Kenya: Devolution Meet a Perfect Time to Reflect On Plight of the Youth

opinion

On approaching the famous Kondele slum in Kisumu, traffic halts into a jam and everybody is aghast.

Through the window, I see a group of youth running towards one direction.

In seconds of tracking the race, I spot a crowd on a county-plated Mercedes Benz and realise that it is the usual "mheshimiwa" thing.

Unfortunately, none is lucky as it is another day's promise from the politician.

In despair, they head back to the so-called "Bunge la Wananchi", disgruntled.

This scene depicts the lives of many youth across the country despite the five years of devolution.

UNEMPLOYMENTThe national government is seemingly overwhelmed by the runaway unemployment among the youth, going by the recently released '2015-2016 Household Survey' report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

It put Kenya's unemployment at paltry 7.4 per cent, raising an uproar, especially among jobless youth, who questioned the scope of study.

As a result, the unemployment burden is soon being shifted to the county governments.

And with the 47 governors convened in Kakamega, it is time for them to ponder the plight of the youth.

The devolution conference being held in Kakamega County is a good setting for this topic.

PUBLIC FUNDS

Last week, the host, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, attributed misappropriation of some of his county's funds to youth projects, claiming that they have been brought down by youthful drug addicts.

The question is, was there proper planning and financing before implementing the projects, or were they meant to fail?

Drug lords and owners of chang'aa dens across the country are becoming rich in the name of the hopeless youth.

The estates are full of illicit liquor dens and young addicts resembling 80-year olds. The smell of bhang rents the air.

This signifies the booming illegal businesses targeting idle youth.

CRIME

Roadside sheds in the name of "bases" have become the 'offices' of the unemployed youth, where problems that have no solution are discussed and cursed.

At times, they may be overridden by debate about the weekly 'Baba' handshakes, only to be interrupted by a convoy.

Some of the sheds have become havens of crime as it brings together both the educated and the unlearned.

This is the daily routine for many unemployed youth -- that of despair and frustration.

Youth projects need to be enhanced through sufficient financing and proper planning and implementation.

POLICY

In December, the Kisumu County government launched a project that involved daily clean-up of estates.

A sacco formed to manage the youth's earnings helped to drastically reduce crime within a week.

Several illicit brew dens were closed as their customers became enlightened and occupied.

But the project survived for only a month due to insufficient funds.

Devolution was all the hope the youth had for closer service delivery and increased employment opportunities, leave alone improved governance.

County governments should, therefore, put the youth at the centre stage of service delivery through well financed projects.

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