Monday, May 20, 2013

Youth Participation in County Governance

Youth Participation in in County Governance
The National Youth Sector Alliance (NYSA) in its focus for coherent Policy engagement with Government and other stake holders will implement a Youth Participation in County Governance Project in Kakamega County from May to July 2013.
The Challenge in Kakamega County.

The implementation of the Constitutional Provisions on Devolution and the realization of the objectives of devolved government pose a challenge for Kakamega County; for one, Kakamega as a county voted largely for the CORD and Amani Coalitions. Taking into account that these are not the major parties in either the National Assembly or the Senate, there are real fears of marginalization.

Devolution is still a new concept and hence not well understood by the local citizens. The delineation of roles between county and national governments is not well understood and hence the citizens are not clear on what services to demand from the county government.

Under section 106 of the County Government Act, there is requirement for funds to be appropriated only within a planning framework for the County; it is not clear that this requirement is well understood by the County Executive and County Assembly and hence the possibility of planning process being rushed once the county executive realizes that expenditure is contingent upon existence of a county plan. Coupled with the requirement to integrate national and county planning under section 107 of the County Government Act (and this forms the basis of aligning county plans with Vision 2030).

NYSA will support young leaders to participate in the development of the Kakamega county plan. Without the participation of the citizens, there is real risk of the takeoff of devolution being delayed and/or undermined and this would sabotage the very essence of decentralization.

Local Partners
NYSA realizes the need to develop the capacity of local community based organizations and will thus be working in partnership with Magharibi Human Rights (MAHURI), the Mobile Movement (MM), Kakamega County Yes Youth Can- Youth Bunge, and the Grass Roots Empowerment Trust. All the organizations involved will mobilize county officials in the various constituencies as well as the leadership of the County Government at County Level.

What is the issue?
Devolution is still a fairly new phenomenon that has the potential to ease access to services for the citizens by bringing the service delivery points closer to the citizens, enhancing participation in the civic and political life by the citizens and with the proximate access to duty bearers, it increases the opportunities for holding the duty bearers to account. However, the possibility of the foregoing objectives not being realized is real, more so if the citizens are unaware of the services to be offered by the county governments and hence they would have no basis for demanding accountability; further, the system of checks and balances placed on the county governments by the law through requirements for participatory planning may not be met if knowledge levels on these requirements are low.

With the conclusion of the General Elections and the swearing in of the elected County Government Officials (Governors and County Assembly Members), the process of bringing into life the County Governments took off in earnest; it is however not clear the extent to which the county officials are prepared for their new roles. For example, are they aware of the requirement for planning framework as the basis for spending?; do they have the requisite skills to enable them undertake the development of an integrated county plan?; are they aware of the Constitutional and legal requirements for popular participation in the county planning and governance processes? It is imperative that these issues are addressed in the short term/immediately to enable the county have a development plan that is developed in a participatory manner in preparation for the budgeting processes that is currently on-going, in readiness for the presentation of revenue and expenditure estimates to the National Assembly.

NYSA's Involvement
NYSA is carrying out this activities based from its experience in organizing Policy dialogue efforts at a national level. This will be the first direct County intervention in the new system with similarity to the (Prime Ministers Round Table with the Youth, Ministerial Stakeholder Forums, Policy Advocacy – Peace Policy, Youth Formation Survey, Community participatory meetings, Entrepreneurship and empowerment activities. NYSA undertook a regional based civic education program towards the end of 2012 that involved 100 participants from all the constituencies in the county.
We also had participants from the County participate in the National Youth Summit, and this program will be a good platform to follow up with the same group of leaders in activating issues they brought from the summit to the county based intervention. 

This specific activity focused more on the role of young people in getting involved in the constituency initiatives such as management of the Constituency Development Fund and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund. Other activities that took place in the county were empowerment activities on the role of the people in accountability to check their leaders.

To involve youth leaders in engaging the leadership of Kakamega County in setting up systems of governance through private, public dialogue.

1. Engage the leadership of the County through establishing the Governors People's Round Table (GPRT).
2. Training of 150 youth leaders to be involved in developing county development plans.
3. Carry out Civic education program on the role of citizens in the management of the county government.
The project will take place in all the 12 Constituencies of Kakamega County, Butere, Ikolomani, Khwisero, Likuyani, Lugari, Lurambi, Malava, Matungu, Mumias, Mumias East, Navakholo, and Shinyalu Constituencies.

Expected Results
1. A governors round table with the people established
2. A matrix of county development issues are drawn out for implementation
3. An integrated county based civic education program carried out
4. Increased number of county residents involved in developing appropriated development plans
5. Trained youth leaders engaging the leadership and participating in the affairs of the county
6. Increased civic knowledge among the residents of the county

Call for Support and partnership
The realization that the issues we aim to address in this project are of Leadership and Governance target area, we are cognizance that our target audience will be youthful and as such the need to incorporate other areas such as Entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
NYSA is welcoming partnerships in the empowerment target area from well wishers and support agencies.
The target for the project is equally humble and we welcome opportunities for support in order to increase the number of the citizens participating in this project.

For further information
Emmanuel Dennis
National Youth Sector Alliance
Cell Phone: 0722619005

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