DEFEND RECORD YAKO
Defend record yako, a one year project (January to December 2020) that was aimed at improving attitudes and behaviours of right holders and duty bearers to uphold and defend human rights, democratic culture and gender equality in Kenya by capacity building the youth on avenues and strategies through which they could demand for responsiveness from duty bearers and hold them to account both at the national and county levels.
The project used various interventions including supporting three (3) youth leaders training on avenues through which they can engage duty bearers, three (3) strategy review meetings and twelve (12) ward based community engagement forums reaching a total of thirty (30) ward based youth. The strategies led to
1). Establishment of youth governance structure in Kericho: Through the project, we were able to train thirty youth group leaders out of which they elected twelve (6 male and 6 female) to lead the process of social accountability. They led in following up on the issues that were identified during the meetings. The committee represents all the six sub-counties and leads the process of follow up on issues identified during community engagements with respective leaders.
2) Increased engagements between youth and duty bearers: From zero (0) to six (6) correspondence including four letters, one (1) memorandum (MOU) and one (1) petition from the youth to the duty bearers. Out of which three (3) were responded to by the duty bearers while they also took action in regards to our letters.
Youth in Kericho petitioned the county assembly to allocate budget for youth programs in the current financial year. Through the petition submitted by youth in Kericho, youth programs were allocated thirty million (Ksh 30,000,000) into the current financial year from zero (Ksh 0) budget.
3) Improved levels of duty bearers responsiveness: From the correspondence, letters were seeking county police to apprehend people who were selling alcohol without observing covid-19 adherence and within three days the shops that were not observing covid-19 restrictions were closed, asking the assembly committee on implementation to investigate spending of covid-19 monies and the department responsible were sermoned to respond to the allegations. Action was taken against the people who failed to follow the procurement procedures
The duty bearers have been writing to Siasa Place to support them hold youth engagement forums within their wards. Until December, four members of the county assembly had written to Siasa Place seeking support to help them hold youth engagement forums in their wards.
4). Increased youth responsiveness to accountability issues: From the twelve (12) ward based community engagements, youth identified issues and established committees. Until then, youth committees established have been organizing accountability follow-up meetings with the respective leaders. Out of the 12 meetings, youth have organized three meetings on their own to meet leaders responsible on how they could address the issues that were identified during the meeting.
5) Improved corporation between youth and duty bearers: The forums established that the county had not created avenues for youth to prosper economically. As a result, the project supported Kericho Youth Empowerment bill 2020 which is ready to be sent to government printers.
A sixteen (16) months project (November 2019 to February 2021) aimed at promoting social accountability through the development of community based mechansims. The mechanisms included capacity building youth policy enthusiasts (Imara fellows). and county based social accountability champions as a way of ensuring sustainability, consistency and promoting collaboration. As a result, the project will generate a shadow plan which will set the standard for leaders to work towards.
Through the interventions, the project was able to realize the following:
Improved communities ability to organize social accountability forums: The program organized two sets of capacity building training workshops. Imara fellowship academy(fellows) for the twenty nine (29) youth with interest in understanding how to influence decision making to improve service delivery and training of 16 County social accountability champions with the aim of capacity building them to promote youth participation in governance and enhance social accountability. The training has started yielding results among the youth
There is increased youth involvement in governance by embracing constructive engagement with government institutions.Unlike before where youth used to complain,they now use letters, petitions and memorandums among others to engage government. For instance, we have seen youth write memorandums out of which some have yielded positive results. For example Youth in Busia presented a memorandum demanding for youth inclusion in the composition of the board in Busia County vocational training Bill 2020.
There is also improved youth responsiveness on issues of accountability. For instance,in Kericho, the County social accountability champion was able to mobilize youth to hold the executive to account for the one hundred and twenty million (Ksh 120,000,000) COVID-19 supplementary approved budget. This was after youth established that the executive had not installed six (6) hand washing water points per ward as per the approved budget prompting them to write to the assembly committee on implementation to further investigate and take action. The committee Chairperson Hon Erick Bett raised the matter on the floor of the assembly and as a result, the chief officer had to be reshuffled.
Improved the level of engagements between youth and duty bearers: We have observed improvement in use of accountability tools including letters, petitions among others. For instance when the Railway ward member of the county assembly wanted to name a public hospital after himself, Kisumu champion wrote a petition to block that as misuse of office and name was changed to reflect what the community desired. In Busia, the champion submitted a memorandum demanding inclusion of youth to be part of the board of managament of a vocational training institution as a way of increasing their ability to check management of the institution from within.
Improved youth attitudes towards seeking information: Through the training, the county social accountability champion identified that Kisumu Central national constituency development fund allocated money to already tarmark Obunga-Police post Kikomi road, he wrote a letter to the ethics and anticorruption commission and TI-Kenya helped to review the letter.
Improved analytical skills for the youth. Through their analysis, Kisumu champions were able to establish that Kudho nursery had been allocated money in three consecutive financial years without any progress. In the 2016/17 financial year the nursery was allocated 1.5 million which was the cost for construction to completion. Tender was awarded to the first contractor who worked upto the foundation and left. After follow up by the school management committee, the 2nd contractor was given the work during the financial year 2017/18 who also left. In the 2018-2019 financial year the nursery was allocated 2 million again for construction, finally nine hundred thousand (Ksh 900,000) in financial year 2020/21. The champion led the community to demand accountability from the County Executive Member for Education who visited the school and gave an undertaking to audit all the other schools to ensure they are completed however, it was not allocated any money in the financial year 2020/21.
Improved leaders responsiveness to youth issues: Due to the collaborations established during the period, leaders have improved how they engaged youth whenever called upon. In Kericho, the assembly committee on implementation has been working with the youth to share information that has helped the youth in providing oversight. For example, the committee shared with the youth the approved budget which helped the youth to audit expenditure. The committee also shared a report on the stalled project through which the youth are currently following up with respective offices responsibke. In Busia, the committee through their chair have always been receptive to the youth. For example, when the youth submitted the memorandum, he followed up with a phone call to thank the youth for submitting and expressing his commitment to support.
Improved partnership and collaborations. The program institutionalized collaboration and partnership which has since helped carry out social accountability within the counties. Through our collaboration with transparency international (Kisumu Office), the youth have been trained on how to draft a petition.
SAUTI YETU (OUR Voice)
SAUTI YETU (OUR VOICE) project was aimed at creating a platform for youth to effectively participate in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) processes and other governance processes on issues affecting young people. This is because it was observed that youth had limited information on BBI, they were unaware of the importance of their participation in decision-making or avenues to participate while governments had failed to facilitate their participation either due to lack of necessary skill, limited resources or just lack of political good will.
For the period between March 15th and September 30th 2020, the project implemented various strategies to create platforms for youth to engage in BBI process by holding six (6) county based youth barazas (meetings), nine (9) radio talk shows, one national convening to validate youth views that were previously collected and social media engagement targeting youth residing in Nairobi, Kisumu, Kirinyaga, Busia, Nakuru and Mombasa. The engagements were implemented in partnership with a total of eighty seven (87) County based youth serving organizations, five (5) radio stations, networks, movements, students groups and youth wings of political parties among others.
Consolidation of the youth voice was aimed at making it easier for the task force to track youth views and also make it easier for the youth to follow up on their recommendations which were in four. 1) As much as young people are the majority population , that was not reflected in the leadership and thus recommending the need for establishment of a Youth Ministry or National Youth Commission or National Youth Council be independent. 2) Youth joblessness and recommended the need to prioritize youth economic empowerment. 3) Runaway corruption thus recommending the need to handle corruption cases within one year and 3) underrepresentation of youth in leadership thereby recommending the need for youth to be considered for the position of the proposed prime minister. Of the four, establishment of youth commission or council was adopted when the final report was released.
