Statement from the National Youth Sector Alliance on the Misappropriation of the The Kazi Kwa Vijana and the Kenya Youth Empowerment Program Funds by Government Officials.

Nairobi: September 24th 2011

The National Youth Sector Alliance is disturbed by the news that that Kazi Kwa Vijana Funds provided by the World Bank for the purpose of empowering Kenyan Youth with job opportunities have been misappropriated by top officials in the office of the Prime Minister. Media reports indicate that the World Bank released 4 Billion Shillings for KKV and that it is demanding a refund of over 900 million which is claimed to be misappropriated by officials in the OPM.

In 2008 during the National Youth Convention (NYCIV), the youth delegates complained directly to the Prime Minister of the poor design of the KKV program noting that most of the funds were being spent not directly reaching the youth with a tagline of “Kazi Kwa Vija Pesa Kwa Wazee” It was recommended that the design of the program be restructured in order to directly empower the Kenyan youth. The recommendations were never taken into account by the Office of the Prime Minister.

 

During the inaugural Prime Minister’s Round Table with the Youth in September of 2010, under the Youth Empowerment Thematic Focus, a specific recommendation was made to the effect that the impact of the KKV was not being achieved due to poor structure and implementation. It was recommended that the Program be restructured to accommodate both labour intensive as well as intellectual capacity of the many millions of graduates from both tertiary and other institutions of higher learning in the country.

 

While the program was expanded and largely involved the Private Sector, the office of the Prime Minister managed to rename the department to Kenya Youth Empowerment Program. No caution was taken to the re-designing and structure of the KKV Program implementation. The specific recommendation in the matrix of implementation has never been responded to.

 

The fact that there has been public outcry and a lot of advice given on how to restructure the KKV, it is disturbing that the bureaucracy in the Office of the Prime Minister has not been keen to redesigning the program for the public good.

 

It should be noted that KKV is the closest that Kenya has come to creating massive employment opportunities for the high numbers of the unemployed population in the Country. The Fact that advice to make the program work has not been taken, is a confirmation of the existence of an axis of evil in Government that is hell bent to continue enjoying youth disenfranchisement for short term political gains.

 

It is still not clear how much money has been misappropriated and how much has already been disbursed. NYSA will initiate the process to bring to the fore the facts in partnership with other key stakeholders. The process will immediately seek to have an audience with the Kenyan youth and the relevant Government agencies to get into the root of the matter under question.

 

Pending Issues on the Youth Enterprise Development Fund;

 

It should also be noted that there are many questions that are left unanswered on the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. There have been unconfirmed allegations of fictitious and non-existent youth groups being beneficiaries of the Fund with millions of shillings reported missing without financial returns. All this matters must now be put under investigation and the agenda of Youth Empowerment in Kenya brought to naught in order to deal with the unemployment issue once and for all.

 

Demands from the Youth of Kenya

 

The Youth of Kenya, demand the following from the office of the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government;

 

1. A comprehensive financial audit of KKV and YEDF conducted with the following details;

 

a. the total amount of money used,

b. the kinds of projects accomplished,

c. the number and names of youth beneficiaries and how much they have received

d. the impact of the program aggregated according to region and gender.

 

2. Immediate suspension of the Officers in charge of the Kenya Youth Empowerment Program (KYEP) in the office of the Prime Minister.

3. Independent investigations to immediately commence and the officers found culpable of the misappropriation of the KKV and YEDF funds be prosecuted.

4. Immediate suspension of any financial undertakings on the program until it is comprehensively redesigned through a team of experts with young people included through a competitive independent, public vetting process.

 

Leadership from the two Principles

 

The National Youth Sector Alliance calls upon the President and the Prime Minister to put aside all their assignments and directly attend to these issues. This is a clear picture of corruption and the Youth of Kenya demand for accountability on funds meant for them. Transparency MUST Prevail.

 

Signed for and on behalf of the National Youth Sector Alliance.

