Nairobi, 3 April 2018—UN-Habitat last week hosted a high level ministerial team from the Marsabit County Government, Kenya to discuss how to improve the livelihoods of youth in that region.

The meeting identified key areas that UN-Habitat and the County Government could partner to tackle challenges affecting young people in the area. The meeting was part of a larger strategy to create sustainable cities and towns which meet the needs of youth today and into the future.

“Young people in Marsabit County are experiencing many challenges,” said Grace Galano, Chief Officer, Youth, Sports and Skills Development at Marsabit County.

“Issues such as crime; lack of start-up-capital for entrepreneurs, early and forced marriages of girls resulting to school drop outs, drug abuse and increasing extremism resulting from radicalization of young people to join militia groups are some of those key issues we must tackle.”

Participants noted that youth In Marsabit require an opportunity to use their abilities and capacities to participate in the implementation of Sustainable Development within the county government. The County Government representatives cited the fact that the government had invested in education centres for youth skills development by adapting government curriculums in polytechnics but the unemployment rate still remains high.

“Our government appreciates youth as agents of change. We need a solution that will go beyond nurturing the potential of Marsabit youth to making their acquired  skills productive for both personal and county level development,” said Mrs. Kulamo Bullo Ikimire, ECE, Lands, Energy and Urban Development, Marsabit is known as the melting cultural point with 14 different communities residing within the county. This calls for quick attention to address and find a balance in the diversities among the young people in the area.”

One of the recommended approaches to the challenges affecting young people in Marsabit is UN-habitat’s One Stop Youth Centre (OSYC) model and an economic survey of the county.

“The OSYC serves as a community hub offering services such as vocational training, information and communications technology access, computer and internet training, HIV/AIDS education and entrepreneurship training for young people.,” remarked Linus Sijenyi, Youth Expert at UN-Habitat who also went on to further explain that “UN-Habitat uses sports and other youth related activities such as tools to mobilize young people with a key goal to capitalize on such opportunities to engage youth at a personal level in an effort to identify what they consider their priority needs.”

David Kariuki, Economics Expert at UN-Habitat underscored the important connection between three key factors: economic capital; human capital and existing policies that govern Marsabit County. 

“We need long term solutions that are precise to address the issues affecting young people,” said David Kariuki. “If we find a way to carry out an integrated research of the three mentioned factors, then we will be sure that we are on the right track toward boosting the economic state of young people by first engaging them in the research process”.

The County Government of Marsabit is also working on a low cost housing project which will entail self service residential areas. UN-Habitat has been invited to add input toward the project as well as streamline the approach to ensure that youth are involved throughout the process in improving the livelihoods of young people.