The project also supported the development of youth perspective on BBI which since uploaded on the website on 27/08/2020 has been viewed by a total of 4313 and Youth Agenda, a youth serving organization based in Nairobi having asked to cite the report as their point of reference.
The project created an enabling environment for youth to participate in governance processes in that through the baraza, youth were asked on their opinion on the status of the implementation of the constitution and whether they thought there was need for a referendum. Majority felt that the government had failed to implement the constitution (79.9%) and almost uncertainty as to whether there is a need for a referendum or not with 51.8% supporting and 48.8% opposing. The survey was conducted through the use of technology (online) during county based baraza.
In addition to providing avenues for youth engagement, the project also created methods for learning for both the youth serving organizations as institutions and leaders. For instance after holding a youth baraza in Kirinyaga and Busia, the Kirinyaga County Women Representative and Busia nominated Member of the County Assembly respectively adopted the model and have also organized youth engagements forums in their respective jurisdictions hence helping to improve the level of youth involvement in governance.
DEEPENING YOUTH INCLUSION IN GOVERNANCE
The project is aimed at capacity building duty bearers (administrators and members of the county assembly) to conduct public participation, embrace collaborative development and youth to understand avenues through which they could engage duty bearers during governance decision making and implementation. The first phase had established that there were conflicts between administrators and members of the county assembly caused by either a lack of understanding among the leaders or overlaps created by law within the counties, failure by the county government to allocate resources to facilitate youth engagement within the counties and lack of good will.
The project used various interventions including capacity building of duty bearers (100 county officials from wards across 3 counties) on ways through which they could engage youth in project life within the counties and the youth (167youth leaders drawn from 100 wards, across three counties) on avenues engaging duty bearers. As a result,the project supported a total of two trainings. One for ward administrators members of the county assembly and other administrative offices that were identified as vital for youth inclusion and the other for ward based youth group ladders and ward based community engagements forums leading to the follwoing:
Improved level of youth engagement with duty bearers: From the evaluation, baraza helped youth understand the role of different leaders and how they could engage them. As a result, ten (10) youth had since visited administrators’ offices to engage them on governance issues affecting them within the ward. Ward and village administrators in Nambale (Busia county) reported to have received three (3) and four (4) youth to consult on youth issues after the baraza respectively while the administrator in Nyakach East Kisumu county received three (3).
Improved youth attitude towards enhancing engaging duty bearers on issues affecting them: Youth have started expressing interest to engage county leaders on the projects that were identified to have problems, and need follow up during public baraza. For example, Mercy Amoit from Busia county, Malaba South Ward had mobilized youth to follow up on the projects that they identified during the baraza.
Duty bearers adopting the use of alternative communication to deliver services to the locals: A ward administrator in Kisumu and acting ward administrator in Busia has established a social media (whatsapp) group to engage the youth. The administrators in Busia in collaboration with youth have started an initiative to help the vulnerable within their community by helping in washing their clothes and cleaning houses.
County officials embracing engagements with youth: Some of the government officials have started embracing engaging young people. For example Mr. Sammy Omulepu – Senior Administrative Officer, Office of the Governor; Mr. Buluma Stephen – County disability Mainstreaming Officer, Office of the Governor were helped to organize and attended both the baraza.Mr Okwach, chief officer office of the governor responding to youth sending him messages on WhatsApp and also urging ward administrators to always respond to questions from the public because that is why they are hired.
ABOUT SIASA PLACE
Siasa Place is a youth-led non-governmental organization (NGO), established in 2015 that specializes in working with youth and building institutional structures that support youth. Since its inception, the organization has been working with young people aged between 18 and 34 years. SP has focused on youth expertise in policy review and youth participation in decision making processes including the budget process. SP has trained youths on policy making and networking with other youth organizations at both the national and county level, to improve policy and on the budget process to increase accountability.
Per the 2019 census, the Kenyan population aged below 35 years was 75.1 %. Those age 0-14 were 39% of the total population. Yet, youth are largely excluded and underrepresented in governance and decision-making structures. Most do not understand the importance of their participation while the government has failed to facilitate civic education or engage them in the development agenda. At the same time, poor service delivery, the mismatch between government priority and people’s needs, regional, political and ethnic animosity and run-away corruption dominating the governance system have resulted in governance failures that led to the birth of BBI. After extensive engagement with stakeholders, the BBI taskforce drafted a report that recommended administrative, policy and constitutional reforms in the country.
While some youths engage in political discourses, a significant proportion of them are undecided about the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and the possible referendum. Other youths make their decisions based on regional or party inclinations, without necessarily reading the report or understanding the consequences of different proposals. During BBI events in 2020, youth were used to mobilize people to attend meetings. They booed people and even in some instances physically assaulted people who were opposing the BBI document. If youth were more organized and strategic, they would have used their numbers to mobilize their issues instead of concentrating on protecting the interest of political leaders.
Youth and women are the most affected with joblessness and lack of services. Being a majority and yet the least represented, more avenues should be created to take their priorities into consideration, particularly, youth women and people with disabilities. As a result, key development processes like the County Integrated Development plans (CIDP) and Annual Development plans (ADP) do not reflect the youth voices. The just concluded BBI process was not an exception. These plans impact the very communities that they live in. They determine the budgets that county governments will utilize in certain periods, and what issues are termed as priorities. We believe that if the capacity of youth is built, dialogue forums organized and information dissemination platforms created, then youth will understand the importance of their participation and have the knowledge to either support or reject the BBI document based on facts because they will be able to determine whether the document will serve their interests or not.
Since inception in 2015, Siasa Place has extensively been involved in capacity building and creating platforms for the youth to engage in governance processes. In the recent past, through the Sauti Yetu (Our Voice) project, the organization collaborated with county-based youth serving organizations to create a platform for youth to participate in the BBI process. The project organized county-level forums through which youth were able to compile views from youth serving organizations which were then presented to the BBI taskforce in an organized manner. SP partnered with a total of 87 organizations in 6 counties: youth serving organizations, movements, networks, political parties and universities among others.
SP identified four key recommendations. One, given that youth are the majority of the population which is not reflected in the national leadership, SP recommended the creation of an independent youth ministry, national youth commission, or national youth council. Two, SP recommended that the government prioritize economic empowerment of the youth. Three, given the scale of corruption and its impact, corruption cases should be handled in short periods of time (for example, one year. Four, one of the two proposed deputy prime minister positions should be reserved for a youth. SP’s submission was 1 of 7 submissions that came from a total of 21 youth organizations across the country. The final report adopted one of the four recommendations: the establishment of a youth commission. Yet, the effective fruition of the council is still a challenge and many other issues have not yet been addressed.
To realize the above recommendations, the project scheduled various strategies. One of which is to conduct a Youth advocacy plan for a more democratic political processes workshop.
The two-day workshops will be attended by sixty (60) youth leaders representing the eight regions. The workshop will target thirty (30) youth representing county based serving organizations, twenty (20) youth representing political wing of political parties and ten (10) youth representing National youth council and ministry responsible for youth affairs.
SCOPE AND MAIN TASKS DURING THE WORKSHOPS
The Consultant will be responsible to:
- Conduct desk research on the status of youth governance looking into strength, weakness and recommend lasting solutions on the gap identified.
- Facilitate a two (2) day comprehensive governance workshop to evaluate the status of youth governance, establish strengths, weaknesses and recommend what needs to be done to meet the gaps identified.
- Review the BBI final report on how youth governance issues were addressed. Propose a way in which the recommendations can be incorporated into the status of governance report and for action to provide a long lasting solution.
- Facilitate development of an action plan on how to carry out the advocacy on the issues identified by the report targeting the identified stakeholders
- Conduct pre and post workshop evaluation to demonstrate your program’s success or progress.
