For the better part of 2015, NYS has engaged over 3,600 community youth in an economic empowerment programme targeting mainly informal settlements to ensure sustainable human development across the country. With the daily wage of Kshs471 that the community youth earn every day, they have been organised into SACCOs where they are saving 30 per cent of their daily wages for the period of time they are contracted to execute development projects. Through the creation of bankable institutions and saving practices, the youth have been encouraged to venture into self-employment and establish enterprises to generate additional income. As a result, the Kibera community youth have saved Kshs45 million with an anticipated increase in savings to the tune of Kshs90 Million.
NYS servicemen and women, in collaboration with the Kibera community youth, have built 96 ablution blocks that are connected to sewer lines. On the other hand, the crime rate has reduced by 75 per cent after the construction of nine police posts across Kibera. Nine Beyond Zero clinics have been established to provide maternal and child health care that is expected to improve the mortality rate in this informal settlement.
To ensure food security is sustained for the residents of Kibera, more than 13,000 urban agriculture sacks have been set up to facilitate the growth of sukuma wiki (kale). Similarly nine posho mills have been constructed to ensure the residents have access to affordable maize meal and 72 fish tanks across Kibera will provide lower prices as compared to the market prices. The NYS initiated projects will be handed over to the community youth to ensure sustainability.
Access roads and pathways have been laid, with 3.5km bitumen standard roads linking the slum to Mbagathi. The roads are lit up by Kenya Power and Lighting Company. Providing access and security at any hour day or night has created an enabling environment for business.
Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru Kwa Njenga and Kiandutu programme
Phase Two of the programme launched in January 2015 targeted four other settlements, namely: Mathare, Korogocho and Mukuru Kwa Njenga informal settlements in Nairobi and Kiandutu in Kiambu County. Each of the slums, have been divided into villages; 12 villages in Mathare, eight in Mukuru kwa Njenga, nine in Korogocho and nine in Kiandutu.
Some 3,500 youth in each settlement are engaged in development projects while earning an income.
These additional four informal settlements are a progression of the successful pilot project in Kibera targeted to improve infrastructure and livelihoods of all residents in these informal settlements.
On completion of the youth empowerment project in the informal settlements, NYS aspires to have accomplished the construction of 228 ablution blocks connected to 17.5km of sewer lines, 38 built and completed model houses and posho mills and placement of 304 fish tanks.
In addition to these, the fabrication and setting up of 38 Beyond Zero health clinics, 38 police posts and placing of 85,014 urban agriculture sacks across the settlements.
Similarly the construction of 13.44km of access roads with 52 high mast security floodlights equipped with 400W LED lights.
The Ministry of Devolution and Planning, through the National Youth Service’s Youth Empowerment and Youth Re-socialisation Programme, is currently undertaking mosquito and tsetse fly control exercises in Nairobi and Homa Bay Counties in a bid to provide disease free zones. Some 371 youth have been engaged in the vector control project.
Spraying of malaria prone areas in Kibera has helped reduce the cases of malaria cases among the residents.
In Lambwe, Homa Bay, the tsetse fly eradication teams have achieved 100 per cent coverage in the county and 75 coverage of Ruma National Park.
In addition, 30 per cent of cattle at household level have been sprayed, helping to empower small scale farmers through livestock improvement.
The service built 188 dams and water pans in 16 counties across the country, predominantly in arid and semi-arid areas (ASAL).
NYS has set out to complete 1,200 dams and water pans by 2017 to contribute towards a nationwide target of 5,500.
This will be achieved by a partnership between the ministry of Devolution and Planning, and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources.
Youth empowerment through jobs
The Government recently reached an inter-governmental agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will see jobs provided for 100,000 ex-NYS servicemen and women.
The first group of 10,000 has been selected and is expected to soon leave for UAE.
NYS on security
Through a partnership with the Ministry of Interior, NYS will join other security agencies in the construction of border security buffer zones. The 200km wall along the Kenya-Somali border will aid in the control of Kenya’s volatile border.
NYS in Turkana
NYS has set out to undertake drilling, casing, installation of pumps and water reticulation infrastructure for the establishment of bore holes in two locations in Turkana County namely, Napuu village and Lokitipi.
So far, drilling in Napuu village is complete where potable water has been struck.
NYS will also be involved in the construction of 200 police houses in Kiambu County, 30 showcase model houses, new sewer lines and a Huduma Centre.
The NYS has undertaken these initiatives to enhance the sustainability of the service, which present additional opportunities for the NYS service men and women who graduate from Vocational Training Institutes. This training enriches and empowers the youth to provide a poll of skilled human capital for various industries of our diversified economy.
The restructuring and the ongoing transformation of the NYS has been undertaken to improve the institution’s capacity with creation of several new departments to enable the youth engage in more self-employment opportunities.
These include School of Public Duty, School of Fashion and Hospitality, School of Oil and Gas, School of Enterprise and Technology and School of Agribusiness.
