2012 MILEAD Fellowship for young African women leaders – Call For Applications

Who is the most outstanding young African woman leader you know ?

Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa (Moremi Initiative) has announced its call for applications for the 2012 Moremi Leadership Empowerment and Development (MILEAD) Fellows Program.

The MILEAD Fellows Program is a one-year leadership development program designed to identify, develop and promote emerging young African Women leaders to attain and succeed in leadership in their community and Africa as a whole. The program targets dynamic young women interested in developing transformational leadership skills that help them tackle issues affecting women in their communities and society as a whole- by equipping them with the world class knowledge, skills, values and networks they need to succeed as 21st century women leaders. Applications are welcome from young African women living in Africa and the Diaspora.

The MILEAD Fellowship will be awarded to 25 outstanding young women with exceptional qualities who have exhibited leadership potential in their community, organization, and/or profession.

To be eligible for the one-year program, an applicant must be African, living on the continent or in the Diaspora; agree to participate in all required activities related to MILEA- including a three-week residential Summer Institute in Ghana; and commit to a community change project.

Applicants must be between 19 – 25 years of age. Specific requirements of the program and related dates are outlined in the application package. Please review program and application guidelines carefully, before completing your application.

Please note that this is not a full-time fellowship. Selected candidates may remain full time students or work full time for the program duration, except during the 3–week summer institute. The 3-week summer institute is an intensive and full-time residential program and all fellows will be required to attend. The rest of the program involves community-based, online and other distance activities.

How to Apply:

The application package and additional information is available online at www.moremiinitiative.org

Application forms must be downloaded and filled-out in word document format. Completed application form must be submitted with two letters of recommendation and CV. All applications and supporting documents must be submitted by email.

Deadline for applications. March 15th 2012.

Find more fellowship opportunities

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.

The Youth Congress Position On The National Youth Council Act 2009 And Its Operationalization

Introduction

Although the National Youth Council Act that was legislated in 2009[1] was meant to ensure effective implementation of the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 it has fallen quite short of the goal even before its operationalization. When the youth rallied behind the formulation of the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 and proposed the formation of the National Youth Council it is because they wanted a reliable, independent, responsive and effective institution that could address their concerns most of which have been ignored over years.

They envisaged a National Youth Council that would serve as a lead and negotiating institution for the youth and amplifier of youth issues. They expected a National Youth Council that would ensure improvement of their socio-economic and political conditions through effective   representation and participation at various levels.

The Youth Congress an independent youth organization in Kenya whose mission is to provide a platform where the youth consolidate their position to improve their condition and realize their full potential believes that for the National Youth Council to play its role effectively then it should be credible, legitimate, inclusive, independent and sustainable. As it is the National Youth Council Act and its operationalization mechanisms do not afford the youth the proposed and desired National Youth Council. The Youth Congress has reviewed the National Youth Council Act 2009 and the proposed election guidelines and would like to point out some specific concerns.

A. NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL ACT 2009

i. Functions of the National Youth Council

Part II and in particular section 4 on the functions of the Council is largely indicative that the National Youth Council will not have any political power to ensure translation of pertinent policies into desired results. It is portrayed as a body that will only be responsible for promoting awareness and inclusion. In fact, the words used the most in this section are to promote, popularize, facilitate, link, liaise, mobilize, inspire, lobby and such others.  One of the principal functions of the National Youth Council should be to ensure effectiveness and responsiveness of all Government and its Agencies on youth and youth issues as espoused in the present constitution.

ii. Composition of the National Youth Council

The independence of the National Youth Council is not afforded in the National Youth Council Act 2009 as far as the composition of the Council is concerned. According to Part II section 5 of the Act, the Council shall be composed of sixteen elected youth representatives including the chairperson, one secretary, four Permanent Secretaries[2] and the Attorney General. The inclusion of Permanent Secretaries and the Attorney General all with voting powers could be problematic as it is likely to supplant the independent participation of the youth.

The argument that we need these Government officials because they work in the Ministries that have direct link to youth issues does not hold. If that is the case then, Kenya National Youth Policy 2006 that provide for the National Youth Council identified priority strategic areas for youth as; Employment (Ministry of Labour), Health (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation), Education (Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education Science and Technology ), Sports and recreation(Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports), Art and culture (Ministries of Youth Affairs and Sport , Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture ), Environment(Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources), youth empowerment and participation in national life (Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030) and Youth and media(Ministry of Information and Communication). Where is that direct link!

