Cover Image
close this bookContributions of Youth to the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda (HABITAT, 1999, 137 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentFOREWORD
View the documentSUMMARY
View the document1.1.2 HABITAT AGENDA AND YOUTH
close this folder1.2.2 GENERAL EVALUATION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documenta) Common issues
View the documentb) Priorities for action
View the documentc) Recommendations to Youth for Habitat International Network (YFHIN)
View the document1.3.1 STRATEGIES FOR FUTURE
close this folderPART II: NATIONAL REPORTS
View the documentII.1 BRAZIL
View the documentII.2 COLOMBIA
View the documentII.3 INDIA
View the documentII.4 KENYA
View the documentII.5 PAKISTAN
View the documentII.6 SENEGAL
View the documentII.7 TURKEY


October 1999,Prepared by Christine Makori, Convenor, Kenya National Youth
Facilitating Group (KNYFG)
C/o Shelter Forum
P.O. Box 39394, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: 254-2-444887, Fax: 254-2-445166
E-mail: [email protected]


The most productive stage of a person’s life is between the ages of 14-35. It is during this stage that one has the optimum potential to inject his/her views towards strengthening the society. Our society has however not for a long time accorded youth the opportunity and support to articulate their issues and to implement them.

It has therefore been a good change at the turn of the new millennium that more and more young people across the world are emerging as equal partners in various areas. This is no different as far as issues of human settlements are concerned. Following the Habitat II Conference and formal recognition of youth as stakeholders, youth presently play a major role in decision making in the field of human settlements as well as environmental conservation at the international level.

People, housing and health form a triangle that is not accurately placed in the urbanization puzzle. The way people deal with housing has a direct influence on their health. The youth in Kenya having recognized this, have in the recent past played a very significant role in the task of assisting in the realization of the two principles adopted by the international community at the Habitat II Conference, namely “Adequate Shelter for All” and “Sustainable Human Settlements” in a rapidly urbanizing world and their application to Kenya through the National Plan of Action on shelter and human settlements.

Human Settlements are where organised human activities take place. Often due to limited resources and for purposes of economic growth, some degree of concentration of activities and people in particular places is deemed to be economically and technically viable. Such concentrations of people and activities range from small villages, towns, and municipalities to large cities and metropolis. In Kenya, human settlements have adopted a distinct pattern into two, the rural and the urban. These are greatly influenced by socio-economic factors as well as political and administrative factors. Kenya is divided into eight provinces varying in geographical sizes as well as the population distribution. These are Nyanza, Eastern, North Eastern, Rift Valley, Western, Central, Coast and Nairobi Province. A provincial commissioner administratively heads them. Further, each province is sub-divided into many districts headed by a District Commissioner. In total we have an approximate 59 districts.

Currently, Kenya has an estimated population of 27.8 million, 60% of who are youth under the age of 25 years. Over 70% of the country’s population live in the rural areas and approximately 80% of these are concentrated in the high potential areas found in the central and western region. These are densely populated areas, predominantly practising small-scale subsistence farming and informal sector activities. High population in these areas has put great pressure on rural land leading to migration of people to urban areas.

Urbanization is associated with economic and social progress and equally meaningful with sustainable development. Therefore while considering the role of youth in the urban towns of Kenya, it is imperative to address the interdependence and the linkages between rural and urban sectors as well as the unique characteristics of youth in rural and urban areas. Similarly, considering the different problems of each sector such as poverty levels, land ownership, housing, infrastructure and employment levels, social and legal empowerment, population growth, it is justified to treat rural and urban societies from different perspectives.

Most of the towns in Kenya are small. Out of these, 89% have less than 10,000 inhabitants. They are however growing faster than the bigger towns, at the rate of 9.1% per annum. They are also characterised by a lack of social services and poor inhabitants. Although the bigger towns are growing slower, they historically have had the majority of the urban inhabitants. For example, Nairobi has the highest number of town dwellers accounting for 36% of the total urban population.

1.1 Demographic situation

a) Pre-Independence

The urbanization process in Kenya began over 600 years ago with the East African Coast trade between Arabs, Portuguese and the Africans. A few of the towns that came up as a result were Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu. The process of colonisation including the construction of Mombasa-Kisumu railway, the creation of administration centres and subsequently, the process of decolonization accelerated the rate of rural to urban migration and influenced the growth as a pattern of urbanization.

Development of a communication network was favourable to the colonialists. The administration centres were designed to serve the needs of alien communities at the expense of the indigenous rural population. This resulted in polarised and prismatic human settlements patterns, with Nairobi and Mombasa being the main centres. There were poor infrastructure and other related linkages between the urban and rural areas.

This led to the emergence of dualistic patterns of settlements, which were spatially incoherent, and with little or no integration. The towns were highly segregated across social and racial lines with restricted access to the available community facilities and infrastructure, often favouring the minority segments of the urban population. The residential policy also viewed the indigenous population as temporary town dwellers and thus did little in the provision of adequate and appropriate shelter and related basic utilities for them. At independence, the country not only faced rapid population growth but also encountered an influx of rural-urban migrants to the major urban centres, most of which were economically and environmentally ill equipped to accommodate the population and meet their related demands. The pattern of human settlements that had been developed earlier was thus entrenched further and in certain instances, squatting and mushrooming of slums became quite evident.

b) Post-Independence

After Kenya’s attainment of her independence, the rate of urbanization accelerated as a result of natural population growth, rural-urban migration, boundary extensions of towns and reclassification of local authorities.

In 1948, when Kenya carried out the first census, there were 17 towns with a population of 276,240 representing 5.1% of the total population. By the next census in 1962, the number of towns had risen to 34 with a population of 670,950 representing 7.8% of the total population. The rate of urbanization increased faster after independence in 1963 and by 1969 the number of towns had risen to 48 with a population of 1,079,908 representing 9.9% of total population. The upward trend continued and by 1979, the number of towns had risen to 91 with a population of 2,307,000 representing 15% of the total population. In 1989, the number of towns stood at 139 with a population of 3,900,000 representing 18.1% of total population. The latest National Population census was carried out in August 1999 but the results have not been released.

It is estimated that 20% of the country’s total population will be living in urban areas by the year 2000. What is however significant is that current population projections indicate that this growth of urbanization will continue in the future and that by 2010, the urban population will constitute 26.4% of the total population.

The urbanization process in Kenya is however not a unique phenomenon as global urbanization statistics indicate. The United Nations estimated that in mid-1990, 43% (2.3 billion) of the world’s population lived in urban areas and it is projected to cross the 50% mark in 2005. It is also projected that by 2025, more than three fifths of the world’s population will live in urban areas. The urban population in that year will be approximately 5.2 billion of whom 77% will live in developing countries. This means that the twenty-first century will continue to be a century of the urban transition particularly in developing countries like Kenya. The corresponding figures for Kenya are 6.95 million and 11.2 million for the year 2000 and 2010 respectively.

The challenge therefore is not how to stop or contain this growth, rather, how to marshal all available physical, financial, human and technical resources to manage the problems and utilise opportunities arising from urbanization.

1.2 Major human settlements conditions

In Kenya there are roughly three groups of human settlements and they are influenced by the economic and political status of the dwellers. In urban areas, there are the middle class owned shelters, the upper class and the informal settlements. This criteria does not however apply to the rural areas. A brief analysis of both is discussed below.

a) Urban Areas

Below is a case study of the Nairobi Province.

Informal Settlements

In the capital city of Nairobi, about 60% of the population live in informal settlements commonly called “slums”. This makes up about 5% of the total area in Nairobi. The inhabitants largely consist of the migrants from the rural areas, in search for employment in the city. Due to the high cost of houses in the city, they all look for low cost housing hence the influx into the slums.

Most of the informal settlements were established after independence. The practice then was to demolish the informal settlements in Nairobi and other urban areas. Subsequently, there was a tacit acceptance of informal settlements, which then grew rapidly. The authorities adopted a “laissez faire” approach, not demolishing and not instituting large-scale improvements either. However, in recent times there has been an attempt to provide shelter through donor-financed sites and services projects and other similar approaches.

