Posts tagged ‘USAID’

October 3, 2014

Service and Youth

Is the National Youth Service (NYS) the way to go in bringing up a citizen who is service oriented to his country? The NYS act of 1964, envisaged Kenya creating a platform of reintegrating militant youths then to reorient, assimilate and create a pool of employable disciplined youths who can support the army or police force while pursuing national cohesion agenda. Forty nine years later, Kenya is at cross roads seeking betters ways of involving and motivating over 60% of its populations in nation building through the NYS.

Over the years, Kenya government and private sector have made huge investments in education which has seen high enrolment from Early Childhood Education to University level. On the other hand we have yearly police and armed forces recruitment drives absorbing many young people. However the rate of unemployment, deterioration of public service is quite evident in urban centers where provision of basic services such as garbage collection and poor roads and housing is in dire need. Above all these, Kenya is still a fragile state as witnessed in 2008 post election violence.

How then can the youth be involved in a constructive way without exploitation? Participation in nation building should be an obligation which a good citizen must carry out with pride. People have rights and the state has responsibility to do whatever is necessary to fulfill these rights. One such right is to ensure that we all live in safe and clean environment. Institutions such as education, military, police and work place should assist in fostering a sense of cohesion among the citizens.

The Ministry of Devolution recently launched a programme of recruiting young people through NYS and youth are equipped with skills to offer various services to the vulnerable communities. In Nairobi, the entry point has been participating in garbage collection in the informal settlements starting with Kibera. All over the world, governments have always strived either to control or involve youth in development. It is easy to control people who have passed through forces training since there is respect attached to chain of command. However the danger lies when it comes to demilitarizing the youths and reintegrating them back into civilian life. Conflicts in the region and ‘cheap’ labour might make Kenya a fertile ground for recruitment. The rate of unemployment is quite high all over Kenya which sometimes back, the World Bank had warned us that this is bomb’ waiting to explode.

In general, youth are very innovative and creative and Kenya government should think beyond controlling and militarizing the youth. Uwezo Fund must be ready to accommodate fresh ideas in this modern time. At the local level the youth should also take part in the real management of political parties, government to establish real funds for entrepreneurship ventures like implementing some of the ideas generated by students at the annual science congress while making access to information technology platform a priority especially in the informal settlements to bridge the disparity when it comes to access to information.

August 17, 2014

Why Mathare By-Election was Peaceful

ODM Mobilizing Voters

ODM Mobilizing Voters

The recent Mathare by-election campaigns were held in peaceful atmosphere despite open and rampant voter bribery across board. The By-Election was occasioned by successful petition by Stephen Kariuki of ODM against George Wanjohi of TNA. The by-election attracted a total of nine candidates all targeting more than 80,000 registered voters from different ethnic background.
The leading political alliances Jubilee and CORD managed to invest a lot of resources in ensuring that their candidates captured the vacant seat. There are four reasons why the by-election was peaceful.
First during the previous elections in Mathare, there was always presence of gangs such as Mugiki, Taliban or violent youths ready to be hired by politicians. This time round, none existed to be hired by politicians.
Secondly, the heat generated before the Saba Saba rally which ended peacefully also encouraged the local residents to maintain peace. When the TNA candidate opted to woo only Kikuyu voters this became counterproductive even amongst his supporters. This resulted even in many young Kikuyu voters shunning Wanjohi of TNA for Stephen Kariuki of ODM who is a Kikuyu too.
Thirdly, of late there have been many forums organized by various organizations such Sisi ni Amani Kenya, Inuka, Sauti Yetu Debates and other government led initiatives which all played an important role in integrating people from different ethnic background to meet regularly
Fourthly, when President Uhuru visited Mathare for a church service cum campaign trip for TNA candidate at Redeemed Gospel Church he never openly told the residents to vote Wanjohi rather he talked more about referendum politics and which Raila did later. The President body language betrayed his mission in Mathare thus helping cool the temperature down.
The heavy presence of police cannot be attributed to the peaceful election but can be praised for ensuring law and order was maintain during elections. However it was disappointing to note that most political party agents did not know how a BVR Kits operate. At the end of it all, Mathare has a new MP…Hon. Stephen Kariuki.

August 17, 2014

Mathare, Informal Financial Services

Mitchel, a member of women go round from Mathare

Mitchel, a member of women go round from Mathare

Not everybody is a friend of banks and especially in the informal settlements where communities’ have circumvented established financial institution and devised ways of accessing credit facilities outside government controlled channels. Informal financial services vary from shopping of credit without paying an interest, shylock and merry-go-round initiatives.
It is common to meet a group of women meeting in homes or social places within Mathare to discuss ways of sharing collected money without think of banking. But what makes this kind of arrangement better than a variety of services offered by commercial banks? Eunice Wanjiku a member of unregistered women group believes that financial institution are not good for startup initiatives found in the Mathare like selling groceries, second hand clothes or starting chang’aa a local beer businesses. She quips “can you imagine a bank giving me Kshs.5,000 to start chang’aa business?, this is impossible. My previous engagement with a financial institution nearly made me develop ulcers. I will never take a loan from a bank again. They nearly sold my house”
There are many different types of businesses which are profitable according to the locals but unfortunately one cannot get easy credit to invest from established financial institutions. Fortunately, people have developed alternative strategies of attracting credit like forming merry-go-round and table banking initiatives. These groups are formed by likeminded and people who know each other very well. Here, loans are given out of trust with little intrusion from the lending group on the exact nature of your business. Mish, a young enterprenuer consulted fellow women and is in the process of getting Kshs.10,000 which she will refund with 5% interest over a period of six months. She was frustrated by commercial banks which asked so many questions and required her to save for at least three months before she could access the loan.
Requirements to access start-up business loans suitable for slums based businesses are minimal and this has contributed to mushrooming of shylock businesses within slums. In some places, community members own more than one or two expensive electronic item such as phones of TVs which they use for accessing loans from shylocks. Here the interest is quite high with the value of your item being determinant of how much you can access. The local shylocks are very strict and merciless. Failure to pay of time your valued good is sold to friends at a throw away price.
Our financial institutions have a long way to go in understanding how informal financial transaction operate and varied opportunities which needs to be tapped. In the informal settlements, most loans are on short term basis between 1 week to six months and default rates are quite low compared with commercial banks.