Emmanuel Dennis

Convener – NYSA

Statement from the World Bank on Kenya Youth Empowerment Project

Press Release No:2012/131/AFR

NAIROBI, October 25, 2011—On Sunday, October 23, 2011, the Sunday Nation published an article under the headline:  “World Bank cancels funding for Kazi Kwa Vijana over graft” (page 10).  In response to this and further media reports published on the program, the World Bank would like to share the following facts about the Kenya Youth Empowerment Project (KYEP) it finances:

The objective of KYEP is to support efforts of the Government of Kenya to increase access to youth-targeted temporary employment programs and to improve youth employability.  The project has three components: labor-intensive works and social services (US$43 million), coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM); private sector internships and training (US$15.5 million), managed by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA); and capacity-building and policy development (US$1.5 million), implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The KYEP became effective on August 18, 2010.  The first disbursement to the Government for Component 1, in the amount of US$9.3 million, took place on February 7, 2011.  This was subsequently allocated to six implementing line ministries to undertake public works for youth: the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Ministry of Regional Development Authorities, the Ministry of Roads, Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, and the Ministry of Local Government, as well as to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to coordinate and monitor project activities.

In June 2011, the World Bank initiated a Financial Management Review of the KYEP.  This is a standard exercise undertaken for all World Bank-financed projects during implementation.  The working draft of the Financial Management Review stated that transactions totaling Ksh 33,061,925 required further validation or clarification from the Government to determine whether they were eligible to be paid out of KYEP funds. The World Bank will continue to work with OPM to review these transactions in the coming days, with a view to determining definitively whether they are or are not eligible for KYEP financing.

Meanwhile, the Government let the World Bank know on October 11 that it wished to cancel Component 1 of KYEP and reorient the resources to other activities aiming to raise youth employment in Kenya.  The remaining KYEP components, including support to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will continue, and performance to date under these components has been satisfactory.

Contacts: Peter Warutere, (254-20) 3226444 pwarutere@worldbank.org

For more information, please visit: http://www.worldbank.org/

Kenyan Youth Strategy Meeting 2011 – Nairobi Declaration

13th and 14th October 2011

Preamble

We, the delegates to the Kenyan Youth Strategy Meeting for Rio +20 at the United Nations Complex at Gigiri, Nairobi:

Acknowledge the African indigenous knowledge of the sacred value of the environment to biodiversity wellbeing.

Commit to promote innovations that will develop a green economy and promote the eradication of poverty.

Take note of the past declarations towards environmental sustainability both at the African and Global level, there is an urgent need for structural and infrastructural interventions in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation.

Recognize the current global environmental challenges, particularly climate change, which impact our common future and wellbeing, we commit ourselves to support of the following mechanisms:

  • Good governance and transformative leadership.
  • Promote Education, information exchange, communication and awareness
  • Achieve sustainable agricultural practices to reduce hunger, starvation and enhance food security.
  • Advocate for the development and implementation of sustainable development policies towards a Green Economy.
  • Invest in and promote eco-friendly entrepreneurship and job creation.
  • Attain sustainable green cities and villages.
  • Promote public engagement and participation through culture and volunteerism.
  • Promote Youth Development and capacity building
  • Good Governance and Transformative Leadership

We recognize the role of good governance and transformative sustainable development leadership that is

  • Participatory
  • accountable,
  • transparent and
  • implementable

at national and county levels. We reject governance that is weak on transitioning to a green economy and embrace that which promotes a green economy which engenders human well-being and social equity and respect for the natural environment, and the value of biodiversity and eco-systems, guided by, and accountable to, a new World Environment Organisation with universal membership by all UN Member States.  We also call for mechanisms in such new institutions that allow for youth participation in decision-making.

Youth delegations have to be engaged at all levels of governance in discussing benchmarks for the green economy. The Youth need to be involved in efforts towards policy formulation and development of institutional frameworks. Additionally, youth participation should be integrated at local, national and international assessments towards the development of an index for measuring the progress towards a green economy.