They are characterised by extremely high densities, typically 250 units per hectare (compared to 25 per hectare in middle income areas and to 15 in high income areas) and residents are exposed to severe environmental health risks which critically affect the ability to play a full economic role in the life of the city. Further, the majority of households have very low incomes, a large proportion of the households are female headed, morbidity and mortality rates are caused by diseases stemming from poor environmental management owing to poor sanitation, lack of potable water, poor drainage, overcrowding and uncollected refuse. Although many of the inhabitants have jobs in the formal sector, majority earn their living in the informal sector through activities like hawking, service and production enterprises. Also majority of the people rent the houses on a room-by-room basis with many occupying single rooms. Structures are constructed using temporary materials and do not conform to official housing standards. Urban services are minimal if not non-existent, water is only provided through a few stand pipes, if any, educational and health services are also inadequate although NGOs and CBOs make a significant contribution to these aspects. Lastly, the physical layout makes it very difficult to provide infrastructure services such as drainage and sewage system.

As far as ownership of the land is concerned, variations exist. The majority of the settlements are on squatter basis. This exposes the inhabitants to frequent evictions. This land can either belong to the central government or vested on the leasehold of the city council and/or public corporations. In some other settlements, there is individual freehold tenure. Landowners have more incentive to invest and to work jointly with the others in providing better services.

In settlements on public land, officials have allocated plots in a number of ways to individuals. Allocation is also undertaken by the local administration by means of letter or verbally. Temporary licences may also be issued which allows construction of buildings. Examples include Kangemi, Kawangware, Korogocho, Mukuru, Dandora.

Middle Class

This is the second cluster of human settlement types. The second largest percentage of the population lives in these houses. The inhabitants earn approximately 30,000-75,000 Kenyan shillings (400-1000 US dollars at the time of writing) per month, while the houses cost approximately 20,000 to 50,000 shillings per month (260-680 dollars). The units are also let out on tenancy basis with some tenants opting to buy them with time. They are built closely together in order to derive maximum output.

As regards urban services, they are recipients of water, sanitation facilities, waste collection and educational facilities. Due to increasing economic hardship, the owners of the houses have in the recent past tended to build extensions to the houses, which they then lease out to others. This consequently puts more pressure to the services, as they are not included in the physical planning of the main housing units.

These are characterised by high density, 25 per hectare, majority as mentioned before are renters, the houses are constructed with proper building materials and also conform to approved building standards. Cases of mortality are very low and many of the residents are occupied in the formal sector. Examples include South B and C and Buru Buru.

Upper Class

The rest of the city dwellers fall into this category of human settlements. They are characterised by very expensive units that only the very well paid can afford. They range from single-story bungalows to multi-storey houses to apartments. More often than not, they also have luxury services like swimming pools, security services and in-built garages.

Occupancy can either be on rental basis or ownership basis depending on whether it is leasehold or freehold tenure basis. As expected, they also receive the best of services such as the infrastructure in form of transport, communications facilities like telephones, water, electricity and sanitation facilities. Examples are Runda, Old and New Muthaiga, Lavington and Karen.

b) Rural Areas

In rural areas, there is no distinct pattern of human settlements growth and development. This is because it depends on one’s home and income ability. These vary as most of the urban dwellers also have other houses in their villages of origin.

1.3 Socio-economic factors influencing human settlements

The following factors influence human settlements growth and development in Kenya:

Crime rate

In recent years, the crime rate has increased a great deal, largely because of high population growth and unemployment. Between 1981 and 1985 the rate of robbery increased by about 16%, while between 1986 and 1990 the increase was by about 13%. Since 1991 to date crimes related to the use of guns have been on the increase causing social unrest and insecurity in various human settlements. The security systems have had to update and enhance their approach in dealing with such cases. This therefore makes certain neighbourhoods inhabitable or even if people do settle therein, there is little investment in these areas.


The root causes are numerous and range from low economic growth rates to poor terms of trade, low employment among others. The GDP per capita since 1990 has been declining while economic growth has also declined. In 1990, GDP per capita was US$ 190.63 but dropped to 177.05 by 1994. Real growth in the GDP has declined progressively from 4.3% in 1990 to a meagre 0.2% in 1994. The high rate of population growth has outstripped the valuable resources, increasing the poverty bracket as most people live below the poverty line. In the human settlement scene, poverty has been the major limiting factor in development. In the rural areas, the majority of the population is unable to meet their basic requirements. It is estimated that 47% of the Kenyan urban population now live in low-income neighbourhoods and 30-40% of these are estimated to be absolutely poor. In Nairobi, slums accommodate over half of the urban population. There is therefore a need for social safety nets in the area of human settlements to cushion the vulnerable groups.


It is estimated that about 60% of the population are under 20 years of age. Unemployment is one of the most crucial socio-economic problems in our times. The government policy towards employment generation, however, is changing from one of direct intervention to that of providing a favourable environment for private investment and job creation. The private modern sector employment has been more productive but has been growing far too slowly to absorb the manpower available. In 1991, Kenya’s labour force was 10.2 million. This total was expected to grow at an average of about 4.1% between 1991-2000. To cope with increasing labour force, employment creation has to grow at an average of at least 14% a year from 1992-2000 and in order to reach full employment afterwards an annual growth rate of 17% is required.

Urbanization and population growth

Between 1980 and 1990 the urban population growth was at the rate of 5% increasing from 2.48 million in 1980 to 4.03 million in 1990. Urban population is projected to increase to 6.95 million and 11.22 million by the year 2000 and 2010 respectively. The annual urban population growth rate between 1990 and 2000 is expected to be 5.6% but will fall to 4.9% between 2000 and 2010. It is expected that by the year 2010, 26.4% of the total population will be living in urban areas.


Limited access to finance has been a major limiting factor in human settlements development. Sources of funding are few and the lending housing financial institutions have not really reached some target groups. Qualifying terms of mortgage are still too stringent despite the fact that housing and human settlements development is still in short supply. The inadequate resources and lack of access to suitable local funds like National Social Security Fund and other provident funds have caused socio-economic problems and have hindered the development of affordable human settlements.


Demand for housing outstrips supply by far. According to the Housing Indicator’s programme, there is a shortage of houses in most urban areas. This leads to high rents. Majority of the town dwellers does not own homes as the level of owner-occupancy has been declining. Provision of infrastructure facilities has not satisfied the demands of the growing population. There are indicators of chronic overcrowding in human settlements. Access to safe drinking water and transport services in low income and high population density areas are poor. In terms of sanitation, it is estimated that 94% of the population in informal settlements do not have access to adequate sanitation. Consequently, lack of proper sanitation facilities has led to environmental hazards through improper disposal of wastes causing water pollution and other health hazards.

1.4 Shelter and human settlements policies

Prior to Independence in 1963, the colonial administration created a Central Housing Board in 1953 which served as an agency for channelling government funds in the form of loans to local authorities to develop housing for the indigenous population in their areas of jurisdiction, in both cases, the main feature of housing was to provide bed-space for labourers.

The system of local authorities was responsible for a broad range of urban services including, inter alia, primary education, health services, road construction and maintenance, water supply, sewerage, public housing, solid waste management, drainage, markets and social services. In urban areas, local authorities were classified as municipalities, towns and urban councils and in rural areas as county councils.

After 1963, Kenya’s rural-urban migration increased tremendously. This resulted in overcrowding as the demand for more urban services and particularly shelter, increased beyond the capacities of local authorities. In 1964, a United Kingdom mission came to investigate the short and long term housing need for Kenya and to make recommendations on relevant policies. The Government in May 1965 published the report of the Mission and after its appraisal the first comprehensive housing policy for Kenya was enunciated in 1966/67. This was also referred to as Session Paper No. 5 of 1966/67.

This led to the creation of a Ministry specifically in charge of housing. The Central Housing Board was converted to National Housing Corporation as the main agency for the development of low cost housing utilising government and donor funds. It also led to the creation of Housing Research Development Unit, the establishment of the Housing Finance Company of Kenya to promote home ownership through mortgage development in addition to the then existing East African Building Society which was privately funded.

The Sessional Paper No. 5 of 1966/67 on Housing Policy for Kenya has been the basis for the preparation and implementation of housing development plans, programmes and projects pursued in the country up to 1980 when the review process started. At that time the policy focused on:

1) Urban housing development.
2) Rural housing development.
3) Financing for housing.
4) Administrative organization for housing development.
5) Housing programmes and projects, and
6) Research and development.

