Promulgating the Youth County Model Assembly to Spur better Governance at Grassroots

By Shadrack Mbaka (MuST)

It is widely believed that the proportion of Kenyans living under the poverty line is on the rise, with the urban population accounting for the highest proportion. A report by the UN Habitat reveals that in Kenya 71% of the urban population resides in slums. Conclusion drawn from this report is that the majority of Kenyan Citizens are mainly the youthful populace; this is because according to the National Census, they indeed form a large part of the Kenyan population.

A recently authored document by the Kenyan puts the population of young people (aged below 30 years), at 70% of the Kenyan population.

The Kenyan slums, hosts 65 per cent of the Kenyan urban population, are characterized by poor conditions of an environmental, social, economic and cultural nature. These slums lack proper access roads, drainage systems, sanitation facilities and safe and clean water. They are also chocked by solid waste and garbage. This is as a result of lack of social, political and and economic opportunities.

As a coping mechanism against the traps of the urban poor, most youths living in the urban poor people’s settlements have devised youth groups, based on the concept of savings, mobilization and outreach and community inclusivity, as a means to survival instead of engaging in  crime and prostitution.

These youth groups, are often registered as Community Based Organizations and self-help groups, in this case the youth are able to lead a decent and dignified life. They utilize their talents and knowledge in these groups by starting projects that can provide them with an income. But how can this be effectively achieved?

In people settlements, there exist hundreds of youth groups developing different programs and activities. So often there will be replication of efforts, projects and activities. To align this into one voice, Youth groups in Nakuru and Machakos Counties under the flagship project of Jua Jimbo project, the youth have resolved to form recognized Youth Model Assemblies that are designed to articulate common community agenda through a systemized mechanism. Structures have put in place from village, ward, Constituency and County levels to involve communities in the day to day operation of governance, leadership, utilization of devolved funds and most particularly address the concerns and priorities of the communities to their respective County leadership.

Validation of The Youth Assembly Model in Nakuru
Validation of The Youth Assembly Model in Nakuru
Youth Assembly Model Structure validation exercise in Machakos
Youth Assembly Model Structure validation exercise in Machakos

Most of the Youth led projects are designed to provide income as well as solve challenges they face as slum dwellers. Therefore, projects to deal with governance, leadership, transparency in the utilization of devolved funds and driving the communal agenda are preferred.

Such efforts by groups are hampered by lack of support by both the Government and Civil Society Organizations. Very few organizations give support to youth groups, yet these groups have employed a good number of young people in addition to rehabilitating them from crime and drug abuse.

Jua Jimbo project sets to fill the gap, by choosing to support initiatives of youth who belong to groups by strengthening their capacities through trainings, initiating income-generating projects, and linking them to their respective county governments and organizations for more support.

Jua Jimbo is part of Forum Syd Social Accountability Programme in Kenya. The projects builds on Tushirikishe Jamii Project which aimed at increasing community participation and engagement in devolved funds and good governance. Jua Jimbo project is working with targeted communities and county leaders to have collective voices exude democratic practices and agitate for improved governance at the county level. In the long term, Jua Jimbo anticipates counties that practice the principles of good governance with people at the centre of decision making. It is by this, that Jua Jimbo works to promote access to information on the county development processes and initiatives as well as strengthening mechanisms to make communities participate in all processes and own informed decisions and initiatives thereby realizing their rights.

The projects’ goal is to model communities that are voice-poor and marginalized have improved democratic influence and good governance at county government level.

The expected result of this project is to ensure;

  • Increased participation of young men and women in county government processes and Strengthened local Community Based Organizations as vehicles for local democracy
  • Increase the capacity of young women leaders, county leaders and institutions in democratic leadership and good county governance
  • Improved dialogue and linkages between the demand and supply sides

The Youth Model Assemblies mission is to encourage and strengthen collective social, cultural and environmental initiatives developed by youth groups in the informal settlements, through mainstreaming core values such as equity, responsibility and social justice. To achieve this set mission, the Youth Model Assemblies selects and builds capacities of youth groups based in urban, peri-urban and informal settlements to a level where they can comfortably run their own developmental projects.  This will be realized through the following strategic objectives:

Undertaking capacity building for individual youth and youth groups, engaging in policy advocacy to ensure full participation of youth in county, national and international issues, gathering and providing information on youth developmental issues and networking with likeminded organizations.


The Launch of the Youth Assembly Model-Nakuru
The Launch of the Youth Assembly Model-Nakuru

The launch of the Youth Model Assembly in Nakuru and Machakos on 17th and 22nd June 2013 saw youth selected from 60 and 20 villages respectively, validate their respective Youth Model assembly structures and the consolidation of the constitutionally recognized office bearers, election modules of members and strategies to ensure effective representation of the youths from the grassroots to the county levels. Agendas inscribed in these model assemblies shall seamlessly work within the protocols of the county government policies.

Since the inception of the Jua Jimbo project in 2012, JJ continues to grow and expand its programmes, targeting communities at the grassroots as a normative way of effecting change in a bottom up approach. This year has been particularly unique as the project has successfully launched the Youth Model Assemblies in Nakuru, Machakos, Kisumu and Kakamega counties.

The Youth Model Assemblies have forged new partnerships with several organizations in line with the networking objective. The program has continued to focus on empowering youth groups through trainings and forging of partnerships that further helped the groups to grow.

Another significant area of achievement, as far as the Youth agenda is concerned was the chance to offer individual youth who consequently gotten jobs or training opportunities offered by other organizations. None of the milestones and accomplishments would have been possible without the hard work and complete dedication of the Jua Jimbo project and the unwavering commitment of the sponsors and partners.

Engaging in policy advocacy in order to ensure full participation of the youth in national political, social and economic spheres including safeguarding youth rights and representation in appropriate national institutions that affect the youth directly or indirectly will be a key mandate of the Youth Model Assemblies.

As a way of mainstreaming the youth in county and national development is by advocating for laws and policies that are youth friendly. The model assemblies are working closely with other organizations to push the agenda for the youth.

The Youth Model assemblies in Nakuru will hold its first Youth assembly sitting on 8th July 2013 while Machakos County will hold its assembly sittings on 27th July 2013.

This youth programme is supported by Forum syd and implemented by Muungano wa Wanavijiji in Nakuru County in the following constituencies; Nakuru West/East constituencies, Molo, Subukia, Kuresoi North/South Constituencies, Naivasha and Rongai whilst in Machakos County the Youth Assembly Model has been implemented in Machakos Town and Mavoko Constituencies.