Kenya: Catholic youth drive climate action across Africa

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Kenyan activist Allen Ottaro has been inspired by his faith to mobilise a generation of conservationists.

By Wesley Langat

For Allen Ottaro, caring for the environment is part of his “calling to serve God”.

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The 35-year-old activist from Nakuru, Kenya, has become a leading advocate for climate action across the continent, by mobilising Catholic youth.

From small beginnings in 2011, with 15 like-minded friends who met after church services, he established the Catholic youth network for environmental sustainability in Africa (Cynesa) to spread the word.

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“I discovered that youths in our church are an untapped resource and can be engaged in conservation activities,” he told Climate Home News.

Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the most youthful populations in the world, with more than 200 million people aged 15-24 and rising. This youth bulge brings environmental challenges, increasing demand for natural resources at the same time as climate change puts a strain on ecosystems.

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They are also a force for positive change, Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director at UN Environment, emphasised at a conference organised by the Vatican in July.

“We are deeply committed to working with youth, as well as with faith leaders and faith-based organizations from around the world, to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” she said.

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Since establishing Cynesa, Ottaro has worked with parishes, schools and other groups to address climate change and other environmental issues. In his home diocese of Nakuru, the youth have planted 8,000 trees.

The network has spread like wildfire across Africa and now registers members from more than 10 countries, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa.

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In Tanzania, for example, 500 young people turn out to clean the beaches of Dar es Salaam every three months.

“Convincing church leaders to give this a priority isn’t easy but this has to change,” Ottaro said.

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Mercy Munene, a student at United States International University Africa (USIU), is a volunteer with Cynesa who has taken part in environmental activities and received mentoring.

“The opportunity awakens my consciousness and now I’m very sensitive to environmental issues,” she said. The opportunity has inspired her to teach others about Christianity’s message of care for creation.

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Alphonse Rugigana, with training and guidance from Cynesa, organises environmental activities like tree planting and clean up exercises in various parishes in Rwanda.

The Archdiocese of Kigali has planted 500 tree seedlings, with the help of four primary schools, and works with five universities on environmental education for 300 students.

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“I’m so happy today, our work is much easier with the help of the church because it’s a credible organization,” said Rugigana. “We mentored a generation of environmentally conscious youngsters to bring a positive action to promote environmental conservation.”

Four years after Pope Francis issued a letter to the faithful, Laudato Si, calling on them to take action on climate change, a conference in Nairobi hammered the message home.

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“Our continent is particularly vulnerable to the climate and biodiversity crises… the ‘cry of the climate’ is already proving devastating to many African countries” said leading church official Bruno Duffè. “I am encouraged about the participation of young Catholics in these mobilizations given the urgency of the situation.”

This article was produced as part of an African reporting programme supported by Future Climate for Africa.

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Kenya: Youths Accessing Online Jobs Through Ajira Digital Program

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By Kenyanews.go.ke (Kimani Tirus)

630, 000 youths have accessed online jobs through Ajira Digital Program (ADP) courtesy of Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology.

According to Government Spokesperson (GS), Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, over 22, 000 youths have also been trained on how to secure online jobs.

“Ajira Digital platform provides opportunities for the youths to access online jobs from where they can earn a living beyond the Kenyan job market,” Col. (Rtd) Oguna observed.

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He said in order to facilitate ADP the government has been rolling out the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFBI) as well as establishing Constituency Innovation Hubs (CIHs) in constituencies countrywide in collaboration with local leadership.

“Already 146 CIHs have been established and a lot more are expected to come up which will provide Ajira program working space and training venues,” he said adding that 140 ICT officers deployed in all 47 counties have been trained to support the program.

To reach youth in institutions of higher learning with Ajira program, Col.(Rtd) Oguna noted, 23 Ajira Clubs have been launched in various institutions such University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

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Meanwhile, the Government Spokesperson said the government will soon revive Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) which went under in 1987 due to global economic dynamics.

He allayed perceptions from some quarters that KNSL is being given preferential treatment ahead of its revival at the expense of other shipping lines in Mombasa.

“As Government, we wish to state that KNSL will only operate two berths from a total of 21. This leaves 19 other berths to be used by other shipping lines,” the GS noted.

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Concerning the relationship of KHSL and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), The GS told the press on Thursday at Kiritiri in Mbeere South that the relationship is purely commercial and in the best interest of the country.

“MSC is willing to offer Kenyans employment opportunities unlike any other shipping lines and has already offered opportunities to 125 Kenyans and another 100 Kenyans seafarers will be offered jobs by MSC by Monday next week. In total MSC projects to create 1000 jobs for Kenyans annually,” he observed.

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On Huduma Namba, Col.(Rtd) Oguna said over 37.7 Million Kenyans were registered adding that soon the government will be opening a two week window for the 11 Million Kenyans who did not register to do so through their local assistant chiefs.

