Home Youth empowerment Meaningful and inclusive youth engagement is vital in county processes

Meaningful and inclusive youth engagement is vital in county processes

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The limited engagement of young people in the fight against teenage pregnancies is leading to stagnation in efforts to curb this phantom pandemic.

Empowering Evidence Driven Advocacy was established in 2017 to inform the county government through data and research on the plight of the youth of Narok and gave various recommendations that prioritized their engagement in decision making and development of strategies adapted to young people to respond to the cause.

Adolescence is considered to begin with puberty and end with the transitions to marriage, parenthood, employment, financial independence, or a combination of these.

Generally, adolescents are defined as young people between the ages of 10-19 and young people are between the ages of 15-24 according to the United Nations definition, but in the Kenyan context a young person is anyone between the ages of 19 and 35. “Vijana” as it is mentioned in Swahili represents this dynamic population of young people who inhabit over 60% of Kenya and a similar statistic for Narok County, the majority of the population being made up of children, adolescents or children. young people under the age of 24.

This therefore creates an opportunity for the inclusion of young people in decision making, planning and implementation of youth related programs and policies to meet the needs of young people.

In the context of Narok, the Narok County government, through partners such as the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning, was able to form and adopt a technical working group for young people that is committed to significantly in various county committees, planning and implementation of county activities.

A good example is the Department of Reproductive Health which leads various initiatives in the fight against teenage pregnancy, FGM and early marriage in the county. According to data from KDHS 2014, Narok County was the leading case of teenage pregnancy in Kenya with 2 in 5 girls aged 15-19 having been pregnant or having had their first child.

The popular youth phrase “nothing for us without us” was realized by the launch of the Youth Technical Working Group in 2018 which has since worked in conjunction with the Narok County government to increase contraceptive use among women. young people, which had an impact on the decline of 4% of adolescents. pregnancies in the county, as shown in this year’s Department of Health data in September 2021.

Meaningful youth engagement enables young people to take an active role in decision-making affecting their lives and futures. There are different levels of meaningful engagement of young people in programs, policies and organizations.

The Narok County government has aimed for a young adult partnership in which young people and adults are equally involved and share power in the design, implementation and monitoring of AYSRH interventions. A good example is the ongoing AYSRH framework to prioritize the needs of young people in UHC as a component of primary health care.

The policy is currently being developed with young people leading the process as Narok prepares to adapt his UHC roadmap to government guidelines. The UHC model, as illustrated in the 5 pilot counties, aims to provide quality health care without putting financial strain on citizens. The AYSRH framework describes the values ​​of UHC with a focus on the sexual and reproductive health needs of young people at the primary health care level.

The youth-focused framework aims to:

  • Functionalize young people’s access and satisfaction to reproductive health services
  • Institutionalize the practice and use of adolescent and youth-friendly health service standards
  • Facilitate the provision of better quality sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and young people
  • Invest structurally in empowering health providers to advocate for the health needs and priorities of adolescents and young people
  • Improve health-seeking behaviors among young people
  • Integrate youth health priorities into the Narok County planning and budgeting cycle

This will be a game-changer in meaningful youth engagement in Kenya in general once Narok County adapts the framework into its UHC model which in turn can be modeled by other counties and countries.

Working in partnership with Narok County Government as a Youth Champion has strengthened my capacities and increased my skills as a youth on issues of youth politics and representation. The biggest victory for me, however, has been the reduction of prejudices and positive perceptions of young people among adults and policy makers.

Stephen Paan is a young champion of Narok