“From Noise to Voice & Impact”


Kenya has a youthful population and currently, 60% of the populace fall below 35years of age. With high levels of unemployment, the youth are thus the most affected. This translates to high dependency ratio and low savings which impacts on the investments that can be made. At the national level, the youth put a strain on resources directed towards health, security and education and this makes it impossible to channel resources to long term development projects.

The passage of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 ushered in a new governance dispensation in the country. It is credited to be one of the most progressive constitutions in the continent and the on-going policy, legal and institutional reforms can rightly be credited to this document. Article 55 requires that the State undertakes measures to ensure that the Youth are gainfully engaged in economic, political and social spheres of the society.

Devolution is the other trans-formative aspect of the CoK 2010 that provided for the decentralization of political power, resources and opportunities. This is why it is important to reflect and share experiences on Youth engagements in the devolution process i.e. benefits, challenges and impact in the last 5 years of implementation of the devolution so that they can be better placed to engage moving forward.

ELF has been implementing a project to support youth and it is against this background that it is convening convocation. During the conference, all the young people and local organizations that participated in the project would be given a chance to showcase their work and detail their impact, outcomes, traction and lessons. Further, this conference will also act as an opportunity for networking among the youth actors in the policy spaces from different counties. Additionally, the devolution conference will include a session for peer review which will allow cross-sectional assessment of each county’s work by youths from the other three participating counties.

Key note addresses from strategic actors in the devolution spectrum will be invited to deliver talks largely centered on the role of youths in enhancing the realization of the promise of devolution in Kenya.

At ELF, we see the success of devolution as one anchored on public participation. Therefore, activating youthful individuals and organizations to meaningfully engage their respective county governments, not only furthers the potential of realizing devolution.


According to the National Youth Policy over 70 per cent of Kenya’s population is composed of young people below 35 years. This provides a great opportunity for Kenya to experience population dividends from the great potential of young people. However, there is a lack of meaningful investment in young people; and what we have is tokenistic and short-term interventions that are therefore short-lived. According to Mercy Corps, this has resulted in many young people being frustrated, losing hope and choosing to engage in destructive and violent activities.

This, despite the fact that many of the youth have accessed tertiary education and are enlightened, their engagement in matters political – whether national or county, is minimal. They are at the periphery and the quality of their contribution, if not improved sooner than later, may worsen the conditions of life not just for the young people but all Kenyans at large. Some of the vices exhibited in national politics by the older crop of leaders, such as corruption, politics devoid of ideology, negative ethnicity, and incitement, among others, may soon encroach the younger generation since most of these individuals are their role models.

Article 10 (1&2) of the Constitution outlines national values and principles of governance that binds all state organs and public officers in the process of interpreting, enacting and implementing policy and key among them is participation of the people. This should be reflected in the implementation of policies by different agencies. The youth therefore, being a critical constituency in the country, need to be capacitated to be able to effectively play their role in policy development and execution.

The youth have to be provided with information so that they can participate in their own government for the sake of the common good. Devolution has also created a great atmosphere for the youth to embrace their citizenship not merely as a duty and privilege, but also opportunity to meaningfully participate in policy processes. ELF therefore seeks to empower the youth both at the national and county level to effectively engage in policy and legislative processes. This way, they will be better empowered to engage and own development initiatives at all levels of governments.


The National and County governments have clear roles and they are outlined in the 4th Schedule of the Constitution. At the National level, parliament (National Assembly mainly) legislates on functions relating the National Government while the County Assemblies do the same on the roles touching on the Counties. Policy and Legislative processes are complex in their nature but they are critical since they impact on resource allocation and spending priorities at both levels. The Budget Cycle for example, commences in September and requires an interested group to follow through so as to ensure that their issue of concern are given priority.

It is therefore paramount that the youth and youth centered institutions are empowered to effectively engage in such processes. This can be achieved through training and simplifying the processes and entry points, tools to use e.g. petitions and submissions of memorandum.

With empowered youth, it will help turn the tide since young people have been recipients of decision and processes by other people, if ever there is to be ownership and responsibility from their end, then they must be the architects of their own destiny. ELF believes that this initiative will help bolster capacity not only of individuals but also of youth centered institutions that will be the focus during this process of rolling out the programme at the national and county level. ELF is championing to have highly responsive youth, youth organizations, county and national governments. If they are to engage meaningfully, their capacity needs to be built.


4.0 Specific Objectives

  1. To provide a platform for youth and youth centered institutions to showcase their work and engagements in a devolved system of governance
  2. To share and highlight success stories from the youth that have been impacted by ELF programme in 5 counties targeting Policy and Legislative engagements
  3. To build momentum for youth initiatives under devolution and map of areas of close collaboration and partnerships among different stakeholders
  4. To commence the journey that will lead to periodic convening of Youth & Devolution Conference

5.0 Expected outcomes

The following are the expected outcomes;

  • Enhanced understanding among youth, organisations and development partners on how well the youth can engage in the devolution process
  • Forged partnerships and collaborations among stakeholders on how well the work together and make devolution work for the youth
  • Empowered youth and youth organizations capable of engaging in policy and legislative processes
  • Increased visibility and engagement in matters governance and leadership, at the national and county levels by the youth centered organisations
  • Showcasing of models that work that can be replicated to create success stories in counties



Keynote address- this will be done different heads of government (Ministry of Youth and Ministry of Devolution) and may also include representation from the Council of Governors.

Plenary session- expert panelists will tackle a range of thematic topics; we also have lively engagement of the audience at this point so as to get their input.

Wrap up session- after every plenary and breakaway session, we will have a rapporteurs giving a summary of key findings and action points for the participants.

Social media engagement- the conference will adapt a hashtag which will be used as a marketing tool and also to enhance online conversation to create traction to the ongoing at the Youth Devolution Conference.

Symposium theme: From noise to voice and Impact



The conference will take place at the Kenya School of Government, Nairobi on the 20th and 21st of June, 2018.


The conference targets 500 participants who will include; youth leaders, youth organizations, county governments, national government, civil society, media, partners among others.

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