The following will be the expected deliverables of the consultancy:
- Develop work plan for conducting the workshops, including strategy and proposed methodologies, as well as quality assurance plan;
- Produce status of governance report with advocacy strategy around the agreed issues and plan of action towards addressing each of the issues identified within seven (7) days after the workshop
- Supporting the development of an action plan on how to carry out the advocacy on the issues
CONSULTANT COMPETENCE AND SKILLS
Interested consultant(s) should demonstrate the following qualifications:
- Proven record of previous experience in youth governance work with at least two written recommendation letters & recommender’s contacts.
- Proven excellent drafting ability (English) and analytical skills.
- At least three years of knowledge and experience in practical governance program work, public participation and devolution work.
- Good spoken and written communication skills in English. Kiswahili is an added advantage.
- Ability to meet deadlines.
- The lead consultant must possess at least a degree in Social Sciences, Development Studies, and Economics.
DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION OF EXPRESSION OF INTEREST
Siasa Place invites interested consultant(s) to submit the following by 5th February 2021 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Expression of interest (EoI) outlining how the facilitator meets the selection criteria and their understanding of the ToR.
- A summarized description of the scope of work and the intended methodology to be used as well as a tentative work plan including activities and time frames.
- Three page curriculum vitae (CV) outlining relevant qualifications, experience and contacts of three recent professional referees (previous clients) for whom similar work has been conducted
- A copy of an example of similar pieces of work completed recently
- Itemized financial proposal.
EVALUTATION AND SELECTION PROCESS
The selection process of the consultant will be based on the set of criteria developed by Siasa Place evaluation committee.
Date: 26th October 2020
Guest: Yiaga Africa (@YIAGA)
TRIGGER & BACKGROUND
Police Brutality can be historically traced to colonial era where police officers were recruited to protect and serve the interest of colonial masters. This has transcend to police officers seeing themselves as tool to protect political ruling class. his then degenerated into the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) attacking innocent citizens and extorting them in the guise of anti-robbery and cyber-crime operations.
For the last two weeks, Nigerian citizens have been protesting police brutality. The SARS police force has continued to abused their power and kill citizens. The protest which started on Social media saw #ENDSARS & #PoliceBrutality trending globally. Kenya as a country has been affected by police brutality before, thus we had a discussion to understand what was happening in Nigeria.
The role of young people to the course, Young people have been at the forefront of the campaign as they are the most affected by police brutality. Role of young people has been instrumental in ensuring the issue remains at the front burner. From trending the #EndSARS on social media, to leading protests on the streets, to leading negotiations and developing demands, youths have played a leading role in the campaign. The judicial panel of enquiry has set up across states to hear the cases of arrests that have been happening and provide recommendations. CSOs have been vocal in speaking against police brutality in Nigeria. There have been several calls for prosecution of officers. However, there has not been substantial information on the said petition. It is expected that the judicial panel of enquiry will address violation of human rights and justice for victims of police brutality.
The clamor for voter education shows that citizens are ready to be part of the decision making that affects them by at least getting registered to vote and making a right choice. This is simply a pointer that the #EndSARS campaign can serve as a springboard for electoral reform, citizen participation and push for better governance in Nigeria. Civil Society Organization, can contribute to ensuring citizens political participation in different capacities. First, ensuring young people who make up a higher percentage of population to participate in decision making process either as voters or candidates. An important lesson to learn is that, first, Police exist police to protect the people and security agents must undergo effective psychological training on how to manage citizens. Also, government in other countries must prioritize police welfare to prevent extortion of citizens. Lastly on fake news, It is not enough to share information because everyone is talking about it, it is essential to dig deeper. This is what we usually advise especially in times when fake news is rife.
Compiled by Niceta Nyaga – Comms Team
SIASA PLACE STATEMENT
DATE: 2nd June, 2020
RE: STATEMENT ON EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS IN KENYA
As Siasa Place we wish to strongly condemn the inhumane and unlawful use of force by the Police on the people during the enforcement of set out guidelines and directives to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the Country. We have noted with concern the excessive force meted on citizens violating the guidelines more specifically the nationwide dusk to dawn curfew and wearing of face masks while in public. In recent times, there have been reports of the brutality across the country on people found to violate the guidelines. These acts of brutality and unlawful detention in some cases and extortion should not be allowed where laws exist on how to punish the offenders.
We note with great concern that young people specifically men are highly targeted and also those in informal settlements. According to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) since October 2019 they have received 80 (eighty) cases of police brutality as reported to the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) and shockingly 15 (Fifteen) people have been killed and 31 (thirty one) others injured by police officers since Kenya heightened security measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Just this week, a middle-aged man was shot dead in Bondeni area, Mathare Constituency in Nairobi County for allegedly contravening the dusk to dawn curfew order. The man commonly known as Vaite was coming from the Marikiti market where he earns his daily living and was heading ‘home’ when he met his untimely death. This incident sparked protests which went into the night. We condemn this extrajudicial killing and call upon the government to move with speed in prosecuting those involved in the heinous act. Particularly, we ask the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) to investigate this incident and charge those found culpable.
While, we appreciate the government’s efforts in combating COVID-19 in the Country, there is need to obey the rule of law and the constitution.
About Siasa Place
Siasa Place is an NGO formed in 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for youth mainstreaming into our body politic, through inclusion and meaningful participation.
In Africa the gap between the poor and the rich is inevitable throughout the various different countries in the continent. According to the Oxfam international research 10% of rich individuals earn 23 times more than the poorest 10% of individuals in Kenya.
Social inequality refers to the degree of unequal distribution of resources like wealth and opportunities like health, education and employment opportunities. Social Inequality entails various differences between persons and groups of people which depend on availability of expenditure, income information and other dimensions in their various lives.
In Kenya, social inequality continues to thrive majorly due to corruption which creates an unequal gap involving distribution of resources. Research from Oxfam shows that in Kenya poverty levels can be improved by simply reducing income inequality among individuals. “The solution is easier said than done” as there is a strong link between economic inequality and gender inequality.
Gender inequality involves unequal opportunities offered based on gender rather than one’s skills and experience. Men hold major positions of power in various job categories compared to women as they are deemed responsible and providers in the society, while women were deemed responsible for the family and house chores. Fewer women are in positions of legislature as an average of 40% of women in Sub Sahara Africa are not able to complete their higher education due to various factors like early marriages and cultural discrimination.
It is estimated that over the next decade millionaires will keep rising as other millions of citizens will still live in extreme poverty languishing in slums. In order to reduce social inequality in our country we as patriotic citizens can work together with the government to adopt policies that will reduce social inequality. Some of the changes that can be implemented include :
- Investing in healthcare services equally
- Equalizing wages and salaries
- Progress on racial and gender equality policies.
- Increased taxation on wealthy rather than the poor.
- Political leaders should listen to the needs of the ordinary majority rather than the privileged few.
In conclusion leaders need to take accountability of equitable distribution of any resources to the public and implement recommended policies since it will help reduce the major social inequalities in the country.
Ivy Achieng Omondi is a go-getter, team player and an enthusiastic youth on matters involving women empowerment, youth empowerment and political matters in the country.
Social media handles – @ trehvivyivy (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
At Siasa Place (SP), two of our values are trust and integrity. To practice that, we share our highlights of program achievements that were realized by the organization annually and their contribution towards the realization of organization vision, and mission.
Our programs strategically contribute towards the realization of the organization’s three main program areas being:
- People: where the organization’s aims to capacity build people to have the necessary knowledge and skill to participate in all decision making processes affecting them
- Participation: SP contributed towards mobilizing both youth and government to engage either in decision making or towards improvement of service delivery and
- Policy: SP contributed towards influencing policy implementation.
In the year 2019, through various programs, SP organized and or supported public participation forums in various parts of the country through youth barazas and community dialogue meetings. Siasa Place also capacity built both youth and government officials in various ways through which they can work together to promote youth participation in decision making. During the year, the organization hosted 43 tweet chats during the #SiasaWednesday conversations to educate, share and inform the public on various subjects of national interest. Project specific achievements are subsequently highlighted.
