Challenges Facing Kenyan Youth

Written By Jane Njeri Thuo

The youth have been facing have been facing a lot of challenges in the past years hence barring them from achieving their full potential in the society. This are but a few of their problems.

i. Employment creation

There are about 500,000 youth who graduate from various tertiary institutions yearly 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. 

ii. 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 quit essential 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. 

iii. 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, 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.

iv. 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 early pregnancies.

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.

v. Crime and Drugs

The early mid 1980’s saw a rapid growth in crime, drug and substance abuse among the youth in Kenya. Alcohol, cigarettes, khat (miraa), and cannabis sativa have remained the most popular abused substances in the country. 
There is a fast emerging trend of injecting drug use especially narcotic. Moreover, abuse of drugs is highly associated with the risks of contracting HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases especially among the youth.

Violent criminal attacks, including rape, mugging, armed carjacking and home invasions are increasingly being associated with the youth these days. Over 50% of all the convicted criminals are young people aged between 16 and 25 years. 

vi. 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, 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.

vii. Youth and Environment

Degradation of the environment, through pollution, poor waste management and deforestation, is a major challenge for Kenya. With the ensuing destruction of water catchments, depletion of fish and other marine stock, pollution of rivers and destruction of plants and animals, the youth cannot be assured of quality life in the future.

The need to conserve the environment has become increasingly important and many youth organizations are engaged in activities to protect the environment such as tree planting, clean-up campaigns, bio-diversity conservation, wildlife preservation campaigns and agro-forestry.

viii. 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.

Due to lack of access to information and communication technology (ICT) especially in rural areas, youth cannot exploit their career, business and education opportunities.

ix. 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.

x. Access to Financial Resources

Traditional financial institutions have avoided lending to youth due to their relative inability to comply with the high transaction costs, difficulty in assessing and managing their risk profile, and lack of the required financial documentation as well as collateral.

This are just but a few of the challenges the youth face in their day to day lives as they try survive and reach their dreams. Hopefully a solution can be found to the problem of the youth. This may include the launch of more youth groups and support from the government and non-governmental organizations.

One such organizations trying to find solutions to problems of the youth is the moraa foundation.The try to do the following to improve the lives of the youth:

1. Develop policies that will address unemployment problems and create an environment where the youth can exploit their potential through value adding initiatives.
2. Be a catalyst for youth empowerment and participation.
3. Collaborate with other stakeholders to research and come up with policies that would assist youth in this country overcome the challenge of  crime, drug and substance abuse among the youth in Kenya.
4. To take advantage of benefits associated with ICT to foster youth development.
5. Help the youth to be able to work towards the realization of their life goals that were hindered before by the tough regulations that in the past barred them from accessing credit facilities from financial institutions.

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