Learning from Kisii: Transformative Crime Prevention (Part 2/2)

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In Part I, we discussed about the  Usalama model, that is based on an approach of “Doing Development Differently”. The model implements new tools for designing, implementing, and evaluating, based on approaches that are problem-driven, iterative, and engaging to the community.

Today, we will take a look at the success stories that have emerged from the practices, and what this means, in the bigger picture.


Success Stories – Beatrice

Beatrice (Not her real name) is part of the Kiziki Women Support Group of Iriany village, Kisii. She conceived and gave birth at the age of 17, while still in school. At the age of 24, she got married to another man. He was was alcoholic and abusive. They separated after two years of marriage.

When she joined the initiative, she was a single mother of two girls, aged 2 and 6. She had no income, no place to stay, and had no hope in life. She had attempted suicide, twice.

The Nyanchwa chief invited her to attend Usalama meeting. Initially, she did not open up. But after three sessions, she realized that other women were going through similar situations.

They were able to regain their dignity through “Siri Ya Mama” a self-help group. In this group, women of get to support their own enterprises. The group has inspired a ripple effect in women’s empowerment.

The Usalama model allowed Beatrice to learn more about domestic violence. She also joined a group of women to reduce pressure in their household, tackling the problems with a new perspective. 

Beatrice now runs a green grocery business of indigenous vegetables. The business has enabled her to buy food, clothes and pay her children’s tuition fees. She can even rent a house in Kisii town to live in with her mother, who is also separated.

Her story has helped motivate those living with the trauma of domestic violence, to liberate themselves and see new hope.

Currently, the group is registered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Service with 30 members, all of whom has improved their livelihoods. The group is run entirely by women.


Doing development differently in Kisii

Doing development differently in Kisii


Furthering the Usalama Model

The Usalama model continued to explore into the matter of youth, drugs, and public spaces in partnership with the Kisii county government. They embraced the shared utilization of public spaces and awareness of its security risks.

The outcome was the construction of better car wash sheds for Nyanchwa youth. There was also a regulated development to improve customer sales and eradicate them from alcohol, drugs and crime.

Steve Obure and friends, basks at the Nyanchwa Car Wash for their livelihood. His friends were shocked when Kisii county government constructed a new car wash shed. This business has enabled them to gain Kshs 200,000 (USD 1958) from the Ministry of Youth. Customers are developing trust in them as young visionaries.

Alcoholism and smoking have reduced with this new constitution. It has helped regulate their working space and how funds are handled. The involvement of at-risk groups has made a significant impact on participants’ lives and future prospects.

“Those at the car wash were young people who had completely given up on life. Young people who were sent away from their homes. Young people who didn’t know what they wanted for the future. Young people that nobody thought of as good citizens. Now they are a team, and they are earning and putting a percentage of their wages into a savings plan. Sure, they are still planning to do better. They want to use branding, get uniforms, improve their environment, and so on – but they are doing so well so far.” Safety Coordinator, Kisii

“I had given up on life and love – then we started the car wash to prevent us being idle or getting into drugs or other bad things. Now we are doing okay, and we will do better.” Steve Obure

“We have started a small shop here, too, so that people can buy things while waiting for their cars.”

The water source dries out during the dry season. It causes conflicts with other users of the remaining water. They hope to get a water tank soon.

“We save so that we can improve what we are doing. The County supplied our car wash, but we now have this office and refreshment area that we paid for out of our savings, so we can rest and manage things.” Peter Mosoti Okioma, car wash owner/attendant


Lessons to be Learned from Kisii

It is clear that community safety will be achieved when at-risk groups incorporate risk reduction behaviours. We have learned that informal organisations such as women’s groups or even a car wash can become avenue for safety planning and social controls. These practices in turn guarantee sustainability as they implement their community plans.

This way, organisations become resilient and indispensable actors in community safety. They become credible players to influence crime and security policies. Central and county government agencies will in turn become facilitators, not owners of safety initiatives at community.

The prospect of crime prevention in Kisii truly offers benchmarking milestones for governments. It helps to empower the women and youth in addressing crime and violence. This lesson stresses the need to build a critical mass of institutions and community members.

What needs more emphasis is the transformative process and recognition for change in both community, and national levels.