Isiolo CVE Index Report Cover

Isiolo CVE Index 2018


September 09, 2019

Research overview

Since 1975, Kenya has faced a series of terror attacks, resulting in more than 900 deaths and numerous injuries. These attacks, carried out by the Al Qaeda-affiliated group Al-Shabaab, have instilled fear and concern within the country. The group, based in Somalia, has been responsible for a string of militant assaults across various parts of Kenya since 2012. These acts of violence not only pose significant security challenges but also have far-reaching impacts on the economy, creating uncertainty in the investment climate and negatively affecting the vibrant Kenyan tourism sector.

The Al-Shabaab’s violent ideology has led to the recruitment of Kenyan individuals, particularly youths from both urban and rural areas, who have become instrumental in executing attacks within the country. This radicalization and recruitment trend is a growing worry for Kenyan security forces. In response to the Al-Shabaab threat, the Kenyan government has implemented a range of strategies encompassing both military and non-military approaches. As part of its foreign policy approach, Kenya joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2012 to combat the terror group. Domestically, the government has conducted arrests and detentions of suspected Al-Shabaab members and launched the Kenyan National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism (NSCVE) in 2016. This strategy aims to foster collaboration across sectors to reject violent extremist ideologies and reduce the susceptibility of individuals to radicalization and recruitment. In pursuit of these goals, the Kenyan government has welcomed partnerships with various stakeholders, including the national leadership, private sector, civil society, government ministries and agencies, bilateral and multilateral partners, communities, and citizens.

Assessing the progress and effectiveness of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) activities globally has led to the development of several measures. However, these techniques often lack generalizability and are tailored to specific contexts and regions. For instance, the Violent Extremism Risk Assessment Protocol, designed to evaluate risks related to terrorism and violent extremism, has been criticized for its inflexibility in addressing the multidimensional nature of the problem. Similarly, the Global Terrorism Index, which provides an overview of global trends, has faced criticism for utilizing variables that cannot be empirically measured. The dynamic nature of different regions necessitates the creation of unique indexes to effectively measure change.

In response to this challenge, Scofield Associates has created a CVE index specifically tailored to the dynamic Kenyan context, aiming to gauge the impact of efforts on violent extremism and terrorism. This index serves as a monitoring and evaluation tool, complementing the work of the National Counter Terrorism Centre and contributing to County Action Plans. The index’s scope includes structural factors related to terrorism and extremism, taking into account community interests and governance processes. It operates on the belief that measuring CVE activities should encompass the broader regional context, understanding the root causes of violent extremism, radicalization, and recruitment. The index acknowledges the fluidity of indicators across different regions and emphasizes a holistic approach to CVE, beyond the narrow focus on radicalization. It posits that a stronger reliance on resilience factors can lead to positive outcomes, reducing recruitment and enhancing rehabilitation and reintegration in Kenyan society.

The CVE index evaluates three dimensions – radicalization, resilience, and cost of action – each using proxy indicators determined through consultation with individuals in the region of application. A formula is employed to quantify the level of countering violent extremism, and the resulting indices are computed. An overall index is determined through a median index calculation derived from Multi-Correspondence Analysis based on baseline data. On a scale of one to ten, a higher index score in the radicalization dimension indicates an increased threat of violent extremism and terrorism in a region, while a higher score in the resilience component signifies lower vulnerability.

Understanding that radicalization is a precursor to violent extremism, the index incorporates a radicalization dimension. Most studies on radicalization have focused on behavioral indicators, neglecting the equally significant role of structural drivers. To address this, a radicalization index considers both behavioral and structural indicators, including Vulnerability, Relational Activity, and Ramification indicators, providing a multidimensional perspective on radicalization in Kenyan communities.

The Vulnerability indicators scrutinize weaknesses within Kenyan communities that may make them susceptible to radicalization and recruitment into violent extremism. These vulnerabilities encompass the level of community inclusion and integration, developmental disparities compared to other regions, and instances of victimization and personal grievances. These indicators are pivotal in understanding the drivers of radicalization.

Conversely, Relational Activity indicators explore the influence of political trends on radicalization within a region. Political engagement, including participation in political actions, has been identified as a pathway to radicalization in Kenya. This dimension considers elements such as youth involvement in political activities and how these engagements can contribute to radicalization.

Ramification indicators shed light on the perceived impacts of radicalization and recruitment within a community. Factors like youth disappearances and the community’s perception of safety, security, and criminal activities are taken into account. These indicators delve into the community’s perspective on elements crucial for their well-being and security.

Resilience, defined as the ability to cope successfully with adversity, forms another dimension of the index. The creation of the resilience index encompasses three essential dimensions: social capital indicators, social bonding indicators (or bridging indicators), and social linking indicators. These dimensions were selected based on the understanding that building social networks, identity, and partnerships is crucial for community resilience against violent extremism.

Social capital indicators assess the resources embedded in social networks, their accessibility, and usage by communities. These resources can manifest through family ties, neighborly relations, shared experiences, or cultural norms. Social bonding indicators focus on individuals’ attachment to conventional society, revealing the strength of these connections and their potential to deter involvement in criminal activities. These indicators gauge the level of social cohesion within a community.

Additionally, the resilience of a community is gauged by its social links, which involves understanding connections between groups and positions of power and authority. This indicator is particularly vital for disadvantaged communities, as studies show that increased access to sources of power and wealth can enhance a community’s capacity to cope with challenges such as terrorism and violent extremism.

The cost of action dimension evaluates the efforts and resources invested in preventing and countering violent extremism. It encompasses both hard power strategies, such as security officer deployment and the use of force, and soft power techniques employed by state and non-state actors to empower communities to counter radicalization and recruitment.

Measuring the impact of CVE efforts in Kenya is essential for evaluating progress and informing strategic decisions. Tracking changes provides insights into the effectiveness of policies and offers avenues for improvement. The comprehensive CVE index takes inspiration from earlier efforts to create indexes in social science research. While it acknowledges complexities related to context, data availability, indicator fluidity, and result attribution, it is not without limitations.

The index acknowledges that relying solely on the number of terrorist attacks is inadequate due to their infrequency in some regions, despite high recruitment levels. Consequently, the index employs diverse indicators based on contextual relevance to measure change effectively. Secondly, although the findings are derived from a representative sample, perception data may lack conclusive results due to the intricate nature of violent extremism. Nonetheless, the methodology accommodates categorization and the inclusion of emerging issues affecting community resilience against terrorism and violent extremism. Thirdly, the index’s cost of action information relies on secondary data from government agencies and development partners, suggesting that its composition may evolve with additional indicators and data from these sources.