The 1966/67 housing policy was modified and implemented in subsequent development plan through programmes and projects. Settlement upgrading projects, which provided secure tenant and a range of basic urban services, enabled and encouraged low-income households to improve their housing through self-help construction. Despite these efforts, only 25,000 housing units in urban areas were completed compared with the required 50,000 units during the planned period of 1974-1978. A combination of overcrowding, unplanned settlements and postponed retirement of non-upgradable housing met the shortfall.

In 1980, urban and rural housing surveys were carried out and the National Housing Strategy for Kenya, 1987-2000, was formulated. The strategy went into more details such as Land use planning and land administration; Infrastructure planning and construction industry; Estate management and maintenance; Documentation and dissemination; Monitoring progress and the Strategy of Enablement.

The objective of the Strategy was to produce a concrete National Plan of Action for the period 1987-2000. The public and the private sectors could thus commence working together and in collaboration with the international community towards producing a high volume of acceptable quality housing. This could meet the needs of new households and make inroads into upgrading the existing stock of substandard housing in urban and rural areas. In addition, the enablement strategy introduced a new direction through an innovative approach that gradually shifted the role of government from one of direct developer of housing for lower income households involving moderate subsidies to one of working with and facilitating the new developing of this housing by private entities. This was a drastic shift from the strategy in 1966/67 policy document.

One of the aims of the strategy was to involve the informal sector actors in harnessing their capacities to the national housing needs. This change required inter alia an adequate knowledge of local conditions and needs which could only be achieved through a process of consultation with all the actors in the housing sector.

Human Settlements Policies and Strategies

In response to the rapid urbanization and unbalanced regional development, the government embarked on various policies and strategies to enhance sustainable and equitable development in the country. These were adopted in the Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 on African Socialism and its application to planning in Kenya and in National Development Plans (1970-74 and 1974-78). In 1978, the Government introduced an urban and rural human settlements strategy, which addressed various national development issues.

“The development of Growth Centres” Strategy involved selecting strategically located centres in different regions of the country on the basis of their administrative, agricultural, tourist and industrial potential, proximity to population concentrations, levels of existing infrastructure and accessibility to services. These centres have progressively received additional investment making them attractive to the growing urban population and thus avoiding excessive concentration of people in the main towns of Nairobi and Mombasa. This policy also created a hierarchy of service centres to provide services and markets for the rural population and to serve as a basis for future urban development. The two strategies were to be supplemented by the strategy of hierarchy of roads and communication links between the various levels of centres with a view to increasing accessibility to existing centres.

The next policy on Rural-Urban Balance strategy was to promote the development of an urban system, which supports the growth of agriculture and development of rural areas, and generates employment. The main objectives of this strategy included:

· Avoiding excessive concentration of population in largest Kenyan cities;

· Promoting vigorous growth of secondary towns and smaller urban settlements through the development of agriculture;

· Fostering productive linkages between agriculture and other sectors of the economy, between rural areas and local services centre, market towns, gateway towns and secondary cities; and

· Encouraging renewed growth in all regions of the country.

The components of the rural-urban balance strategy were:

· Rural Trade and Production Centres (RTPCs),
· Municipal Management, and
· Informal sector development.

The policy on District Focus Strategy for Rural Development further strengthened the rural-urban balance and the promotion of gateway towns. Presently, all matters of human settlements development are handled by the Department of Housing in the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

Other Policies related to Human Settlements as raised in United Nations Conferences:

· At the international level, the enabling approach for Global Strategy for Shelter to the year 2000 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988 to facilitate adequate Shelter for all by the year 2000.

· During the Rio Summit, the following issues emerged:

Adequate Shelter for all;
Human Settlements Management; and
Human Settlements Planning and Management in disaster prone areas.

· The World Summit for Social Development discussed issues on poverty, unemployment, social exclusion and linkages between politics, economics and social factors.

· The Copenhagen summit addressed demographic problems.

· At the Beijing Conference for Women, similar related issues were also discussed.

· The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in 1996. This is the basis of the present National Plan of Action for Kenya. Its two main principles were Adequate Shelter For All and Sustainable Human Settlements in a rapidly urbanizing world.


This chapter discusses the policies in relation to the field of youth, if any and the institutional arrangement in Kenya that the youth have adopted.

The local definition of youth is the age bracket between 14 and 35 years. Therefore any discussion on youth affairs or the reference to the term youth is made to persons falling within this target group.

a) Policies Addressing the Issues of Youth at the Government Level

Kenya does not have a National Youth Policy. As a result matters relating to the youth have remained largely unfocused and incoherent. Therefore all issues concerning the youth and other marginalized groups are grouped together under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Culture and Social Services. In the said ministry, a youth department deals with matters of youth, their organizations and the registration of community-based organizations and other self-help groups. It is also concerned with voicing the youth grievances, if any, and promoting their role in community development.

This has slowed down the progress of youth as they have for a long time being regarded as “leaders of tomorrow” thus implying that they have little or no important role to play in nation building. Meanwhile, people who have represented and controlled the youth still continue to stage control all levels of development from policy making to implementation. The consequence of such formulation has for the large part remained obsolete and failed to address the prevailing youth issues. On the other hand the youth have developed a tendency to “wait and see” attitude, with obvious intentions of playing the role of critics to the current leaders and leadership styles.

In spite of this, issues affecting youth are contained in the various other policies that deal with:

b) Education

Kenya presently has a system of education commonly known as 8-4-4. This simply requires a student to undertake eight years in primary education, four years of secondary education and minimum four years of university education. However, there are provisions for other foreign systems of education to allow for personal selection for those who have no interest in the 8-4-4 system. Such include the British and American systems of education.

Primary school education in Kenya is compulsory for children of school going age, from the age of seven years. The government also subsidises the cost of education in primary school as well as in higher institutions of learning. The government has therefore endeavoured to build schools to make this possible as well as equipping them with the basic facilities such as books. In spite of this effort, many children and youth have not gone to school. Others drop out due to lack of school fees among other reasons. Despite the attempts to cater for such unfortunate students by the provision of bursaries, the demand far outstrips the supply. Schools are also encouraged to introduce bursary schemes for the students from the poor families. However, this is in other areas suffers from corrupt individuals who ensure that their children get the bursaries at the expense of the really needy students. As a result some bright children and youth have had no choice but to drop out of school.

c) Health

The physical, mental and emotional health of a person is a pre-requisite to his/her good living as well as maximum positive contribution to the society. The Government of Kenya having noted this, has several policies on promoting and safeguarding general public health. The main areas under health are Immunisation Programmes, Provision of Medical Services, Unwanted Pregnancies of girls of school going ages and the HIV-AIDS pandemic.

· As far as Immunisation is concerned, upon the birth of a child, the parents must ensure that the child is immunised against diseases such as Polio, Tuberculosis, Measles, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough to name but a few. These are provided for free of charge by the government to every baby. Annual immunisation days are set apart for the serious ones like Polio. There are also provisions for immunisation against other diseases such as yellow fever, Hepatitis B and Meningitis to mention but a few. This is to protect the recipients from suffering unnecessarily from these ailments.

· Provision of medical services has been guaranteed by the building of district hospitals in every district. These are also subsidised in terms of costs by the government. The government has also tried to equip these hospitals. Due to insufficiency of funds, some of the hospitals are not properly equipped. There are also Provincial Hospitals at every provincial headquarter. These are to cater for the cases that require expert medical attention that may not be available at the district level. Further, there is a National Hospital. It is one of the best-equipped hospitals in the region. All urgent and serious cases are referred to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.

· Unwanted pregnancies of young girls of school going age have been addressed both as a health issue as well as for its impact on the girls’ education. Schools are encouraged to readmit students who have dropped out of school because of pregnancies. There are other measures put in place to cater for those who cannot afford to go back such as polytechnics and other training centres.

· Kenya has to date outlawed abortion. It is a criminal offence under the laws of Kenya. Yet many girls and women who get pregnant and do not have any intention of keeping the baby terminate the pregnancies by very unhygienic methods. There has recently come a call for the legalisation of abortion as well as the introduction of sex education in schools to reduce the high level of dropout students due to pregnancy and related ailments. The HIV-AIDS crisis has also led to this call. Many youth in Kenya are HIV positive and this has greatly hampered the progress of youth in various sectors. However, there are provisions for safeguarding the youth from the scourge.

