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ARMED FORCES WEEK

Kenya-UK partnership in security and stability

While we are uniting against the virus, we can't forget tackling insecurity and extremism.

In Summary

• Our partnership with Kenya has five pillars: Sustainable development; security and stability; mutual prosperity; climate change and people-to-people links.

• We will continue to work in partnership with Kenya on regional security - countering al Shabaab is a priority.

Deputy President William Ruto chats with British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot at his Karen home
Deputy President William Ruto chats with British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot at his Karen home
Image: DPPS

In 1934, American psychologist Abraham Maslow published his ‘hierarchy of needs’. During his lifetime, he lived through the Great War, the Spanish Influenza, which killed roughly 50 million people globally, the crash of stock markets in 1929, the Great Depression and a tide of global populism.

Five years after his publication, the Second World War began.

The ‘base’ of Maslow’s pyramid of needs set out the basic requirements that we all need as a minimum before you think about psychological needs.

In 1934 those basic needs were not met, for many they are not being met now: food, water, warmth as essentials, followed closely by security and safety.

 

Covid-19 is, initially, a health issue. But the economic and security effects – directly impacting on the ability to meet those basic needs — may be even more dangerous and wide-reaching than the horrific toll of the virus itself.

During crises, existing inequalities are exacerbated. We see people doing amazing things, but a minority also do horrific things to each other.

This outbreak — layered with concerns about repeated flooding and the return of locusts — has been no different.

Globally, criminals are changing tactics, capitalising on vulnerabilities exacerbated by this virus — from money scams and corrupt practices, to drug smuggling and human trafficking, to the increase in domestic abuse, including to children.

Our partnership with Kenya has five pillars: Sustainable development; security and stability; mutual prosperity; climate change and people-to-people links.

Three of these cover the basic needs under Maslow’s Hierarchy, and Security and Stability is tackling poor behaviours.

As we mark Armed Forces Week, our defence partnership is at the heart of this pillar. Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, there has been no let-up in working with Kenya, our defence partner of choice in East Africa.

Our British Army Training Unit Kenya (Batuk) continues to support local communities in Isiolo, Laikipia and Samburu, distributing food supplies, repairing roads, and providing vital resources such as 5,000 litre water tanks .

It is all part of Sh 5.5 billion contribution to the local economy since 2016.

We are also delivering virtual mentoring , for Kenya’s anti-corruption Multi-Agency Taskforce, and for the Counter IED Wing at the Humanitarian Peace Support School in Nairobi – continuing to build capability whilst also social distancing.

On Serious and Organised Crime, British experts, in tandem with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kenya, are advising the public to be more aware as criminals adapt their tactics in the face of Covid-19.

We are sharing intelligence to counter these threats. Together with Interpol and the government we’ve translated guidelines into Swahili on good practice for law enforcement officials during Covid-19.

 

Our joint focus on women’s empowerment remains more vital to a secure future than ever.

One in three women will experience gender-based violence in their lifetime – as someone who has experienced this, I know the toll first hand.

Domestic violence has reportedly tripled in countries practicing social distancing. The UK is acting now, putting women and girls’ rights at the heart of our response.

Our partners, Women’s Empowerment Link, have worked with the police to develop and rollout guidelines for officers to better support domestic violence victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

In Kenya, the national toll-free line 1195 for reporting incidences of domestic violence has seen a threefold increase in cases.

We cannot allow the virus to break down our society, so we’re working alongside the Kenyan government, to support the national toll-free line and mobile app to provide a lifeline to vulnerable women and girls by connecting them to vital services.

While children spend more time at home, Kenya’s Child Protection Unit has seen an increase in digital threats.

So we continue to prioritise protecting them from predators and traffickers who operate online. With our support, the National Police Service’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Units in Nairobi and Mombasa are safeguarding vulnerable children – including through use of the toll free reporting number 116.

I need not go through the horrors violent extremists have wreaked on Kenya and over the last decade.

Kenyans know this all too well. While we are uniting against the virus, we cannot forget our shared aims of tackling insecurity and extremism. We will continue to work in partnership with Kenya on regional security - countering al Shabaab is a priority.

Extremists will be looking to sow seeds of discontent, including amongst those who have lost their jobs because of pandemic restrictions.

We have committed Sh2.6 billion over five years to work alongside government and civil society partners, supporting communities most vulnerable to violent extremism and extreme poverty, particularly in Kenya’s northern and coastal counties.

False information and conspiracy theories about Covid-19 are also hampering the fight against the disease, increasing the likelihood of vulnerable people falling into the trap of violent extremism or falling victim to con-men and women.

We have dedicated Sh25 million to challenging misinformation — working through existing community-led organisations to support vulnerable communities.

Only together can we protect our neighbours, our communities and ourselves.

Only together can we tackle those who exploit a terrible virus such as Covid-19 and make the situation worse for personal gain.

And only together can we build a better world where basic needs, as set out by Maslow, are met for all.

British High Commissioner Jane Marriott (@JaneMarriottFCO)