SECURITY & SAFETY: Countering Violent Extremism

Our response to challenges in Security and Safety is informed by experience which has shown that most young people encounter radicalization either accidentally or by coercion or through negative peer influence, or out of mere curiosity. The problem is that society lacks the capacity and mechanism to protect and support those young people who come into contact with violent extremist groups and are at increased risk of becoming more involved. These young people are usually prematurely labeled the enemy, especially by state security agencies, and given no opportunity to change direction. The absence of early detection and response mechanism at the household level narrows the chances to move in an alternative direction, to retreat and start afresh, thereby reinforcing the likelihood of youth to travel the violent extremism path.

The lack of community-led safe fora for dialogue on radicalization and violent extremism freely with expert opinions is a great hindrance to the efforts of countering violent extremism and protection of women against human rights abuses. Women, despite their influential role on children and youth are unfortunately largely ignored in most conflict and CVE programming. The few women who are involved are operating in a capacity and resource material vacuum. WAYCAN steps in to specifically empower women and young people so that they may be able to initiate and sustain effective solutions. WAYCAN recognizes the fact that women are situated at the heart of the family, and are often best-placed to identify, predict, and respond to potential vulnerabilities to Violent Extremism.

From the beginning of 2016 to date, WAYCAN has increasingly been involved in issues of safety and security in Nairobi and the Coast Region. In particular, WAYCAN has been implementing a Countering Violent Extremism Intervention under the Building Resilience In Civil Society (BRICS) mechanism. The project which is going into its second year of implementation has achieved great impact in influencing at-risk-youth in Kamukunji subcounty (Majengo, Eastleigh), Matuga subcounty (Ng'ombeni, Kombani & Tiwi) and Msambweni subcounties (Ukunda, Gombato & Msambweni) to change direction from radicalization and recruitment into violent extremism.

The project adopted a Multi-Arts Approach to Countering Violent Extremism and has so far reached over 3,000 beneficiries, mostly at-risk-youth. The innovative, participatory and interactive artistic process used by the project team is not only popular with the young people but also resonates quite well with the african traditional forms of expression and worship. Participatory Theatre is effective and appropriate to CVE as it creates a safe platform for at-risk-youth to openly dialogue matters of radicalisation and violent extremism. The theatrical process provides a kind of "insurance" against self exposure as the participant makes their contributions through vicarious roles assigned during the artistic exploration of the subject matter. Participatory Theatre inspires discussion and incentivizes the participants to take immediate action by participating in the ongoing theatrical depiction and discussion. The flexibility to “step into the act”, stop the act, play back or play forward enriches reflection and allows the participants to rehearse possible interventions / solutions.

Human Rights and Gender Equality

Gender equality is at the very heart of human rights and United Nations values. A fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter adopted by world leaders in 1945 is "equal rights of men and women", and protecting and promoting women's human rights is the responsibility of all States.
Yet millions of women around the world continue to experience discrimination:

  • Laws and policies prohibit women from equal access to land, property, and housing
  • Economic and social discrimination results in fewer and poorer life choices for women, rendering them vulnerable to trafficking
  • Gender-based violence  affects at least 30% of women globally
  • Women are denied their sexual and reproductive health rights
  • Women human rights defenders are ostracized by their communities and seen as a threat to religion, honour or culture
  • Women’s crucial role in peace and security is often overlooked, as are the particular risks they face in conflict situations

Moreover, some groups of women face compounded forms of discrimination -- due to factors such as their age, ethnicity, disability, or socio-economic status -- in addition to their gender.
WAYCAN believes that effectively ensuring women’s human rights requires, firstly, a comprehensive understanding of the social structures and power relations that frame not only laws and politics but also the economy, social dynamics and family and community life. 

WAYCAN's programming seeks to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes, so that women are no longer viewed in the light of what women "should" do and are instead seen for who they are: unique individuals, with their own needs and desires

Alongside the focus on Women, WAYCAN's Human Rights programming seeks to empower the society as a whole, so that communities can demand for and actively participate in ensuring that government plays its role in ensuring that Human Rights for all are respected.


WAYCAN Livelihoods program provides skills training for economically disadvantaged young people and women so they can either find or create employment. This skills training focuses on developing foundational skills such as literacy and numeracy, technical skills such as critical thinking, communications and teamwork. The program also advises on financial services, such as savings, and financial literacy education to build young people's and women's financial capability.

WAYCAN LIVELIHOODS STRATEGY provides young people and women with a holistic package of relevant technical and transferable skills, opportunities for apprenticeships, mentoring and connections to employers, as well as advise on access to financial services.It prioritizes agriculture and Information Technology sectors which are growing and can absorb large numbers of entry-level employees.

Principles and frameworks form the basis of all livelihoods programming at WAYCAN. The fundamental principles of livelihoods programming that we subscribe to are that it is people-centred, multi-level, dynamic, and ultimately aims to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Our livelihoods programming fully involves the people whose livelihoods are affected. Our livelihoods approach identifies programmes based on the priorities and goals defined by people themselves and supports their own livelihoods strategies. It builds on people's strengths, and in emergencies, people are assisted in becoming less vulnerable and more resilient to the impact of disasters.

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