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Are we safe? Citizens' views on safety and security in Kenya

As elections draw near, 70% of citizens report being afraid that the country may experience violence during the 2017 general elections. Almost half (44%) are very afraid of this  possibility. However, three out of ten citizens (28%) are not worried about the possibility of violence in  the upcoming elections. 

The August 2017 general elections offer Kenyans the opportunity to exercise their democratic right and give fresh mandate to their leaders at the county and national levels. Political competition is expected to be intense and much is at stake for the incumbents and their challengers. The charged atmosphere witnessed earlier in 2016 during the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) protests raises some concerns about the possibility that violence could accompany the elections.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Are we safe? Citizens’ views on safety and security in Kenya. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high‐frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,801 respondents across Kenya between 15 August and 6 September 2016.

The high levels of fear about electoral violence may well be driven by Kenyans’ daily experiences of safety and security. The prevalence of insecurity in the country has been an ongoing challenge and almost daily, the media contains reports of criminality and violence.

While four out of ten citizens (38%) feel that in the last three months, there has been an improvement in the security situation in their area, a slightly larger proportion (44%) feel that the security situation in their locality has remained the same, while 18% think it has deteriorated.

The good news is that the majority of citizens reported that they have not personally experienced violence or insecurity (80%). Most Kenyans have not felt the need to stay at home due to the fear of potential violence (65%), nor feared crime in their own home (59%), nor felt unsafe walking in their neighbourhood (56%).

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