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International Youth Day 2015: Kenya Outreach

Published 08/12/2015 by Global Communities

International Youth Day 2015: Global Communities Kenya Outreach

An poster advertising one of the many activities Kenya Tuna Uwezo will be conducting for International Youth Day 2015.
Global Communities’ Kenya team is conducting several activities in observance of International Youth Day (IYD) 2015, taking place today around the world. The theme this year is “Youth Civic Engagement.” Though the engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development, too often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are minimal or non-existent. More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing. IYD, which has been celebrated every year on August 12 since 1999, is an opportunity to celebrate the creative force and the innovative impetus that young people bring to every society. The goal of the day is to promote civic engagement and participation of youth in politics and public life so that young people can be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.  
Global Communities through the Kenya Tuna Uwezo program will be supporting youth from all nine target areas to celebrate the day concurrently in two different geographic target points – Dandora and Kibera – to enhance the understanding and recognition that young people form a unique social group with specific characteristics and expectations. The Kibera event will be attended by community representatives from Kangemi and Mukuru while the Dandora event will be attended by community representatives from Korogocho, Mathare, Eastleigh, Majengo and Kiambiu. Activities are expected to directly reach 900 youth throughout Nairobi and surrounding areas. Additionally, KTU youth this morning appeared on a television show in Nairobi for a discussion about security and the work of KTU. Many of the day’s activities focus on transforming young people’s art skills into an anti-radicalization tool and income-generating skills.
The USAID-funded KTU program, implemented by Global Communities, aims to reduce politically motivated conflict in the informal settlements of Nairobi  by strengthening community and social networks, and promoting collaboration on community issues and grievances. KTU works to expand knowledge on the new Constitution to empower communities that have been largely denied  information and the provision of services. Today its message is “Devolution ndio solution, Ma-Youth Tujihusishe,” a Swahili statement meaning “Devolution is the solution for youths’ problems – let youth engage.” This is a rallying call urging youths to participate in governance matters to address the challenges facing them in their day today life. Activities led by KTU include:

Speeches from sub-county and national government representatives amplifying the fact that youth have the potential needed to enrich society, further human rights and enable improved environment and welfare for all

Discussions highlighting the need for youth to get involved and make their presence felt politically, economically and socially

Q & A sessions to gauge and inform the community understanding of devolution

Creative art and theatre performances around issues of devolution, public participation and budget process

Radio talk show featuring representatives of civic education that describes activities of IYD and opportunities for youth engagement on governance matters
To help address this lack of knowledge and limited citizen engagement, Global Communities through its Kenya Tuna Uwezo (KTU) program partnered with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to work directly with communities in informal settlements to educate them and encourage them to  become engaged citizens. Residents of these settlements are often not provided with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and advocate on their own behalf. To help address this lack of knowledge and limited citizen engagement, Global Communities through KTU has partnered with the International Republican Institute (IRI) to work directly with communities in informal settlements to educate them and encourage them to  become engaged citizens.
IRI is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide by helping political parties become more issue-based and responsive, and assisting citizens in participating in government planning.   In Kenya, IRI  coordinates  civic education that promotes civic advocacy and citizen participation among other initiatives, working with government, citizens and civil society. While IRI has had  success improving civic participation,  it had not been able to reach youth in informal communities.
The partnership between KTU and IRI complements each other’s assets, particularly  IRI’s success in educating people on civic issues, and KTU’s access in informal settlements, and its community-based approach. They recently convened a series of forums to train youth on the Constitution, focusing on devolution, citizen participation and budget processes, and KTU trained youth on  facilitation skills.  Afterwards the trainees developed an action plan for each community. To help provide support and ensure ample  opportunities to lead the forums, facilitators were a mix of people from across the communities. For instance, a trainee from a Kangemi informal settlement supported a forum in Mathare, bringing their knowledge to the event, and also helping them be exposed to the  issues  most important in that community. The Global Communities and IRI staff participated to ensure that the information shared was correct and to respond to questions that the trainees did not know.
As of this past June,  KTU and IRI have reached 2758 community members using the train the trainers approach.  Also, Cohesion Champions and other community members are now beginning to engage in county affairs. For example, the team in Eastleigh, on their own initiative, reached  out to the Constituency IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) to introduce themselves and seek collaboration on delivering civic education.  Cohesion Champions also participated in a public forum on the county budget.   There they were able to contribute from an informed position which helped hold county officials accountable. In addition,  other youths participated in the trainings and learned  how to build their capacity to help educate individuals on their rights. 
Read more about KTU here.