Conflict Prevention Peace and Economic Opportunities for the Youth in Kenya is a four-year project funded by the European Union (EU) under the EU Trust Fund: “For Stability and Addressing the Root causes of Irregular Migration and Displaced persons in Africa”. It focusses on peace buidling, providing livelihood skills and vocational training for 4,500 youths in eight target counties: Kilifi, Mombasa, Lamu, Tana River, Kwale, Mandera, Wajir and Garissa and facilitate youth dialogues to examine issues affecting them and relevant solutions.
The intervention logic of the project is based on three main elements:
- If we can strengthen understanding of underlying causes of conflict and violence, and sources of resilience, then we will be able to better adjust our interventions to address conflict risks.
- If young people are given inclusive access to better vocational educational opportunities, which lead to decent jobs and livelihoods for target groups, then grievances will decline, and better economic opportunities will be created. This will contribute to reduced vulnerability, enhanced economic stability and positive peace.
- If key actors’ attitudes change to favour peaceful and political solutions to grievances, and recognize the importance of working together to improve Kenya’s security, then there will be a reduction in existing violence, and a reduced risk of future conflict.
The seven components to the project include; Operational Research on underlying causes of conflict, market assesment and business opportunities, training (vocational and conflict management), financing of IGAs and linkages to microfinance institutions, livelihood promotion, youth dialogues and communication and awareness creation.
Salim Said is a 32-year-old rehabilitated (from crime) person who is now part of CPEYK program and shares how he escaped the jaws of death by choosing to change his lifestyle. “My life in crime started when I dropped out of high school in Form 3 due to financial issues. Since I was idle, I chose to hangout with other young men in the estate and that’s when I learnt to snatch things from people and thereafter ‘upgraded’ to the use of a panga where I did things that I am not proud of. I remember there was a time I was among the Most Wanted criminals here in Mtongwe and a lot of my time was spent in hiding.”
Johnstone Okasida Ipara, the Police Commander of Mombasa County reiterates Salim’s sentiments on former criminals being the first to report criminal cases and echoes that through the CPEYK program transparency between the youth and police has flourished and positive relationships are being built. “We had to seek sustainable alternatives for our youth as opposed to shooting them or arresting them. It was a risk we were willing to take, and when Red Cross came to us with this idea of empowerment we decided to have a dialogue and agree on a lasting solution to enrich our youth with skills. I can confidently say that so far, we have succeeded, and we are all winners. The young men who were involved in gang crimes can now walk in my office and we can have a chat and sometimes share a meal.”