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Challenges facing Kenyan youths

  1. Employment creation

There are about 500,000 youth who graduate from various tertiary institutions ready to enter the job market every year. However, due to the slow economic growth, corruption, nepotism and demand for experience by potential employers, 75% remain unemployed. There is need for Youth Initiative Development Programme to develop policies that will address unemployment problems and create an environment where the youth can exploit their potential through value adding initiatives.

           2.  Empowerment and Participation

One of the greatest challenges in Youth Empowerment and participation is how to ensure that young people are passionate about causing transformation in Kenya. Youth Empowerment and Participation is the quintessential force for causing such transformation. Young people need a youth branded platform from where they can speak powerfully, take appropriate action, and inspire belief that will have a catalytic impact all over the country through youth-led development initiatives. Youth empowerment and participation is a dynamic cycle. Overall, it is anticipated that the outcome of Youth Empowerment and participation is strong contribution to National prosperity, economic competition and reduced unemployment. When empowered, young people can contribute greatly towards good governance and democracy with a passionate desire to be catalyst for National Development.Youth Initiative Development Programme will be a catalyst for youth empowerment and participation.

           3.  Health

The uneven distribution of health facilities in the country continues to widen disparities in affordability and access to medical care. Statistics indicate that only 42% of the population has access to medical facilities within four kilometers and 75% within eight kilometers. Medical personnel are also too few to sufficiently address the health needs of the population, let alone those of the youth. Currently there is one doctor for every 33,000 people in the rural areas and 1,700 in the urban areas and it is estimated that only 12% of the health facilities are youth friendly.

Health has become a major issue among the youth. Apart from the traditional health problems like malaria, fistula, anemia, diabetics, cancer, tuberculosis and the more conservative sexually transmitted diseases, the exponential spread of HIV/AIDS and drug abuse have become issues of major concern. Mental health is increasingly becoming a common problem among the youth. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and substance abuse are also becoming leading mental problems among the youth.

Furthermore, reproductive health is one of the issues with the greatest impact on the youth. Some related problems and side effects include teenage pregnancies and abortion. Other common health problems are malaria and acute respiratory infections, which account for about one half of outpatient cases. Other diseases the youth grapple with include skin infections, intestinal worms and diarrhea.

Current health facilities are also not youth-friendly. As such, there is a need for facilities that offer preventive and curative health services for the youth. Information on health should be made available to the youth too.

                      4. Education and training

The 8-4-4 system of education was geared to imparting appropriate skills to enhance self-employment. However, due to the high costs, poverty and lack of facilities, there have been high school dropout rates. Most of the youth either drop out of school or graduate without necessary skills for self-employment. Many girls drop out of school due to pregnancy.

The country’s training institutions are also either inadequate or lack the essential facilities and technology to prepare students for the challenging market demands. Recently, sub-standard training institutions have come up to take advantage of shortage of training opportunities to exploit desperate youth. In most cases, there is no linkage between the training institutions and either the formal or informal (jua kali) sector. The youth trained in these institutions cannot, therefore, be immediately absorbed into the job market. Besides this, society’s attitude towards the Jua kali sector discourages many youth from venturing into it, as they do not want to be regarded as failures in life.

                        5. Leisure, recreation, and community service

Leisure, recreation and community service are important for the psychological and physical development of the youth. It contributes to their personal development by promoting good health, personal discipline, leadership and team building skills. It also provides opportunity for appreciation, participation and creative experience in leisure, music, art, dance, drama crafts, sports, novelty events service and cultural activities. This helps engaging the youth to make good use of their leisure time, express their beliefs and values as well as promote and preserve local art and culture for the benefit of the future youth.

However, current investment in leisure and recreation has not reflected its importance. The sector suffers from inadequate funds and facilities while the talented youth lack motivation and are often exploited by organizations. Due to these constraints, it has not been possible to tap fully the talents of many youth.

                          6. Information and Communication Technology

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) may arguably be the most powerful tool for social and economic change. Rapid and continuing growth and development in ICT is transforming the ways in which youth live and work. Using internet for example, youth can get access to both domestic and international education and job opportunities on line. They can also share interests with peers and with the YEDF, can even advertise their products and get market information on any business of their choice.

Due to lack of access to information and communication technology (ICT) especially in rural areas, youth cannot exploit their career, business and education opportunities. There is need for YIDP to take advantage of benefits associated with ICT to foster youth development. 

                            7. Youth with Special Needs

The categories of youths with special needs have been identified as the: Unemployed youth; Out of school youth; Female youth; Youth infected and affected by HIV/Aids; Street youth; physically, and mentally challenged youth; and Youth in difficult circumstances. The initiative will adopt an affirmative action of 15 percent in its programmes in favour of youth with special needs.