• The organisation’s report indicates there were concerns of extortion and abuse of power by village elders in most locations.
• To reduce duplication of functions and to avoid wastage of energetic youth, Haki Yetu says, Phase 2 should focus on other need areas other than cleaning.
The Kazi Mtaani Initiative was marred by complaints of nepotism, bribery and tribalism in hiring, Haki Yetu Organisation has said.
The lobby group, which conducted a month-long evaluation of the first phase of the project in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale on Tuesday, said Phase 2 which starts on Wednesday must address the concerns.
In its evaluation report - also set to be launched on Wednesday - the lobby noted in some areas of Mombasa county, for instance, communication on recruitment from the village elders was received at 6pm and by the next morning, the lists were already full.
“Thus, it’s not clear how the selection was undertaken. Additionally, Kibarani, one of the biggest informal settlements in Mombasa, was left out,” the report reads.
In some areas of Kilifi, the recruitment process was eclipsed by political interest with MCAs submitting names of youth from Sokoni ward to work in Mnarani.
“Concerns of ghost workers in some areas have also been flagged. This, coupled with other deeply entrenched concerns of marginalisation, could precipitate ethnic and societal divisions leading to conflict once the project period comes to an end,” the report reads.
The Kazi Mtaani Programme is part of the Sh56.6 billion Eight-Point Economic Stimulus Package rolled out by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 23.
The programme, which mainly seeks to benefit the youth, was allocated Sh15 billion.
The first phase of the programme was piloted in April targeting informal settlements in Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Nairobi, Kiambu, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mandera counties.
During this phase, 26,000 workers from informal settlements were engaged and Sh300 million already paid out via M-Pesa to the youth.
The second phase is expected to be expanded to cover 34 counties and employ over 200,000 workers from urban settlements to engage in more development projects.
Haki Yetu called on the government to streamline the payment system to avoid further complaints of delay in payments.
“Some youths are yet to receive payment for the first week when the programme was being launched,” the report reads.
The organisation’s report indicates there were concerns of extortion and abuse of power by village elders in most locations.
“For instance, in some parts of Nyali constituency, youth were coerced into making payments to the village elders to cater for unexplained expenses,” the report reads.
“It is unfortunate that the very youth the government seeks to empower to cater for their livelihood are being extorted for selfish gains by the very village elders who should support these youths. It is greedy and immoral, and should not be tolerated.”
However, the report lauds the project because it has led to a reduced crime rate in the three counties.
“Through our interaction with the security machinery, crime rate has reduced as most youth are currently occupied with the project and have a source of income to cater for their daily needs,” the report reads.
The report, however, calls for a better planning of the second phase saying the first phase contained duplication of duties.
The report says as much as the youth have been able to improve sanitation within their areas, counties through the departments of Environment and Waste Management, already have permanently employed staff paid specifically to undertake the same tasks.
To reduce duplication of functions and to avoid wastage of energetic youth, Haki Yetu says, Phase 2 should focus on other need areas other than cleaning.
The report suggests that through adequate public participation, Phase 2 should be premised on identifying and devising projects that seeks to engage youth in addressing relevant gaps.
“For instance, in Mombasa county, due to threats of soil erosion in areas like Runyu, Mkupe and Giriamani, Phase 2 could focus on engaging youth in building gabions and planting trees in the areas.”
“Additionally, with the ongoing food distribution, some youth could be part of the ongoing food distribution programme to support the county,” the report reads.
Recruitment was also marred by reports of underage and overage selection.
People as old as 38 years were recruited in all the three Coastal counties despite it targeting ages 18-35, according to Haki Yetu.
The group warns that if not addressed, some of the concerns could set a bad precedent and open wounds of deeply entrenched feelings of marginalisation, ethnicity and unfair distribution of resources.
“This is a precipitate for conflict and if not addressed might lead to social divisions, and creation of factions thus eventually erupting to conflict once the project period comes to an end,” the report reads.
As the 2022 elections near, it is worth remembering that election violence is mostly fuelled by unresolved conflicts over resources, Haki Yetu warns.
The organisation also called for an effective exit strategy to protect its beneficiaries from shifting back to unemployment.
“In this respect, both life and employment skills training should be part of Phase 2 and the youth must be ushered into taking their places in TVETs all over the country at the end of the programme,” the report recommends.
Haki Yetu commends Kilifi for its planned focus on empowering youth with technical skills such as painting, and carpentry to assist in repairs in public schools during Phase 2.
“Kwale county has also initiated mentorship programmes as part of the sustainability plan. This is good practice that can also be emulated during Phase 2.”
Edited by R.Wamochie