 

If link is presumed to be the purpose, then unemployment, Environment and Health are major youth concerns. Where are the Permanent Secretaries of these Ministries? There are Quasi Government bodies where the Permanent Secretaries do not constitute their membership and discharge their duties quite effectively e.g. Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Such models should be used in establishing the National Youth Council to guarantee its independence and autonomy.

iii. Nexus with Ministry of Youth Affairs

The Act is silent on the envisaged relationship between the National Youth Council beyond establishment of the new body. This is matter that should have been stated clearly in the National Youth Council Act to avoid stand offs like what has been witnessed in the past in the Ministry. The National Youth Council should emerge as body that would be responsible for ensuring effectiveness and responsiveness of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports if at all there is still need to have both of them.

iv. Powers of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports

While one would expect an independent National Youth Council, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports still wields immense powers that are anchored in the National Youth Council Act. To exemplify, despite the elections of youth council members, the Minister still has the final say. According to section 5 subsection (1) (a) the Minister will be responsible for appointment of the chairperson nominated by the Council. The role of the Minister in this case should be to endorse the candidate elected not nominated by the council. In the first Schedule, section 2 subsection (b) states that a member of the Council can be removed from the office by the Minister. This could give the Minister leeway to victimize dissenting voices in the council and reconstitute the Council without proper procedures as has been witnessed in several occasions in the past.

v. Nexus with Advisory Board

The National Youth Council Act is silent on the envisaged relationship between the National Youth Council and the Board. This is matter that should have been stated clearly in the Act to avoid stand offs like what has been witnessed in the past in the Ministry. There is need to establish clear mechanisms for interactions between The National Youth Council and the Advisory Board.

 

B. ELECTION GUIDELINES FOR NATIONAL YOUTH COUNCIL

i) Effective Consultations

There lacks effective consultative mechanisms with the youth both in the formulation of The National Youth Council Act 2009 and the subsequent election guidelines. Where that has happened it has been sporadic, urban based and mostly arise as a result of demand by youth organizations. There hasn’t been a clear plan and strategy to consult the youth in their various clusters on the matter. This could have major implications on the ownership of the documents, process and results.

ii) Civic Awareness

There can be no doubt that the level of awareness on the Kenya National Youth Policy 2006, National Youth Act 2009, Election Guidelines and the concomitant process are painfully dismal. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has not rolled out plans to ensure massive awareness that would somewhat lead to broader participation and ownership by the youth. This is regardless of the fact that the elections were set to commence in February 2011. This can only mean that turn out will be quite low and the resulting National Youth Council will be quite illegitimate.

 

iii) Independence of the National Election Supervisory Committee

The guideline in bullet 4 proposes the establishment of the National Election Supervisory Committee at the national levels whose among the key function is; to co-ordinate the National Youth Council Election at the national levels and oversee the election at the National Youth Congress and National Delegate Forum. This Committee is constituted of five Permanent Secretary; Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Provincial Administration and Internal Affairs, Finance, Gender, Children and Social Services and the Office of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General, a representative of the Interim Independent Election Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and two representatives nominated by the Minister.

It also provides for election supervisory committee in every sub-Location, Location, Division, Constituency and County. These are constituted by; officer from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development and three persons nominated by faith based organization, non-governmental organization or a youth organization and appointed by the Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports.

Apparently, the composition of the National Election Supervisory Committee is 80% Government. This could jeopardize the autonomy of the elections since there are already concerns on influence and interference by some officials with the intended National Youth Council. Such elections should be steered and coordinated by an independent body that is fairly disinterested in the persons to be elected.

Similarly, bullet six of the guidelines also proposes the establishment of Election Supervisory Committee in every sub-location, location, division, and constituency and county that is accountable to the Minister and not the National Election Supervisory Committee. In so doing the Minister and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports will be undermining the independence of the already skewed National Election Supervisory Committee.

 

iv) Affirmative Action

The guidelines does not expressively explain the manner in which the various priority target groups that includes but not limited to; youth with disability, street youth, youth infected with HIV/AIDS, female youth, the unemployed youth and youth out of school will be involved in the process of establishing and operationalizing the National Youth Council. The guidelines have no consideration to youth from historically marginalized communities without clear way for representation. The National Youth Council need to conform to principles and values underlying the National Youth Policy that is; Respect of cultural belief systems and ethical values, Equity and accessibility, Gender inclusiveness, Good governance and Mainstreaming youth issues.

 

C. THE YOUTH CONGRESS SUBMISSION

The National Youth Council must be credible, legitimate, independent and effective. It’s in this backdrop that we seek the following;

1)       Review of the National Youth Council Act 2009.-The Nation Youth Council Act 2009 and the election guideline should be reviewed and youth concerns in- cooperated before the election and subsequent establishment of the National Youth Council. The concerns in the National Youth Council Act includes but not limited to;

  • Removal or reduction of the number of Government officials like the Permanent Secretaries and the Attorney General and take away their voting right.
  • The National Youth Council Act 2009 should state categorically the relationship between the National Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
  • Reduce powers of the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in the National Youth Council
  • The National Youth Council Act should state clearly the relationship between the National Youth Council and the Advisory Board.

2)       Youth leadership and participation-The process of establishing the National Youth Council must ensure youth leadership and participation and full involvement of key stakeholders of the later.

3)       Civic education schedule-There should be civic education on the National Youth Council election prior to the election and other stakeholders incorporated.

4)       Election by Interim Independent Election Commission –The national election for the National Youth Council should be conducted by the Interim Independent Election Commission (IIEC) for credibility and transparency.

