The North Eastern region in Kenya has been embattled for the past several years. For instance, the border to Somalia has been closed then reopened numerous times owing to the instability in the area. The once upbeat border towns are all but squeezed dry by the ever-looming threat of terror. As a result, there has been an endless public outcry over the state of insecurity in this region.
First, as a measure of improving security in the North Eastern region, the government should invest in well-trained law enforcement personnel. They are the first line of defense from terror finding its way into Kenya through Somalia. Having incompetent men and women guarding our borders thus grossly undermines not only the security of the region but also that of the country as a whole.
In recent news, we have witnessed what can happen when said people are tasked with such responsibility. Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, in their report, explain in details how corrupt Kenyan police officers let Al-Shabaab operatives into the country. Accordingly, this occurrence shows that tightening security in the region has to start with deploying competent personnel to man the borders.
Subsequently, improving security in any area almost always requires specialized/increased funding into the law enforcement agencies operating there. As a result, this move supplements the already existing security personnel in that they have more resources with which they are able to do their jobs. Also, with an increased budget the respective agencies can hire more people. Consequently, for better results, we should consider increasing the security budget allocated to tightening both border and North Eastern security.
Next, we can improve security in the region through a well-executed public awareness campaign. The resulting effect here is that people will understand that security in the area is a shared responsibility. In addition, the campaign also enlightens the public on how to identify a potential security threat in their midst as well as how to respond. Accordingly, the locals will play a more cooperative role in the entire endeavor. It will help streamline things with local law enforcement and other government and international agencies. Furthermore, a sensitization program highlighting the dangers and effects of terrorism in society might play an instrumental role in weakening the existing support base on the ground. Therefore, improving security in the North Eastern region will require engaging the public.
Lastly, we should stop antagonizing the area altogether. We treat that part of the country like it is Kenya’s bastard region that is incapable of development. The region has a tremendous potential for growth. Hence, as a country, we should invest more in growing the area and providing the people with more and more opportunities. One of the key reasons people get into terrorism and crime is marginalization, economic or otherwise. It is only logical that ceasing to marginalize the region may help increase security. It might seem like a risky gamble. However, I suppose if the area was more developed then the people would arguably have more to defend and more alternatives to crime/ terror.