Promote Education, information exchange, communication and awareness

We recommend the adoption of green economy and sustainable development education material at all levels of education and public training initiatives by 2014. We intend to achieve this through the creation of various information sharing methods to various segments of the society.

We acknowledge that education underpins awareness; and awareness is critical to the spread of sustainable development principles through multiple levels in society.

Education serves as a hub for understanding the types of information to be considered when thinking about the green economy; how monitoring will be shaped in the context of the information identified as relevant; and the role of education on the environment to serve as a communication/public awareness tool on sustainable development.

Build an understanding toward the intersection of business, environment and society, in educating all people about the tenets critical to achieve sustainable development, especially the Youth.

Action: Build a national curriculum standard that promotes business in a green society. 2015

Action: Educate students in primary and secondary schools on the green economy by creating incentives that allow NGOs, student groups or CBOs to serve as ambassadors for education of the green economy. 2015

Action:  Build a monitoring service from the information-discovered. Discovery of information should be an integrated process involving key stakeholders with a special emphasis on Youth. Progress towards sustainable development goals should be identified as key thematic working groups, using poverty alleviation and institutional reform as output goals, and involvement of youth and CBOs as an inherent part of the process. 2018

Achieve sustainable agricultural practices to reduce hunger, starvation and enhance food security.

Whereas recognizing the interrelation between our national forest cover and agricultural productivity we recommend the following measures;

  • Increasing our national forest cover to 10% from the current 2% by the year 2015 through creation of green parks, promoting agroforestry and sustainable agribusiness.
  • Phasing out of hazardous chemical fertilizers in arable farming by the year 2015.
  • Promoting the utilization of the green energy technologies to enhance affordable agricultural production.

Advocate for the development and implementation of sustainable development policies towards a Green Economy.

Develop sustainability measures and indicators against which government programmes can be measured and assessed.

Advocate for the legislation of policies on sustainable development that regulate the corporations’ adherence to green economy modules.

Ensure that approximately 25% of the annual government development budget goes towards program initiatives on sustainable development, with clear indication on targets towards green growth in community development and individual technological entrepreneurship.  15% of the 5% funding should be geared towards mobilizing and benchmarking activities to demarcate marginal change of youth involvement in the green economy.  35% of that “Sustainable Development funding” should be geared towards supporting renewable energy and zero-carbon activities that are both sustainable and demonstrably financially viable, in a local and youth-oriented level. 2013

Ensure the programmatic and structural archetype of an environmental body that can hold nations and member-states accountable for reporting and making transparent their pathways and transitions towards a green economy. 2015

Ensure that the youth are fully represented at the National Land Commission.

Invest in and promote eco-friendly entrepreneurship and job creation.

Establish independent institutional mechanisms for promoting green entrepreneurship and growth among youth.

Set up an independent fund to provide start-up financing for green enterprises by youth

Promote technological, business and social innovation through creating enabling policy environment and platforms

Invest in business models that promote community development

Promote alternative and innovative funding and investment in youth green enterprises such as crowd-funding

Sensitize youth at all levels on green entrepreneurship through different channels such as new media

Create enabling business and policy environment for green entrepreneurship, for example, tax waivers for youth green enterprises

Promote public engagement and participation through culture and volunteerism.

We recognize the aspect of culture and indigenous knowledge that embraced green economy through agroforestry, organic fertilizers for sustainable development.

For sustainable development towards green economy, we recommend the need for selfless/political willingness from all levels of governance, private sector and individuals in promoting the green economy.

We recommend that; at all levels of policy formulation and participation, there is need for public engagement and concurrence which will enhance easy implementation and sustainability.

We stand for investment, documentation, promotion and development of best practices in cultural beliefs and practices that further conservation and renewable energy founded on indigenous knowledge.

Promotion of community and youth-led exchanges is key in this regard for effective sharing and transfer of green growth skills through access and exchange of information.

We appreciate that volunteerism will act as a means of inculcating community ownership of sustainable development initiatives.

