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NCIC highlights major factors affecting social cohesion in 2024

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The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has outlined key factors affecting social cohesion in Kenya as the country reaches the midpoint of 2024.

Tasked with promoting equality, good relations, and peaceful coexistence among Kenya’s diverse communities, the NCIC has identified six major issues threatening national harmony.

Expressing condolences to those affected, the NCIC acknowledged the devastating impact of recent floods.

Despite predictions of severe El Nino devastation not materializing, the heavy rains of 2024 caused widespread flooding, leading to significant loss of life, displacement of families, and destruction of infrastructure.

“Homes, farms, roads, and schools were heavily damaged, with the reopening of schools delayed as many were inaccessible.”

The NCIC criticized the government’s inadequate preparedness and condemned construction in riparian lands and reclamation of wetlands, exacerbating the floods’ impact.

The commission in addition raised alarms about the resurgence of organized youth criminal gangs, particularly in urban areas.

Noting a spate of violent incidents, especially in the Coastal region, the Commission linked the rise in gang activity to youth unemployment.

They warned that if not addressed, these gangs could severely threaten national security, drawing parallels with situations in Haiti and Colombia.

To combat this, the NCIC announced the Peace to the City Initiative, starting with the Vulnerable Youth Summit in Nairobi in July 2024, to be followed by similar activities in other major cities.

Increased insecurity and banditry in regions like Kerio Valley, Samburu, Isiolo, and Meru were also highlighted.

The NCIC reported over 75 deaths and numerous displacements due to ongoing attacks.

Schools and businesses in these areas have been disrupted, stalling economic development.

The Commission called for the perpetrators to disarm and urged local political leaders to facilitate dialogue.

They also commended government efforts to establish more security centres and intensify operations against the bandits.

The rise in terrorist attacks was another concern. The NCIC noted that these attacks threaten Kenya’s social cohesion and economic development.

Radicalization and violent extremism, disproportionately affecting youth and women in marginalized areas such as Northern Kenya and the Coastal region, were identified as critical issues.

The Commission in light of this pledged to work with stakeholders to support disengagement and reintegration of radicalized individuals through psychosocial support and rehabilitation.

According to the statement, hate speech and ethnic contempt have significantly decreased due to NCIC’s continuous public engagement.

The Commission reported 67 hate speech cases under investigation, with several already concluded.

They also flagged numerous cases of discrimination, incitement, and misinformation on social media.

The NCIC’s “fame and shame” wall has been particularly effective in curbing hate speech on political platforms.

Boundary disputes and the challenges of devolution were also noted as enduring sources of conflict.

The NCIC estimated that 33 out of 47 counties face boundary-related conflicts, which often translate into ethnic tensions.

They highlighted ongoing efforts to work with the National Survey of Kenya to demarcate county boundaries and foster peaceful coexistence through continuous dialogue among stakeholders.

The NCIC’s ongoing interventions include the Amani Kwa Ground 2022-2025 strategy, aimed at resolving boundary disputes.

Successful initiatives like the Sondu border peace process, which saw the signing of a peace commitment framework between the Governors of Kisumu and Kericho, were highlighted as models for other regions.

The NCIC also addressed recent conflicts along the Narok-Migori border, facilitating dialogue and reconciliation.

In conclusion, the NCIC reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining Kenya as a peaceful society.

They announced the commissioning of a new Social Cohesion Index study, with results expected in six months, to evaluate the state of social cohesion across various communities.

The NCIC also emphasized the importance of solidifying the gains made in promoting peace and cohesion in Kenya.

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