ISD Kenya

ISD has been delivering projects to counter extremism, hate and disinformation in East Africa since 2015

ISD has been supporting Kenyan initiatives for preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) since 2015 through the Strong Cities Network (SCN), Young Cities and PROACT – a community based intervention program that commenced in October 2019.

Campaign research, training, and deployment during the 2017 Kenya elections
Following a successful CVE Lab held for over 120 sub-Sahara African participants in 2015, ISD led a ground-breaking study of extremist messaging and recruitment before and during the 2017 Kenya presidential elections. In collaboration with Google, ISD conducted the Africa Social Impact Summit in Nairobi in early 2018, followed by counternarrative workshops for over 60 organisations. ISD worked with over 20 of these organisations to target online campaigns tackling religious bigotry, gender violence, Al Shabaab/ISIS/Al Qaeda recruitment, and electoral violence, reaching over 4.6million Kenyans on Facebook. Findings from the project were released in the ISD publication Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections.

Strong Cities Network and PROACT programmes
ISD’s Strong Cities Network and PROACT programmes operate in Kenya to deliver training and development activities such as projects working at the grassroots level with women, faith leaders and young people. Our work here served to support Kenyan municipal governments in equip government officials and civil society with the tools and know-how to collaboratively stem hate, polarisation and extremism. We additionally support and strengthen existing local structures and strategies such as County Action Plans (CAO) so as to build capacities and capabilities to design and deliver community-based interventions. This work is currently being delivered in three Kenyan counties – Kwale, Nakuru and Isiolo.

Young Cities
ISD’s Young Cities programme works in Kenya to train youth activists in campaign development and management (learning best practices, collaborate and create new, innovative projects). Through their initiatives, participating young people reached over 1 million people online and 1,000 offline, engaging their communities on some of the most pressing challenges facing youth, such as fractured youth-police relations, youth radicalisation and the role of parental support, stereotyping of refugees, hate speech online, and questions of identity and belonging.

Following the delivery of a Young Cities Innovation Lab in Kenya in 2020, the team supported five youth-led initiatives in Mombasa and Kwale. Most recent activities include a series of awareness-raising workshops tackling gang recruitment with youth and mothers; activities increasing youth civic engagement in local government processes in some of the most disenfranchised parts of Kwale; and an online campaign promoting more positive youth-police relations. In partnership with the County Government of Mombasa, Young Cities has also supported a series of engagement forums which led to the inclusion of youth voices into the county’s new resilience policy, to support involvement of youth in local policy-making processes.

Africa Online Safety Fund
Since May 2020, ISD has been supporting Google.org and Impact Amplifier, a South African organisation that provides advisory services and investment readiness support to entrepreneurs and social enterprises, with the Africa Online Safety Fund. This is a $700,000 fund for projects that seek to address online safety issues across Africa, focusing especially on South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Senegal, and Cote D’Ivoire.

Research
ISD has conducted research and analysis on the region, as well as digital research on Al Shabab online ecosystems in East Africa. This was recently presented to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management (NSC), State Department and leading national and county stakeholders.

A Young Cities workshop in Mombasa, Kenya, February, 2020

PROACT

ISD’s PROACT team and partners
Nairobi, Kenya, 2020

Between Two Extremes

Between Two Extremes report launch
Nairobi, Kenya 2018

  • Connector.

    Your Nation’s Attention for the Price of a Used Car

    Zahed Amanullah discusses ISD’s Kenya work on a podcast for the Center for Humane Technology.

    Your Undivided Attention #25

  • Connector.

    How social media giants fail African users

    A 16-month long study by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that “extremists of all types increase their activity during election periods, exploiting and sometimes co-opting the political process.”

    Read more at The Herald

  • Connector.

    Winners of the Africa Online Safety Fund

    News about the winners of the Africa Online Safety Fund, managed by ISD in partnership with Google

    Read more at Hapa Kenya

The ISD Kenya team

Zahed Amanullah
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Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

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Zahed Amanullah
Zahed Amanullah

Resident Senior Fellow, Networks & Outreach

Zahed Amanullah is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD, leading on ISD’s civil society engagement, communications, and partnerships, coordinating the public and private sectors with activists, frontline workers, and relevant civil society networks. He has worked closely with Google.org to support British and European civil society organisations through the Innovation Fund, the Shared Endeavour Fund, and the Google Impact Challenge on Safety. He has given testimony to the UK and European parliaments and has been featured at the BBC, NPR, Channel 4, Sky News, the Guardian, CNN International, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Newsweek, among others. He has co-authored the ISD reports The Impact of Counternarratives, Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections, and The Innovation Fund to Counter Hate and Extremism in the UK. He holds a BS from the University of California, Berkeley and a Diploma in Management from the University of Bath.
Kelsey Bjornsgaard
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Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Senior Manager, Campaigns & Capacity Building

