The role of counter narrative in response to youth radicalization in Garissa Township Sub County, Garissa County, KENYA
Abdi, Abdi Mohamed
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Radicalization among the youth takes place in the country and affects the grass-root areas. The youth are believed to be the most vulnerable and are targeted by militia organizations like Al Shabaab to execute their missions against the people. This study, therefore, sought to determine the role of counter narratives as a response to youth radicalization in Garissa Township Sub County, Garissa County, Kenya. The study was based on the radicalization theory, framing theory and cognitive dissonance theory. The study was guided by the following specific objectives: To establish the nature of counter narrative strategies used to prevent youth radicalization, to establish how counter narratives have contributed to reduction of youth radicalization, to determine challenges faced when developing counter narrative strategies to deal with youth radicalization and to assess the measures that can help mitigate the challenges in developing counter narrative strategies to reduce youth radicalization. The study used a descriptive research design and used a target population of 13,511, out of which a sample of 384 was drawn. The study relied on primary data collected using semistructured questionnaires and key informant interview guides (KIIs). Secondary data was also used especially data on radicalization in the study area. The pilot study was carried out in Lagdera, a sub-county neighbouring Garissa Township sub-county, and has similar radicalization issues as those of the study area. A Cronbach Alpha coefficient of 0.877 was obtained. Validity was enhanced by university supervisors. Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics which include frequency counts and percentages to capture the distribution of responses on the key issues addressed in the study objectives. The findings from quantitative data was presented using figures and tables. The qualitative data collected from KIIs and open-ended questions in the questionnaire were analyzed using thematic analysis and presented through verbatims/ narratives. The study found that radicalization was going on in the sub county. The study found that 181 (56.4%) of the respondents indicated that radicalization was going on in the sub county. Factors such as palatable ground laid by the local community, poverty, unemployed youths, lack of education, low numbers of rehabilitation centres, and poor relationship with the government contributed to radicalization in the sub county. The study also found that 270 (84.1%) of the respondents identified existence campaigns geared towards addressing stereotypes/ prejudice of the Christian religion, sustained stereotypes and strengthening the community. Further, the study determined that the residents (63.2%) were not involved in designing or delivering counter narrative campaigns in the sub county. However, the residents were aware of the measures by the police/security officers that contribute to preventing radicalization. The study concluded building trust among communities, involving religious leaders, conveying knowledge to the youths and understanding of radicalization were some of the strategies used to prevent radicalization in the sub county. However, financial constraints, lack of support from the government and lack of education for the youths were major challenges faced in the development of counter narrative strategies. The study recommends the implementation of county action plan which addresses the issues of the youth joining radical groups, re-establishment of the community security committees, involvement of the affected parties and an affirmative action to allocate resources both at the county and national level to fight radicalization at the grass root level.
Africa Nazarene University