· In the arid lands and other areas affected by drought leading to famine, the government has put in place a Relief Food Programme. This is to ensure that the inhabitants do not go hungry and the youth and children can therefore pursue their education. However, with the changing weather patterns, it has become only too clear that more effort must be put in place. The population still continues to grow and this means that the amount of relief food given out is not enough. Thus the children and youth in these areas suffer from malnutrition and other food related ailments.

The exact number of youth associations and youth organizations is not known, although it is estimated that thousands of youth organizations have so far been registered. This is inclusive of Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations, Clubs, Self-Help Groups, Charity organizations, Societies and Associations among many others. All the records that had been compiled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Culture and Social Affairs on the youth bodies registered with it were destroyed in the 1998 Bomb Blast. It cannot be clearly established therefore how many youth organizations are in Kenya to date as more and more continue to be formed.

These organizations deal in various issues that affect the youth. Some of these are youth led and youth governed while others are youth serving. This means that they are established by adults but the beneficiaries are youth. The activities include:

· Drug Abuse among the Youth,
· Environmental Conservation and Upgrading,
· Theatrical Groups For Educational Purposes,
· Sports Groups,
· Human Settlements Developments,
· Building and Construction,
· Municipal Waste Management,
· Water Training,
· Charity Work Such As Helping Out In Children’s’ Homes And Churches,
· Fundraising,
· Business and Commerce,
· Legal Aid Clinics,
· Education, Training and Capacity Building of the Youth,
· Information Dissemination,
· Advocacy and Policy Development,
· Spiritual Growth,
· Micro-Credit Schemes,
· Income Generation Projects among many others.

At this point, it is noteworthy at this point to mention that other youth lobby groups and organizations are registered either within their learning institutions such as primary schools and universities, places of worship such as churches, temples and mosques, the Attorney Generals Chambers, the NGO Bureau and as earlier mentioned, the relevant Ministry.

Further, because of the nature of the organizations, they are spread across the country: In urban areas, whether big towns or small rural shopping centres, in residential areas in the cities or the villages in the rural areas. There are some in the institutions of learning and others in areas of worship such as churches, mosques and temples. In every district of every province, there are youth bodies or youth serving bodies. It therefore can be justifiably said that these are spread right across the country.

Lastly, at the local government level, councils are empowered to enact by-laws as may be relevant for various purposes in their areas of jurisdiction. It is however not clear whether any town/county/municipal council has enacted a youth specific subsidiary legislation.


This Chapter describes the various activities carried out by various youth organizations in Kenya at the local, national and international levels. It discusses the activities that focus on youth self-development and then followed by the contributions to the improvement of living conditions in human settlements. However, the levels at which the activities are done are discussed under the same heading.

A brief mention is made of the different characteristics of youth as peculiar to urban and rural areas. Generally, youth in urban areas are more assertive and attempt to take a leadership role in societal matters. An example is in the local authorities where some of the councillors elected into office fall within the age bracket as defined. They have basic education as well. On the other hand, youth in the rural areas have shown a mature and practical approach to solving matters that affect them directly. As a result, impact there is felt by the people in their respective communities or villages.

The following are some of the activities that are carried out as well as various organizations that are involved in the same. It must be noted that some of the organizations are local based, others have a national outlook while others have an international background with those mentioned forming the Kenyan chapters.

3.1 Focus on Youth Self Development

The activities are carried out by the youth themselves in partnership with other stakeholders. Some of the youth organizations mentioned are youth led while others, although they serve the youth; led by adults. The activities include:

Fundraising and other Income Generating Activities

Many of the organizations formed at grassroots level are a desperate attempt by the youth to turn around a situation that is not very favourable to their well being. Through forming community-based organizations or self-help groups, the youth are able to carry out activities that are aimed at raising funds for their projects or events. The most common methods used are dinner dances, harambees (this refers to the inviting of well-wishers to contribute financial help whether in kind or in cash for the projects activities), and the like.

At the national level, there are no government youth funding departments. However, in the year 1997, the government organised for a national youth fundraising event. All Districts were required to fundraise in preparation for the national event that was to be held at the capital city of Kenya, Nairobi. The Chief Guest of Honour was the President of the Republic of Kenya, President Daniel Arap Moi. The various Ministers, the Provincial Administration as well as the members of the public assisted him. At the event, millions of shillings were raised. The funds were to be used for the promotion of youth projects countrywide. The government has introduced micro credit schemes through which young entrepreneurs can get mini loans. These are the only direct government attempt at promoting youth activities through financial assistance. The only other means of financial assistance is through donations from donor agencies.

Advocacy and Policy Development Activities

Some of the organizations have the specific goal of creating awareness among the youth and influencing general policy development. Thus the youth organizations organise for outreach programs to the rural areas or the urban areas where they educate the participants on certain national policies and their impact on them and also call for their involvement in decision making processes. Others carry out civic education programs in areas such as knowing the law, the relationship between the three government departments namely the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, the constitutional processes and especially the on-going debate of its review among others.

One such organization is the Youth Agenda. With an ever-growing membership, this is a youth led, youth governed organization. Many of its activities are to create focus on creating awareness among the youth on matters of national policies and their impact on youth. It is also actively involved in pushing for reforms in laws that do not cater for the welfare of the youth. It has hosted many conventions and conferences, which brings together hundreds of youth.

Through the Kenya Law Students Society (KLSS), advocacy is also done among many other young people. This is a society comprising of the students who take law in Kenya. Through its students it also forms other organizations that carry out outreach programs to rural Kenya on various subject matters. One such organization is the Law Forum. Another of its areas of interest is the offering of free legal aid to the poor people who need legal assistance but cannot afford the advocates fees. For this purpose, the law students in the University of Nairobi established in conjunction with many other partners, the Students Association of Legal Aid and Research (SALAR). To date, it has been able to assist members of the public on a walk basis.

Another organization that has gone a long way into promoting the involvement of youth in decision-making forums is the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group. Through its partnership with the other stakeholders, it has called upon them to open their doors to the youth. One such example is the inclusion of a youth representative in the Kenya National Committee for Human Settlements. As a result of the group’s efforts many government departments call upon the youth to contribute to various proposed legislation. The proposed bill to be presented to parliament as the National Housing Policy is one such document. Another example is the draft National Environmental Bill that consolidates the scattered laws and by-laws on the environment. Efforts are also under way to participate in the preparation of a National Youth Policy. Further proposals shall include the formation of a National Youth Council. The youth are also actively represented in the activities of many other NGOs due to the linkages it has formed with them.

Training and Capacity Building

One of the most important areas of focus is the equipping of our youth with certain useful skills for self-development. Through training sessions and participation in other stakeholders’ activities, the youth are trained on all key areas such as leadership; conflict resolution - this area has proved to be of most important significance as the youth are a vibrant group each of whom has an idea as to what should be done and how. More often than not, this leads to conflicts and controversies within the groups and to preserve them, it is necessary to train the youth to handle the arising conflicts properly - fundraising skills; education for the illiterate; financial management; civic education; governance; gender equity; investment; urban planning and information technology. At the local levels, this is achieved as part of the organization’s objectives. There are practical ways of achieving this besides the classroom approach. These are designed to build the participants’ self-confidence and self-reliance to enable them to co-operate effectively with others.

At the national level, there are various organizations that carry out training. Specific mention can be made of the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group’s attempt at this. Its members are and continue to be exposed to seminars and workshops organised either by the youth themselves or by its partners, International Conferences such as the Commission for Human Settlements among others. Besides its members, participants are also drawn from other youth groups, learning institutions and the church as well as work places. Another illustration is the Christian Industrial Training Centres (CITC), which offer two-year courses in building and engineering skills such as carpentry, joinery, painting, sign writing, sheetmetal, plumbing, wielding and fabrication. They also offer a loan and credit scheme to assist former students start their own businesses locally referred to as jua kali. The African Housing Fund that has established Centres for boys and street mothers also provides vocational training to these people, masonry and carpentry among other forms of training. Another final example is IMANI the Marianists. Imani is a Kiswahili word meaning faith. It stands for the Marianists to Assist the Needy. It has three programmes, namely, Maria House Women’s Centre, Chaminade Training Centre and the Job Creation Programme. The Training Centre offers various courses while the Job Creation Centre helps create employment for its trainees through enterprise development. These are but few examples as there are a thousand such organizations that offer training to the youth.


