NCIC survey raises red flag on chaos hotspots, calls for swift response

NCIC chairman Samuel Kobia at the Kenya School of Government in Lower Kabete, Kiambu on February  28, 2022. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Six counties are likely to experience electoral violence ahead of the August polls, the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) says in a new report.

The counties are Nairobi, Nakuru, Kericho, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu and Mombasa.

The vulnerabilities were classified into three categories of pre-existing conflict factors with an index of 53.58 per cent, potential triggers (53.4 per cent) and weak institutional capacities had an index score of 53.32 per cent.

Pre-existing conflict factors include informal settlements with a high population, inequality across ethnic communities, competition over scarce resources, the existence of organised criminal gangs, the proliferation of small arms, drug and substance abuse, and history of election violence among others.

Potential triggers of violence were identified in the report as levels of hate speech, contestation in party primaries, non-acceptance of election results, fake news, harassment of political party agents, results contrary to opinion polls and disruption of mainstream media.

Low trust

Regarding weak institutional capacities, the study cited potential use of force by the police, low trust in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), low trust in the Judiciary, inadequate conflict resolution capacities, and lack of enactment of peace policies as some of the factors likely to predispose the country to electoral violence.

With a history of violence almost every election cycle, the commission says the study is vital in providing a real-time status report, conflict context and environmental scans across the 47 counties as elections approach.

“It’s for this reason that the commission embarked on a nationwide hotspot mapping and assessment to acquire a detailed understanding of the peace and security situation in the country ahead of the 2022 General Election,” says the report to be launched today.

The study conducted between January 2022 and April 2022, sought to establish the factors that are likely to trigger electoral violence across the counties, map out county conflict hotspots with the potential for electoral violence and proffer recommendations on interventions that can prevent and mitigate electoral violence.

A total of 1,914 respondents were interviewed. Nairobi leads with an index score of 79.85 per cent, followed by Nakuru (75.77 per cent), Kericho (74.81 per cent), and Kisumu (72.46 per cent), Uasin Gishu (72.25 per cent) and Mombasa (71.15 per cent).

“Nairobi is seen as the epicentre of political contestation with significant ripple effects to other counties,” says the report.

Some of the unsafe areas in Nairobi were identified as Mathare North, Githurai market, Mlango Kubwa, Kariobangi North, Kiambu, Eastleigh South, Korogocho market, Kibra,  Kawangware’s Congo, Kangemi’s Maumau, Southlands, Karibia, Wanyee, Hamza, Kiambiu, Jericho, Kayole, Umama-Komarock, Soweto, Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Mukuru Kwa Reuben, Choka and Dandora.

Medium high-risk

The medium-high risk counties are Narok with a score index of 69.55 per cent, Marsabit (68.08 per cent), Laikipia (66.63 per cent), Lamu (65.8 per cent), Baringo (62.82 per cent), Isiolo (61.05 per cent), Meru (58.92 per cent), Nandi (58.56 per cent), Samburu (57.9 per cent) and Bomet (54.4 per cent).

“All the counties in this category of medium-high potential for election violence cited the influence of potential triggers as hate speech, party primary contestations, violent transitions, non-acceptance of election results and mis(dis)information. However, Narok, Lamu, Laikipia, Isiolo and Marsabit counties exhibited a higher likelihood for these factors to spur violence,” says the report.

The medium low-risk counties with a score index ranging between 52.78 per cent and 29.74 per cent were Kisii, Elgeyo/Marakwet, Migori, Nyamira, Kilifi, Bungoma, Garissa, Mandera and West Pokot.

Others are Kiambu, Wajir, Kirinyaga, Tana River, Murang’a, Kakamega, Homa Bay, Vihiga, Turkana, Siaya, Kwale, Machakos, Trans Nzoia, Nyeri, Kajiado, Kitui, Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Busia, Makueni, Nyandarua and Embu counties.