February 7, 2014

Maps and Slums

mathareNairobi is home to more than 100 informal settlements with little basic social amenities of low standards. The most ‘famous’ slum in Nairobi is Kibera. This is a place with many NGOs activities than schools.

There is high presence of NGOs in Kebera plus the place being put on the world map courtesy of OpenStreet Map However the residents continue to live in usual conditions found in slums. However there is hope for Kibera unlike Mathare. If the Kibera slum upgrading is completed and the houses distributed fairly without corruption then we headed to good times. Slum Upgrading projects are better off if the development process is monitored by various stakeholders.


Looking at the informal settlement in , in Nairobi section one notice that some of the informal settlements mapped are, Mukuru, Kibera, Mathare, Baba Dogo, Korogocho among others. Amazingly, the most mapped slum in Nairobi is Mathare! Almost all schools, health facilities, disaster prone areas have been mapped in details and shared in the OpenStreetMap platform. But has this visibility translated into Mathare being a popular destination with donors compared with Kibera? And what could be impeding factors? (Next week Mathare and Kibera)- Simon

November 20, 2012

Youth Funding and Agenda 4

When President and Prime Minister signed the National Accord Reconciliation Agreement after the disputed election and violence that followed, one of the  issue that the accord seek to address was among others was poverty, inequality and youth unemployment.

The government has managed to come up with both women and youth fund which according some youth and women is hard to access because of the bureaucracies. However the USAID, through the Yes Youth Can Fund also managed to establish a fund and Nairobi, Coast, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Western became the target of the project focus being the youth. These were some of the regions that were hardest hit by the post election violence.

It is in these target regions that we have started witnessing emergence of deadly gangs and violence. At the Coast we have MRC and infiltration by Al Shabaab elements, Nyanza Marine and Chinese groups, in Central there is re-grouping of Mugiku while in Nairobi there has been frequent skirmishes report along Juja Road and the recent trigger after the blast. If the Yes Youth Can fund was establish to empower the Kenyan youth, then there is a problem may be with how the targeting of youth was carried and implementation of activities geared towards empowerment.

As we approach election, the Yes Youth Can Fund can help the Kenyan youth establish meaningful livelihood structures that will foster socio-economic growth not structures that will destroy our democracy and respect for human rights.

Kenya now is at a stage where the politicians and tribal kingpins will start mobilizing their people for votes. If we have not worked together with our youth to establish viable source of livelihoods then we should expect security nightmare for 2013.

Democracy can only be protected by the ‘shareholders’ (people) who feel protected by the law, have access to generate resources to sustain themselves and community they live in, and tolerate each other devoid of religious, gender, sexual orientation and ethnic bias. Otherwise our youth will be easily influenced by corrupt and blood thirsty politicians and terrorist elements- Simon

May 18, 2011

Mathare Youth Vote

Felix, one of the contestants from Huruma Ward

The National Youth Council elections are going across the country and Mathare held its elections for the delegates. In each ward, youth gathered to elect their choice peacefully. At Mabatini ward, 13 youth came out seeking to be elected as youth delegate. In each sub location, 3 youth delegate will be elected.

While in all the polling station there was high presence of women, very few of them were seeking position. For instance, in Mabatini out of the 13 contestants, only 3 women were on the list seeking to be elected. In Huruma, the situation was the same, with only 4 women among 16 contestants. Given that there is low women participation, this might affect articulation of women issues at higher level.

The election has been so peacefully against to what was expected. At Huruma, one of the contestants Mr. Felix, 24 yrs was happy with the arrangement and was optimistic that he will be elected. The selection of administration camps as voting sites has greatly contributed to the elections being held peacefully.

When it came to mobilizing people most people were using mobile phone and texting through SMS service. Printing of poster was common combined with collection of mobile phone numbers. When I visited Huruma polling station, I found Felix calling people to remind them about the day.

The situation on ground revealed that the elections of youth delegates in Mathare being less tribal and this is one of the lessons that the political parties can learn from the youth elections. The election is driven by how well known one is for doing things than money politics.

However there is generally low voter turn-out by the youth. This could be partly attributed to low publicity of the elections by the Ministry of Youth and the local administration. Also the election being held on a working day has locked out youths attending colleges or those working.

From the start of youth election, there was very little interest civil society organizations which conduct monitoring of elections or promote voter registration. Part of Yes We Can Fund by the USAID should have been invested in the youth election. – Simon

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