ZIVIK IMARA LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
A program designed in partnership between Siasa Place (SP), and Mark Appeal Group (MA) with financial support from ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen). The leadership program focuses on building the capacity of county ward administrators on how they can promote structured youth engagement in decision making on issues affecting them from the ward level since the ward is the lowest level of representation. The project realized the following achievements
Through the partnership between local youth organizations, the Executive through the Office of the sub-county administrator and Siasa Place, a total of 9 public participation forums dubbed youth barazas were organized, three per county in Kericho, Busia and Kisumu counties. The forums were aimed at providing youth with opportunities to constructively engage the county officials, share information and learn how best they can engage to influence development within their wards. Details of attendance in the three counties is provided in the matrix.
The impact of community barazas were felt across the implementing counties. For instance, in Kericho County, Kericho Youth Network have established a working relationship with the county assembly committee on youth where they meet in case of need and present their issues of concern. Some community members applauded barazas as a source of information for the community for improving service delivery e.g. in Litein a farmer who had not attended the forum had a sick cow and looked for a private veterinary officer who gave wrong medication and the cow died, but the other cows were still sick, a member who had attended the forum advised him to take the matter to the county agricultural officer who was cheap but effective.
In Busia County, the Busia Youth Steering Committee is engaging the county government on issues of empowering the youth. One of the members has since been appointed as a board member of a local secondary school and the others have since been employed by the government. They are demanding the youth quota in tender awards, economic empowerment fund and are organizing youths to register business.
In Kisumu County, a participant said that Central Nyakach was witnessing public participation for the first time courtesy of the ZIVIK Imara project as previously public participation sessions by the County Government of Kisumu were normally held at the Sub-County headquarters which was very far for most of them to attend. According to a youth, public participation in their sub county is for a select few as citizens are left out.
One participant confessed during the community baraza in Mayenje ward “[due to lack of water] we would wait for the member of parliament to repair but after the forum we mobilized ourselves and started contributing for the repair of the water, nowadays we do not wait which implies that community participation capacity built the people on their responsibilities as well. This was echoed by Central Seme Member of County Assembly ”we (politicians) are seen to solve all community problems ranging from public to private, no wonder politicians are engaging in corruption to have continuous flow of money to meet these demands”
Partnership with Government
The project enabled capacity building of both sub-county and ward administrators on the importance of youth participation, communication as a way of improving stakeholders involvement in development and reducing conflict in development. The training identified the need of working with members of the county assembly and a number of the members were mobilized to have a discussion on how they could support each other and reduce conflict.
In Busia, the external evaluator found that public participation was taking root as Hon Patrick Obuya Member of County Assembly for Marachi Central was now organizing a public participation forum for the ward members to determine how the ward bursary was going to be distributed. Youth from Bunyala also mentioned during the evaluation group discussion that their member of county assembly Hon. Casper was also emulating the same by organizing public participation forums to determine projects that were to be prioritized for implementation by the ward development fund.
In Kisumu County, a participant said that Central Nyakach was witnessing public participation for the first time courtesy of the Zivik Imara project as previously public participation sessions by the County Government of Kisumu were normally held at the Sub-County headquarters which was very far for most of them to attend. According to a youth, public participation in their sub county is for a select few as citizens are left out.
Imara Fellowship is a policy-oriented program hosted by Siasa Place (SP) in partnership with Africa Youth Leadership Forum (AYLF) and Mark Appeal Group (MA) with financial support from Ford Foundation. The program is in response to the existing gap in the number of young policy makers grounded in national values and principles of good governance.
The project established and promoted partnership in its implementation. The engagements during project implementation has made it easier for the youth organizations based in the counties to work, collect information and developed into reports to be used to participate in decision making processes. For instance, Kericho Youth Network adopted the report prepared by the Imara Fellows on technical training institutions. They also organized for a meeting to discuss the issues identified and developed a method of follow-up to ensure that the recommendations are considered and implemented. The same has been noted in Kisumu where local organizations led by Jiwo Paro proposed to develop a local follow up mechanism that will help address the issues identified in the youth economic empowerment report shared in Kisumu while Busia Youth Steering Committee supported the project by identifying venues for public participation within the wards and the organizations that could provide internship to the students within the county. The report was shared with the County government of Busia to help in the development of the youth internship policy that the county was in the process of developing to help give youth experience which is a requirement for the job market.
Through the implementation period, the project was able to establish a working relationship with the County Assembly of Kericho and the Kericho Youth Network. Good relationships between Imara Africa leadership program and Kericho Youth Network inspired the confidence of the County Assembly Kericho to share proposed ‘Youth Economic Empowerment’ bill that was being discussed at the Assembly with the Imara fellows to critic and present the youth view on the bill before it could be presented for approval in the Assembly.
The project was also able to develop partnerships with different Youth Serving Organizations. For instance PAWA 254 and WOSWA collaboratively hosted the leadership cafes and the First Youth Baraza respectively in addition to mobilization of the youth and key stakeholders during these activities. The partnership thus reduced the project implementation cost.
The project registered progress in building the capacity of the youth in two levels. One level, 30 Imara Fellows who were recruited to be trained in policy making process in partnership with the county government in various fields of their interest and careers. Notable cases include the promotion of Ms. Gladys Ndanu (Imara fellow) based on her improved ability to relate with clients on the Universal Health Care in Muranga County thus facilitating her promotion following the involvement of her supervisor in a panel discussion on Universal Health Care during the youth baraza held at the University of Nairobi Parklands campus and Mr. Shadrack Osero(Imara Fellow) was also admitted to the DAAD Helmut Schmidt Program to study Masters in Public Management (MPM) with a specialization in Environment, Sustainability, and Geosciences at the University of Potsdam. His application was based on the work done in partnership between Imara Africa and the county government of Kericho to identify policy gaps and recommend solutions within the Technical and Vocational Educational and Training(TVET) sector.
The second level of capacity improvement is exhibited among the community youth who were the local partners during the implementation where they are able to engage the members of the county assembly to push for the implementation of some of the recommendations that were highlighted in the project report. For instance, Kericho Youth Network were able to hold two meetings with the youthful members of the county assembly to push for the implementation of the report recommendations. The same was replicated in Busia where the steering committee managed to convince the youthful members of the county assembly to raise a motion on youth internship policy. The assembly will thus be discussing the bill with the recommendations from the Imara team.
The chief officer recommended two fellows, Dr. Rono (Imara fellow and resident of Kericho) and Mr Brian Keter (Siasa Place community mobilizer and member of Kericho Youth Network) to the governor for appointment in the board of two different technical training institutions.
Developing Policy Recommendations
The project identified policy issues that Kericho County government was working on within the technical training institutions which included human resource and governance among other functions. Through our collaborative approach, the report was shared and received by both the Assembly and Executive through the Chief Executive Officer responsible for youth, sports and ICT. After engaging the county stakeholders including the county government, youth, instructors, former students of the technical training institutions and other civil societies working around technical training institutions, the report was annexed as part of evidence to persuade Kericho Public Service board to hire more instructors during the financial year 2019/2020
Through the implementation period, the project was able to establish a working relationship in Kisumu County with the different youth led startups and foundations which led to partnerships and collaborative assisted projects for instance the report launch and youth baraza which took place in Kisumu. Some of the local partners involved JIWO PARO ,KONDELE SOCIAL JUSTICE CENTRE & TEAM-Transform Empowerment for Action initiative.
The engagement in Kisumu resulted to identification of new and undocumented sources of income for the youth including prostitution, filming pornographic movies ( a tendency spreading to minors) which could closely be associated with the increase in newer HIV/AIDs infection in the region(prevalence of new infections is high between age 19-24) and a contributor to the high level of people visiting pornographic sites in Kenya. Another emerging trend noted was the high level of youth dependence on betting which sometimes forces the youth to steal or sell family property to gain money for betting. Some of the recommendations like need for entrepreneurial training are already being implemented by Jiwo Paro youth being our implementing partners within the county.
