Yes Youth Can Central

What is Yes Youth Can Central?                          

Yes Youth Can Central is a youth empowerment program that is being implemented in Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Muranga counties as part of a national effort to avoid a repeat of the devastating violence that followed the 2007 elections in Kenya.  Mobilized by angry politicians, youth were both the perpetrators and the victims of widespread violence that undermined the nation-state and peaceful ethnic co-existence. Yes Youth Can Central supported youth to organize themselves into 2,000 village-level bunges, or parliaments.  The program helps empower Kenyan youth under the new Constitution by developing peaceful youth leaders and supporting youth to improve their socioeconomic status.

Where does Yes Youth Can Central work?

It works in Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Muranga Counties in Central Kenya.

Who implements Yes Youth Can Central?

Mercy Corps in partnership with the Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Muranga County Youth Bunge Fora.

Project Duration and Budget

March 2011- October 2013
$2.5 million

What does the Yes Youth Can Central program do?

Yes Youth Can Central helps the 2,000 youth bunges prepare by-laws, elect local leaders, register themselves as an official civil society organization with the Government of Kenya, open a bank account, and maintain transparent records of bunge activities. The program strengthens the capabilities of youth bunges in Central Province to be agents of positive change in their communities. 

The program provides training in leadership, advocacy, and business skills such as bookkeeping and marketing. The program provides technical trainings in practical business ideas like tree nurseries, rabbit-rearing, farming, and food processing.  Yes Youth Can Central provides small grants to support community service and economic activities, as well as helping bunge members prepare applications for grants through the national youth Tahidi Fund or loans through newly-formed youth savings and credit cooperatives.

The 2,000 youth bunges elect leaders to county-level youth bunges forums every year to enhance their capacity to organize and carry out advocacy for youth-related issues.  In turn, two leaders from each county youth bunge forum are elected annually to the National Youth Bunge Association to exercise a greater voice in national affairs.  Local bunges are inclusive and actively promote the participation of women, people living with disabilities and members of all ethnic groups in their communities. 

How is Yes Youth Can Central making a difference?

Local bunges are increasing youth productivity and empowering youth through community service activities and local economic development initiatives. Three thousand youth were trained in entrepreneurship and life skills.  52 enterprise grants for Income generating projects with youth making profit and employing other youth.

Bunges are improving young women’s access to political, social, and economic opportunities.  The program paired 113 young women with mentors.

The Central Kenya County Youth Bunge Forums implemented the national “My ID, My Life” campaign, helping more than15,000 youth register for national ID cards prior to the 2012 voter registration period.

Ten thousand bunge members participated in civic education events where they learned about the specific reforms in the Constitution that are intended to engage youth more fully in all aspects of Kenya civic and economic activities. Youth Exchange visits across the regions to demystify perceptions and attitudes that citizens of Rift Valley and the Central region are enemies.

What key challenges does Yes Youth Can Central face?

Maintaining the political neutrality of the bunges.  As bunge members become empowered, many see participation in political parties or standing for office as a means to advance the youth agenda.  This is a natural and welcome outcome of the youth empowerment program, however, it is necessary for bunges to remain politically neutral.

For more information:

Christine Pagen, Acting Director
Office of Education and Youth
Tel:  +254 20 862 2755

Benson Kimithi, Activity Manager
Office of Education and Youth
Tel: +254 20 862 2680/1

Grace Karanja, Chief of Party
Yes Youth Can Central
Cell: +254 (0) 731 880 040

Updated March 2013

Last updated: August 20, 2013

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