He noted payment of those who participated in the exercise of registering the Huduma Namba is ongoing urging them to be patient.

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Kenya youths get Sh30 billion for quality jobs

By Standardmedia.co.ke (Fredrick Obura)

Five million youths across the country stand to benefit from a sh30 billion partnership aimed at creating quality jobs.

The project also known as Young Africa Works in Kenya is aligned to the country’s economic priorities, including the ‘Big Four’ sectors (enhancing manufacturing, food security and nutrition, universal health coverage, and affordable housing), as well as the digital economy.

Mastercard Foundation on Thursday said the commitment ropes in the government and private sector targeting to support 5 million Kenyans access quality jobs. The programme will run for a period of five years.

“Kenya has a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, a strong private sector, and an enabling policy environment,” said Reeta Roy, President, and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Young Africa Works in Kenya builds on this momentum to prepare and connect young people to opportunities that will grow the economy and transform their lives.”

The partnership is part of the Foundation’s ambitious strategy to enable 30 million young people in Africa secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

To achieve this, the Mastercard Foundation will implement solutions in 10 countries, including Kenya. The initiative will equip young people with digital, vocational, and life skills; use technology to connect employers and job seekers; and support entrepreneurs and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to grow and generate work through access to finance business development services, and markets.

“We have a strong platform to expand job opportunities for our young people. We are now seeking to unlock their potential; with this platform being an important avenue to allow them to transform their lives, the country, and the world. What we are launching today will contribute significantly towards this goal in several ways,” said President Uhuru at the project launch.

Partners such as Equity Group Foundation, Equity Bank Group, KCB Group, and KCB Foundation will provide billions of shillings in the capital, business development services, and market linkages to MSMEs to support their growth.

The project will support the expansion of the Ajira Digital program, which will provide digital skills training and mentoring to young Kenyans as well as increase their access to locally available digital and digitally-enabled jobs.

This implementation will be undertaken with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), and private sector innovators such as eMobilis.

In addition, Moringa School will provide digital and professional skills training in software development and data science through their blended learning model and will help place graduates in leading technology companies in Kenya and across the region.

The Mastercard Foundation is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to support the strengthening of technical and vocational education and training institutions (TVETs) in order to improve the employability of graduates while working closely with the private sector.

“Entrepreneurship is the key to an economically empowered nation,” said Ruth Kaveke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Pwani Teknowgalz, and one of the speakers at the launch event. “Young entrepreneurs need access to finance and mentorship, and importantly, the right exposure to domestic and international markets to generate revenue and provide job opportunities for other youth in the country.”

Kenya: Retired civil servants should create space for youths

By The-star.co.ke (STACEY CHEPKEMOI)

The recruitment ban at entry level cadres in the civil service that was put in place by the Treasury has not only affected management succession but also created a backlog of unemployed youth who are graduating from colleges every year.

The suspension of recruitment has affected service delivery across government agencies. The Public Service Commission proposal to hire new civil servants and promote some in the next financial year is a step in the right direction. Treasury should lift the moratorium so that government and its agencies can create jobs and deliver services.

There are many civil servants who, for long, have stagnated in one job group for years. They could not be promoted because there is no budget. PSC is unable to retire some senior civil servants because of the skills they have and allowing them to leave without a replacement is a risk that should not be considered.

Therefore Parliament should proceed and allocate sufficient financial resources to this docket if indeed the MPs mean well to the millions of unemployed youth in Kenya.

However, if Parliament approves the PSC budget proposals, the same MPs should make sure that the recruitment process is transparent. It is not uncommon for nepotism to rare its ugly head in this type of situations.

We all know that the recruitment process in government is never transparent and largely depends on whom you know and not what you know. We want to see recruitment on merit and which adheres to PCS policies. This is the time to keep in mind affirmative action that ensures candidates from every corner of Kenya is gets a chance to serve his or her country.

The government should stop recycling employees in the public service, once somebody has reached retirement age, they should proceed on retirement so that the youth are given a chance to bring on board fresh ideas that can propel this country to greater heights.

Why should we have civil servants who after attaining the retirement age of 60 are appointed to plum government jobs only weeks later? If indeed the government is genuine in resolving youth unemployment, which we all agree, is a time bomb, why not give these positions to the youth?

In fact, all the Chief Administrative Secretaries positions that were created by the Jubilee government through PSC should have all be handed to the youth as part of mentorship so they can gain experience on how to run a government.

It is unfortunate they all went to politicians who have had their chance in public service.

The former Bomet county senatorial aspirant spoke to the Star

Kenya: Delegates at UN-Habitat’s second Youth Blue Economy Conference call for action on jobs

By Unhabitat.org

Over 250 youth met with representatives of the private sector, government and the UN to explore ways to boost young people’s employment in the Blue Economy at the second conference on youth and the Blue Economy.