The engagements with the county government of Kisumu were key in understanding and deriving a baseline which would help in the policy formulation process as the infographics in the policy document depended on a lot of government representatives insights which helped in getting the final policy document some key government departments that assisted in the collection of data where the County Director Youth office, Director Youth, Education, ICT, Development Department,Chief Officer Industrialization & Enterprise Development, acting Director Industrialization in charge for training and liaison.
With the support and consistent follow up and engagement with the Busia steering committee, the assembly was able to table a motion on youth internship policy on 6th August 2019. This is despite the slow pace at which things were moving within the county and the political situation that the county has been faced with throughout the project period.
KENYA ACCOUNTABLE AND INCLUSIVE POLITICAL PROCESS (KAIP)
The Kenya Accountable and Inclusive Process project was a one-year grant implemented under a consortium with other organizations and supported by the DFID. The project was aimed at capacity building the youth on the strategies through which they could influence decision-making of CIDP and ADP and service delivery at the local level . Siasa Place was in Busia
The project aimed at capacity building a total of 350 youth from the seven sub counties in different ways through which they could advocate for the needs of the youth to be prioritized within the respective counties.
After the first training, youth were asked to identify three main issues that they felt were of concern and Water, health and joblessness top the list.
From the meetings, they elected two representatives who formed a country steering committee to help in coordination of activities and follow up on the agreed projects. Through the sub-county awareness creation, a total of 564 (291 male and 273 female) youth and 27 (16 male and 11 female) beyond the youth participated
Capacity building of the youth through the Constituency Level Monthly meetings
The project through series of advocacy capacity build youth from all the seven (7) sub counties as detailed in the matrix below:
After the youth were trained on advocacy strategies, several issues that needed application were identified. For instance, Igula dispensary in marachi central ward was constructed without toilets, water, electricity and it was also neglected without service providers like nurses and medical officers.
From the training, the youth agreed on a strategy to communicate with the county on the matter. The administrator then visited the facility and the compound was cleared, a community management committee constituted (Jesca Auguya One of the KAIP committee members was elected to be a member of the committee) and money allocated in the subsequent year.
Hon. Patrick Obuya the MCA Mariachi, central ward confirmed that the memoranda submitted on Igula dispensary bore positive results since the contractor had been identified to do the toilet, Ksh 1,000,000 allocated in the financial year 2019/20, to support operation.
From the training and meetings held, youth complained that they were not aware of what was happening in the county because they were not getting information. As a result they could not take advantage of the opportunities created within the county or objectively contribute to the development of the county. and in line with Article 35, they demanded for a notice board in their respective ward offices.
The county responded by providing a notice board in Matayos South ward administrator office in January 2019 where a youth from Funyula acknowledged the notice board on his personal social media asking why the same had not been provided to them
After the advocacy training and series of planning and strategic meetings, the youth recognized that there were several youth groups doing similar things disjointedly making it difficult to constructively engage the government and achieve results as they were sometimes perceived to be competing. As a result, they agreed to collaborate among themselves leading to the formation of a sub-county based network which brought together several youth groups. The network was later registered as a community based organization under the leadership of Mr. Mwanawari Amira and represented youth organizations from Marachi Central and Kingadole wards.
The main aim of the network was to coordinate advocacy to improve service delivery in the respective wards and after the first meeting they identified stalled projects for follow up during their first meeting
Their colleagues from Budalangi also formed a network of Bunyala youth advocates with the aim of offering civic education as a platform to help them articulate their issues and through the initiative they were able to negotiate space on Bulala FM to discuss part of the things that they were trained on.
The youth realized the importance of engaging their leaders during the strategy and planning meeting held at Samia resort in Funyula constituency on (12th-13th) November 2018. From the discussion, they noted that the county had allocated Ksh 3.5m for the construction of Nambomboto market which had not been implemented. Youth responded by writing a letter on 3rd January 2019 to their member of the County Assembly and copied the ward administrator and the area member of national assembly to urgently convene a meeting to deliberate on the same. There was no response from all the duty bearers hence the youth resorted to mobilize the business community to demonstrate as provided for in Article 37 of the constitution on 15th January 2019. During the demonstration, they demanded for the market to be constructed as the county had allocated money for the same while work never commenced.
YouTube link to KTN news that covered the demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2X1yQGKgaA&feature=youtu.
Ikonzo Market had several issues including insecurity, lack of water and toilet among others. Through the advocacy mounted by the KAIP committee, all the concerned stakeholders were invited to a meeting. Insecurity was addressed immediately as the chief agreed to work with market leadership in addition to encouraging the youth to look for income generating activities. Water and lack of toilet was not discussed as the respective leadership failed to send their representative however, they acted after the youth drafted a memorandum to the county government.
Capacity building of the county youth legislators
The project trained members of the county assembly to enable them to understand how they could closely work with the youth in the process of planning and implementation of the project. details of the youthful members of the county assembly are presented in the matrix.
After the training, members of the assembly understood how they could involve the youth. On Monday 4th February 2019 human rights, justice and legal affairs committee in the County Assembly of Busia held a public forum in Chakol North ward at Asinge Catholic Church to get feedback from the residents on how public participation on the CIDP was done. They reached out to KAIP committee where Mr Fredrick Ekasiba, chair was invited to paint the picture for the committee on what happened during the public participation on CIDP.
While the county government of Busia was conducting public participation on a draft county fiscal strategy paper for the financial year 2019/2020 and mid-term expenditure framework on (19th -20th) February 2019 at Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) Busia. All ward administrators were requested to nominate only two people from their ward to attend, taking into consideration gender, youth and people with disabilities. Five KAIP committee members Frederick Ekasiba Chakol North ward, Stephen Washika Malachi Central ward, Beth Atieno Mulumba ward, John Wabwire Shikuku, Bunyala west and Neriah Bilyah Anya Chakol North ward were among the selected who attended the forum to represent young in their localities.
SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENTS
Online engagement is one of the organization’s strongest approaches to encourage stakeholders to participate in politics and governance. 2019, Siasa Place hosted a total of 43 twitter engagements under the hashtag dubbed #SiasaWednesday.
The program runs every Wednesday to discuss emerging political and governance issues on day to day running of the country. Utilizing expert opinion on matters, information is broken down in a way that the majority of the population can understand hence giving them opportunity to contribute to the discussion.
From the 43 online discussions, the organization observed that Kenyans were more concerned with seven main areas including:
- Poor state of governance
- Political situation in the country
- Youth unemployment
- Mental health
- Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights
- Universal Health Care
The online engagements realized growth across the platforms with Twitter growing organically by 3,575 from 9,820 to 13,395 followers, Facebook growing from 5103 to 6033 and Instagram from 324 to 450.
On average, participants distribution by sex was 60% male and 40% female while the following topics trended;
- Reclaiming Youth in Devolution:
Trigger: The 6th Annual Devolution Conference the chat aimed to highlight the challenges that youth face in matters of devolution. During the previous year’s conference, 300 young people had been sponsored by the government to attend the conference. However, the selection of the 300 was questionable since some did not attend the conference. Others were mishandled by officials from the ministry staff and leaders. Their participation did not seem to be of any meaningful value.
Under the hashtag #VijanaNaUgatuzi, we had 22.7k impressions from the 3-day period from 4th -6th February 2019 and gained 88 followers from 10,602-10,690.
- Biashara Fund
Trigger: Government was in the process of consolidating all affirmative action funds together. This was in disregard to the challenges which each fund was facing at the time and without going through public participation. The government filed to engage the public and instead surprised people with the merger.