Kazi Kwa Vijana programme
Initiated by the Government in 2008, the Kazi kwa Vijana Programme was set out to mobilise youth across the country to engage in activities that would not only pre-occupy them but also increase their sense of patriotism while earning a few shillings.
By 2010 the Government had engaged the services of more than 306,000 young people across the country and spent Kshs5 billion in implementing the project.
Expansion of infrastructure across the country has also created new job opportunities for young people albeit temporarily. The standard gauge railway (SGR) project, for instance, in each county that the railway line passes through, the China Road and Bridge Corporation provides opportunity for the young people living there.
Sports and Youth Talent Academies
The National Sports Academy and the National Youth Talent Academy are tasked with helping the country’s young people develop their skills and talents
Established in 2010 and funded by UNICEF the talent academy not only trains students with exception sports skills like football and volleyball but also provide alternative education through the regional academies across the country. Young people enrolled in the programme are also taught how to turn their skills into sources of livelihood.
Migration and devolution
In 1962, the urban population was estimated to be eight per cent. Since then, the trend has been on the increase, rising to about 21 per cent in 1999 and further to 44.5 per cent in 2015, with Nairobi and Mombasa dominating the growth.
The population growth in Nairobi, for instance, has spilled into other urban centres like Kikuyu, Kiambu, Limuru, Machakos, Thika and parts of Kajiado, creating a metropolis even before the advent of counties.
Close to half of Kenya’s population lives in urban areas where most employment opportunities are found. A majority of this urban population, estimated at 70 per cent, lives in Nairobi Kisumu, Mombasa Eldoret and Nakuru.
Many of the migrants to urban areas are normally young people who have completed secondary education and looking for opportunities for a better life. Youth aged 25 and 29 form the largest population of the migrants moving to urban areas. More men than women lead the search for better living.
Devolution is expected to help in the establishment of new industries, businesses and creation of more employment opportunities for young people without the need for them to migrate. Equitable distribution of resources across the country should help reduce the economic marginalisation that plagues many youth, especially those in the rural areas.
Implementation of the free primary education in 2002 saw enrollment into primary school increased from six million to 9.3 million in 2010, improving access to basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Enrolments in primary schools in 2014 increased to 10 million students from 9.9 million in 2013, with over 80 per cent registered in public schools.
The number of students admitted in secondary schools also increased from 2.1 million in 2013 to 2.3 million in 2014.
Private universities have increased the number of campuses they have in various locations across the country to tap into the growing demand for higher education.
Public universities have also created parallel programmes to admit more of the ‘paying’ students as compared to those admitted through the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service.
Some 443,000 students enrolled in both public and private universities in 2014, a notable increase from the 361,000 enrollments recorded in 2013.
The 755 Technical, Industrial, Vocational and Education Training (TIVET) — which consist of Youth Polytechnics, Institutes of Technology, Technical Training Institutes, National Polytechnics and Polytechnic University Colleges — also registered an increase in enrolment from 148,000 in 2013 to 148,142 in 2014.
Education was allocated 16.4 per cent of the total national budget in 2014 with Kshs277 billion being allocated for recurrent expenditure while Kshs36 billion was set aside for development.
The emphasis on education is premised on the fact that provision of quality education will not only ensure that young people are adequately equipped with the right skills to find appropriate jobs once they enter the labour market.
More than a million young people are entering the job market annually. To meet the growing unemployment, 1.3 million new employment places have to be created every year.
The informal sector employs 54 per cent of young people with just primary schooling, compared to 40 per cent of those who have cleared Form 4, and only nine per cent of those with tertiary education.
Access to information on available employment opportunities has improved in the recent years, with the advent of social media platforms that have made it easier for young people to share information on the available vacancies.
The Government has pledged to create five million jobs over five years.
Crime and terrorism
Unemployed youth have become vehicles of crime and terrorism. The Prisons Department estimates that half of the population under its care is made up of individuals aged between 16 and 25 years who account for 53 per cent of all the crimes committed.
Division along ethnic lines by politicians existed even before the country attained independence with the formation of movements to fight off the ‘Mzungu’. From independence, ethnicity has been a basis for which politicians gather support to use against the people they differ in opinion with.
Political support along ethnic lines, especially by the youth over the years has been more prevalent for those in the rural areas compared to youth living in urban areas. It was much easier for rural youth to believe that because a politician belonged to our ethnicity they would strive to bring development to their home area.
When multiparty system was reintroduced after nearly 25 years of one-party rule, opportunity arose for the formation of political parties.
In urban areas, political leaders tend to build their influence especially among the youth through ideology rather than garner support along ethnic lines, mainly because urban youth were more aware of what they need like employment opportunity and access to basic services.
