Youth Evaluations of CVE/PVE Programming in Kenya in Context
Journal for Deradicalization
Despite the military efforts of the Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Somali Federal governments, the collaboration of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces with US and coalition forces, and despite the enormous tactical and strategic set-backs that al-Shabaab has faced over the last five years, its insurgency in the Horn of Africa (HoA) remains resilient. The Kenyan government’s approach to stemming domestic recruitment to al-Shabaab remains fixated on law enforcement control and surveillance. As a result, many Somali communities are subject to daily crackdowns, interrogations, and discriminatory profiling practices whose negative effects are only heightened by current tribal and clan-based tensions in the country. Current scholarly evaluations of Kenya’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ (CVE) & ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ (PVE) policies tend to adhere to three major approaches: top-down evaluations by elites repeatedly locating the protection of national security in inter-agency cooperation; bottom-up CVE/PVE evaluations placing primacy on the voices of Muslim community elders, such as imams, social workers, parents, and community leaders for interventions with at-risk youth; and social scientific evaluations of CVE/PVE policy through empirical exploration of the push and pull factors of youth recruitment into militancy. To date, there is a dearth of studies asking what Kenyan youth leaders think about CVE/PVE policies especially in light of the fact that they are often the main targets of al-Shabaab attacks. This study has one key objective: to use input from Kenyan youth to evaluate the effectiveness, suitability, and appropriateness of Kenya’s current CVE/PVE policies in order to dissect their utility, inefficiencies, and possible harms, and contribute to the academic and policy discussions on the best CVE/PVE policy mix.