Partners in East Africa Build Community Strategies to Fight Violence
Partnership with Arigatou International Continues Effective Peacebuilding
Because we remain committed to the issue of child soldier prevention and reintegration, our project work often exposes us to the disturbing reality of youth participation in militant violence. East Africa in particular has suffered from a growing problem of terrorist groups focusing their recruitment efforts on the youth of the region. Parents in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia have called for assistance in addressing the issue of their children being recruited or forced to join Al-Shabaab and other armed militant groups.
Because of prior work in the region building a National Platform addressing the issue, the Goldin Institute and Arigatou International are expanding our partnership to address this problem of child recruitment. To that end, at the beginning of this year, 24 practitioners in local grassroots initiatives gathered together for a workshop in Kenya to discuss strategies on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The discussion was robust and varied; starting with an identification of what makes communities vulnerable to violent extremism. Participants came to understand that the lack of employment opportunities, the disintegration of trust and respect amongst community members of different faiths, and extensive marginalization of women, have combined to make children more vulnerable to exploitation.
Attendees also discussed the vulnerability of youth who too often grapple with self-doubt and self-realization which puts them in vulnerable positions for recruitment. Participants decided that their voice as a community is important and have pledged to collectively identify issues, foster relationships with government authorities and most importantly counter extremist groups from both a hands-on and policy perspective. Participants came to the conclusion that investments in each other must be made to build stronger societies and partnerships with government must be developed for government enforced change.
[quote]At the end of the workshop, community response proved to be the most effective way to prevent violent extremism. Participants came to an understanding that Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) will be the epicenter of restoration and strengthening of the values and principles of individuals and societies against violence and its related activities. The training effectively captured the underlying causes and grievances that make communities vulnerable to violent extremism; it also created an integral solution for these problems.”[/quote]
– Excerpted from full report, which can be viewed here.