In Kenya, there are various ways of legalising the groups, either by registration as societies, associations, companies, partnerships, co-operatives at the Attorney General’s Chambers, or as Non-Governmental Organizations with the NGO Bureau, or even with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Culture and Social Services as Community Based Organizations or self-help groups.

In order to legalise their various organizations, the youth are educated on the various modes available under the law as well as the relevant procedures that are therein contained/prescribed. Other means include registration via their institutions in cases of primary and secondary schools, universities and the churches. With the emergence of the Partnership concept, more and more youth organizations are coming under one umbrella body in order make it easier for them to achieve their objectives. It has however not acquired wide acceptance, as many youth are suspicious of the intentions of merging.

The Kenya Association of Youth Organizations (KAYO) illustrates this. This is an NGO that works under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Social Services. Established in 1994, its aim was to co-ordinate the activities of voluntary youth organizations in Kenya. Membership is open to all registered youth organizations, associations, and institutions, groups and clubs involved in youth development activities. Currently, it has a membership of over 2,000 grassroots self-help youth groups.

Another such network is the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya that is interested in offering wildlife and environment education its member clubs. It consists of over 1,800 clubs in schools and universities throughout Kenya and has another approximate 857 adult members.

Last, but not least is the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group. This is a national network that opens its doors to youth groups and organizations that are interested in environmental conservation, human settlements development, health matters among many others. Although recently established, its membership has grown to over 100 youth bodies. This because some of its member organizations are in themselves actually networks of many other organizations.

Other forms of institutionalization include the proper establishment of offices and communication facilities as well as the formation of youth resource centres. One of the local Community Based Organizations called the Ugunja Community Resource Centre has one such Centre. Another is SIDAREC which has its focus in one of the informal settlements in Nairobi and it recently was selected by UNCHS (Habitat) as a best practice.

Promotion of Gender Equality

The proportion in terms of awareness as well as opportunities has tended to favour men against women. Therefore in Kenya, as in most third world countries, a lot still needs to be done in this area. However, there are awareness raising activities such as seminars and workshops that are held to further promote gender equality. Others include the passing by parliament of legislation to further promote its validity and importance under the legal system. Also more and more learning institutions have started to open their doors to both women and men thus giving equal opportunities.

Certain organizations have been formed particularly to further this concept. Such include:

· The Edelvale Trust Home for Young Girls and Women for the young girls and women who face social problems such as unwanted pregnancies.

· The Education Centre for Women in Democracy through its main activities focuses on inculcating skills in young women who are in learning institutions.

· Good Shepherd Sisters is another such organization. Its aim is to empower young girls and women particularly those who are marginalized from mainstream activities through counselling, teaching them grade skills and self-awareness activities.

· Our final example in this area is the Forum for African Women Educationalists. Otherwise commonly referred to as FAWE, it promotes young women’s participation in national and regional affairs especially in the field of education. It carries out advocacy activities through meetings, conferences and training’s. That is not to say that this is limited to women only, other organizations such as the Young Men Christian Association are also devoted to the spiritual development of boys and young men.

· Information Exchange and Networking

One of the problems that has hindered progressive development of youth led initiatives is inability to access information. However, more effort is being put to ensure that they are able to access relevant information without difficulties. Some organizations have created resource centres that can be used with payment of a little fee. However other public agencies such as the United Nations system makes the information available without charging. Further, youth organizations are encouraged to form partnerships with other stakeholders in the relevant fields. Such partners include the local authorities, the church, non-governmental organizations, the local administration and other youth organizations, to facilitate access to information as well as exchange of experiences.

The Habitat Agenda calls upon the youth to create and strengthen effective partnerships at all levels in order to pool all available resources towards the effective implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

At the National level, youth, in view of the new call for partnership, the Youth Focal Point in Kenya, KNYFG started a Youth Consultative process with a view of enhancing the inclusive approach of participation of key youth organizations in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda at the local level. This process, aimed at restructuring the Kenya focal point of Youth For Habitat opened its doors to youth organizations involved in human settlements development and environment conservation. Thus began processes which saw the various youth and youth organizations from many parts of Nairobi, converge at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi in order to be informed about the Habitat II process and further redefine the role of the Kenyan chapter.

With this in mind, Kenyan youth (the network concentrates among the youth in the 14-25-age bracket; however, there is the 25-30 age bracket that plays supportive roles to the youth thus part of this membership) redefined its mandate and re-identified itself as a national facilitating group. A drafting process was set in motion on 11th of March 1997 on a consensus document that would lay the foundation for mutual understanding amongst the numerous member youth organizations, self help groups, community based groups and between youth and the other identified partner organizations. Thus was born the Memorandum of Understanding. This was later adopted at the first Annual General Meeting held in June 1998 at the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). In addition, a management team was put in place to work on the new system of operation and its agenda for the whole year. Indeed, this was the best chance for youth success as it was guided by youth articulating their own values and vision of a just society with minimal supervision.

KNYFG has the main objective of increasing the awareness and involvement of young people in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21 hence its member organizations are involved in improving the living conditions of people particularly in urban areas through community participation. Activities include municipal waste management, recycling, drama, music, sports, information dissemination, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, to mention but a few. The Youth For Habitat reforms are taking place so fast a pace for most young people to take advantage of them. Due to inadequate resources, and lack of communication means and facilities young people in small urban areas and the rural areas are yet to be involved in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda process, hence are not conversant with this youth coalition on the Habitat II follow-up.

However in the past one year, the National Executive Secretariat endeavoured to reach to other youth in Kenya, consequently, a western Kenya branch was launched under the Ugunja Community Resource Centre as the focal point. Further, the Rift Valley province was brought on board through the mobilising of youth in the forth-largest town in Kenya, i.e. Nakuru, and in Coast Province, Malindi became the first town to be involved. It is for this reason that advocacy is an important intervention being undertaken by the National Executive Secretariat and standing committees of Youth for Habitat in liaison with partners. The process has been slow due to the lack of financial resources, lack of incentive and such other shortcomings. For this reason, the membership is still concentrated within the city of Nairobi and its environs. However with time the network intends to spread its membership to most if not all parts of the country. This will be achieved through the assistance of the Local Authorities, other local organizations of youth and the other partners in these areas.

Over the past year, the youth network has laid emphasis on the partnership-building and capacity building strategy as a means to improving the living conditions of people, particularly in urban areas.

Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group exemplified this further by forming partnerships with stakeholders such as the NGOs through a local umbrella NGO Secretariat namely, Shelter Forum, the Central Government through the Kenya National Committee on Human Settlements, the UNCHS through the Commission on Human Settlements, the Local Authorities through the Association of Local Government Authorities in Kenya, ALGAK as well as other International Organizations such as Plan International. These partnerships offered assistance such as provision of equipment for our special events, office space and communication facilities, and financial support for some of the activities among others. Through this strategy, the youth were able to form partnerships at the international level with some of the international organizations such as World Peace Prayer Society, The United Nations system etc.

The immediate benefits for youth in this partnership plan have been:

· Appropriate mechanisms have been set up to reach out to youth groups in urban towns namely Nakuru, Kisumu, Ugunja, Mombasa and Malindi to facilitate effective youth participation in the decision making process at the local and national level.

· A dialogue was initiated with the Central Government, which contributed to the implementation of the National Plan of Action on human settlements development. This is through the official representation of youth in the Kenya National Committee on Human Settlements.

· Mechanisms were put in place to enhance the role of the youth in civil society on sustainable human settlements development.

· There was also en-masse capacity building techniques for the youth as they learnt the basics of management, conflict resolution skills and communication skills, which are the root of any successful co-operation arrangements.

· Over the past year, Youth for Habitat has focused its activities on international Co-operation and programme development.

