Ideation II: Enhancing the Inclusion of Youth in Governance

There is a growing disconnect between the involvement of the younger generation and the management of government institutions and programs in Kenya. The youth constitutes the larger segment of the population, not only in Kenya but also globally, and designing the future or direction of this country should be done with the active participation and inclusion of young people at all levels.

Engaging young people in local governance increases accountability and the number of quality initiatives made by communities. There needs to be open spaces, aided with technology and social media for dialogue and improving transparency and hidden social structures that always generate corruption. Many studies, reports and surveys reveal persistent economic, social and political challenges the youth face. Addressing these challenges requires the involvement of the youths in decision-making and oversight roles, more so, in Public Funds Management (Good governance)

The youth are the most important human capital of any economy

Daily news of graft related stories reminds us that transparency and accountability is yet to be achieved. The challenge has cascaded down from National Government down to County Level. This has inevitably fueled youth unemployment, impediments in the access to healthcare, education and decent housing (Iwasaki, 2016). Despite government interventions such as the establishment of the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs (MOYA), National Youth Service (NYS), Kenya National Youth Policy (KNYP), National Youth Council (NYC)  the challenges facing the youths has persisted. While the target group is the youths, for a long time, the interventions have been designed and implemented without the input of the youths. The youth receives little or no recognition before and during top decision-making.

The youth are the most important human capital of any economy. Not only are they agile, adaptable, and receptive, but the modern youth also understand employment in the millennial age.

Young people, as citizens, have a relationship with the state and they are entitled to hold the state accountable for their performance. They should, therefore, be included in decision-making processes, particularly on issues that affect their lives directly, for instance on service delivery, quality of education, fighting corruption.

Young people’s participation in governance refers to the way in which they voice their views and concerns, exercise their rights, and engage in dialogue with and influence decision-makers

In a survey conducted by the UN IANYD in August 2012, a majority of 13,000 respondents expressing their voices from 186 countries highlighted that the main challenges for youth were limited opportunities for effective participation in decision-making processes. With limited opportunities and exposure to meaningfully participate in inclusive decision-making processes, young men and women feel excluded and marginalized in their societies and communities.


Youths’ active participation in governance will ensure accountability, redress of youth-specific challenges, adequate allocation of funds…

Promoting Youth Participation in Governance

The data and big data revolution present enormous opportunities for young people’s participation and greater involvement in governance, from the local to the national level, using different forms of ICTs. Generating real-time data that can contribute to young people’s ability to monitor implementation and communicate findings can be an effective and immediate method of promoting accountability.

There is thus an opportunity to use such data to foster good governance, transparency and accountability. With the advancement of ICTs, it is critical that local government institutions are given the necessary software (and related training) to make use of them to engage with young people and promote good governance. Based on the discussion by the youth, the following needs to be worked on in order to improve the inclusion of the youth in governance:

  •  Build the capacity of decision-makers to engage with and respond to young people’s concerns and needs. This calls for supporting young people to navigate these complex structures and processes and bringing their voices to the fore. It’s also important to support governments and decision-makers to be more transparent by making their information available and accessible to young people. The capacity of local government institutions should not be overlooked in this respect: several of the examples of effective participatory governance activities are based on young people’s engagement with decentralized governance structures.
  • Create an environment that encourages youth participation and acknowledging the role of youth in public policy formulation, planning, implementation, decision-making and governance in general. The governments(both national and county governments) and government agencies need to make available governance-related information in order to foster transparency. This data should be populated on their websites and other related platforms.
  • Advocate and lobby on behalf of the less empowered through being knowledgeable and acting; strategy, timing and who to use. The youths should be trained on different vocations which access to platforms that can improve governance.
  • Facilitate channels for young people to be involved in governance dialogues require working on their individual capacities, as well as those of duty-bearers. This broadens the issue of civic empowerment beyond the governance agenda and provides opportunities to engage other policy and practitioner audiences. For instance, where linkages between improved governance and enhanced individual or group capacities can be made – such as in the area of basic services or economic empowerment programs
  • County governments should support NGOs, private companies, initiatives with resources like land licenses permits and venue.

The inclusion of Kenyan youths in governance can only be achieved through the implementation of policies that support their ideas, innovative strategies (Ugatuzi and Sauti Yetu)  and programs focusing on mitigating the challenges and risks the youth face and how the Kenyan government currently perceives them.

Youths’ active participation in governance will ensure accountability, redress of youth-specific challenges, adequate allocation of funds for youth programs and the design, and implementation of youth sensitive policies for the betterment of lives of the youths and that of all Citizens collectively.