Kenya’s Market-Based Youth Project Changing Lives
Though the Kenyan government has demonstrated a commitment to lift its youth out of poverty, particularly those in the informal settlements, projects designed for youth continue to be crippled by rampant corruption.
One of these projects was under the National Youth Service and is currently entangled in a scam that has left the service unable to account for an estimated 7.8 million dollars, making it difficult for the service to meet its financial commitments to the youths.
“The project involved youths in the slums where we would basically manage waste by collecting solid waste, unblocking drainage systems and also clearing the feeder roads within the slum,” said Calvin Otieno, a resident of Kibera slums, one of the largest in Africa.
This project had been rolled out in 63 of the country’s 290 constituencies, making Otieno just one of the 70,000 youths benefitting from the programme.
Plans were also underway to roll out in more constituencies towards creating at least 20,000 opportunities for youths every year.
With World Bank statistics showing that more than four in every 10 Kenyans live below a dollar a day, “the four dollars the youths received daily for five days in a week was significant income,” Nairobi based policy and economic analyst Ted Ndebu told IPS.
To help them improve their financial profile, the youths would save a mandatory one dollar every day into an account set up by the National Youth Service.
Yet this may all have come to naught following allegations of massive misappropriation of funds.
“After a series of botched youth projects designed and manned by government officials, we need an effective model to ensure that such projects are not destroyed by a few greedy government officials,” says Ndebu.
Hamisa Zaja, Regional Programme Officer of Maji na Ufanisi –a local non-governmental organization which addresses water, sanitation and hygiene issues – told IPS that this model could take the shape of a youth project that has been panning out at the Kongowea Market in Mombasa County in the coastal region for about a year now.