East Africa Project Associate, PROACT
Institute for Strategic Dialogue
14 April 2021
On 25 March 2021, the Strong Cities Network visited the Kakamega County Governor’s Office to officiate their joining the network.
Kakamega County is based in Kenya’s western province close to the border of Uganda. Aiming to realise Kakamega’s ambitions to a become a certified city by 2022, the governor and his officials recognise the importance of effective and sustainable security structures to enable it to not only tackle issues such as gang violence and violent extremism but also heighten the appeal to foreign investors, enabling its expansion. The county faces an array of issues due to the changing nature of peace and security in its landscape and an influx of displaced people from neighbouring border counties due to issues such as unemployment, poverty and violent extremism. According to Elphas Were, Executive Director at KEYNET, Kakamega’s high youth unemployment levels have also contributed to the county’s high recruitment levels into al-Shabaab as well as gang violence.
His Excellency Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said of Kakamega County that it “has invested in youth and women empowerment programmes. The county uses sports and polytechnic training to equip the most vulnerable group with technical skills to become self-reliant. The county has a two-year programme at the Polytechnics Institution for semi-literate, and has 4,000 youth with no education background doing manual work within the county.”
The partnership with the Strong Cities Network (SCN) hopes to support the county through the development of robust policies and programming that mitigate polarisation, hate crime and violent extremism in the county. Through the partnership, Kakamega County will also have access to the latest research and best practices from across the SCN’s international membership and online resource hub.
Later this year, the SCN plans to hold a governors’ roundtable meeting in Nakuru County to bring together ten governors from select SCN member counties and the Mt. Kenya and Aberdares Region Economic Bloc. The forum will form part of a series of peer-to-peer learning exchanges building on the previous inter-county exchange held in Nakuru in November 2020, and is designed to increase national-local collaboration, explore opportunities for mainstreaming P/CVE initiatives into county action plans and priorities, and enhance peer-to-peer learning and the sharing of good practices.