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is a Senior Manager at ISD, where she leads on counter-narrative development and delivery as well as youth engagement and education through the Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN) and Young Cities programmes. Kelsey has developed strategies for enhancing peer-to-peer messaging, working closely with young activists internationally to develop innovative youth-led initiatives to prevent and counter violent extremism. Kelsey also has worked, through Young Cities, to amplify youth voices amongst government and policy-makers at a city level. She is the co-author of the ISD reports YouthCAN: The Many States of Activism and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. She holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelors in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Daniel Hooton
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Daniel Hooton

Head of Strong Cities Network International Programmes

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Daniel Hooton
Daniel Hooton

Head of Strong Cities Network International Programmes

Daniel Hooton is Head of ISD’s Strong Cities Network (SCN) International Programmes, with responsibility for strategy and delivery of international cities programmes. This includes current projects to develop institutional approaches to long-term governance, human security and social policy challenges in cities across Africa, Asia, the Balkans and the Middle East. He has advised and worked with numerous international governments, UN agencies and mayors on international counterterrorism and counter-extremism strategy, briefing senior ministers and leaders and shaping multilateral cooperation on grassroots practice in cities around the world. Daniel previously served as policy advisor to the Shadow Minister for Communities in the UK Parliament, developing opposition policy and scrutiny on community cohesion, social exclusion and public services reform. He is the co-author of the ISD report Community Resilience Study: Kumanovo, North Macedonia. He holds a Master’s degree with Distinction from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bristol.
Anisa Harrasy
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Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

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Anisa Harrasy
Anisa Harrasy

Manager, Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa

Anisa Harrasy is a Young Cities and Sub Saharan Africa Manager at ISD, where she works across the Strong Cities Network and Young Cities Sub Saharan Africa programming. This work entails designing and delivering project activities with both youth and local government stakeholders. The activities range from capacity building workshops, grant management and supporting locally-led PVE initiatives. Anisa also helps lead ISD’s strategic development and networking in Sub Saharan Africa and specialises in promoting peace in East Africa. She is the co-author of the ISD reports Between Two Extremes: Responding to Islamist and tribalist messaging online in Kenya during the 2017 elections and No Platform for Old Men, Barriers to Online Youth Civic Engagement and P-CVE in Europe. Anisa holds an MA in International Security from the University of Sussex and a BA in International relations with Arabic. She is bilingual Swahili and English, with basic Arabic proficiency.
Martina Lappo
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Martina Lappo

Project Coordinator, Young Cities

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Martina Lappo
Martina Lappo

Project Coordinator, Young Cities

Martina Lappo is a Project Coordinator at ISD, working on the Young Cities programme in the West Africa region. Previously, Martina worked with NGOs and UN agencies in the Caribbean, and Central and West Africa. She has experience in project Monitoring and Evaluation, and in the implementation of sexual and reproductive health development programmes. She holds a Masters in Humanitarian Action from University College Dublin and a Bachelors’ Degree in Interpreting and Translation Studies from the University of Salford.
Duaa Khalid
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Duaa Khalid

Senior Grants Manager

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Duaa Khalid
Duaa Khalid

Senior Grants Manager

Duaa Khalid is Senior Grants Manager at ISD, responsible for all grants management including reporting and compliance for all the projects at the organisation. Duaa has experience working with non-profit organizations and international charities managing international programs and donor relationships with DFID, EU and USAID, among others. Previously, she worked with Save the Children UK and Marie Stopes International. Duaa holds a BSc Hons in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and an MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE).
Dominic Pkalya
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Dominic Pkalya

Senior Programme Manager

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Dominic Pkalya
Dominic Pkalya

Senior Programme Manager

Dominic Pkalya is a Senior Programme Manager at ISD, working across ISD’s counter-extremism initiatives in Kenya and the Eastern Africa region, including the PROACT Community Based Interventions Program and supporting the Strong Cities Network (SCN) and Young Cities initiatives in Kenya. He was previously the Chief of Party for the Strengthening Community Resilience against Extremism (SCORE) and worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Kenya, providing technical support in addressing armed violence reduction efforts amongst pastoralists communities in Kenya. He is the co-author of Why Al-Shabaab Attacks Kenya: Questioning the Narrative Paradigm.
Akyar Maalim 
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Akyar Maalim 

Associate, East Africa

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Akyar Maalim 
Akyar Maalim 

Associate, East Africa

Akyar Maalim is an Associate for ISD in East Africa.
Shirley Otube
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Shirley Otube

Coordinator, East Africa

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Shirley Otube
Shirley Otube

Coordinator, East Africa

Shirley Otube is a Coordinator for ISD in East Africa.