A peace promotion initiative by the Garissa youth has been launched to counter al-Shabaab propaganda on social media platforms.
Equal Access International country director Abdirashid Abdullahi on Wednesday said the aim is to build resilience in the face of terror that has become a nightmare for border communities.
He said service delivery in far-flung areas has been hurt by Shabaab activities as non-locals fear to visit those areas.
The peace promoters have been trained in social media use and how to bring forth counter-narratives that educate the youth on the dangers of radicalisation.
The launch was also attended by county and security officials. Abdullahi said the terror group espouses extremist views meant to indoctrinate vulnerable youths, hence the need for concerted efforts against their mission.
“It’s time people in this region stood up against extremism and came up with alternative messages to ensure extremists don’t have space in our midst,” he said.
Social media has proved to be an important tool for information exchange in modern society. Balambala MP Abdi Shurie said ignoring the youth and the impact of social media “would be catastrophic”.
“There is a need to empower our youth to use the platform responsibly to achieve the desired goals,” he said.
For his part, county commissioner Meru Mwangi said the government will support the initiative. He said it is a step in the right direction as it keeps abreast with the technological changes insofar as the fight against terror is concerned.
“We must have homegrown solutions to fight terror. Youths are most vulnerable because of unemployment, but we would like to urge them to make use of government opportunities, including Uwezo, Youth and women funds,” he said.
“Our county was slowly moving away from the old era of being a violence-prone area into a situation where information sharing amongst the security agents has been embraced. This has greatly helped enhance security.”
Mwangi said that through a multi-agency security strategy, they will ensure everybody is put on board on security matters so information is shared to support proper decisionmaking.
He urged parents to keep a close eye on their children so they know what they do at any given time. Keeping young people busy goes a long way in reducing idleness, which would otherwise lead them to crime, he said.