Mineral Wealth and Economic Transformation
The discoveries of oil and gas deposits in the sub-region of Eastern Africa have given rise to expectations that public revenues be boosted substantially (e.g. by an increase of about 30% in Uganda), opening up the space for investments in infrastructure, human capital, and industrial sectors as well as for immediate social benefits for the poor. Complex issues, however, will emerge concerning the management and governance of the increased resource flows. As many discoveries in Eastern Africa, particularly in Uganda and Kenya, are still young, now is the opportune time to foster national and regional debates on the best use of the wealth. Regional cooperation and harmonization will be essential for prudent management of natural resources. Concerning the governance and management of resource revenues, transparency as well as sound allocation of resources for sustainable development and economic transformation are matters of major concern shared by all countries in Eastern Africa.
In cooperation with ECONEWS FES organizes the bi-monthly “Oil and Gas Roundtable” which convenes expert and stakeholders representing government, private sector and the civil society. On the sub-regional level, FES has organized regional conferences on the governance of mineral resource revenues in collaboration with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
Forums on Poverty Eradication
In 1999, Kenya developed its first long term blue-print to address poverty reduction. The immediate goal of the National Poverty Eradication Plan (NPEP 1999-2015) was to reduce poverty by 50% by 2010. The plan was immediately followed by Kenya’s adoption of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approach to development in 2000 which also prioritized eradication of extreme hunger and poverty as the first goal. Under the MDGs approach to development, investment to empower the poor is the guiding principle to formulation of policies and programmes.
Kenya has put in place most of the prescribed policies, and implemented programmes to address various areas of human development with significant achievements made in some MDG goals. However, there are no significant progress and achievements being recorded on poverty reduction as shown by statistics. The national prevalence of poverty (household level) is estimated to have risen from 38.8 estimated in 2005/06 to 44.3% today, while that of individuals rose from 45.9% to 56%, with most regions recording even higher statistics than the national average.
It is this concern of a slow and shaky progress in poverty reduction that forms the background of the Poverty Eradication Stakeholder Roundtables which are organised by FES in collaboration with the Poverty Eradication Commission (PEC) and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). The Roundtables convene policy-makers and stakeholders in order to review policies and discuss inputs provided by experts. It takes place bi-monthly and addresses topics selected by the three organisers.
Un- and Underemployment among youth
Unemployment among the youth is at an all-time high. Youth constitute up to 80% of the unemployed population. In fact, it is widely recognised that youth unemployment may be the single biggest threat to national security as the young, educated Kenyans look for alternative sources of income, often illegal. The unemployment rate amongst the youth is double the national rate. The absorption rate of newcomers to the labour market is at only 2% in the formal sector and 17% in the informal sector, leaving nearly 80% of the job seekers unemployed.
FES has addressed this social ill in various ways: workshops and studies on youth employment programmes, a roundtable with government and private sector representatives on technical and vocational training, a forecast of the labour market situation of young jobseekers, and a regional conference on employment policies in Eastern Africa.
Furthermore, in 2013 Youth Employment and Empowerment Opportunity Forums were held in selected counties. These Forums were intended to inform the youth on the existing policies at national and county levels that address youth employment issues, and to deliberate on county level opportunities and policies that need immediate, short and long – term intervention. Memoranda were presented to the Governors on how youth would like to engage with their County Governments to address unemployment challenges. The Memoranda consist of policy proposals and recommendations to the county assembly through the Cabinet Executives in charge of Youth Affairs.
Lobby and Dialogue Forums of Slum Representatives (Nairobi Slum Residents’ Assembly)
The Nairobi slums are one area that was adversely affected by the December 2007-January 2008 post elections violence. The slums occupy one-eighth of the land space in Nairobi but host three-quarters of the city’s population of four million people. Many factors combine to make the Nairobi slums the most violent and vulnerable neighborhoods in Nairobi. And as media reports indicate, post-election violence started in the Nairobi slums (Kibera) before it spread to other parts of the country. Consequently, the slums bore the heaviest brunt of the violence.
In January 31 of 2008, Citizens against Violence (CAVi) and FES launched a dialogue meeting with various groups involved in the PEV. The meeting was attended by 60 participants comprising ethnic-based leaders of youth groups, women, landlords, tenants, vigilante, and the religious leadership structures in the Nairobi slums. It was decided to establish the Nairobi Slums Leaders Assembly (NASLA) to serve as a neutral forum where leaders (delegates) from the Nairobi Slums could meet monthly to talk about issues concerning slum dwellers and develop community-based responses, not only to conflicts but also to governance and developmental issues. Since its launching, the Assembly convenes in Huruma every first Monday of the month. The delegates at the Assembly are 60 young people who were jointly recruited by CAVi and FES after interviews. All the delegates are youth leaders who have impacted positively on community peace mobilization. They represent 10 Slums, namely: Kibera, Huruma, Mathare, Kiambiu, Kawangware, Kangemi, Dandora, Korogocho, Eastleigh and Soweto. During its launching in April 2009, the Assembly set rules to guide its operations.
In 2013 the Assembly has adopted a formal structure. It is headed by a Speaker and has six working sub-committees constituted to monitor service delivery in the Nairobi slums. Each of the 60 delegates is a member of a sub-committee so that each sub-committee is composed of 10 members. The sub-committees are as follows: -
1. Slums sub-committee on land, housing and landlords-tenants relations
2. Slums sub-committee on security and community policing
3. Slums sub-committee on water, sanitation and garbage collection
4. Slums sub-committee on women empowerment and genders issues
5. Slums sub-committee on crime and drug abuse
6. Slums sub-committee on health and environment
NASLA also convenes monthly public meetings in each of the ten slums represented in the Assembly. The purpose of these meetings is to provide a forum where various committees in the Assembly can receive the position and input of slums residents regarding each of the prioritized issues. The sole aim of the intra-slums meetings is to bring the Assembly closer to the slums residents and to provide them a forum where they can also input on the policy issues before the Assembly can engage with the national and Nairobi County Governments. Some of the publications regarding FES activities with NASLA are:
Youth Employment Conference Presentations
Other Presentation and Workshop Papers