TACKLING COASTAL YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

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Youths in attendance at The People of Victory engagement on coastal youth unemployment. Photo|| Quincy Kombe||

Bottomline: There are groups of youth roaming around Old Town robbing people of their valuables. We know them as they live in our houses but we aren’t informing the authorities thinking that we are keeping them safe but it won’t end well for them

A lot of challenges face the younger generation within the Kenyan Coast with the onset of devolution which is now here to stay nothing much has changed.

The problem in Old Town started with petty cases of thugs carrying knives. The resulting pandemonium saw police plunged into the locale worsening the situation to the extent that broke stooges in the name of plain cloth officers can come and make away with bribes from innocent youths unwilling to spend a night behind bars.

Challenges facing the young people around Mombasa have seen some resort to crime, prostitution, robbery amongst other criminal activities to cater for their needs in a society with immense pressure and competition.

In a Facebook post dated October 23, 2019, at 2, 00 AM, one Habs Brandy, conceptualizes how Mombasa youth toiling in the Arab states have turned to mug the citizenry therein; attributing to the unscrupulous antics and wayward crimes to low remuneration of foreign workers, notwithstanding work overload.

“Naskia vijana wa Mombasa working in Bahrain wameanza wizi wa simu na kudunga watu visu wakilalamika kwa sababu ya biashara duni, kazi Kibao… Mmoja wao anaitwa “Prezzo”. Ametiwa mbaroni…Wakenya wanachoma kila mahali” read Habs Brandy’s post in a prominent Facebook group – Kenyans in Dubai: KID.

Crime has been on the rise in the region with occasioned with the rising number of street children competing the capital Nairobi.Its ashaming that we can reach levels where those contracted to work abroad can depict just how serious youth’s welfare is around the Coast. So who is responsible? How did these boys and young girls get pushed to such heights? So that they are not motivated,not inspired, and feel that the future doesn’t really need them?

Most often, our mothers pick the overburdening responsibility of their children, should they go astray, with society pointing an accusing finger on the mother every now and then. But what are some of the challenges that make our children opt for crime, substance abuse and other social ills?

The Coastal youth blame their County government for lack of jobs within the region, with the bulk of young adults between the ages of 18-37 unemployed. Few of them changing jobs in the informal sector in a bid to enable them to fend for their daily needs and pay their bills.

Establishment of a dry port inland,in Naivasha will render most natives jobless with the silent decree that the standard gauge railway be the only mean of transportation for containers inland, trailer drivers have also been financially incapacitated alongside their clearing and forwarding agents turning the city to a ghost town.

For instance, in Old Town, Mombasa, most the youths depend on fishing which is quite challenging due to inadequacy of fishing equipment, low fish seasons and lack of a ready market for fish consumption.

In an interview with Nyali MP Mohammed Ali, he blamed poor parenting and defensiveness as a factor contributing to youths’ wayward behaviors with most of them engaging in crime within Mombasa, drug abuse, prostitution amongst other crimes. He echoed that being overly defensive sees a lot of these boys in some areas, even girls continue engaging in crime without ounces of scruple.

“Let us not always be as defensive as parents. Let us try to accept the truth and the realities of our Coastal society, however nasty. Being defensive in most cases will not help parents to assist their kids towards moral transformation so that they conform to society’s mores,” said Mohammed Ali in an interview on national television.

The county’s youths representative sights goodwill among the youths, willingness to work as a precursor to assisting future leaders with the challenges facing them especially within marginalized areas of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu counties.

Voicing her hopeful sentiments in the meeting saying that it was upon them to choose what profession they wanted to pursue. Once they have known viable spaces professionally assisting them can be much easier.

“We cannot lie to you that we are in a position to assist unless you take initiative. Personally, I think it is impossible for me as a youth representative within Mombasa county to provide employment spaces to all of you. I could as well use my position to lobby for help in finding you as a group, or even as an individual, but it all comes down to you. We need you to give viable ideas that you think we should support and nurture,” said Nancy Nyaboke – the County Youth Representative and an activist championing for peace with HAKI Africa Group.

Another impediment marring youths within the Coastal region is Crime. A significant number of youths have been harassed by police officers with regards to links to terrorism, petty street theft, robbery with violence piling a lot of pressure on them with some being innocent of the alleged atrocities.

Photographs of those who used to take part in violent gang bouts, doing rounds in social media is something they are willing to assist the authorities by providing information about their whereabouts.

“First of all, if you ever orchestrated any form of crime that saw your photograph being shared across all social media platforms, we kindly ask you to openly speak out here. Because the police cannot be issuing arrest warrants and posters bearing images of you if you never committed a crime before,you will first have to accept yourself. Accept that what you have been doing all the while was bad or is bad.” said Tina Christine from HAKI Africa Group.

From the public forum, it was evident that they don’t have adequate fishing equipment thus they sought the intervention of the county government to assist in ensuring the trade does not die within Mombasa’s Old Town.

Government bureaucracy has seen most youths from the area miss out on revolving funds which are normally issued by the county and national governments’. The funds do not get to youth groups to finance their economic activities thus they feel marginalized.

“We were asked to follow up with our MCA on matters revolving funds yet we know MCAs do not in any way have a say in this particular issue.” Lamented one of the youth.

To this end, the forum saw it wise to resonate some viable solutions to the predicaments that affect the youth. Fishermen precisely agreed to form Sacco groups so that they can support one another financially. HAKI Africa alongside The People of Victory pledged to aid with funding viable projects.

“We are absolutely okay with forming groups so as to receive support in the form of funds from your organizations. I think it will really help us benefit from collective saving thus this groups could be used to ease access to funds,” said Sadam

They urged  for critical examination of the county’s role in ensuring the foreseeable future’s generation is not bleak. The civil society ought to come up with ideas, continually empower our youth so that boys  could grow up into responsible fathers whereas our girls could also actualize their dreams.

“We do not have other professionals besides fishermen a clear indication that most of us don’t have requisite academic requirements to venture into other professions due to the low education standards in the region. Fishing is a seasonal economic activity occasioned with off seasons where the catch is very low,” affirms Sadam.

The moderators of the forum vowed to assist youth within coast in writing proposals to the county government for financial assistance, intellectual or even with ideas alone on how to elevate their livelihoods. The region’s youth representative urged youths to be aggressive when it comes to issues touching on their sources of income while at the same time ratifying that creativity and innovation is chief, as the job market is already flooded.

“In case you find challenges drafting a proposal, we shall be glad to assist in any way possible. Equally, there are non-governmental organizations alongside community pressure groups that could also do the same. Thereafter we shall register your group so that it is recognized at the county level, outlining clearly its projects. With our spaces in the county government of Mombasa, we can always source funds to expand your projects,” said Nancy Nyaboke who is also a resident of Makande.

During the launch of the National Youth Service project in Mombasa county, governor Hassan Ali Joho urged youth to stop being picky when it comes to employment and take up the existing opportunities to better their lives, vehemently condemning crime, substance abuse as he spoke on possible remedies to drug addiction.

“There are groups of youth roaming around Old Town robbing people of their valuables. We know them as they live in our houses but we aren’t informing the authorities thinking that we are keeping them safe but it won’t end well for them,” said Joho.

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