· Support provided to Youth in the forms of use of facilities for administrative operations e.g. telephone, fax, e-mail, office space and advice and clean up equipment e.g. spades, ladders, pangas etc.

Health Concerns

Health is one area of great significance. It encompasses physical, mental and spiritual aspects. With the problems of sexually transmitted diseases such as the HIV-AIDS pandemic, gonorrhoea and syphilis and the other diseases caused by lack of proper hygienic measures such as cholera, the youth have emerged as the largest percentage on the victim list. Therefore many some of the organizations formed have health protection as their key goal.

Reference here is made to the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF). Its activities include training, enhancing the quality of health care, conducting research among others. Specific mention is made to its youth partner otherwise known as UNGANA-Young Friends of AMREF. Ungana is a Kiswahili word meaning ‘join’. This is a youth organization that assists AMREF reach out to the youth on matters of health.

Another illustration is the Chandaria-Minnesota International Health Volunteers (M.I.H.V) and Dagoretti Health Services. This is a child survival project that focuses on improving the health of children under 5 years and that of young women of childbearing age. M.H.I.V trains youth in participatory educational theatre and income generating activities. It has helped youth from various places to form self-help groups in their localities. These inter alia organise and conduct training for peer educators as well as other outreach events. It targets out-of-school youth among others.

The Family Planning Private Sector (FPPS) targets students in higher institutions of learning such as the University of Nairobi, University of Moi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Arts and Technology and other colleges. The primary goal is to strengthen the students’ knowledge on reproductive health and their capacity to make positive decisions about safer sexual behaviour.

Theatre Activities such as Drama, Music and Poetry

Theatre and other related activities are a most commonly used medium in reaching out to the youth. This is because it is entertaining and is fun to engage in its various forms. Messages are communicated to the youth through plays, music and poetry. It also enables the youth to utilize their talents in various ways especially in promoting the ideas of self-reliance.

One such example is the Kenyatta University Travelling Theatre group. Composed of University Students, it travels throughout the country educating and entertaining the public. It is currently one of the most popular youth theatre groups.

Another example is the Shangilia Mtoto wa Africa. This means Rejoice/Applaud Children of Africa. Shangilia rehabilitates street children by training them in theatre art performance. It also operates a street children’s home in Kangemi, one of the informal settlements area in Nairobi. Children between the ages of 5-18 receive food, clothing and non-formal education. Some of the children/youth are sponsored for vocational training. Another such group is the Moto wa Africa community based organization. Through plays and dances as well as other forms of art, namely, paintings and traditional ornaments, they sell these and receive income. It is noteworthy to mention that they also use their respective talents for income generation.

Peace Initiatives

Across the world, wars continue to ravage countries, destroying economies and killing many people, young and old alike. The African Continent has seen generations born and inherit legacies of wars, of hatred and spite. The youth are the victims because not only are they the “armies” used, but they are also the ones who kill and are killed. In spite of all this, Kenya has enjoyed peace throughout this turbulence. Terrorism is also on the increase with Kenya being one of the latest casualties. In 1998, August 7th, Kenyans came to a standstill following the bombing of the United States Embassy. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured. Buildings were destroyed and many family lives disrupted. The shock has never worn off. It never will. This is the motivation for many peace initiatives that are coming up.

In commemoration of the Bomb Blast and in honour of the victims of the bombing, the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group in partnership with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, the World Peace Prayer Society and the United Peace Initiatives, the Hindu Council of Kenya, the Nairobi City Council and the Office of the President, installed a peace pole in the centre of the city. Its message is simple. May Peace Prevail on Earth.

Another of the Peace Initiatives is the National Students Peace Council, which draws its membership from the secondary schools level in Kenya. This also aims at educating the youth on the importance of a peaceful approach to the solving of disputes and conflicts as well as internalising the concept of peace from the family level to the societal level.

Programme Development

The KNYFG held its first annual event in June 1998 where youth organizations adopted a consensus document to guide youth in projecting a collective position in their partnership with other key stockholders. During the Habitat Youth Day celebrations, youth were educated on the youth related articles in the Habitat Agenda and the role they can play in its implementation.

3.2 Contributions to Improvement of Living Conditions in Human Settlements

These are the other activities of the youth that have had an impact in the improvement of the living conditions.

Municipal Waste Management Programs

With the increase in population and the migration of more people to the urban centres it is clear that the authorities responsible for the management of the municipal waste whether from the domestic or the industrial front are unable to successfully meet the requirements of the citizens. There is therefore a need to promote initiatives that aim at developing an impacting, consistent and sustainable practice that goes beyond awareness creation: practices of managing our waste instead of waiting for the Council to collect and dump it, if at all they do collect it. This is the challenge behind the Clean-Up Campaigns.

The events include Public Awareness creation about the need to keep our environment clean and to conserve our natural environment. This is through organising for Community Clean-Up Campaigns, Recycling and other such activities.

Clean-up campaigns bring together all stakeholders to try and clean up a particular location with the view of spreading the message that we are the custodians of where we live. This is aimed at replacing the old concept of waiting for the local authorities to clean up our living environments even when it has been proved that the local authority in question has failed to discharge its duties. Besides it is also aimed at instilling in the youth and the public at large that only we can properly take care of our interests. These activities are organised and implemented by the youth while they observe certain International Days such as World Habitat Day that is observed every first Monday of October annually by the United Nations through its specialised agency namely, UNCHS; Clean Up the World Day observed on September 18 annually and the World Environment Day observed every year as well on 5th of June to mention but the obvious. This activity does not only take place during the international events mentioned. On the contrary it takes place every week in some communities.

The Mathare Youth Sports Association properly exemplifies this. Mathare is one of the largest slums in Nairobi Province. This non-profit NGO was founded as a self-help project designed to organise sports and slum clean up activities for the youth and children living in Mathare. Currently, it has an estimated membership of over 4,500 girls and boys aged between 10-18. They are divided into teams and there are about 300 teams that participate in both national and international football leagues, environmental clean up and HIV-AIDS awareness programmes. It has especially achieved remarkable success in its sports involvement. There are many other organizations with such activities.

At the National Level, the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group has also led this event. Every year, this network mobilises youth in its membership as well as other youth not in its membership to come together for such events. For instance in 1998, the network successfully carried out over 10 clean up initiatives spread across the country. This was in the three provinces of Nyanza Province through its member organization, the Ugunja Community Resource Centre, Coast Province in Malindi and Mombasa through the respective member organizations and Nairobi Province. In the latter Province the network carried out the events in four to five locations with two of them being informal settlements namely, Kawangware, Riruta and Kangemi. The other location was the main country bus station located within the City. This site was selected as the main site for the Clean up the World Day events due to its strategic position as entrance to and exit from the city. Besides, more than three thousand of travellers from all parts of Kenya move into and from Nairobi through it every day.

The overall objective of clean up events is to enable the youth and the general public to contribute to the improvement of management of municipal waste. It is also oriented towards facilitating partnerships of key stakeholders and therefore the overall improvement of the living conditions of residents of Nairobi.

Another in this category is the activity of Recycling. It is an important income generating activity. Youth self-help groups collect papers, bottles, domestic waste and what can be recycled, is recycled. The domestic waste is used as manure and this when sold is good fertiliser for those with agricultural practices. However, its limited in use because of the dangers poised by the mixed litter and the common dumping ground. Thus it means that hospital wastes are dumped together with the domestic refuse. Further, majority of the population has not internalised the concept of litter separation, this would serve to make it easier for the recycling persons to sort out that which they need. Further, the limited number of recycling industries also discourages more people from joining the sector. There is no competition to promote quality of recycled materials or the payment of the collectors of the garbage.

Neighbourhood Watch Campaigns

Crime is a prevalent problem in our societies. Unfortunately, the perpetrators are mostly young people. Though not a very common activity, the local communities have increasingly started to organise themselves into groups in order to protect themselves and their families and the general community from criminals. It however still requires a great deal of planning and organization in order to incorporate the security personnel.

Community Surveys on Youth Marginalization are aimed at reducing the high level of exclusion of the youth.

