In the past, the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of Southern Somalia and Eastern Kenya made it a travel destination. There were safaris in the highland plains and beach resorts along the island-dotted coast. In addition to the tourism trade, many local people made a living via traditional subsistence farming and pastoralism lifestyles. Unfortunately, over the past twenty years the area has been affected by instability, terrorism, drought, and endemic poverty. The latest round of violence is being wrought by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda linked terror group with roots in Somalia who, until recently, controlled large swathes of Somalia and routinely sent fighters into northeastern Kenya.
Over the past year, East African forces advised by the US military have made large gains in the fight against al-Shabaab. They pushed the group out of many of the areas it previously influenced and controlled, including the group’s de facto capital in Somalia. As these US partners recover more and more territory, they must also rebuild connections with local communities and traditional leaders, address the tremendous needs in these long-inaccessible areas, and assist the international community’s stabilization and development efforts.
One US Civil Affairs team has been advising the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), helping to build their capacity to conduct these civil-military operations in neighboring Somalia. With their mentorship and additional support from Spirit of America, this partner force is uniquely suited to assess local needs and provide this critical information to international stabilization and developmental partners. Providing reliable GPS devices to the KDF will enable them to accurately mark areas and infrastructure in need of improvement and build a solid picture of needs across large areas. Through sharing this civil information about newly recovered areas, the KDF can facilitate long-term stabilization and development in local communities.
You can help the Kenya Defence Forces, an important US partner, stabilize newly recovered areas of Somalia and northeastern Kenya by providing GPS devices.