Harness public engagement and Youth volunteerism to benchmark progress on the role of corporations in sustainable development through Corporate Socially Responsible initiatives.

Attain sustainable green cities and villages

Develop an independent institution to assess business models for micro-enterprises to assess their suitability for tax benefits and other incentives. And to regulate and ensure that micro-enterprises do not compromise environmental sustainability.

Develop comprehensive waste management systems by:

  • Placing increased emphasis on waste separation and recycling systems;
  • Establishing dug-in decomposition landfills where decomposable materials are put to decompose; once decomposed the material can be used as organic manure.

Establish awards to recognize and celebrate the effort of cities and villages that take significant steps in transforming into green cities and villages.

Regulate transportation to reduce congestion by:

  • Establishing dedicated lanes for public transport vehicles and
  • Implement mass transport systems such as rail transport.

Promote Youth Development and capacity building

In order to facilitate and further build capacity in youth to fully engage in and drive development processes to address the above priority areas, we call upon our governments to:

Adopt a Youth Development Index as an indicator of the welfare of the youth in the countries; and as a measure of the youth development.

Review existing and develop new policies and legislation to:

Promote youth innovation and entrepreneurship through structures such as:

  • Talent Academies
  • Technology and Business incubation centres

Protect these innovations through structures and measures such as:

  • Strong and easily accessible Intellectual Property protection
  • Moderate and accommodative tax regimes

Promoting youth participation in international forums through

  • Incorporating youth delegations as part of national delegations to international conferences
  • Providing funding for youth to participate at international
  • Incorporating youth in National policy formulation and implementation

Develop and strengthen national and local structures to provide support and training for youth organizations with emphasis in the areas of:

  • Establishment of community and youth led organizations
  • Leadership and organizational management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management

Require that all government ministries establish youth offices and develop and implement youth engagement strategies to streamline youth participation in the work of the ministries.

Convene national and local youth forums to discuss matters relevant to youth development and make recommendations for action in support of youth development by state and non-state actors.

Improve youth access to information especially with regard to rural communities and informal urban settlements, through Establishment of community ICT Digital Villages

Conclusion

We, as young people, this is what we declare and recommend our government, individuals, businesses, development organizations and all stakeholders to undertake ahead of Rio+20 and beyond. Any action to be taken affects us and our future generation to a greater extent. We care about our planet and we will all work together in creating a more sustainable era. Green Economy is Achievable.

New interactive Business Finance Tool launched for Kenyan small business owners

Financing is the lifeblood of a business. Whether one is starting an enterprise or if they are seeking to expand their business – the lack of money can be detrimental.
After having polled its users, the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise – YIPE (www.yipekenya.org) found that the reason for the low uptake of formal business financing opportunities among Kenyan small business owners was not due to perceived barriers such as tedious application processes as previously thought.
The main reason amongst the sampled business owners was simply that they did not know of the availability of business financial products on offer.
This finding spurred YIPE to develop and launch its Business Finance Interactive Search Tool (www.yipekenya.org/Business finance.htm) which enables business entrepreneurs in four easy steps to access information of business financial products that suit their stage of business.
This product easily reduces the time and expense required in searching for appropriate financial products. As a value add-on, users can also access information from a database of over 1,000 entries (and rising) of financial sources in the county their business operates in.
Having the available financial product information in one place makes it possible for users to find banks and micro-finance institutions near them as well as compare the various financial products from multiple providers.
Users are given the options to select their business stage, the type of financing required and the county they reside in. YIPE’s business finance tool then presents them with a list of financial institutions (commercial banks, micro-finance institutions etc) whose products match their criteria, along with the providers’ contact information.
The Business Finance Interactive Search Tool is available on www.yipekenya.org/Business finance.htm and is free for all users.
For the time being, YIPEs Business Finance Interactive Search is available for Kenyan based businesses only.
About the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise – YIPE

Since its founding in 2008, the Youth Interactive Portal for Enterprise has emerged as a highly valued source of quality content for both aspiring and operating entrepreneurs. The Portal was one of the winning case studies for the Society for New Communications Research 2009 Excellence in New Communications Awards in the Online Publishing – Technology Innovation category. In 2010, YIPE was named the Kenyan partner for the Global Cleantech Ideas competition which is the search for the world’s best social enterprises that proactively address environmental degradation.For more information, visit www.yipekenya.org and follow @yipeorg on Twitter.

