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ISSUE 101, September 1-30, 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Devolution is solution to unemployment By Mary Mwendwa Vocational and technical training institutions have been cited as potential solutions to the unemployment crisis Kenyan youth are struggling with. Through the 47 devolved governments, which bring services closer to the people, many young women are yet to benefit from youth polytechnics and other vocational training.

Include

Devolution is expected to be inclusive by factoring in the traditionally marginalised groups, which include women, persons with disability and youth. As a result youth who have been at the periphery are now at the core of devolution and success of the new dispensation is highly dependent on the degree of increased opportunities for them. The youth face a myriad of challenges, especially the girl-child who because of some retrogressive cultures, is not allowed to go to school, inherit any property or be part of any decisionmaking process within the community. Speaking during a Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) Annual General Meeting, Kinuthia Mwangi, chairman Transitional Authority, said the devolved governments had a critical role to play in addressing serious unemployment crisis affecting the country and especially the youth.

Transitional Authority was mandated to oversee devolution during the transition period. Mwangi said the public was looking up to the governors of the 47 Counties to energise technical and youth polytechnics as areas where potential can be tapped easily. He cited Germany as an example where devolution had been a success saying it was a very innovative nation, and was famous for technological innovations which county governments can borrow a leaf from. Article 55 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 requires the State to take affirmative action programmes to ensure that young people have access to relevant education and training; have opportunities to associate; are represented and participate in political, social, economic spheres of life; have access to employment; and are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation. Devolution, therefore, needs to cater for special interests of youth social sector and maximize their full potential by ensuring that they are full participants in nation-building as envisioned by the Constitution.

Transform

On his part, Jared Musima, chairman of Young Men Christian Association Kenya said their projects were geared towards transforming the youth. Musima disclosed they had property worth KSh4 billion countrywide,

A woman trader in Katwekera village in Kibera informal settlement in Nairobi, goes about her business as jobless youth mingle around her. Photo: Odhiambo Orlale and that they had through sports and trainings been able to position the youth in the County government systems. Musima identified unemployment as the biggest challenge facing the youth globally. ”For over half a century the YMCA–Kenya has been empowering young people and authorities foster and develop a platform for positive change in the way the youth influence and accelerate change in Kenya,” Musima said.

Earlier, Mwangi said there was need to regenerate technical and vocational education, revive youth polytechnics and harness youth talent by increasing resource allocation and facilitating the youth to form self-help groups in devolved development activities. The TA chairman said there should also be adequate outreach to the youth using appropriate forums and the social media to ensure that they are involved as partners and players.

Ugly truth of unemployed youth By Mary Mwendwa For the past decade, Mohammed Kosi, has been moving from one Government office to another seeking a national identity card, but in vain. Thirty year old Kosi is among the thousands of unemployed youth in Isiolo County who are hoping against hope that the Equalisation Fund will be used to address their issues.

Predicament

His plight has been made worse since he cannot secure a job without the national Identity Card, his being illiterate has not made life any easier either. Kosi’s tribulations can be traced back to the early 1960s when the sad history of his home, Merti District, Isiolo County was termed a marginalized region. People in area, which was under a curfew in the North Frontier District (NFD), were unable to enjoy basic services like the rest of Kenyans. The scotching heat and dusty narrow paths led to Kosi’s village. Dressed in a red and white checked head turban, with a small pocket radio in his hands, Kosi shakes his head to a local Borana tune. He is seated next to his elderly mother in their manyatta, a small hut made of reeds.

Challenge

From afar their camels, goats and cows are seen grazing under the heat while others lie on the dry ground waiting for a trip to a water point. Life here seems difficult, the cactus vegetation and dry fields indicate that the rains are a rare occurrence.

“I am unemployed, don’t own a national identity card andi am illiterate. I only went to school up to class two. The challenges we face here could not allow me to go continue with my education,” Kosi explains. He adds: “The distance to school was too long and my parents who are pastoralists were unable to take me to a boarding school.” In frustration Kosi says: “My biggest challenge now is how to get an identification document. I have made several trips to the provincial headquarters where they demand that I produce my parents’ identification documents to ascertain that I am a genuine Kenyan citizen.” Indeed, Kosi is an example of the many youth living in Isiolo County, who struggle with the hard economic times as a result of rising unemployment brought about by poor structures, infrastructure and governance.

Isiolo Governor, Godana Doyo, concurs saying the grim picture painted here is real as they struggle to achieve part of the Millennium Development Goals focusing poverty eradication. Doyo says they have limited funds allocated to them by the Treasury in the current financial year. “These funds cannot help us sort out some of these issues especially infrastructure which comes with a huge financial burden,” Doyo observes. Isiolo County is classified as an Arid and Semi-Arid Land and thanks to the new Constitution and devolution in particular, it is benefiting from the Equalisation Fund targeting marginalised areas. The Government’s second Medium Term Plan (MTPII) 2013-2017 towards Vision 2030 seeks to increase employment opportunities for the

youth as well as nurture talents in enterprise, sports and entertainment.

Fund

With a current population of 143,295, of which half are youth, Isiolo County which is divided in two regions, South and North, is among the counties identified to benefit from the Equalization Fund given to counties which are ranked as marginalized. The fund is administered by the Central Government through the Treasury. According to the Constitution, Article 204 (2): “The national government shall use the Equalization Fund only to provide basic services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalised areas to the extent necessary to bring the quality of services in those areas to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the nation.”

According to the Revenue Allocation Commission, a total of KSh47.5 billion was allocated to the 47 counties with each getting a minimum of KSh1,010,638,298 according to their poverty ratings. According to the chairman of the Transition Authority, Kinuthia wa Mwangi, the devolved units have a great potential and opportunity, if used well, to help the youth identify their talents and skills it would help them be self-sufficient in future. Mwangi is challenging counties to revive the technical institutions that trained youth on various skills and upgrade other vocational training institutions. He notes that unemployment is a global problem, but it can still be addressed through structured interventions which can be offered by the County governments.

Priority

According to the latest Kenya Economic Report 2013, the fight against poverty is a top priority on the country’s development policy agenda. The government’s commitment to the realization of MDGs, elimination of hunger and poverty, and achievement of inclusive and equitable growth is contained in various policy documents such as the Medium Term Plan and Vision 2030. The report further points out the employment rate (proportion of employed persons to the working age population) are about 69 per cent, while rate of unemployment was at eight per cent having improved from 12 per cent. T

Reject Online Issue 101  

The Reject Online is a monthly publication of the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman & Child Feature Service

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