Under the hashtag #BiasharaFundKE, we had 31.2k impressions from the 2-day period from 29th -30th March 2019 and gained 53 followers from 10,867-10,920.
- Sauti Sasa
SAUTI SASA is a youth-led, youth-driven advocacy campaign that calls on duty bearers to adopt a multi-sectoral community-wide approach in addressing teenage pregnancies in Kenya. The campaign originated by AMREF Kenya saw them partner with Siasa Place among other youth organizations to launch the advocacy platform to step-up and end teen pregnancies in Kenya.
Under the hashtag #SautiSasa, the twitter storm launch held on 26th September 2019 saw the chat trend nationwide at number one from 12noon to 5pm with over 3 million impressions in reach during that 1 day period.
Through the online engagements, Siasa Place managed to partner with several organizations such as TransplantEd, Y-ACT, PAWA 254, Badili Africa and Emerging Leaders Foundation to support different campaigns among others together such Universal Health Care, Sauti Sasa Campaign and #NYCTuitakayo.
ABNORMAL DEMOCRATIC TIMES WORKSHOP
Abnormal democratic times workshop (ADTW) was convened on 27th September 2019 at YWCA Nairobi Kenya in partnership between Siasa Place and the social justice centers with the support of the OSIEA to promote, share and support the emergence of unconventional continental democratic movements. 25 African countries were represented.
The aim of the meeting was to identify youth democratic initiatives across the continent, share and create a network for support considering the influence caused by detrimental laws to ensure incumbents remain in power, validation of fraudulent election by world bodies like state electoral bodies, election observation groups, and interference by international companies to ensure their preferred persons are in power.
The workshop mapped and mobilized a total of 65 people representing 25 African countries and democratic initiatives by the youth across these countries. In the workshop, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Senegal, DRC and Kenya had the opportunity to share their experience of the democratic struggles, challenges and how they fairing on with both success and challenges. To facilitate further experience/information sharing, participants asked for the establishment of a social communication platform (WhatsApp) to enable participants to share and for which was established. A lot of information is currently being shared through the same channel in addition to the emails exchanged during the convening.
The convening provided an avenue for learning of new approaches, tools and exchange of ideas for better service delivery. For instance, Tunisia, South Africa and Zimbabwe both were impressed with the Kenyan legal framework and were able to get a copy of the Kenyan constitution for better understanding of the bills of right.
From the engagement, Yet Trust of Zimbabwe has since established a working relationship with Siasa Place to share information considering that both the organizations are working on youth political participation.
Majority of the participants who participated in the post convening evaluation applauded the idea with one describing it as a bold step to facilitate exchange of experiences of democratic developments with a very rich experience for youth movements across the continent. From the report, they recommended that the conference be held annually with guests from the previous year to recommend a person to attend to allow different young people from across the continent to benefit from this experience in making the convening rotational among the countries. They also lauded Brian Kagoro for very insightful presentation, translation team for making francophone speakers feel at home and Kingfisher Casa Hotel for doing a wonderful job.
Link to watch the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8lXS3l77t4&list=PLr5Lxq8pmpx_FJwelCHuECJMHZGaGzEQM
Jiactivate Faya is a campaign ignited by a GeoPoll survey which found that Narok, Homa Bay and Kilifi county were the three Counties with highest number of teenage pregnancies, early marriages and limited contraceptive use thus igniting the need for action.
The objective of the campaign was to capture and elevate sentiments and recommendations of Kenyan adolescents and youth and improve their participation and representation in decision-making process in sexual and reproductive health and responsibility curricular and policy
The campaign designated roles to different organizations based on their strength to which Siasa Place was tasked to capacity build youth on advocacy and initiating a campaign from the grassroots in the three counties of Kilifi, Homa Bay and Narok between July and November 2019. A total of 79 youth were trained as detailed in the matrix:
There are uncoordinated efforts to reduce teenage pregnancy by different non governmental organizations. The resources towards these efforts could optimally be used if the organizations worked together and divided roles to support what has not been done. For instance, most of the organizations were focusing on the urban areas of Malindi leaving the interior uncovered. Duplication was mentioned by participants.
The county government of Kilifi in collaboration with other partners formed a children rights volunteer program (locally referred to as Baba watoto or Mama watoto) which is an initiative for reporting people abusing children’s rights. The volunteers also have a very good working relationship with both the village eleders and police through which some of the people targeting children for sex have been arrested.However most of them have been released because majority of the parties involved are afraid of going to court or resort to settling the matter out of court.
The disconnect between the organizations involved in SRHR may limit the level of success. For instance, different organizations working on the same things in the same area but not working together, establishment of very good advocacy structures like having children right volunteers but not known by majority and involvement of families to negotiate with people involved in sexual crime including rape and even some of the parents giving out their children to be married go unoticed. Improvement can easily be realized if the stakeholders are fully involved and priority is given to areas that require much compared to working in areas of convenience.
In Narok, participants narrated how culture is the biggest contributor to early marriages and teen pregnancies, in one instance, a youth explained how the parents especially fathers gave out their young girls because they had developed breasts and thus could make wives. Since Narok County is predominantly inhabited by the Maasai community culture and cultural practices are a big challenge and threat on sexual reproductive and health rights.
During the training the trainees narrated how their push to be involved in the County plans and activities have not borne any fruit as the County government does not involve them in decision making or planning. In one instance, a youth narrated how they tried to push for the Department of Health to be allocated resources for a sensitization program within schools and community health centres but that did not happen.
Homa Bay County had an already existing working relation and structure between the youth organizations and department of health however; the county has consistently failed to support it financially leaving the structure to depend on well-wishers and support of non-Governmental organization. They are seasonal and
Poverty rendered most of the youth vulnerable. For instance, a lady shared that she could be willing to have unprotected sex with an individual with HIV/AIDs to get money and later take post exposure prophylaxis despite knowing the dangers involved.
YOUTH SERVING ORGANIZATIONS NETWORK
In our effort to champion youth participation in the proposed amendment of National Youth Council bill 2019, Siasa Place in partnership with PAWA254 realized that there was a need to scale up the approach and involved other youth organizations. As a result, we were able to mobilize youth serving organizations to collect views, arrange meetings with stakeholders and present a memorandum.
To sustain youth work, the coalition institutionalized its work by having leaders with Siasa Place as the co-convener to the consortium, forming a Facebook page under the name Youth Serving Organizations (YSO).
The coalition now holds regular meetings to champion all issues affecting the youth. So far, the coalition participated in presenting a memorandum on the youth council and have also participated in the campaign on youth unemployment and currently working on mental health bills to be part of primary health care.
Drop your curriculum vitae Campaign (#DropUreCVKE)
The campaign came as a recommendation from the online conversation on youth employment when the President in a public address said that he was not aware why youth were saying they were broke.
As a response, those who participated in the conversion recommended the need to come up with a campaign to share curriculum vitae with the president to help him understand that youth unemployment was the reason why youth are broke and just how much of a concern unemployment is in the country and needs to be considered a disaster.
COURT CASES ON CONSTITUTIONALISM
In pursuit of our value on constitutionalism, the Cabinet secretary ministry of labour and social protection appointed Mrs Mary Wambui Munene to chair national employment authority.
In our view, the appointment violated Articles of the constitution including those on public participation, section 10(1) & (2) of the national employment authority act no.3 of 2016 among other laws in Kenya. As a result we challenged the appointment at the employment and labour relations court petition no. 190 of 2019. (Detailed ruling can be found through the link http://kenyalaw.org/caselaw/cases/view/187196/)
The two Petitions were filed on 18th October, 2019 and 23rd October, 2019 respectively but they were consolidated by consent on 14.11.2019 under Petition 190 of 2019. The Petitions contested the appointment of Mary Wambui Munene as the Chairperson of the National Employment Authority, vide Gazette Notice No. 9816 (Vol. CXXI – No. 137) published on 14th October, 2019.
