Youth Participation in Governance and Effects of Corruption: Policy Gaps Analysis

This brief assesses and analyses policy gaps on the youth participation in governance processes as well how corruption affects the participation. In particular, the brief analyses youth participation, political leadership, political parties, as well as participatory budgeting. The quest for youth participation in governance, politics and other developmental processes is an increasing global concern. To this end, the UN General Assembly adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth to the year 2000 and beyond to advance the youth agenda in matters of governance. For the last decade, KNBS data shows that the youth between 18-34 years constitutes on average about 30% of Kenya’s population. Despite them being the largest demographic group, they have remained at the periphery of the country’s affairs. Their concerns and needs have not been addressed in a satisfactory manner since independence even with ratification of international instruments on youth affirmative action as well as enactment of local and regional legislations on youth participation in governance affairs. In particular, the youth have not been adequately involved in the designing, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that affect not only them but also the country at large. Consequently, their knowledge, skills and energy end up being underutilized. Furthermore, by not participating effectively their voice and ability to hold the government to account especially in situations where their rights are infringed is compromised. The youth in Kenya have been marginalized and excluded from political leadership since independence; this has placed the youth at periphery with regards to all decision-making spaces in Kenya. Based on the number of youth who were cleared by IEBC and the number that won different political seats in 2017 general election, it is evident that youth participation in political leadership is still far below the target standards by the current affirmative action initiatives in Kenya as well as regional and international instruments on youth participation in governance matters. Studies have revealed various factors that impede the youth from active participation in governance, political representation and matters of national development at large. Inadequate education and training to equip the youth with skills and prepare them to participate in decision-making process is one of the challenges. This consequently denies them necessary analytical skills for critical thinking or problem-solving through participatory and active learning. Moreover, the youth are not able to access direct institutional systems and structures in the government and therefore unable to meaningfully participate in public policy formulation foras. The youth themselves have contributed to their own exclusion owing to the notion that their voices cannot be heard. Access to information by the youth from the government has been a challenge with regards to participation in governance affairs. The information may entail updated data on the current policies/interventions and programmes in place to address youth issues. Another challenge revolves around imposing youth programmes on the youth by the government without prior consultation and involvement. It is prudent for the relevant stakeholders and actors to involve the youth from project planning all through to implementation and monitoring in order to induce sense of ownership and therefore enhance sustainability of youth programmes in the long run.