How best to strengthen community resilience to violent extremism?
What prevents a young unemployed Tanzanian man from joining an extremist organization? What reduces the likelihood that a poor mother from Kenya’s coast might unwittingly offer her child as collateral to a recruiter in exchange for financial support? What options does a young woman in Eastern Uganda face other than to feel compelled to marry into a ring of militants? What are the ideological incentives that inspire a pious community preacher toward violence? How best to prevent and counter the rise of Violent Extremism (VE) in East Africa?
Hard questions such as these have increasingly vexed policy makers, security actors, political leaders, development organisations and community representatives across the region in recent years. All too often, the response has been viewed through the narrow lens of counter-terrorism, or reduced to an issue of poverty and unemployment, or argued to be the unfortunate by-product of someone else’s ‘war on terror’.
In the absence of compelling answers, the British High Commission boldly committed to a 3-year programme to tackle the drivers, narratives and enablers of violent extremism. In 2015, it commissioned Wasafiri as its Regional Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Research Unit to learn about what does, and what doesn’t work.