On Wednesday, last week, global leadership convened at Nairobi Kenya for a counter-terrorism conference. The primary agenda of the meeting was the current state of terrorism in West Africa. The meeting brought into perspective the concerning growth of Jihadist activity in the region. According to United Nations secretary-general António Guterres, the problem started in Mali then transitioned to Burkina Faso, and Niger before spreading to Ghana, Benin, Togo, and Ivory Coast. As a result, there were calls to strengthen the capacity of the G5-Sahel Joint Force to curb the growing threat of terrorism in the region. Guterres notes that the situation has weary parallels to the Syrian or Iraqi situation.
The conference explored potential causes for the problem, pointing out that the region had several layers of tension which the Jihadist are exploiting. Examples of the same include: The overtly sustained ethnic conflict in Mali. The marginalization of particular communities and poor delivery of government services have been vital in fueling the phenomenon as the Jihadist are exploiting the situation to build their ranks. Guterres speculated on the role of climate change in further exacerbating the conflict. Nonetheless, it was clear what entailed the primary cause of the issue.
These revelations should serve as a wakeup call for Kenya and the greater East Africa region. We have, in the past, been struggling with organized terrorist organizations. We should have recognized the need for early preventive interventions to the issue, knowing the primary driving forces. The greater East African Community should thus aim to take the following steps.
We should address any long-standing conflicts among the various resident communities that could be exploited by jihadists or terror organizations to recruit individuals. Examples of these include the marginalized communities in Kenya. The best approach here will entail empowerment and fostering increased inclusion in government and decision making. For instance, the government could start various economic initiatives geared to empowering these communities. As such, we kill two birds with one stone. The strife caused by climate change essentially revolves around fighting for resources. The impacts of climate change will be less pronounced among the communities in question given they will have alternative sources of livelihood.
Additionally, the causes of the West African situation point to a need for better government service delivery. The East African governments should be motivated to provide first-rate services to their populations because the cost of fighting terrorism from the same as shown in the West African situation is enormous; the EU is giving the Sahel states €115.6 million for counterterrorism. It would be much cheaper and efficient to implement lasting service delivery frameworks