Youth Resilience to Violent Extremism: An Evaluation of a Mentorship Intervention in Kenya
Keywords:At-risk Youth, Resilience, Mentee, Mentorship, Radicalisation, Violent Extremism, Kenya
In response to the rise in extremist violence within Kenya, the Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism Programme was launched to counter the threat of violent extremism (VE) and prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of vulnerable youth. To assess the extent to which the Programme was able to achieve its objective, an evaluation of the Programme's key component – a mentoring and counselling-based project intervention, was conducted between 2017-19. In total, 347 youth, identified as being 'at risk', were included as part of the evaluation. This paper presents the principal findings of the evaluation and assesses the effect of the intervention on three key dimensions: the youth's attitudes, their social networks and levels of awareness of the risks of VE and the strategies for countering violent extremist activities. Using logit models and controlling for any confounding effects of socio-demographic differences, the evaluation finds evidence of improvements in the at-risk groups' knowledge of the risks posed by VE groups as well as the strategies for countering VE. However, mixed results were noted in the groups' attitudes towards violence, their levels of self-confidence and the extent and diversity of their social networks. Across two of the dimensions, more significant effects were also observed among 'at-risk' groups who were employed versus those who were unemployed. Some variability in outcomes was also found among at-risk groups who had been exposed to the intervention for longer compared to those who had been in the Project for shorter periods. Taken together, these findings underscore the need for extending the Project's existing engagements and incorporating a nuanced and sustained approach for engendering more long-term change. The analytical insights presented also offer critical lessons for designing and implementing similar interventions in Kenya and in the wider global context.
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