Street Youth and Children Rehabilitation

Like in many other societies, urbanization in Kenya, high level of poverty among the majority of Kenyan and the increasing number of deaths due to the HIV-AIDS pandemic, more and more children are leaving their homes, whether in rural or urban areas, for urban areas in search of a better life. These children and youth upon arrival at the towns and the cities realise that life is just not easy. There is no one to feed them, clothe them or even shelter them. Within no time they flock in the streets and resort to begging. About 40% of these children in the street are homeless, the other 60% works on the street to supplement the family income and to support their families. They are unable to attend school and are considered to live in especially difficult circumstances. They are the victims of brutal violence, sexual abuse with most of the young girls getting impregnated, abject neglect, drug abuse and other forms of child rights violations. This has rapidly grown into one of the most alarming problems of urbanization.

Youth contribution to the containing of this problem has taken various forms. In Nairobi, a collective effort from youth organizations under the umbrella arm of Youth For Habitat: Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group, a Nairobi Street Children Day was organised. This was a follow-up of a similar Street Children Soup Kitchen project that was initiated during the 16th Session of the Commission on Human Settlements. This was further followed by a prayer session at a local catholic church, namely, the Consolata Shrine. Through a collective effort between the Church as represented by St Andrews Anglican Church, Consolata Shrine and St. Paul’s Catholic Church; the Hotel Industry, for example, the Block Hotels, Holiday Inn, Nairobi Safari Club, the Panafric Hotel, Serena Hotels among many others, and the youth from a wide spectrum. Food and clothing were collected for the purposes of donating it to the street children and youth. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements was also actively involved as well as the staff of the United Nations Offices at Nairobi.

Besides the above youth effort, other activities include the establishment of children centres and homes where some of the street children are taken for rehabilitation, offered love and security and education. These include the Undugu Society of Kenya, Child Life Trust and SOS Children’s Village Kenya. Other organizations such as the Young Street Girls Project-Rescue Dada Centre are girl specific and offer the same services to girls up to the age of 16. Other areas are training in order to prepare them for employment, pursuit of affordable training. Another such organization is the Mukuru Promotion Centre.

Water and Sanitation

This is through Water Quality Training workshops where the youth learn how to find out whether or not water is safe for consumption or other usages. Other activities in this area include the digging of boreholes and water tanks in the villages in order to provide water for use. The Environmental Conservation Alliance conducted several training for the youth in this area.

Building and Construction

At the grassroots level, the youth have achieved this by either promoting the shelters in which they live or those of their neighbours and friends, building sanitation facilities such as toilets for the village where there are none or they are beyond usage value and therefore pose a health risk to the community. Further, other youth have constructed bus stages in the communities thus providing a user-friendly point for boarding and alighting from public service vehicles. Others also construct their own offices within the community setting for better access by the members. The Architectural Students Association and the Shelter and Environment Club (SHEC) of the University of Nairobi focus on this areas.

However at the National level, focus is more to the maintenance of public utilities such as public toilets. The youth organise themselves into groups and clean the facilities. For people to use them, they are required to pay a prescribed amount of money.

Anti-Drug Abuse Activities

This is one of the most widespread problems in our urban areas. The children in the streets sniff glue. In other parts of Nairobi and the rest of Kenya, drug trafficking has exposed our youth to all sorts of drugs such as cocaine and heroine, bhang and hashish to mention but a few. There is however an awakening and the Kenyan youth are determined to fight this menace. Higher learning institutions have formed organizations to discourage students from getting caught in the trap of drug use. Also, many other organizations are forming alliances to spread and promote the national crusade against drug trafficking and use.

Infrastructure and Community Service Improvement with the Local Authorities

This area is constrained by the financial implication. However, minimal attempts are made by the youth to improve the roads at the estates especially if they are in bad conditions. This can be where the roads have worn out and there are numerous potholes that make road use almost impossible. Others can be repairs of burst water pipes and other such activities.

Promoting Participation and Involvement in Decision Making

There is focus on influencing the government to involve the youth in decision-making processes. Currently, the Convenor of the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group sits as a youth representative in the Kenya National Committee on Human Settlements. This Committee comprises all the relevant key stakeholders in the of shelter development. These include the central government through the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Ministry of Local Authorities, the Private Sector, the Association of Local Authorities, the Youth, and the Non-Governmental Organizations among others. It deals with all issues that concern promoting the attainment of the policies set out in the National Plan of Action as prepared in line with Habitat II Conference principles of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements in a rapidly urbanizing world.

Through this representation, the youth have had the opportunity to be included in government delegations to various international events such as the Seventeenth Session of the Commission on Human Settlements and the African Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Habitat Agenda. Further, they have formed useful partnerships. The youth in Kenya have therefore been actively involved in the decision-making processes at the highest level.

The Partnership with the Commission on Human Settlements has also played a tremendous role in the policy making level. This is because the Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group has in the past four years been able to organise and host the Youth Parallel Events during the 16th and the 17th Sessions of the Commission on Human Settlements.

There are other attempts to improve the living conditions. However, the examples presented provide a good overview.

3.3 Kenyan Youth Activities at the International Level

Paragraph 214 of the Habitat Agenda calls upon all relevant stockholders at the international level to co-operate in the improvement and development of human settlements all over the world.

Youth in Kenya have also gone beyond the national borders. As far as other global youth are concerned, awareness creation and networking have proved to be the two key areas of focus. Kenya has had constant and regular representation at the various conferences that have been held over the years.

In 1996, Kenyan youth participated in the Habitat II Conference held in Istanbul, Turkey. Together, the youth launched a vision statement that highlighted the various issues/matters of concern to them. Further, the network of Youth for Habitat first received inter-governmental support as well as from the United Nations body. Later in the same year, at the Vienna conference on the United Nations System 2nd World Youth Forum, Kenya was actively involved in the charting out of the Plan of Action.

During the 16th Session of the Commission on Human Settlement held in 1997 in Nairobi, Kenya, the youth in Kenya hosted the youth events which resulted in Turkey being mandated to act as the international secretariat for the first time. It brought together various countries and culminated in the drawing up of a two-year Plan of Action among other resolutions.

In 1997, the first International Youth Consultation was hosted by Turkey in Eskisehir. This meeting brought over 430 youth from over 42 countries. Kenya was actively involved in the consultation, which saw the launch of the International Network of Youth For Habitat. A two year plan of action was also drafted and adopted that defined the tasks of the secretariat as well as the network’s objectives and membership requirements. Regional Resource Persons were also identified based on their experience on matters of the network’s operations and the roles also identified, i.e., advice to the secretariat on various issues at the national and international levels.

In 1998, the Kenya youth also took part in the ACOPS, Co-operation for the development and protection of the Coastal and Marine Environment in sub-Saharan Africa during which meeting various issues of concern to youth such as high incidences of crimes by youth in cities came to light. It was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Later in the same year, the Youth For Habitat resource person in Italy together with the local authorities hosted the Turin Conference. Kenya was also represented at this meeting.

Early this year, May 1999, Kenya had the pleasure of hosting the second youth parallel event during the Seventeenth Session of the Commission of Human Settlements. This meeting which brought together six countries, namely, Kenya, Turkey, Italy, USA, Namibia and Netherlands and also drafted the next Biannual Plan of Action. This Plan focused on the areas of Policies Development; Training of the youth in various areas; Institutionalising; Networking; Fundraising and Projects. Further, the youth were trained on the operations of the United Nations Centre for Humans Settlements and its programme areas. These include the Disaster Management Programme; the Sustainable Cities Programme; The Community Development Programme; the Best Practices Programme; Gender issues among others. The hallmark of this meeting was the passing of a Youth Resolution that inter alia requires the Acting Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat) to report to the next Session of the Commission the progress report of the implementation of its articles.

In the month of June, at The Hague, Netherlands Kenya also presented a paper to the Hague Appeal for Peace Youth Conference which is aimed at promoting peace initiatives in the world. The first step thus is to declare 1st of January 2000 the International One Day of Peace.

Kenya was also represented at the Commission of Sustainable Development in New York in 1999.

Lastly, Kenya was identified as one of the ten member countries of Youth For Habitat International Network to present a National Report on the activities of youth in the field of human settlements development, to the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. This report sets out in brief the information.


