Letters

Counties ought to implement youth policy

jobless

Jobseekers in Nairobi during a past call for applications. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Young people continue to move in droves to seek elusive jobs in urban areas.
  • With the process of reviewing the National Youth Policy completed in the recent past — after a five-year wait, counties have now been put on the spot and must start laying down structures to enhance youth affairs.
  • Without such structures, it will be difficult to allocate the resources needed to address the welfare of our young people.

As the debate rages on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) key recommendation of enhancing county allocations from the current 15 to 35 percent, focus should as well shift on the devolved units as part of a solution to what the President identified as a ticking time bomb — a rapidly increasing number of idle young people in Kenya.

Although the devolved units have been in place for about eight years now, heralded as a huge paradigm shift in bringing development across the board, they have never been seriously thought of as possible job creators.

Young people continue to move in droves to seek elusive jobs in urban areas.

With the process of reviewing the National Youth Policy completed in the recent past — after a five-year wait, counties have now been put on the spot and must start laying down structures to enhance youth affairs.

Without such structures, it will be difficult to allocate the resources needed to address the welfare of our young people.

The Kenya Youth Development Policy eloquently offers guiding tools for effective development and implementation of youth empowerment interventions in Kenya in line with the Constitution and other goals at the county, national and international levels.

Lack of such an initiative has over the years denied the county governments an opportunity to anchor youth agenda in their development agenda, leading to years of neglect and unfulfilled promises.

The framework offers clear mechanisms of implementation, coordination at national, county and sub-county levels, down to youth at the grass roots — a first of its kind in the country.

With more devolved funds going to counties, which has been long overdue considering the functions already devolved, youth policy at grassroots level will create a framework for constructive conversations on how young people can participate in governance and economic growth.

Each county is endowed with unique comparative advantages and issues such as value additions on agriculture produce, business incubations centres, and inter-county trade are expected to be key areas of discussion and focus.

Effective implementation, therefore, means that every young person is supposed to get an opportunity to lead a healthy and creative life, acquire knowledge and access resources needed for a decent standard of livelihood. This is something that the county must commit to.

Devolution gave youth hope that it would bring services closer to citizens, increase job opportunities and improve governance, which has not been the case.

Counties have complained of insufficient and delayed resources allocation from the national government, which affects development plans with a lot of resources going to meet recurrent expenses.

Although the national government has been keen on developing infrastructure, there has been little engagement at grassroots, with projects sometimes missing up areas of priorities.

LIMITED ALLOCATION

Increasing more resources to the counties will address this by empowering them on key decisions that will address the welfare of their people among them job creation.

County governments have only identified the youth agenda as a general area of focus tucking it in other broad areas such as social services, sports and gender.

As a result, the funds allocated to youth affairs in general have remained low.

National unemployment rate stands at 40 percent, with youth constituting at least 75 percent of the total number of jobless people in the country. And the situation has been getting worse in recent years as the population surges.

Young people are striving to meet even basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education.

Raphael Obonyo, via e-mail