fear of terror attacks. Tourism business has gone down and many hotels have shut and led to job losses.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We have identified a number of youth empowerment organizations, private sector institutions and county Governments. We will link beneficiary groups to youth empowerment organizations and private sector institutions for Economic-empowerment by training them on small scale businesses. We will be updating them of government funds and help the access the devolved funds for starting or expanding their enterprises.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

AFORD has build a network of over 50 youth groups in the Coastal region which will provide an entry point. The organization enjoys good working relationship with religious institutions, churches, schools and colleges in the coastal region in which youth will be mobilized. The participants will be selected from youth groups, religious organizations, community-based organizations, schools and higher learning institutions and community.

Geographic Focus

The project target the coastal region of Kenya (Mombasa, Kilifi, Taita-Taveta, Tana River and Lamu)

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of James Patton

Thanks for sharing your idea! I appreciate that you are including the private sector and religious institutions in your project. Religious leaders are an important part of legitimizing CVE efforts and building trust with local communities and garnering private sector engagement can help sustain local projects in the long term. What role do you see for local religious leaders in supporting or interacting with the peace groups?

Photo of Isaac Gogo

Thanks James for your comment and acceptance that private sector and religious institutions are important institutions for engagement in this initiative. As for your question about the role of religious leaders in supporting or interacting with peace groups, I would say that our intention is to work with religious leaders in planning and win over their support in mobilizing target group and validating the CVE initiative in the peace groups.

Photo of James Patton

That's really great. Including religious leaders in the planning process is a great step. As a follow up, how will the youth leaders be selected for the peace group? It might be helpful to consider asking the religious leaders for recommendations for influential youths in their congregations.

Photo of Isaac Gogo

Hello James,
Thanks for your input, I appreciate. We will definitely recruit youths from religious institutions and ask for recommendations for influential youths in their congregations.
We always welcome more feedback and suggestions. Thanks for again

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