In the 80’s, youth in urban areas began cheering and supporting politicians who promised change especially to their situation. Their rebellion was mainly against the state and the provincial administration. It was this youth that mainly consisted of hawkers and touts that was in constant collision with the KANU youth wing during their street demonstrations.
The rise of the urban youth was attributed to the fact that they were better informed on the goings-on. They were exposed to the various social classes.
Although the government of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta inherited a multi-party political structure of governance at the time of independence by 1969 the country had reverted into a single party state. Kenya African democratic union (KADU) which at the time was the strongest contender against Kenya African National Union (KANU) dissolved itself in 1964 to enhance national unity.
Soon after factions started appearing in KANU and in 1966 the faction led by Jaramogi Odinga Oginga formed the Kenya Peoples Union which was later banned in 1969 and its leaders detained. Since then Kenya remained a de facto single party state until the reintroduction of the multiparty system in 1992.
In the 90’s the ruling party, Kenya African National Union (KANU) begun appreciating the young people more during the introduction of multiparty politics.
The youth wing, for instance, became entrenched as part of the security organs. They would be involved in politics on behalf of their patrons.
Elite members of the youth wing later constituted ‘Youth for Kanu’ (YK 92), which consisted mainly of young business owners eager to consolidate the fiscal and political power.
The new support wing became so influential that the party used it to disperse funds and mobilise support for President Moi and KANU.
Knowing how influential the group had grown, it was disbanded immediately after the elections. Five years later, during the second multiparty elections in 1997, youth were brought on board, to show support for the President Moi’s regime, this time through the ‘Jeshi la Mzee’.
Aside from YK 92 and Jeshi la Mzee, politicians have used other gangs like Gaza, Mungiki, Chinkororo, and Taliban to intimidate their opponents, either by campaign disruption or threatening their lives.
According to the report dubbed, Youth in Political Party Participation in Kenya Baseline Study-2015, there still is disconnect between the youth and party politics.
This is worsened by internal party politics and the apathy between the younger and older generation of politicians.
Even though young people constitute a large section of the voters they are yet to fully benefit from the political power they weld.
The report further says that the youth are often relegated to the lower and insignificant positions such as youth leagues, with limited resources and hardly any authority to meaningfully influence decisions within the party.
For those not politically affiliated young people continue to be used by established politicians especially during campaigns to feign popularity and ascend to power. Politicians throw around cash to have young men and women follow them around during their campaigns or during functions within their localities.
Ethnic polarisation of the country by politicians, especially during the electioneering period, has always made it easier to control the youth who then participate in ethnic clashes, and the post-election violence of 2007-8 was no different. Open differing of politicians portrayed by the media was perceived to have further aggravated the situation by raising political temperatures even before the actual election.
The political parties’ trend has always been to form youth wings whose role is not fully integrated in the mainstream party. These youth wings are mostly visible during the electioneering period with their roles clearly cut out: intimidating rival politicians, causing violence to disrupt their campaigns.
The Constitution provides that the National Assembly should provide funds not less than 0.3 per cent to fund party activities as a way to level the playing field and limit reliance on illegal sources of funding.
The allocation of the fund is tied to the representation of their members within parliament and the money allows them to run activities throughout the year including credible party elections and youth projects, instead of waiting for the next elections.
The Eleventh Parliament currently boasts the highest number of young people to be voted in as legislators in history. The legislators have formed the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association as a caucus of parliament that overrides part politics so as to ensure that the youth agenda is implemented in the day to day activities of the national assembly.
Global financial crisis
The global financial crisis further worsened the unemployment situation, especially in sectors that rely heavily on foreign exchange such as tourism.
The number of foreign tourists visiting has drastically reduced resulting in shutting down of several hotels along the coast who were wholly dependent on them.
Many of the few young people who worked within the hotel industry, especially at the Coast were either dismissed from their duties or put on compulsory leave, as owners and hotel managers could no longer support a large staff with few tourist numbers.
Last year President Kenyatta introduced several initiatives to boost local tourism including allowing companies to pay for employees holidays and have the same deducted from their tax expenditure, exempting air ticketing services from VAT and allowing public officers to hold meetings and conferences in hotels.
The emergence of mobile money and its popularity, especially among the youth, has brought about innovation of financial inclusion where banks are offering unsecured loans via mobile phones to people who do not necessarily have accounts with them.
Many of the young people still remain unaware of the programmes and initiatives that are set out to be implemented by government agencies, hence only a segmented few end up as beneficiaries.
Many youth, for instance, do not understand in detail how the Youth Enterprise Development Fund established to support their endeavours is being managed to ensure they overcome the unemployment challenge.
Many young people do not own land and in the event they have inherited parcels of land from their families they are unable to make it more productive due to lack of capital.
Banks and other financial institutions have also been reluctant to provide capital to youth ventures basically because they lack the collateral needed to secure loans.
This is however changing with the increase in microfinance institutions targeting the youth. This has in effect led to the more established banks increasing the number of unsecured loans that they provide.