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Prisca Watko — How GIZ Promotes Engagement with Participatory Methods

Prisca Watko’s input for a webinar on How to Elevate Rural Youth Representation for Inclusive Agricultural Development and Planning, held on on 7 Feb 2019.

A question that we asked ourselves of course as GIZ project was last year: how can we support the validation of the national youth and agribusiness strategy in our partner region and partner counties of western Kenya and how can we ensure that rural youth are actually integrated into this process. Then, in the long run, how can we facilitate as GIZ that this well-written policy document is actually effectively put to the ground to the benefits after all youth in a coordinated model or way.

So what we did last year and this year is that we tried out and applied some participatory methods and formats to engage rural youth directly at an early stage. So we started off by conducting a scoping study together with youth leaders speaking on behalf of their youth groups where we jointly with them analyzed their situation of high youth unemployment or idleness in the rural areas of western Kenya. So we actually applied a mixed methods approach of focus group discussions, questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with youth leaders.

So we did not only actually only talk to the youth. We also talked to society gatekeepers, to county governments, to the private sector but for the sake of this presentation we’ll now narrow down on what the youth actually said. So jointly with them, we assess social and economic political factors for the high youth unemployment in the rural areas. We also identified youth relevant and youth-friendly value chains for them to engage in and explored job ideas outside of the box that are interesting to them and where we see their employment opportunities, the realistic potentials.

So I just want to briefly show this graphic that was one of the results where the key message that we didn’t see the employment opportunities only in the main sections, five six sections of the value chains but there’re numerous employment opportunities for them, especially if they distribute tasks and specialize on certain services that they can offer or in certain areas for example for fodder production, chick production, spray services or soy testing, construction of greenhouses and so on.

So business models that require some knowledge capacity building and some coordination. But these opportunities are also, of course, quite location-specific or even market-specific. A more general output of the study was also very open and frank criticism of the youth that we very much appreciated.

So they were actually commenting a lot about what donor and government projects are doing wrong in their eyes. And I want to pick up some of these points of criticism:

So one point was that they were saying that very few programs are actually tailored towards them. So the youth often appear as a quota of twenty or thirty percent but that prevents the programs from being directly targeted and tailored towards their specific needs. They were also saying that critical information often doesn’t reach them on the ground at the right time through the right channels or doesn’t even reach the right people at all.

So they used that phrase donors scatter seeds randomly and they were referring to the importance of the selection process of beneficiaries for youth programs. So for example in western Kenya, we learned that if we focus on these small youth groups then we always are often deal actually with social constructs that come together for social reasons or for the mere purpose of fundraising for governmental or donor funds.

So we realized that this might not be the right model for us to use. The youth also highlighted that they want long-term sustainable youth action plans
especially if projects come in for two or three years that the most important are almost as important as the implementation is that the programs
come up with a valid exit strategy.

So basically they just requested rightfully that they want to be integrated into the strategic planning. That is what we asked ourselves then after the study: how we can best achieve, that how can we make sure that communication actually reaches the right people or that donors and county governments can talk and reach the right target farmers for their initiatives? And that’s the typical workshop farmers. And how can we facilitate the youth to actually have a say and contribution in these programs and policies?

So our answer to that was that we were looking for an approach for a coordinated and structured entry point or a gateway so to say to reach the rural youth in our counties. Like one of them said the rural youth have the energy the number and the voice. The question is how to channel them. So we supported them in a longer process over some months to form and organize themselves in a format of legitimate representative County-based youth associations. So we are also aware that this is also of course only one part of the solution that has to come with several factors enhancing every agripreneurship. But we see this as a very important point and a standalone approach for GIZ at in western Kenya that we don’t only support individuals or these youth groups but that we find and facilitate a sustainable
coordination model, an entry point for donors, not just GIZ, governments and even the private sector when they want to talk to the rural youth that they talk with someone who is representing the rural youth and also that the rural youth when they have something to say and contribute that I’d do so within a legitimate way and that I get hurt by the county governments.

So what we did is that we involve them strongly in the preparations of one of our biggest activities last year which was the western region youth and agribusiness conference that was a collaboration of the green innovation centers and the bilateral project. So in the running-up of the conference, we approached these existing small youth groups and conducted a series of interactive workshops with them to sensitize them and talk to them about the importance of self-organization and rural settings as a vehicle for them to enhance the individual agribusinesses.

So around June, July the discussions proceeded and the youth understood that in order for them to be represented on county level they need to form these legitimate umbrella associations. Some of them were partly in place but we have to either form them or to revive them. In these associations with the representative
structures they then came up with their needs towards the county governments and they documented that in a form of a Western youth declaration.

So first they were working in County groups, then we merged the through three groups and also facilitated exchange with the county governments. In the end, this Western youth declaration was handed over during the conference. You can see our youth leader Hilary from Siaya county handing the declaration over to the executive of Siaya county.

But instead of presenting and talking about the youth conference we will share a brief video with you that nicely documents the process and the action on the ground.