| Sunday, 08 Jan 2012
Youth initiatives ahead of the elections: Journalists ask - are they effective?
“We don’t even have the appropriate equipment to help us carry out our work effectively. We work with our bare hands when cleaning the drainages,” Vincent Ochieng says, “this is a risk to my life. Unfortunately we don’t get paid much but I keep on as it gives me work to do,” he adds
Ochieng is a member of the Kazi Kwa Vijana (KKV) Project in Huruma. This project has provided jobs to those who were jobless in the past as well as those who had been involved in theft and violence.
However, this project has come under scrutiny in recent times, with claims that the funds allocated for it have been misappropriated by the Prime Minister’s office, the office charged with overseeing the project.
In Huruma, the misappropriation of these funds is also being carried out by those charged with disbursing it to the young people in the area.
“In a day, we expected to get Ksh. 300, but even this amount is reduced and we only get Ksh 200. It’s a well known issue around here that when the money comes to the various projects down here, the chief gets his cut. The chief’s cronies also get a cut, so by the time this money gets to us, we do not get our rightful amount,” Maureen Achieng , a representative of the KKV project in Huruma told journalists who were there on a field trip during an Internews led workshop.
The KKV project was one of the initiatives identified to meet the requirements outlined in Agenda Four of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act (NARA) to tackle unemployment, especially among the youth. It was set up in 2009 by the Government of Kenya with the aim to employ urban and rural youth in labour intensive projects like road maintenance, water harvesting, afforestation and waste collection.
The government also set aside funds to provide young people with finance for self employment and entrepreneurial skills development. This initiative was one of the key issues being examined during a recent training by the Internews Land & Conflict Sensitive Journalism project. The trainee journalists, from the project’s partner radio stations in Nairobi and Nakuru, probed Youth Empowerment in relation to the upcoming elections.
Emmanuel Dennis of the National Youth Sector Alliance, which recently conducted a study of youth group formations and how they may influence the upcoming elections, addressed the journalists. In the Alliance’s draft report: Youth Formations in Kenya-Let’s Talk, it is noted that 64% of the youth in their sample did not think that there would be violence in the upcoming elections.
In addition, young people are aware that they need visionary leaders but are still hooked by receiving money or invites to drinking dens from politicians.
“Here they end up intoxicated the night before voting day and hence do not turn up on the actual day as was observed during the by elections held in the country this year.”
The journalists also learned about other initiatives that are not government funded aimed at youth transformation.
Abraham Sing’oei is the Senior Conflict Management and Rule of Law specialist at the USAID Mission in Kenya. He told journalists that the Yes Youth Can Initiative had used a different approach.
Instead of issuing funds, the aim of Yes Youth Can is to empower young people through bunge’s (informal village meetings) to take up leadership at grassroots and effect change from the bottom up.
The journalists who were attending this workshop produced various radio programs on the successes and challenges of the Kazi Kwa Vijana initiative, and how these may affect the youth vote. Idle youth were believed to have been manipulated by politicians to fan the 2007/2008 post election violence. The stories of the successes or failures of the various youth initiatives in the country need to be kept on the agenda as a measure against unemployment as a trigger for violence.
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