Following the persistent terrorism threat in the North Eastern and parts of the Coastal region, the government has locked its focus on what a turnaround strategy to restore permanent peace and security.
Alongside sustained patrols and surveillance, more resources are being invested in accelerating the long-awaited security sector reforms, key among them equipment and kitting of specialized units with more sophisticated weapons and protective gear.
According to the Principal Secretary for Internal Security and National Administration Dr. Raymond Omollo, the government is now going all out to expedite the programme, whose implementation has been wedged into a period of two years.
Speaking in Malindi after addressing the technical committee on Police Reforms, Dr. Omollo announced that the National Taskforce led by CJ (Rtd) David Maraga, would in a week’s time submit its report to H. E the President with the ultimate goal of addressing the welfare of security officers and at the same time enhance their effectiveness.
“Alongside the equipping of our police officers, we expect to see very critical and specific recommendations. From those recommendations, we expect to extract specific action points based on the implementation metrics, which will go a long way in ensuring that the issues of the police are properly addressed,” he said.
President William Ruto’s first budget for the 2023/24 Financial Year allocated Ksh.500 million to initiate the first phase of the progressive Equipment Modernization Programme under which specialized and formed units will receive new protective gear, armoured personnel carriers (APCs), mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs), drones, and gunship helicopters to improve their capacity in preventing and responding to terror threats.
The programme will also be extended to acquisition of sophisticated and modern communication gadgets as well as in-service training on culture change and infusion of professionalism within the Service.
Further, the PS announced that government agencies have stepped up efforts to forge a path of collective action through multi-agency operations and community-led responses to end the pervasive threat that has plagued the two regions for far too long.
In this regard, strategies have been put in place to rally civilians and other stakeholders to shoulder more responsibility in preventing and responding to any attacks targeted at Kenya.
This approach, according to Dr. Omollo, is expected to end the sporadic attacks in the recent past, most of which have been thwarted by security officers working closely with members of the public.
“We are committed to fostering a culture of open dialogue and information-sharing among stakeholders, key among them the local communities, at all levels. It is our hope that we will be able to enshrine citizen participation in security by inculcating a sense of shared responsibility when it comes to the management of security at the grassroots level,” he said during a separate security consultative forum.
During the meeting, which was also attended by chairs of Regional and County Security and Intelligence Committees, the PS noted that it will take genuine and seamless collaboration between government agencies, civil society groups, and the public to counter violent extremism.
“It is our hope that we will be able to enshrine citizen participation in security by inculcating a sense of shared responsibility when it comes to the management of security at the grassroots level,” Dr. Omollo said.
“So, we are calling on every player to come on board. Government agencies, elected leadership, particularly from the most affected regions, and also wananchi themselves, because they are the ones who actually are the biggest group that bears the brunt of terrorism.”
Kenya has also sifted its responses and prioritized establishment of a more formidable and united front to suppress the enemy’s activities in the country.
The Reducing Insecurity and Violent Extremism in Northern and Coastal regions of Kenya (REINVENT) programme is among the interventions that have yielded remarkable results in creating awareness and enhancing the resilience of communities and individuals to stand up to terrorists and other criminal gangs.
The five-year intervention, which is supported by UKAid, brings together various government agencies and downstream partners with the intent to provide improved police performance to enable investment, inclusive growth and equitable service delivery to communities in Northern and coastal Kenya.