What you need to know:
- Ayuka explains that they have also been able to present three memorandums to the county assembly, the first being a push for budgetary allocation following the launch of the Sexual Gender Based Violence policy.
- He explains that the county had successfully launched the policy for implementation, but without a budget, which left them wondering how it would work.
Before the year 2020, youth from Homa Bay county fully trusted their political leaders to address their grievances.
And whenever they were denied a chance to air their grievances or when they felt they were not being listened to, they would take to the streets, burning tyres and causing mayhem.
But in 2021, the young adults, led by Ayuka Clintone, who is also a resident of Homa Bay county, decided to use a more official approach – a youth parliament.
Ayuka says the decision to start a parliament for young people was driven by the fact that the youths had been viewed as violent, and would on many occasions be dismissed from various offices whenever they went to seek assistance.
“We were branded rioters and viewed as chaotic people, so we were always turned away when we tried to seek help in government offices,” says Ayuka.
When the group of 20 individuals visited Siaya in early 2021 for benchmarking purposes, they were impressed by how organised the young people there were.
They had a unique institution, a youth parliament, where they would meet and discuss matters affecting them.
When they returned to Homa Bay, Ayuka and his peers decided to come up with a similar platform.
Ayuka is the chairperson and founder of the Youth Parliament in Ndhiwa sub county, and he says the forum gives young people a platform to express themselves.
The group of 20 youths registered the institution as a community based organisation with the aim of collecting the views of different youth and presenting them to the political leaders in a more organised way.
Winnie Wangere, a youth parliament speaker in Homa Bay, says the group holds meetings twice a week to strengthen the CBO activities.
A few months after the youth parliament kicked off operations, it collapsed due to management challenges, says Wangere, who adds that they later revamped it in November 2021 with a clear leadership structure which they have been using to date.
“For a long time, we did not have spaces as youths to discuss governance issues or even decision making in the community. We came together to prove to our leaders that we are not violent, we just want our voices to be heard, and to bring change,” says Wangere.
She believes that change begins at an individual level, and that the youth and underrepresented groups can articulate their challenges best.
Wangere explains that youth parliaments, now spread all over Homa Bay county, have a structure similar to the county assembly, consisting of members, clerks, a speaker and sergeant at arms.
During meetings, a secretary notes down the minutes, which often contain proposals by members on county amendments, challenges affecting various youth groups and proposals on how the challenges can be addressed.
“We now have a more official place to dialogue. We usually develop memorandums and petitions which we present to the county government with an aim of bringing change to the society,” says Ayuka, adding that, “Our work is not activism. I would best describe our role as smart advocacy. We once invited Homa Bay governor Gladys Wanga to one of our sessions and she was impressed.”
Ayuka explains that for efficiency in service delivery, the parliament holds elections every two years to give more people a chance to serve as leaders.
Wangere, who is a speaker at the assembly, says that her leadership skills successfully earned her a second term in office, an opportunity she doesn’t take for granted.
She adds that new members are charged a registration fee of Sh200, which is deposited to the group account to help in running its activities.
Since its establishment in 2021, the youth have successfully established 40 more youth parliaments in all the wards in the county.
Wangere and Ayuka say that they often hold meetings in the rural areas and visit schools to figure out what challenges the young people there are facing.
The young leaders are currently working on addressing the growing number of teen pregnancies in Ndhiwa Sub County.
She explains that after visiting five schools in three different wards within the county, they were shocked at the number of students who were missing from class.
“We presented our concerns to the area member of parliament with a proposal to collaborate with him to reduce the number of school dropouts,” says Wangere.
The group’s reputation over the years has seen them earn the trust of several partners who offer different kinds of support.
Ayuka explains that they have also been able to present three memorandums to the county assembly, the first being a push for budgetary allocation following the launch of the Sexual Gender Based Violence policy.
He explains that the county had successfully launched the policy for implementation, but without a budget, which left them wondering how it would work.
“We had also realised that the county had some Sh159 million which had not been budgeted for, meaning that if we had not questioned the county government, the amount would have been lost,” says Ayuka.
During the formulation of the County Integrated Development Plan, the youth also proposed the construction of a tourist hotel with an aim of creating employment opportunities.
The youthful leaders also note that their association helps to groom members with political ambitions, and that two of them contested for various political seats in the 2022 general elections.
Both had vied for a Member of County Assembly. One of them finished second in the race while the other quit after he felt demoralised by residents who kept questioning why he was not married.
“We want to build a society where youth can easily amplify their voice and be understood by their leaders so that their needs can be met,” says Ayuka.