Posted July 14, 2020 9:28 pm by

The easing of COVID-19 movement restrictions last week raised hope that the economy will finally begin to recover from the devastation of the pandemic.

There is, however, a huge underlying risk of a surge in infections if Kenyans become complacent in adhering to health guidelines to curb the spread of the virus.

In fact, COVID-19 is spreading fast in the country with more than 250 people testing positive daily. While this may not appear like a big number compared to countries like the US which has recently recorded up to 45,000 new infections on a single day, it should be noted that we are yet to test the vast majority of our population and the situation is set to change dramatically as more Kenyans are tested.

With this in mind, it is imperative that we continue social distancing, wearing face masks and observing hand hygiene. In addition, there is need for concerted action to curb the community spread of the disease including aggressive public awareness and mobilisation.

However, interventions at community level should aim at keeping everyone safe not only from COVID-19 but also crime and insecurity.

In this regard it should be noted that COVID-19 has had debilitating socio-economic consequences including job losses, rise in domestic violence, explosion in teenage pregnancies and mental stress.

If not addressed, this dire situation may exacerbate crime and insecurity. In particular, it may fuel radicalization in communities that are considered vulnerable to extremism. This is because violent extremists in our midst may seek to exploit the growing anxiety, frustration and despondency in sections of the populace.

Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties, where the movement restrictions were lifted, have experienced terror attacks in the past. The threat is real not just in the three counties but across the country.

For example, the DCIs Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) and Special Services Unit (SSU) last week arrested two terror suspects and recovered explosives and assorted bomb-making items in Kapseret Sub-County, Uasin Gishu County.

This amplifies the need for heightened vigilance against terrorists and other criminals.

Preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE) should, therefore, be prioritized alongside COVID-19 preventive health measures. More important is crafting strategies to tackle factors fueling insecurity in our communities.

Providing economic opportunities during these very difficult times is one way of taming insecurity. A good example is the ‘Kazi Mashinani’ programme targeting 270,000 youth across the country.

Other social interventions including weekly stipends to the vulnerable, Inua Jamii Read More…With easing of COVID-19 restrictions, community vigilance is paramount  With easing of COVID-19 restrictions, community vigilance is paramount  With easing of COVID-19 restrictions, community vigilance is paramount  With easing of COVID-19 restrictions, community vigilance is paramount