The youth at the two day conference, entitled Pathways to the Blue Economy, agreed to set up a Pathways Taskforce for Youth and the Blue Economy to mobilize governments, local authorities, private sector and other stakeholders to support youth. The conference, which took place a few days before the official opening of the first UN-Habitat Assembly, was supported by UN-Habitat, the Canadian High Commission in Kenya and the Commonwealth Youth Programme.

“The taskforce’s overall goal will be to take forward the great work of youth and both youth Blue Economy conferences and ensure that youth in Kenya and globally are fully engaged in the Blue Economy,” stated Elly Savatia, who at 18 was the youngest delegate at the conference held at the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) where UN-Habitat has its headquarters. “We need more than conferences – we need action!”

The Taskforce will create a Youth and Blue Economy Fund called “Youth Blue”– to support youth-led enterprises and startups. It will also develop Youth and the Blue Economy policy guidelines, through a consultative process, and drawing from previous conferences and ensure the private sector involved in the Blue Economy hires youth.

UN-Habitat Deputy Executive Director Victor Kisob addresses youth delegates of the Pathways to the Blue Economy conference in Nairobi

“My team together with Canadian High Commission, Youth Congress, Government of Kenya and indeed all of you will work together to establish this Taskforce and create a programme to address the areas highlighted,” said the UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif, “I am optimistic that the programme will provide opportunities within the Blue Economy to increase youth employment.”

Canada’s High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. Lisa Stedelbauer, expressed her country’s full support to ensure youth involvement in the Blue Economy.

“We are so excited to be partnering with you on this event. The Sustainable Blue Economy Conference was such a great success; we need to keep the momentum going,” stated Ms. Stedelbauer, “Did you know that there are 350,000 jobs in the Blue Economy in Canada? How many can be created in Kenya? Through partnerships with the private sector we can help to create jobs for the youth in the Blue Economy.”

Conference delegates engaged with over 25 private sector groups World Urban Cafés.featuring private sector hosts who shared their “pathway” on how they established their business.

Representatives from the Government of Kenya expressed their strong support.

“The Government will continue to develop and build capacity for the youth in the Maritime Sector,” stated Raymond Ochieng, Kenya’s Secretary for Youth Affairs, “This entails educating and motivating the youth to study the maritime domain, that will ultimately increase the output value of the industry. To this effect, my Ministry plans to allocate significant support to youth programmes in the Blue Economy.”

Speakers at the forum moderated by Raphael Obonyo, UN-Habitat’s former Youth Advisory Board member, included Ms. Susan Njau, Director, Youth Affairs in Kenya, Manu Chandaria, business entrepreneur and philanthropist, and several representatives from youth-led organizations. The UN-Habitat’s first Conference on Youth and the Blue Economy was held last November at UNON ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference.

Kenya: Sports – Ouma regains place in Stars’ Afcon squad

By Standardmedia.co.ke (Gilbert Wandera)

A few months into his stay at Gor Mahia in 2016, Eric Ouma was already being equated to the Brazillian great Marcelo.

And it is not difficult to see why. Just like the Real Madrid defender, Ouma has all the qualities of a complete full back that saw him burst into the national team while still a teenager.

Former Harambee Stars coach Stanley Okumbi describes him as the best player in the country when it comes to taking crosses and picking out his team-mates in the box.

“There is no one like him in that area and I don t fear being contradicted. There is simply no player in Kenya who can take those pin-point crosses as he does. He is my number one in that position,” said Okumbi.

Okumbi says the defender also shows great courage in moving forward and always gives a coach something extra in attack.

“He is very dangerous when moving forward and provides something extra offensively. Furthermore, he also defends perfectly and is a player who gives any coach his all.

“Perhaps should not have gone to Georgia after leaving Gor Mahia. It didn’t give him that competitive edge but playing in Sweden is helping him get back.

“He should be at his top form by the time the Africa Cup of Nations finals kick off and we will see the best of him. I am confident he can take on Kenya’s opponents well.”

Over the last few years, Kenya has struggled for consistency on the wings but with Ouma’s presence, fears of opponents getting a loop-hole here are dramatically reduced.

Despite his great form, Ouma did not win the league title with Gor Mahia in 2016 as the team finished in the runners-up position to Tusker.

Many believe he would have won more titles at home had he stayed for at least two more years in the KPL and at Gor Mahia specifically.

However, his decision to sign only a six-month contract with Gor Mahia was perhaps an indication of his desire not to stay at the club for a long period.

After leaving Gor Mahia in 2016, Ouma moved to Georgia where he joined Kolkheti Poti and made 19 appearances. But he looked unsettled in Georgia as he immediately moved to Albania in 2018 joining KS Kastrioti. He never played for the Albanian club and his lack of match fitness also kept him out of the Harambee Stars.

He only started playing after joining Vasalund in the Swedish third division. With age on his side, he is likely to attract a bigger club after the Africa Cup of Nations finals conclude in Egypt if he rises to the occasion.