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KenyaNiMimi dialogue kickstarts development of youth-led solutions in Kenya’s upper eastern region

The #KenyaNiMimi initiative is a dialogue platform by the youth for the youth that is aimed at stimulating youth participation in social, economic, and leadership processes. Following its successful launch by HE the President on 7th December 2020, the initiative has continued to grow in leaps and bounds under the leadership of the Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs in collaboration with UNFPA.

Over 160 young delegates and leaders convened for the #KenyaNiMimi Upper Eastern Edition regional youth dialogue held on March 26 in Isiolo County. The delegates were drawn from  Marsabit, Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Isiolo counties. The one of a kind event provided a perfect opportunity for the youth in the region to engage with the duty bearers on issues affecting them and explore youth-led solutions towards the same. It also provided a platform for young people to showcase their innovations and share knowledge with their peers. Four Chief Administrative Secretaries were in attendance at the event.  #KenyaNiMimi patron CAS Nadia Abdalla from the Ministry of ICT Innovation and Youth Affairs was joined by CAS Mumina Bonaya-Ministry of Education, CAS Hon. Linah Jebii Kilimo-Ministry of Public Service and Gender (State Department of Gender) and CAS Hon. Rachel Shebesh- Ministry of Public Service and Gender (State Department for Public Service). The Principal Secretary in the State Department for Youth Affairs Mr. Charles Sunkuli and the Deputy County Commissioner for Isiolo County were also in attendance, alongside other policy makers and implementers.

Discussions focused on issues around the KenyaNiMimi initiative pillars which include opportunities for the youth, innovation and education, health and well-being, environmental conservation, and the values of peace, love, and unity. Participants also tackled barriers to meaningful youth engagement in development processes, taking the opportunity to engage the  Chief Administrative Secretaries on issues of social and economic empowerment. The event also featured exhibition booths where youth could access information on government affirmative action funds such as the Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Women Enterprise Fund, and Uwezo Fund on hand to provide information to the youth. Visitors to the booths were also able to acquaint themselves with economic empowerment opportunities from the Kenya Film Commission, Kenya Film Classification Board and private sector actors such as the KCB foundation and various Technical and Vocational Education and Training Centres (TVETs).

The forum also provided an opportunity for the youth to dialogue with the elders in their communities with the aim of finding solutions to challenges deeply embedded in culture such as FGM, child marriages and teenage pregnancies, which are pre-dominant in the Upper Eastern Region.

Corruption, lack of opportunities, lack of finances, lack of information and politics were cited as the key barriers to their meaningful engagement of the youth in development processes. Moreover, the youth felt that they were more engaged in community based programmes, compared to county and national level policy making processes. Mental health issues such as depression and political exploitation of the youth were also raised as some of the concerns affecting the youth in the region. The leaders present implored on the youth to challenge themselves for leadership positions; maximize on economic empowerment opportunities created by the government and the private sector to develop themselves; tap on education and training opportunities created by platforms such as TVETs whose uptake remain relatively low and avoid being misled by the political class. The KenyaNiMimi Upper Eastern Edition was capped with a visit to Waso Secondary School in Isiolo County on the 28th February 2020, where adolescent girls and boys were inspired by the leadership present and equipped with dignity kits to ensure their comfort while in school.