Nakuru County government is set to establish a violence prevention council to help manage and prevent ferocity in the devolved unit.
After developing a comprehensive violence prevention policy, Governor Lee Kinyanjui administration is now seeking the county Assembly’s approval before the council can begin its operations.
The council will be co-chaired by the governor and the county commissioner. Other members will be the county police commander, Director of Criminal Investigations and County Director of National Intelligence Service.
The council will also include two members of the county assembly, and six other members appointed by the governor from the business community, community based organisations, women, persons with special needs, religious organisations and the youth.
The policy implementation will be supported by Midrift Human Rights Network for one year before the devolved unit factors its full implementation in its annual budget.
The crucial policy comes at a time when the debate on whether Nakuru town is ready for elevation into a city status.
In the recent times, the growing threat of armed robbery, organised violence, sexual violence and the inability by police to provide adequate protection, has seen many residents engage private security firms.
In 2016, Nakuru was ranked fourth out of the 47 counties as the most crime prone county with 4,133 crime cases reported.
According to data from Nakuru Level Five Hospital, at least 3,188 cases of sexual assault, including violations of children between one month to 18 years old, were reported at the facility.
“This policy focuses on the vision of creating a secure environment for all people and investments,” said the County Executive in charge Public Service, Training and Devolution, Mwangangi Mwania.
He added: “The policy seeks to reduce cases of organised violence in Nakuru County besides strengthening violence prevention institutions.”
Nakuru County was the epicentre of the 2007-2008 post-election violence and the policy hopes to manage such political violence in future.
According to the report of the Commission into Post-Election Violence popularly known as Waki Report, out of the 1,133 people who died due to the violence in the country, 213 deaths occurred in Nakuru.
The report paints a grim picture of Nakuru violence scene as of the 3,561 injuries documented, 1,341 occurred in the county.
“There are sporadic ethnic and political tensions within Nakuru County that threatens repeat violence over natural resources like land and hence the need for a strong county based regulatory inter-sectorial framework for violence prevention,” said Mr Mwania.
On the increasingly organised gangs in slums areas such as Bondeni, Kaptembwo and Kwa Rhonda, the policy seeks to identify the groups and devise mechanisms for sustainable demobilisation.
“The policy also seeks to address the limited knowledge on the organised gangs’ recruitment methods and effective demobilisation,” said Mr Mwania.
To counter violent extremism, the county, in conjunction with National Counter Terrorism Centre, have developed an action plan.
The public confidence in the ability of the police in fighting violence is still low. To address this challenge, the policy proposes a raft of recommendations to regain the lost trust.
“The best performing police officers should be provided with incentives, the witness protection Act to be operational and strengthen protection mechanisms at grassroots level,” read part of the policy statement.
Politicians’ inflammatory statements remain the leading threat to peace and security in the county.
“Political leaders must be held accountable for their actions, to ensure the law applies equally to all and equal distribution of resources,” read part of the 28-page document.
To manage conflict and maintain peace in the county, the policy proposes the formation of County Directorate for Peace Building and Conflict management.
Land has been identified as a single resource that has fuelled conflict and to address the issue, the policy suggests that land records be digitised, and sensitisation of land rights and land use be intensified.
The policy also wants a comprehensive land audit to be carried out in the county to unearth multiple allocations, forged land documents and grabbed public land.
Delay in settling land disputes has seen some of the residents engage illegal organised groups to acquire land and this has led to violence and deaths.
The policy advocates for the sharing of data between police and health facilities.
“Criminal data in a database will be accessible to employers. This will increase violence reporting and improve response through data platform besides enhancing customer care relations at the police stations,” read the policy.