This chapter describes the modalities that have been put in place for the purpose of weighing the successes and failures of the activities and the reasons for any such failure as well as ways of avoiding duplication. Monitoring and Evaluation methods employed by the organizations are:

· Meetings

These refer to the meetings by the executive arm and the general members of the organizations. The constitutions of all organization provide for meetings by the membership to make decisions as well as establish whether on not the organization is meeting its objectives. The meetings are either general or special meetings. General meetings are held annually where progress reports are presented. Special meetings are called for when and if absolutely necessary. Through this, it is possible to establish whether the organizations have been able to work according to the plan and time tables set up for the projects.

· Membership

The number of people registering with the organization. If organizations record a continued increase in terms of their members, this is an indicator that they have and continue to impact positively upon the society hence a success.

· Attitudinal Change by the Target groups/Agencies

If there is a positive change of attitude on the part of their recipients, namely the target groups, this is an indication of achievement of their objectives.

· Report Writing

This is the most common form of evaluation. For every activity carried out, the youth organizations, upon its conclusion, write a report establishing whether on not they accomplished the objectives set out in the programme of action. Reports are written both for the particular activities carried out and at the end of the year when there is writing of reports for the whole of the year’s activities. It sets out the overall objectives, adopted strategies and the activities carried out. Such reports are then used for overall evaluation of the progress of the organization.

· Outside Evaluators

Some organizations also employ this method. It involves inviting of external experts to carry out an evaluation of the projects. Officials of the organization or project give the evaluators information as to their plan of action for the relevant period of time, documents containing that information and the external evaluators can also opt to interview the staff members of the organizations or projects. They then reach a conclusion on the basis of the information received and this is converted into a record for the above purpose. It is however utilized by organizations with a good financial base.

· Documentation

Generally, all the organizations keep a record on their operations such as the minutes of meetings, the terms of reference for its staff and other hired services, their assets and liabilities, correspondence to and from the organization/group/club. These provide a fairly good source of information for evaluation and monitoring.

Best Practices

Following the campaign spearheaded by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, more and more organizations are adopting the method of finding out whether their projects are best practices. If so then they submit them forward for adjudication. One of the local projects based at the grassroots level was declared a best practice by the UNCHS. It however, still needs replication by other organizations.

· Collection of Information and Data

It has emerged that despite the good effort made at collecting and recording information, this area requires more improvement. Due to the limitation of resources, it is not possible to collect all the information and data. Methods of storing the data for future use also are below standard. Most of the methods of collection include interviewing and use of questionnaires and then writing all the data on paper. Other organizations are lucky to be able to afford equipment such as video recording machines; others use slides; others photography and others use networks, mainly computer technology. However, majorities of the organizations rely on writing. This, in light of the level of technology is in need of change.


The area of youth in Kenya remains one that is undergoing constant development as more and more youth get exposed and learn more about how much they can contribute as part of the civic society. This is partly made difficult by the lack of legislation to govern issues of youth.

In spite of all this, there is a significant change since the Rio Summit in 1992 and the City Summit in 1996 in the involvement of youth in the areas of environmental conservation s well as that of human settlements development. More youth have now come out in the open and are pressing for change with the relevant authorities as well as involvement in the processes. By youth standards in Africa however, some of the organizations are relatively successful in achieving their objectives. Notably is the development of an inclusive participatory approach to activities. However, there are constraints that slow down the progress of these organizations. Such include:

By Youth standards in Africa however, some of the organizations are relatively successful, notably in developing inclusive participatory approach to activities. However, there are constraints that slow down the progress of these organizations. Such include:

· Administrative and Management Problems

Despite the attempts that are and continue to be made to ensure that organizations are managed professionally and with as little “political” influence as possible, it still is significantly problematic. This is sometimes due to archaic forms of governance or dictatorial style of administration, which does not agree with democratic styles. Further, lack of leadership skills has continued to hinder progress. However, as mentioned before, attempts are being made to incorporate this area as one of the areas that needs attention from the partners as well as the youth.

· Lack of Adequate Resources

Successful management of any body requires financial resources. This is to enable the organizations to implement their activities successfully. In Kenya there are no government agencies that provide funds to the youth organizations. The external donor bodies apply stringent measures to those that apply for donations. However, as the world slowly becomes a global village, there is a little progress in these areas as well.

· Institutional Relations with Partners

It has been realized that despite the intention behind the formation of partnerships, with time the line of independence is quickly blurred and the partner stakeholders start to give conditions to be met by the youth failure to which the partnership is dissolved. Clear guidelines must therefore be drawn such as signing of memorandums of agreements with each of the partners who come on board. Such must define the roles of each clearly stating the responsibilities and the duties due to each. Youth organizations must attempt to educate their membership on the importance of diplomacy in dealing with other partners. This is to avoid conflicts. These organizations are also better placed when they acquire legal personality/status.

· Lack of Commitment

Consistency in membership is imperative for an organization survival. Youth are naturally a group that needs incentives to dedicate their time and energy into something especially if it is voluntary. Some members are usually committed, but this is a minority. The majority quickly gets bored and leaves. Thus an incentive package needs to be worked on to discourage this, as well as work toward promoting the idea of volunteering.

· National Youth Policy

There is a need to put more effort into ensuring that a national policy on youth is developed. This will remove the ambiguous positions of youth. This should also encompass the creation of a National Youth Council or its counterpart to work at co-ordinating national youth activities in spite of their status, i.e., whether they are Non-Governmental Organizations or governmental among others.

· Periodic Training and Assessment Programmes

The specific areas are proposed, as leadership, conflict resolution, diplomacy and governance or management. These should be designed to improve the skills and confidence of the youth leaders and the other members of the organizations. They must be periodic to allow for societal change and growth of the organizations. Assessment must be carried out to establish whether or not the training is successful.

Definition of Youth

The local definition of youth extends to persons aged 35 years. Steps should be taken to streamline this definition to a more realistic one. The preferred age group of youth is proposed as 14 to 25, with the upper limit, if absolutely necessary being extended to 30.

· Financial Support

There is a need to establish a national youth resource pool from which the youth in Kenya can get financial support or support in kind. This is to enable the youth to achieve their objectives as well as play a more significant role in nation building.

· Institutionalization

First and foremost, this is to include all young people despite their backgrounds, beliefs, and level of education or even experience in all processes from the initiation of projects to decision making. Further, there should be distinct definitions of the various categories of status that are available. This is to ensure that there are no duplications of roles or ambiguous bodies masquerading as youth representatives.

· Areas of Co-operation

Finally in order to strengthen partnerships for safer cities through environmental conservation and affordable shelter development, Youth in Kenya throws a challenge to all partners to commit themselves to the following:

- Eradicate poverty by enhancing capabilities of young people in terms of knowledge, resource mobilization, organization, good governance and participatory approaches;

- Promote and enhance partnerships;

- Enhance research and documentation of youth activities;

- Offer exchange programmes, visits, experiences, study tours and appropriate technology to youth;

- Enhance resource mobilization and sharing.

- Promote gender balance in all socio-economic development plans.

- Fund youth volunteerism


1. Republic of Kenya, National Report and Plan of Action on Shelter and Human Settlements to the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements.

2. Cities and Homes for All, The Habitat Agenda United Nations Centre for Human Settlements.

3. Best Practice Initiatives in Kenya for Habitat II, Prepared under the auspices of the Kenya National Steering Committee for Habitat II.

4. The Habitat Agenda, UNCHS (Habitat).

5. Profiles, Youth Serving Organizations in Kenya, The Population Council, 1997.

6. National Housing Policy of the Republic of Kenya.

7. Report of the Proceedings of the First Parallel Event of Youth For Habitat during the 16th Session of the Commission of Human Settlements.

8. Legacies, Challenges and Opportunities in Urban Kenya: The case of Nairobi. Elijah Agevi, ITDG-Kenya, October 14 1996.

9. Slum Housing and Possible Remedial Measures. Paper by Waithaka J.K. Ministry of Planning and National Development as it then was.

10. Records of Youth For Habitat: Kenya National Youth Facilitating Group.

11. Interviews with various persons.


1. The co-convenor
Youth for Habitat: KNYFC
P.O. Box 39394, NAIROBI
Tel: 254-2-444887, Fax: 254-2-445166

2. The Drafting Team
Christine Makori
Evelyne Kilonzo
Davies Kelmen
C/o Youth For Habitat: KNYFC