Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Kenya is a registered international organization, with presence in 21 counties. Their core mandate is implementing various projects in women and youth empowerment, enterprise development, inclusive education and social accountability.
In May this year VSO conducted a research on youth participation in leadership and governance. The research was funded by the Ford Foundation. The youth-led research had the objectives of: Finding out the barriers and enablers to youth leadership, meaningful youth participation and engagement in governance. The research was conducted in Siaya, Taita Taveta, Nandi and Wajir counties. The research findings were released on 20th June at Ngong Hills Hotel. The research was guided by Africa Research and Data Limited, a Nairobi-based consultancy firm.
The research was conducted in recognition of the fact that youth in Kenya comprised almost half of the registered voters ahead of the 2017 General Elections. The registered youth voters were 9.9 million which represented 48% of the total registered voters. This high number of registered youth voters was attributed to the major campaigns on the need and importance of registering as a voter. For a long time, the youth in Kenya, have suffered from exclusion from political processes and marginalization. The youth have also had low perception on leadership.
The research was conducted using a sample size of 580 respondents spread across the four counties. The respondents were of ages (19-24), (25-29) and (15-18). Majority of these youths had attained at least secondary education. Also a big number of the non-students were unemployed.
In the findings 37% of the youth interviewed perceive honesty/trustworthy/truthfulness as the best qualities of good leaders. The youth also perceive the positive qualities that the President and the Deputy President should exhibit are honesty. 62% of the youths think that the President and the Deputy President should not be corrupt. 28% think that the two leaders shouldn’t be tribal.
26% of the youths also thought that the County Governors and the deputies should be trustworthy/honest/trustful. 68% felt that the best way to promote good governance is by fighting corruption. On a positive note majority of the youths in the counties indicated their intentions to vote and participate in the forthcoming 2022 General Elections.
Individual qualities, was the popular criteria that the youth will use to determine who to vote for. 20% indicated they had no interest in vying for elective seats due to financial constraints. 70% lacked confidence and trust in the electoral body IEBC. The allegations that it could be manipulated and lacked effectiveness, was the reason given by the majority. 70% also lacked awareness on what the constitution says about integrity of the leaders.
Significantly the research unraveled some of the barriers that are holding back the youth from active engagement in leadership and governance. 19% cited lack of resources, 19% blamed corruption and 16% cited unemployment.
In the discussion of the report, there was a question of a crucial age group (30-35) that was omitted from the study, and which are often active in matters leadership and governance. The research also gave some recommendation which were:
Addressing youth unemployment
Expanding youth platforms
Nurture youth in leadership
Eradicate corruption, nepotism and favoritism in governance systems of Kenya
Include the youth from the start
Build youth confidence in political processes
Identify and secure resources to support youth engagements
This article is republished by The Youth Café courtesy of Voluntary Service Overseas. Additional input added by Kelvin kiprotich.