The Kingdom of Netherlands has feted eight Kenyan journalists for their efforts in reporting stories on the fight against violent extremism.
The award ceremony presided over by Netherlands ambassador to Kenya Maarten Brouwer took place on March 24, at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
Violent extremism is a threat to the stability of a country, and the media plays a huge role in educating the public on initiatives towards prevention and countering violent extremismMaarten Brouwer
Those awarded included; Lake Region Bulletin’s Kevine Omollo and Sarah Otiende, Daily Nation’s Rushdie Oudia and Ondari Ogega, Standard Newspaper’s Harold Odhiambo and Anne Atieno, Radio Nam Lolwe’s Philda Odanga, and Radio Tandaza’s Jackline Opiyo.
The eight made it to the final list following vetting by judges drawn from National Counter Terrorism Centre-Communication Department, Champions of Peace (CoP-K), led by veteran journalism trainer and Consulting Editor Owino Opondo.
Calls for proposals
The award ceremony comes following a call by Champions of Peace (CoP-K) to journalists based in western Kenya to produce stories on prevention and countering violent extremism.
According to CoP-K Director Elly K’Opondo, the call put out on January 23, and titled ‘2023 Western Kenya PCVE Grass-Root Stories’ had received proposals from 67 journalists.
The eight successful received grants to do incisive stories to inform societal change through instigating community discourse on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
The stories are expected to enable in-depth understanding on radicalization and recruitment patterns applied by violent extremist groups in western Kenya, and devising appropriate and effective approaches in fighting against the vice.
Some of these cases take cultural, political and criminal angles, and if not checked, may get out of handElly K’Opondo
The stories target five thematic areas which included; importance of police and community relationships in PCVE, leverage on existing partnerships between civil society and religious organizations at the two levels of government to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism.
Others were; the place of drama and performing arts in PCVE, the role of the education sector in PCVE, Citizen vigilance and reporting in PCVE.
Role of media in fighting violent extremism
Mr Brouwer underscored the role of the media in preventing and countering violent extremism, congratulating the awardees for their efforts in highlighting such stories.
“Violent extremism is a threat to the stability of a country, and the media plays a huge role in educating the public on initiatives towards prevention and countering violent extremism,” he said.
The Kingdom of Netherlands has been supporting projects aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism in the Kenya.
CoP-K in consortium with Sharp Development Solutions Consultancy and Youth Art Development Network, have been working in collaboration with National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) in implementing an 18-months PCVE programme in 10 Western Kenya counties of: Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Vihiga and Busia.
The programme seeks to mobilize, organize and build competence of state and non-state actors in ten western Kenya counties in shrinking the pool of radicalization.
Desecuritization of fight against violent extremism
Mr K’Opondo noted that the awards to journalists are part of engaging the media in a bid to strengthen their role in the fight against violent extremism.
He noted that there was need for the media to take a lead role in informing and educating the public on issues around violent extremism at the local levels.
“Some of these cases take cultural, political and criminal angles, and if not checked, may get out of hand,” said K’Opondo.
He appreciated the support by the Kingdom of Netherlands, which he said has supported the initiatives aimed at fighting violent extremism.
Mr K’Opondo also appreciated the Kenyan government for desecuritization of violent extremism, and embracing non-state actors to support the fight.