As the leader of the Jamii Thabiti programme, Jaki brings expert knowledge of the Kenyan security context, having led police reform and community policing initiatives and worked with stakeholders ranging from government institutions to civil society organisations. In this piece, she explains why a programme like Jamii Thabiti is necessary for Kenya and how she has worked to build a strong and effective structure for it.
2008 was a watershed moment for Kenya’s attitudes towards violence. The massive political and intercommunal conflict that erupted following the 2007 election brought the country to a halt, causing fractures that split communities and even families.
What it put front and centre was the fact that violence had seemingly become normalised in our culture. The events of 2008 meant that no one could ignore the need for complete legal, cultural and behavioural change in Kenya’s attitudes towards violence, from policy to practical levels.
Jamii Thabiti is an unequivocal response to that. As a programme, it examines risk factors for violent behaviours and it promotes resilience. We’re working on building the tools, mechanisms and capabilities that will empower people to be resilient against violence. Jamii Thabiti recognises Kenya’s richness of laws and policies as a basis for building the knowledge and attitudes in our men, women, girls & boys to feel empowered, individually, within their communities and nationally.
In putting the programme together, we’ve assembled a team of some of Kenya’s most informed and educated professionals in the different fields we’re working to address – including peacebuilding, policing and violence against women and girls. We also have regional teams who are closely integrated with the customs of the eight counties in which we work, and 32 partner organisations who expand our knowledge, networks and expertise across the programme. From that depth of expertise, we are able to take a problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach to our work. We do not approach communities from a preconceived understanding that we then seek to apply to the situations. Instead we’ve gone into the communities, asked the tough questions, sought out the roots of the problems then jointly designed the programme with the communities and our partners on the ground.
And we’re already seeing results. We’ve seen some of the key police stations we’ve worked with feted for good practice. We’ve seen downstream partners in Mount Elgon – one of the areas most affected by cyclical violence over the years – help to sustain a peace accord, by supporting mediations and working with the county and government police. In Kwale and Kalifi counties, we’ve galvanised the support of local authorities, police, schools and civil society around the “Keeping the Promise Campaign”, which focuses on tackling violence against women and girls and helping girls remain in school.
The dictum that drives our work is that the solutions to the challenges of Kenya lie with Kenya. It’s what inspired our programme motto, ‘usalama wetu ubora wetu’, which translates as ‘our security, our well-being’. We see it as a rallying call to communities to strive for the collective safety, security and well-being of their communities and society.