Kenya Coalition Principals Grossly Misguided about Kenyan Youth

By George Nyongesa

We are infuriated by the fact that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga used Jamhuri Day celebrations to level allegations of treason against the youth of Kenya. The principals’ outburst, coming hot on the heels of Government spokesman Dr. Alfred Mutua’s similar outlandish claim that the youth are receiving foreign funding to destabilize the coalition government, cannot be ignored, especially by the leadership of youth.

In this regard, we wish to address the President and Prime Minister as follows:

First, we would like to point out that the poignant claims eloquently expose the fears and uneasiness that the political establishment has over the emerging political consciousness among the youth. The language of castigations completely reeks of the status quo’s misguided view of youth as being disorganized, confused and easily manipulated. We refuse this ill-adviced definition of the youth and warn that we are indeed actively organizing to empower ourselves in order to keep on track reforms especially as espoused in Agenda 4 of the same National Accord that brought President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga together in a coalition government.

Second, we are not fazed by allegations of receiving support from wherever in order to realize our agenda. This is not news, as the coalition leaders never ending foreign begging trips are common knowledge. In any event, the youth are part of the wider civil society that likewise survives on primarily international funding for their activities. Also, since the coalition government will not put together empowerment programs that are not designed to control us, manage us or take us hostage, reality check demands that we work with anyone who understands our problem and genuinely wants to help.

Third, we frown upon President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila’s attempt to plant seeds of strife and discord among youth by branding their leadership as foreign-aided coup plotters. Whilst the tag is meant to cow the emerging youth leadership, we want to boldly warn them that Agenda 4 issues, among these, youth unemployment, remain key reform and progress scorecard items for the youth; that if not comprehensively and urgently addressed by the two principal will precipitate the threatening revolution of the dissatisfied masses of youth against the cartel of political elite.

Fourth, we wish to inform President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila that the majority Kenyan youth are quickly realizing that unless Agenda 4 items are addressed, the youth and future generations will remain victims of bad governance that is characterized by corruption, impunity, poverty and tribalism.

We are no longer at ease with the way things are and will not hesitate to latch on constitutional rights to organize to overthrow the political establishment that preys us. We want a better Kenya that is fit for all of us to realize our God given potential. Indeed the youth leadership is going round the neighborhood inspiring fellow Kenyans that with the reality of new constitution, our numbers hold the key to the change we want to see and there is nothing criminal in pursuing constitutional promises.

Fifth, Mr. President and Prime Minister, it is true we are organizing to breed a new leadership that is up to the task of bridging the differences in our society and inspire our social diversities to work together to realize prosperity and peace for all. These are the ideals the youth of our generation dream of and in the back drop of new constitution find it civic obligation and duty. We are organizing because we are dissatisfied with the periodic tokenism such as Kazi kwa Vijana, Youth Enterprise Fund and worse still a youth ministry that has turned out to be a political circus.

Mr. President and Prime Minister, we are organizing because we have come to the realization that anything this political status comes up with has in the final analysis always become another gradualism that cannot address the urgent grave situation of unemployment among youth. We are organizing because we do not want to be used and abused as political levers by political cartels. We are organizing because we are fully aware of the problems the youth face; we are aware of the solutions to those problems and we are sure that we are the leadership we need to get us out of this deep hole.

