Something is happening in the rural parts of Kenya, though not very new, but is concerning the country’s effort to create income generation opportunities and conserve her natural resources.
This, in most counties, lack support mechanisms.
The number of youth and women traveling to urban cities in search of informal jobs is ever on the increase while at the same time the amount of idle natural resources in the counties is alarming.
County governments have been reluctant to start affirmative funds and schemes to spur innovation and use of local resources to solve local problems including employment, environmental protection, climate change mitigation and related development. In fact, across the counties, the development vote is always underspent, because creativity and support to local solutions to the myriad of problems facing the locals is not encouraged and or supported.
Just two examples to illustrate this using the Kenya Green Growth Strategy has acknowledged that the concept is still weak at the counties, and county governments need to localize the document so that the country deals with climate change incomprehensively.
The country’s strategy acknowledges that economic support through loans from banking institutions, adoption of public-private partnerships and establishment of affirmative interventions are the missing link in creating income-generating opportunities for the youth and other marginalized groups and integrating them in sustainable development projects.
In Kakamega county for instance, there is a group of youth that have innovated the use of bamboo, to build classrooms and recreational facilities at the Weavers Nest Teachers Resource Centre. Juma Gesicho and a team of environmental volunteers keen on promoting bamboo and its uses as an alternative source of wood and its allied benefits including building. The benefits from using the bamboo have been documented globally, and if promoted for building, it will not only create employment for the youth involved but reduce pressure on the Kakamega forest, where a number of traders encroach for wood and timber for the construction industry.
The group has ably demonstrated how the bamboo can be used to build a wall-less classroom with manageable costs- remember Western region has been replete with news of learning processes conducted under trees and coves due to lack of classrooms.
A model bamboo classroom accommodates twenty bamboo desks with a capacity of 60 pupils. The structure can be weaved and stapled by bamboo-made studs that can easily be collapsed, transferred to a different site and be re-assembled by anyone including pupils. It will be beneficial for the county government, Constituency Development Funds, the private sector, and school managers, to try that innovation for example and promote it.
In Kwale, there is a number of women who have been using clean cooking stoves, that save energy, have positive impact on health and plays a great role in environmental protection- A pilot project in the area by the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya and funded by HIVOS that involves working with officials from both national and county governments to empower women on using and doing business in clean cooking stoves is already showing positive impact.
Anne Songole from the project says from community forums in the county, the women are very innovative and have shown great interest in getting not only the skills but loans or support to engage in the venture. Thus affirmative funding provided by the government for such groups will be a great thing.
The Government’s commitment to an economically viable model for development across the country is founded on the need to realise the requirements of the Bill of Rights that recognizes and bestows upon Kenyans Economic, Social and Cultural rights, for the first time in the history of the country.