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

ISD Kenya in the media

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

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

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Kelsey Bjornsgaard
Kelsey Bjornsgaard

Director of Practice, Strong Cities Network

Kelsey Bjornsgaard is the Director of Practice for the Strong Cities Network where she develops training models and resources to enhance locally-led approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism. She works closely with youth, civil society and national and local government actors to identify good practice, build critical capacities and drive cross-sectoral coordination to promote community-based solutions on a global scale. Kelsey leads the delivery of Strong Cities’ youth pillar, Young Cities, and is driving work on National Local Cooperation. Kelsey holds a Master's in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London and a Bachelor's in European Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
Duaa Khalid
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Duaa Khalid

Director of Project Operations, Strong Cities Network

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Duaa Khalid
Duaa Khalid

Director of Project Operations, Strong Cities Network

Duaa Khalid is the Director of the Strong Cities Network (SCN) Project Operations at ISD, leading on all SCN operational management including grant management, financial management, new business development, compliance, procurement, risk management and resource management. Duaa has 15 years of experience working with non-profit organisations 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).