Sixth, the youth are actively involved in post-referendum civic education on the new constitution especially on the contents of chapter 6. This is because in gearing up for 2012, before the campaign propaganda and empty promises peddled by power hungry politicians clouds their judgment, it is important to empower Kenyans to realize that most of the current crop of leaders cannot stand the leadership and integrity test set by this section of the constitution.

Indeed, the next general election forebodes an overthrow of the political establishment that grossly falls short and that continues to benefit from impunity. Mr. President and Prime Minister, you must accept that Kenyan youth organizing to shake off the yoke of oppression and exploitation through ballot democracy is not a crime and it is an internationally recognized, legitimate and legal avenue for citizenry to realize their own progress.

Seventh, we find it well within our political rights and liberties to want to and accordingly to organize to legally depose an establishment rife with corruption, impunity and tribalism, and replace with one for whom the people’s agenda is central. In doing so, the youth do not act only for ourselves, but millions of Kenyans who are victims of the current bad leadership such as the thousands of internally displaced persons sleeping cold and hungry in filthy camps, thousands of youths seeking solace from joblessness in crime, alcohol, drugs and prostitution, and the millions of Kenyans on self imposed curfews as a result high insecurity in our country.

Eighth, we sympathize with the coalition principals’ embarrassment suffered after the honest and unflattering contents of WikiLeaks, but wish to categorically protest against the Machiavellian use of youth as a political distraction shield of sorts. Casting aspersions against the youth leadership as ploy to steal the public attention from revelations of WikiLeaks is in bad taste, reactionary and totally misguided and betrays how quick the principals are to sacrifice others for their own interests. Accordingly, we dismiss with contempt and term it as a gross insult, the unsolicited paternalistic advisory that had the Premier label Kenyan youth as puppets and we demand a public apology.

In conclusion, we demand that President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila either come up with practical programs to get the youth out of the extreme poverty that makes them vulnerable to political manipulation or keep off our activities of organizing to save ourselves. We reiterate that we are peaceful and patriotic Kenyans engaging in constitution guaranteed civic actions to bring about another Kenya that is fit for all of us. We believe that the youth of Kenya are already giving so much of their own limited resources and sweeping allegations of foreign funding of youth activities is a distraction that we advice our fellow youth not to pay attention to. While we are not oblivious to the fact that the status quo will not resist misuse of state power in deploying old tricks of violence to halt our non-violent and peaceful push for meaningful reforms, we remain determined to deliver the dream and shall not relent.

Mr. Nyongesa is the National Coordinator of Bunge la Mwananchi as well as Co-convenor of the National Youth Forum in Kenya.

Press Release: Garissa County Youth Response to Dr. Alfred Mutua’s Comments on The American Aid To Kenyan Youths

This is a rare opportunity for young people to deliberate, shape and chart their destiny.

It is a departure from the past when youth were regarded as a recipient or worse still trouble makers. We shared our problems with people who not only didn’t care but also refused to listen to our voices and concerns.

The US government involvement, as driving force, was to address urgent need for youth participation in the socioeconomic, cultural and political agenda of the country. The youth fund given by USAID aims to serve the youth in the informal settlements, rural areas, small cities, pastoralist communities and towns and rural areas who bear the brunt of exclusion, deprivation, intimidation, violence, human rights violations and underdevelopment as a result of inequalities, political misgivings, intolerance, and limited access to opportunities by the youth, disregard of human rights and unaccountable system of governance by the government that is ironically concerned that we are now being empowered by external forces.

The approach by USAID is through active involvement and development of youth leadership on issues that affect them. It also endeavours to promote leadership that upholds youth interest, diversity, equality and non discrimination, information sharing, generation of knowledge and skill enhancement, partnership to strengthen youth unity, connectivity and collective action among youth are among the key approaches used by the USAID to address the youth problem.

Youth unemployment and underemployment are in our opinion Kenya’s most serious problem that continues to cause even more problems. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports should hit the road running on the issue and look to have viable inclusive policies as we speak now!