The Petition therefore seeks the following prayers:
- A declaration that the Interested Party does not meet the required constitutional and statutory requirements, standards, qualifications and experience to be appointed to the position of the Chairperson of the National Employment Authority Board and thus she is unqualified, unsuitable and unfit to serve as chairperson of the national employment authority board.
- A declaration that the purported appointment of the Interested Party to the position of the Chairperson of the National Employment Authority Board vide Gazette Notice No. 9815 (Vol. Cxxi-No. 137) dated 14th October, 2019 did not meet the laid down substantive and procedural constitutional requirements applicable in public service appointments; and is therefore unconstitutional, unlawful, irregular, null and void for being in contravention of Articles 10,27, 73 (2) and 232 of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
- A declaration that the 1st Respondent’s purported handpick and appointment of the Interested Party vide Gazette Notice No. 9815 (Vol. Cxxi – No. 137) dated 14th October, 2019, to the position of the Chairperson of the National Employment Authority Board without following the laid out substantive and procedural, constitutional and statutory requirements applicable in public service appointments; the said purported handpick and appointment is unconstitutional, unlawful and irregular for being in contravention of Articles 10,27,73 (2) and 232 of the Constitution Of Kenya , 2010.
- An order quashing Gazette Notice No. 9815 (Vol. Cxxi-No.137) dated 14th October, 2019 vide which the Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection purported to appoint Mary Wambui Munene as the chairperson of the National Employment Authority Board.
- An order directing the respondents to ensure that future appointments to the National Employment Authority Board of those board members whose membership is not automatic by virtue of their offices pursuant to section 10 (1) of the National Employment Authority Act No. 3 of 2016, strictly adhere to the substantive and procedural, constitutional and statutory requirement applicable in public service.
- A declaration that the 1st and 2nd Respondents have violated the petitioners’ right to access to information contrary to the guarantee under Article 35 of the constitution of Kenya 2010.
- An order of compensation including aggravated damages for violation of the petitioners’ right guaranteed under Article 35 of the Constitution as aforesaid.
- Costs of this petition be borne by the Respondent.
- Such other orders this Honourable Court shall deem fit pursuant to Article 23 (3) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
In conclusion the judge found that the appointment of Ms. Mary Wambui Munene as the Chairperson of the National Employment Authority by the 1st respondent vide Gazette Notice No. 9816, CXXI-No. 137 of 14th October, 2019 was irregular, unlawful and unconstitutional because it was done in violation of both substantive and procedural thresholds envisaged in express provisions of the Constitution and statutes.
What matters? Welfarism? Free markets? Democracy or just efficient governance systems? Individualism or communalism? The essentialism of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be underestimated.
The COVID-19 crisis has raptured globalization, disheveled economies, disarrayed polities and reorganized societies on massive scale. Pristinely, a global economic recession is looming.
Economic recessions or crises have always led to fundamental change in politics and thence a revision of the social and economic policies adopted to transition to the next chapter. The COVID-19 pandemic manifests itself as a social, political and economic crisis.
Socially, norms and routines have been altered. People are forced to adjust to unfamiliar lives: working from home; no more feeling of camaraderie from social gatherings; for others, it’s doomsday with their jobs wiped out by the monstrous virus; for some, readjusting to realities of life in the countryside is the new normal; and certainly, worries about the fate of tomorrow dominate our lives than ever before.
Politically, the frivolous nature of greedy politicians has been exposed. Politicians are now familiar with policies and terminologies of a functional healthcare system. State capture by big business is in plain view; financial bailout programmes are mainly targeting large corporations and not small and medium-scale enterprises. Democracy and authoritarian classifications no longer matter. It is how efficiently governments around the world respond to the crisis.
Economically, it’s evident that people should matter more than profits and this ought to be the primacy of policy. Global supply chains are disrupted. Organizations are scaling down their operations and unemployment is set to rise. Living standards are bound to fall and manacles of poverty are primed to handcuff more people. Developing countries are set to rack up more debts. In short, the COVID-19 pandemic has orchestrated a reversal of economic gains.
A Reflection of the Past
History matters, and it matters a great deal! In modern world history, economic crises or pandemics of human nature have often led to political, economic and social reforms. For instance, the deadly Spanish flu that ravaged parts of the world between 1918 and 1920 occasioned public healthcare reforms.
According to Laura Spinney, the aftermath of the Spanish flu prompted governments to adopt policies seeking to provide healthcare for all. Spinney notes that the post-Spanish flu period saw Russia become the first country to establish a centralized public healthcare system, a policy imperative adopted by some Western European countries. Such a healthcare system was fully financed by a state-run insurance scheme. Creation of Sweden’s modern welfare state is significantly credited to the depredations of the Spanish flu.
Across the Atlantic, the federal government of the United States of America opted for employer-based insurance schemes as part of the post-Spanish flu healthcare reforms. In Canada, the topsy-turvydom created by the Spanish flu pandemic led to the establishment of the federal Department of Health in 1919 with the state playing a primary role in advancing public healthcare.
Although information about the origin of the Spanish flu is still unclear, the first official cases were recorded at USA Army’s Camp Funston in Kansas. Large-scale mobilization of troops during World War I is thought to have catalyzed the spread of the flu.
A report published by the Federal Bank of St. Louis in 2007 documents about the economic effects of the 1918 Spanish influenza such as closure of grocery stores, an increase in drug store activities, a rise in demand for beds and mattresses, long hours of work for physicians, and closure of mines among others.
Despite the fact that the report entirely focuses on the American state, its praxis on the significance of the nexus of the 1918 Spanish flu and a modern-day pandemic is engrossing.
Africa also bore the brunt of the Spanish flu with a research study highlighting that in the coastal region of Kenya the virus paralyzed administrative operations, created food shortage, occasioned commercial losses and overstretched the healthcare sector. In South Africa, the flu led to the death of 300,000 South Africans representing 6% of the total population.
In an article published by Reuters Magazine in 2013, Begley warns of how a flu pandemic could trigger a global recession. The news feature is based on a 2008 World Bank report highlighting that the SARS pandemic of 2009 shredded global GDP by $33 billion.
Major economic crises always spark calls for reforms. Notably, the Great Depression resulted in the formulation of the New Deal which largely aimed at addressing the plight of the common Americans. In Western Europe, the economic crisis occasioned by World War II actuated the European Recovery Programme (the Marshall Plan). These two reforms laid the foundation for the Golden Age of Capitalism although Robert Reich in his book, Supercapitalism, refers to it as “Not Quite the Golden Age” since political and economic inequality was evident among women and minority groups.
The economic recession of 1973 changed the global political economy in fundamental ways. Economist and historian Marc Levinson writes that the early 1970s marked the end of the Golden Age of Capitalism with politics moving to the Right. The decline of the Golden Age resulted from stagnated productivity growth. The shift of politics to the Right resulted in a loss in social benefits such as health insurance mostly provided by governments across Western Europe among others. As such, the implications on public healthcare were significant.
The fundamental shift in the global political systems was also embraced by the Bretton Woods institutions which embarked on missions to spread the Washington Consensus gospel in Africa through the infamous Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs).
Failure of SAPs is evident especially in public healthcare and education systems leading to revision of the Washington Consensus with focus directed to a number of policy issues including provision of social safety nets and poverty reduction.
Financial crisis that precipitated the Great Recession in 2008/2009 led to advocacy for more government intervention in the economy with calls for provision of healthcare for all especially in developed economies. The austerity measures adopted by governments following the recession were germs for emergence of radicalized political movements across the global north.
William Davies contends that the financial crisis of 2008 failed to provoke a fundamental shift in capitalism but the COVID-19 crisis is set to bring about a sea change in the systems of global political economy based on high levels of international connectedness and the spatial nature of the pandemic. Retooling of social and economic life is certain with the pandemic serving as an inflection point “for new economic and intellectual beginnings.”
