Dynamics in Internal Security and Community Protection Initiatives in Laikipia County, Kenya
Macharia, Hannah Muthoni
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The purpose of this study was to explore the security experiences and the underlying forces that inform these experiences among communities in Laikipia North. In line with the security experiences, community protection measures used to deal with insecurity were examined. The underlying forces informing the use of these initiatives were teased out. The study was guided by three objectives, that were; to establish the underlying forces that informed security experiences among communities in Laikipia North; to examine the nature and forms of community protection initiatives, and to explore the determinants for the use of community protection initiatives. Three theories informed the study securitization theory, Critical Security Studies (CSS), and Theory of State-Society Relations. The study used qualitative approach and phenomenological method. The sample size for the study was 86, and data was collected using semi-structured interviews, focus groups discussions, observations and analysis of relevant secondary sources. Data was analyzed thematically in line with the objectives of the study. The study found out that the meaning of internal security differed from the state interpretation but also varied across communities. Among communities, vernacular language was the matrix from which security was defined. The study also found out there were historical and emerging issues that informed the state of security. To address insecurity, the study established that customary practices and customized practices were primary means of countering security threats. Other initiatives included hybrid systems. The study found out that the use of community protection initiatives was subject to factors such as; community perceptions of security and security agencies, nature of government interventions, bureaucratic weakness, gendering of security as well as societal beliefs of security. The research concluded that the conceptual meaning of internal security was contextual and relational while concept of internal security was misleading. Related to the contextual and relational constructs, were historical, cultural, societal, governance and jurisdiction issues that informed the security experiences. The study further concluded that, teetering of security was part of the security experience in communal conflicts areas with limited stateness. Subsequently, community protection initiatives such as customary and customized practices were the primed sources of protection. Security was also result of community partnership with the state and non-state actors. Preferences for the different approaches were informed by structural, institutional, systematic as well as by state pursuit of objective security. The study recommends that internal security needs to be debunked from purely focusing on security the state as a political entity and issues of crimes (violation of law) to addressing causal and opportunistic factors that hinder the attainment of security-felt needs of communities affected by protracted communal violence.