5)       Principles and values underlying the National Youth Policy- The National Youth Council must conform to principles and values that is; Respect of cultural belief systems and ethical values, Equity and accessibility, Gender inclusiveness, Good governance and Mainstreaming youth issues.

Conclusion
As such, The Youth Congress looks forward to offering its support, in whatever form possible, to ensure participation of the young people in the establishment of Independent, inclusive, efficient and effective National Youth Council by the youth, with the youth and for the youth and the subsequent follow up to champion for the implementation of the Kenya National Youth Policy. The Youth Congress is available and open for discussion on the subject matter.


[1] The National Youth Council Act, 2009 was assented to by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya on the 31st December, 2009 and subsequently published in the official Kenya Gazette on the 6th January, 2010 which is also its effective commencement date.

[2] Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of; Youth Affairs and Sports, Finance, Education and Internal Security and Provincial Administration

 

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.

The IREN Think Tank Forum for Youth on the East Africa Community

Date: October 1-2, 2010

Venue: Panafric Hotel, Nairobi Kenya

The East Africa Community is here; with it are both challenges and opportunities. The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) will host a brainstorming session for the region’s youth as from October 1– 2, 2010. Brainstorming sessions will be preceded by presentations from experts on East Africa affairs and education in general. The outcome of the brainstorming sessions will be presented to a select number of business leaders from the region and officials of the EAC early next year.

Eligibility Criteria

• Must be aged between 18 and 35 yrs
• Answer the simple IREN East Africa Community Quiz
• Submit your CV
• A letter expressing interest to attend the forum
• Ksh 100 fee upon confirmation of your request to participate *(please DO NOT SUBMIT FEE until you hear from us!)

Limited number of scholarships available for non Kenyans for accommodation and travel on first come first qualify basis; all Kenyan delegates will be “day scholars.”

The Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) is a leading African think tank that promotes ideas and strategies geared towards improving the living standards in Africa. Founded in 2001, IREN has organized over 72 high profile forums and hosted over 4,500 delegates from across the globe with varied professional background. These have included high school and university students, farmers, civil society leaders, journalists, policy makers and business leaders who met to discuss issues focused on Africa’s economic development.

For more information contact:

The Events Manager
Inter Region Economic Network (IREN)
Nyaku House Mezzanine Flr.
Argwings Kodhek Rd. Hurlingham.
Box 135 GPO Nairobi Kenya,
Phone 254-20-2731497
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Youth Agenda Statement on Kenya’s Ministry Of Youth Affairs ’s plan to hold sham elections for the National Youth Council Officials

In December 2009, President Mwai Kibaki assented to the enactment of the National Youth Council Act which was subsequently gazetted in January 2010.

This Act will bring in force a powerful body known as the Kenya National Youth Council whose mandate will be to co-ordinate all youth organisations, design and continuously review the National Youth Policy and develop an “integrated National Youth Development Plan” in collaboration with the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs. The Council will also act as an advisory, research and policy institution on youth affairs in the country. In essence the council shall be the Advocate, Connector and Enabler for young people in Kenya.

As it stands today, the National Youth Council has not been established. The Youth Agenda and other stakeholders has been at the forefront in advocating for a responsive Youth Council, we have also been vigilant in trying to ensure involvement, participation and representation of the youth constituency in the formation of the National Youth Council.

In pursuance of this, we have sent numerous communiqué to the Ministry of Youth Affairs seeking to promote youth participation in this process including a memorandum prescribing the manner in which the Youth Consortium wanted the election of the NYC officials conducted.    To date, the Ministry has silent on the matter and at times evasive while operating exclusive of the youth constituents the ministry is supposed to serve.

It has now come to our attention that the Ministry of Youth Affairs is planning to hold elections of the Youth Council on Wednesday 11th August from 10am. It is on this premise that we would like to raise the following:-

Our Concerns

1)      That, a majority of the Youth are not aware of the upcoming elections

2)      That, The elections might be used to rubber stamp a preselected committee

3)      If the elections are not held in a transparent and participatory manner, the Council will not have the legitimacy it needs in order to have impact and achieve its goals

Our Submission

In the spirit of transparency, openness and inclusivity we recommend the following to the ministry;

1.      That, the process be opened up at all levels for all the youth of this country

2.      That, based on the memorandum (dated 2nd June 2010) submitted to the Ministry of Youth Affairs by the youth consortium, the ministry must engage other stakeholders in the election process.

3.      That, if the National youth Council is to be responsive to and owned by the young men and women of the new Kenya, then the Ministry must involve the youth of this country in the process of establishing this council.

Seeing as this has not been done, we read malice into the ministry’s actions which are in bad taste. The ministry must and should remain accountable to its constituents and as such it should be prepared to face the backlash of stage-managed elections. These elections must be postponed to allow for awareness and participation of all the youth in this country.

Conclusion

It is our hope that the National Youth Council will have an active youth force serving in it; will be representative of all Kenyan youth including women, persons with disability as well as minorities groups; and that the appointing process will be transparent, fair and democratic.

Yours Sincerely,

Susan Kariuki
Act. Executive Director
The Youth Agenda YAA