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Reflections from International Youth Week 2018

Civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues. Public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community-President Kenyatta addressing the Kenyan Youth during the 2018 International Youth Day in Kisii County

Youths across Kenya had a variety  activities taking place to mark the International  Youth Day with the UN adopted theme ‘Safe Spaces For Youth’. Some youths did a celebration of the journey they have had so far with their initiatives while another good number retaliating that they is nothing to celebrate. Counties marked their celebrations online with customized hasthtags (#spaceikosafeMakueni).On the other hand other youths expressed their dissatisfaction through #SpaceHaikoSafe.The  2018 national celebrations were held in Kisii  County and the response to the youth was #SpaceIkoSafeHusika.

Over 2000 thousand youth from different counties converged at Kisii School awaiting the Presidents address. Among the concerns expected to be addressed to be addressed was the space and inclusion of the youth in The Big Four Agenda. Food security is a major concern for the Kenyan youth and one of us urged the government with the leadership of the President to support and nature innovations in the agricultural sector which remains untapped yet it is the backbone of Kenya’s livelihood for her citizens and the economy. These National development focus are in line with global strategies such as Sustainable Development Goals and International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Our land tenure system is one of the major setbacks since most young people cannot aces and own land which is a primary need for agriculture. Our institutions are also underfunded hence many young people stop at documenting research papers without implementing because the process of undertaking research is in itself expensive.

Kenya has a huge responsibility to secure the food basket but while at it thinking about sustainability when it comes to environment and climate change, being alive to the fact that there is a young population to feed and already changing climate that as a country we have to mitigate its effects, adapt and be resilient to. The youth have a duty to step up to this task but need support in terms of incentives for innovations, a restructured land tenure systems and access to the market.

It is encouraging to see the efforts that the youth have made so far using available and accessible spaces like digital media few youth centers and within learning institutions .Young people are calling for more meaningful participation and constructive inclusion, as outlined in the Kenya Constitution and Goals 10 of SDGs, in decision making and implementations both at the national and county levels especially now that  the President has the big four plans to execute.

Irine Asuwa/OAY