YOUTH BULGE

Invest in youth to save Kenya's future

Very little investment is put in the young people of this country

In Summary

•Sixty one per cent of Kenya's population is below 24 years old

•Unsafe abortion, unintended pregnancies, untreated diseases and infections, non-communicable diseases, child marriage, drug abuse, depression, mental health disorder, female genital mutilation and high unemployment rates are some of the threats young people face

A group of youth.
A group of youth.
Image: FILE

Kenya is a young country. Sixty one per cent of its population is either children – between birth and 14 – or youth aged 15 to 24, according to a United Nations 2017 report.

Large scale investments in education, health and improving employment interventions for these young people could bring tremendous benefit to the economy of this country.

If these young people remain jobless and without education, they will be frustrated and turn to crime or violence. If we could turn this population of the youth into a skilled working population, we can achieve demographic dividend.

According to the Lancet, $4.6 (Sh461 ) per person per year, investment in programmes to improve outcomes for adolescents and young people, could bring a tenfold economic unsupported boost. 

Despite such potential, very little investment is put in young people of this country due to the perceptions that young people are still young and face fewer health risks. But the truth is that young people are at risk. In Kenya, young people account for 52 per cent of new HIV infections.

Unsafe abortion, unintended pregnancies, untreated diseases and infections, non-communicable diseases, child marriage, drug abuse, depression, mental health disorder, female genital mutilation and high unemployment rates are some of the threats young people face.

There is a need for Kenya to invest more in sexual and reproductive health services and skills development for adolescents and young people of this country if we want them to compete in the global economy of the future.

Investing in young people should be a long term and strategic interest for Kenya. There is nothing for the youth without them being involved. The future is youth.