Unemployment and lack of economic opportunities has pushed many youths into poverty and has left many disillusioned and vulnerable to incentives and manipulation associated with criminality and violence. Many are also lured into violent extremism and engage in terrorism activities with the promise of better life for their families and their future, that has also enjoined women as extremists and accomplices.
To mitigate against the problems and challenges facing the youth and women in border towns, UNDP and partners identified economic empowerment as an important ingredient in capacity building the target groups and empower them to not only realize and appreciate themselves but also transform their lives sustainably. In view of this realization, basic business and entrepreneurship skills training was undertaken in Mandera and Marsabit in targeting women and youth. A total of 70 participants attended the training which focused on awareness, self-realization and recognition and guidance on identification of viable business opportunities. The objective of the training was to enable the youth and women realize their potential through positive attitude change and skills, to identify and take advantage of the business opportunities in their Counties hence strengthening the Counties resilience to extremism and violence. Over time, this engagement will help the youth assert their resistance to ideology of violent extremism and foster peacebuilding and cohesion.
After the training, the groups developed business plans based on the viable business opportunity in their locality. The plans were reviewed by UNDP and partners and out of the 13 business plans received, 11 plans were approved for support. Some of the items requested by the groups are motorbikes, tents, chairs, water tanks, farming tools among others. The items were however procured and distributed to all the groups. To ensure sustainability of the project, UNDP worked closely with the national government and County government for follow up and guidance.
By improving the knowledge and capacity of youth and women and keeping them engaged in productive issues, there will be reduced cases of violent extremism and hence improve overall security of the counties and increased cohesion which will trickle down to the larger community. Economic empowerment is a quintessential force for causing transformation. This will in effect inculcate a transformational process aimed at changing the mindset of participants from being job seekers into job creators hence enabling them to be agents of change in their respective Counties and sub counties.