There have been numerous attempts by successive government to address issues of concern to the youth. The latest attempt is the Kazi Kwa Vijana program. The Kazi Kwa Vijana with its national scope was the most unsuccessful event undertaken by the government for the youth. The involvement of youths has been very minimal and youths all over Kenya have a common saying that KKV was (“kazi kwa vijana pesa kwa wazee”).

We call upon the authorities to consider change of strategy and opt for consultation and engagement. Force, threats and intimidation have failed to deal with the problems effecting the youth. Political parties have manifestos to outline their agendas for the country. These documents that are intended to guide the electorate on the best leadership and governance they will require. They lay out and issues in these documents are designed to entice and persuade the voters though implementations of the issues are debatable.

Kenyan youths have contributed a great deal to coexistence among the various communities and races. The young people contribution to sustainable peace must be enhanced. There are records of youth organizing and using their talents to communicate peace through songs and to engagement with the leaders and other community members.

The exchange program initiated by USAID among the young people from various communities and background is necessary and viable. These are learning opportunities and help young people appreciate diversity and thus deal with stereotypes, rumours and myths spoken about particular group of people that has created tension in the past. If it’s true that young Kenyans participated in the post election violence then they are also key instrument to create and preach peace through various initiative and various mode of communication.

A wide range of governmental policies and public sector programmes have particularly failed to address problems that affect the Kenyan youth. However, the youth of Kenya have refused to die!

We continue to mobilize community action, to build a community force and to claim and enjoy our God given rights, human dignity and we are in constant search of our freedom. The young people continue to work strenuously to affirm their status as permanent citizens of Kenya and the world at large. We continue to demand recognition and participation in decisions that affect our lives. We believe that we deserve better services and dignified livelihoods.

We have realized that we have a fundamental role to play in seeking credible solutions to our problems. We believe that we have the power to seek solutions to our problems. We have taken the front seat because we are the survivors, we are the ones who suffer, we are the ones who wear the shoes and know exactly where it hurts. We are committed to give birth to a new community, a new nation and new world where all humanity will rejoice and be proud, we believe this has happened with the new constitution.

The youth are organizing for real change and we are saying don’t just watch the space we also invite you to join the space! We won’t just shout we will also act!   We condemn Dr. Alfred Mutua’s remarks on the US embassy as a direct insult to the youth and utter disrespect for people who are helping in building your own home; he should instead thank the American government for being good friends of Kenya and not condemn them.

We want to thank Hon. Micheal Rannerberger (US Ambassador) for the good work he is doing with the Kenyan youth. Let President Obama know that we appreciate his encouragement and goodwill to help the youth of Kenya.

Thank you.

On land grab …

Friends of the Earth, an international grassroot environmental network recently published a 36 page report that warns of the developed countries drive for biofuels. The report titled “Africa: up for grabssays that arable land that would provide food is now being turned into biofuel plantations, leading to hunger and increased food insecurity.

The research covering 11 African countries found that at least 5 million hectares – an area the size of Denmark- has been acquired by foreign firms for biofuel production. However in some cases, local farmers and communities are not consulted nor adequately made aware of what selling or leasing their property means.

In July 2010, a draft report by the World Bank, reported in the Financial Times controversially told that investors were targeting countries with weak land governance structures; and failing to deliver on promises of employment and further investment. The final report is yet to be published.

Activists have also claimed that farmers are pushed off their land to live in poverty. Nevertheless the pressure for more land continues to grow with policies in the west such as the European Unions Renewable Energy Directive that calls for 10% of fuels to originate from renewable sources.

Though 80% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population depends on agriculture as a source of income, farmers not only have to contend with adverse weather conditions as a result of climate change, but others either do not get paid for their harvests or receive only a fraction of what they should earn. Little wonder then that with the prospect of cash for land, farmers continue to sell or lease out their property.

A solution to rampant “land grab” has been the imposition of a certification scheme. This like fair-trade would at least ensure that the agreements for sale or lease would be beneficial to the original owners. Domestic markets for biofuels could also be promoted so the farmers can also be beneficiaries.