A Vision for the Future
Economic and political movements will emerge after the pandemic to vouch for reformation of healthcare systems all over the world. Governments and multi-lateral institutions will have to change their priorities and increase spending on public healthcare. Therefore, universal healthcare will emerge as a policy priority for state and non-state actors.
Governments and multi-lateral institutions reluctant to embrace healthcare for all will encounter opposition from social justice movements and disgruntled members of the public.
A paradigm shift in the systems of political economy is also bound to happen. Neoliberalism is set to reform or undergo decapitation. Political and economic ideologies that fashion people over profits will dominate public discourse. Could there be a re-emergence of democratic capitalism or will social democracy be the norm? Will the Chinese political economy model inspire states?
What is the future of big business in the global economy and national politics? Reformation of the healthcare system will most likely be derailed by the Big Pharma. Big Pharma may take hostage global politics and economics. The intricacies of the medical-industrial complex could go a notch higher.
Globalization will still be fashioned by state and non-state actors as a crucial step towards economic recovery and prosperity.
Immigration to the most affected countries especially the developed ones is set to take place. The Western world may review its immigration policies and make them friendly. But this will depend on the pace of economic recovery.
Is a new world order in the offing? Too close to call but possibilities are within the horizons; evolution and dominance of the world by the medical-industrial complex and not the military-industrial complex; the dawn of a multi-polar world; dissipation of democratic ideals and enchantment of political pragmatism; and establishment of welfare states.
Sitati Wasilwa is a political economist and consultant on governance, geopolitics and public policy at Savic Consultants and a youth leader at YMCA Kenya. Twitter: @SitatiWasilwa
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“The power of the Web is in its universality access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect”. This was stated by W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. The above quoted is contrary with regards to the digital divide between men and women in the form of access to technology that has been prevalent over the years.
The concept Digital Gender Divide or Digital Split
This is a term that refers to a gap between the amount of information available between men and women with focus on access. It also refers to differences in resources and capabilities to access and effectively utilize Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) that exist within and between countries, regions, sectors and socio-economic groups.
United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan’s statement to the world summit on the Information society Geneva, 10 December 2003:
The so-called digital divide is actually several gaps in one. There is a technological divide, great gaps in infrastructure and there is also a content divide. Alot of web-based information is simply not relevant to the real needs of people. Nearly 70% of the world’s websites are in English, at times crowding out local voices and views.
There is a gender divide with women enjoying less access to information technology than men. The digital gender divide is characterized by poverty, cultural norms and stereotypical perceptions.Several media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube among others are used to market and distribute pornographic materials and prostitution and they can also facilitate human trafficking for sexual purposes.
Kenya has experienced an increase in the proliferation of ICT and social media due to affordability, easy availability and accessibility of gadgets such as internet enabled mobile phones (smart phones). This has however come without the necessary checks in terms of litigation and ICT policies to help mitigate the negative impacts that the growth may have on gender relations.
The available documented evidence points to a deficit in knowledge and understanding of the new and sophisticated permutations of violence against women as experienced on social media. In the Kenyan context, some of the acts of aggression were seen as isolated cases and reported as incidents that are not gendered. This points to a lack of acknowledgement of the harms that social media and the tools of ICT pose to women.
Many women have suffered online harassment in the hands of online bullies, anonymous or known to them. Some have been afraid to enjoy social media for fear of the dangers lurking within, some have suffered in silence with no knowledge of whom to turn to for justice. I am an example of those women who have suffered cyber bullying. This began from sexting, in the hands of an anonymous online bully way back in my teen age of seventeen. The supposed gentleman texted me on Facebook with sex texts which I found inappropriate to respond. Upon realizing I was ignoring him, he said he would edit the chat to make it look like I was warming up to him and attach nude pictures of me through morphing to the chats then share it to all media platforms. How frightened and worried I was imagining the shame that was awaiting me, I could not hold back my tears, I really wept in silence. I have also experienced sexting with a prominent person in Kenya whose name I withhold. I never knew I would ever find some platform to share these haunting experiences at least for relief if not for anything else.
Online harassment stands out as the main reason for the prevalence of digital gender divide. It takes the following listed forms;
- Cyber stalking: This refers to repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm, highly intimidating or engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid.
- Denigration: Sending or posting cruel gossip or rumors about a person to damage their reputations or friendships.
- Flaming: Online fights using electronic messages with angry and vulgar language.
- Morphing: Is attaching a photo to make one image. For example, a face may be attached to a naked body or a pornographic situation. The software used in this is so advanced that it’s not easy to tell that the image is not real.
- Outing and image circulation: This involves tricking someone to share their secrets or embarrassing information about themselves then you share it online to the public.
- Sexting: The use of communication technology to send or receive sexually explicit messages and photos.
The above listed forms of online harassment explain why women are usually victims of the prevailing digital gender divide as illustrated below;
- Cyber laws are often gender blind
When new laws concerning the internet are introduced, it is often done through protectionist frameworks without consultation with women’s organizations. In Kenya, legal regulations serve to censor the internet broadly, which also affects women. Social media platforms are often reluctant to deal with misogynist expressions; expressions made by a person who dislikes, despises or is highly prejudiced against women (a woman hater or male chauvinist). Governments as well as the private sector have been reluctant in dealing with online harassment of women.
Any woman who experiences denigration may suffer shame and stigma thus making her shy away from online platforms thus widening the digital gender divide gap.
- Blackmails by boyfriends and ex-boyfriends: In the course of romantic affairs, lovers usually take pictures together out of which some may be seductive, others exposing more than necessary and some suggestive. These pictures are taken either with or without the other person’s consent. When things turn stale between the lovers, there is always a trend of the boyfriends revealing those nearly nude pictures they possess by posting them online to shame the lady in them. These photos may also be used to blackmail the lady to remain in abusive relationships with the condition that if they don’t remain with the boyfriend those pictures she would want no one to see will be revealed to the public. Chats are also revealed with abusive captions attached to them. This makes the victim to suffer psychological and emotional torture. As a result they may fully exit online platforms especially Facebook to hide from shame and to heal. This thus does more harm by further widening the digital gender divide gap.
- Partner rivalry: This is usually common among ladies who are fighting over a man.The victimized lady who feels the other party snatched her man may take to online platforms specifically Facebook just to shame her fellow through what was mentioned earlier as flaming. This is usually aimed at shaming the victim and diverting her attention so that he can leave the man to the claimant. It should be noted that it is not always men who perpetrate this digital gender divide but also women themselves. The victim will undoubtedly seek hiding away from the internet so as to deal with the situation and seek personal peace.
- Leaking sextapes: This is so common even among the prominent people in the country. Some ladies may be lured into featuring in pornographic videos and some who are unsuspecting may only learn of the videos after they get to the limelight. The perpetrators sometimes place micro cameras in the room where the action takes place and thereafter upload it to YouTube for monetary gains without the victim’s consent. This degree of online harassment results in societal stigmatization of women who may be innocent and also have far reaching consequences on ruining their reputation. Thus resulting in them having negative perceptions of using the internet and all related technologies hence the digital gender divide.
It should be noted that there is a greater need to bridge the digital gender divide as it can provide the basis for substantial progress in development. This is because women’s digital inclusion can help to catalyze broader gender equality in social, economic and political dimensions benefiting not only women themselves but also their families and the broader society.
This can be done through formulation of gender sensitive ICT policies and offering training to women in Kenya on how they can ensure their safety while online. Women’s rights matter online as much as they matter offline.
- Leavy, R. (2010, October 28).How Does Poverty Affect the Digital Divide.
- The role of ICT integration into classrooms in Kenya.
- Mutula, Stephen M. (2007)”Digital divide and economic development: Case study of Sub-Saharan Africa, “The Electronic Library, 26(4):468-489.
Written By Rose Anyango | Email: email@example.com