Community-Led Security Mechanisms: The case of Mlango Kubwa and Kawangware in Nairobi

  • Eva A. Maina Ayiera University of Dar es Salaam


The state assertion of monopoly over the provision of security and use of force remains a contested reality in Kenya. Challenges of inadequate finances, personnel and equipment limit the state’s capacity to secure the entire territory. The political economy allows for hierarchy in the provision of security and results in marginalisation of poor neighbourhoods and their security needs. Instead, they are seen as a source of insecurity and policing exerts a repressive hand. In the resulting lacuna, community-led security mechanisms emerge to provide security in poor neighbourhoods. The experience, successes and challenges of these mechanisms hold important lessons for policy-making on urban security. This paper presents the findings of a study assessing the effectiveness of community-led security mechanisms in two poor neighbourhoods in Nairobi and argues that nodal governance of security is the de-facto reality and indicates the trajectory of security governance in Kenya.


* Research Fellow, Centre for Human Rights and Policy Studies (CHRIPS), Kenya, E-mail: 


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