Kibera is documented many times as the largest slum in East Africa with an estimated population ranging between 100,000 and one million inhabitants. Here, it is reported that young people constitute 70% of the population and unemployment stands at 70%. There are many complex challenges such a lack of education, access to basic services and land security. Together, these challenges limit opportunities for young people.
Youth empowerment concerns the ability of youth to develop agency to modify both the environment in which they are living as well as their own trajectory within this environment. In this regard, youth empowerment is relevant to the context of slums in developing countries. However, the process as such remains complicated.
Jobs are scarce in comparison to the number of people willing to enter the labor market. Frequently, young people lose hope in their future and are some dragged into criminality, creating a group is essential in the mechanisms of youth empowerment. at the initiation of KPSP 04 Usalama’s members took about two and a half years to develop into a cohesive youth group with united vision to improve their livelihoods and positively change their environment.
Before becoming a youth group in 2012, Usalama members were a group of young people who gathered near one of KDI’s prospective sites on the border of Laini Saba, Mashimoni and Lindi villages. One of them owns a kiosk from which he sells scrap metal (used for construction in Kibera), salvaged plastics, and electronic materials. Some of these youths felt threatened by the project, but they were actively engaged in the process of developing the concept. During construction work, some of the youth worked to build KPSP04 but at times their ongoing presence limited access to the site during and after its completion. It became clear that youth empowerment would secure the site and its surroundings.
KDI has engaged with these youths to answer their needs and ensure their support. The young people decided to constitute themselves as Usalama Youth Group in response to the promise of KDI’s technical support for income-generating activities. Engaging with them has been an ongoing process with challenges and setbacks, but displays of continuous progress.
The intervention of charismatic leaders to unify the group, discipline the members and help them to work together for a common goal. After two and a half years, the group has managed to maintain a core membership of 20 young people. The group consolidation has been enhanced through the start of a loaning and saving activity among the group members. The success of the activity and the Total savings of ksh 42,000/= (or almost $500 USD) has encouraged Usalama members to continue with their table banking activity. Furthermore this has been replicated in many project sites that KDI is working on.
There are some good lessons drawn from engaging with the youths, currently Usalama is in its 2nd six month round of savings and loaning among its group members. they have also explored and submitted three grants applications towards formalising wasted management system in Laini Saba and Lindi, and also to open a cyber cafe while introducing BRCK. http://www.brck.com/, mobile internet to Kibera Public Space project ( KPSP 04) and kibera at large.