1 4 sub theme youth and vulnerability
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1.4 . sub theme: youth and vulnerability. PRESENTATION BY DR SIMON. M KANG’ETHE SENIOR LECTURER UNIVERSITY OF FORT HARE SOUTH AFRICA Title: Is youth empowerment in Africa feasible or fallacious ? Lost and available opportunities for their empowerment in selected African countries.

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1.4 . sub theme: youth and vulnerability

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1 4 sub theme youth and vulnerability

1.4. sub theme: youth and vulnerability





Title: Is youth empowerment in Africa feasible or fallacious? Lost and available opportunities for their empowerment in selected African countries.

Motto in support of youth empowerment

Motto in support of youth empowerment

  • “A nation that does not take care of its youth has no future and does not deserve one”. Oliver Tambo, ANC President in 2002.

Youth s lost opportunities

Youth’s Lost opportunities

Teenagers /Children used in wars

  • It unfortunate that most wars in African countries especially those fighting to over throw the incumbent governments have recruited youth and even children as young as 11 yearsto do the fighting.

  • Examples of countries that have had child soldiers includes DRC, sierraleone, liberia, ethiopia, mozambique, uganda and sudan

  • These youth’s opportunity to build themselves through

    education is LOST

Youth used as agents of voting


  • In countries such as Kenya, the youth have been used and wooed to vote politicians to power; without the politicians taking the developmental aspects of the youth seriously.

  • EG in the 2007 Kenya General election, the youths were wooed by handouts and false promises of unemployment benefits by some politicians.

  • The youth fell into the trap of being used as voters because of their vulnerabilities such as unemployment, ignorance etc.

Adults condescending attitudes towards the youth


  • In many patriarchal societies, children and youth are seen as passive beings whose role is to serve the adults.

  • The adults’ attitudes in some cases have been responsible in lowering the youths’ self esteem, assertiveness, confidence, autonomy, and even vision for the future.

  •  Reprimanding the youth ( corporal punishment, humiliation, insulting) them has been proved to make the youths uncooperative, rebellious and law breakers, and BE IN state of apathy.

Youth used to advance their parents culture

Youth used to advance their parents’ CULTURE

  • among the pastoral communities such as Maasai, Turkana, Pokot, female genital mutilation (FGM) is still being practised

  • In Kenya the government and NGOs are fighting the battle to retain the teenage youths at school as parents prioritize their children’s cultural rights to be married against their rights to education and development.

  • This is despite Section 14 of The Children’s Act of 2001 in Kenya being in place that protects children against harmful cultural practices under which FGM falls (Government of Kenya, 2010).

Youths as tools of production

YOUTHS AS tools of production

  • In most patriarchal societies, children and youth are treated as agents of economic production.

  • In many ethnic groupings in Kenya such as Maasai, Turkana, Rendile, Pokot, the younger youths are persuaded by their adult parents to go to cattle herding as soon as they do their Kenya Certificate of Education (Grade 7);

  • or are persuaded to abandon school before they finish standard seven (Grade seven) (Galaty, 1991).

Youth as dependants of the adults

Youth as dependants of the adults

  • In many societies of the world especially the traditional ones, youths especially before marriage are viewed as the dependants of the adults

  • This denies them opportunities to express their thinking, talents for economic productivity.

  • This has seen the adults exploiting economic opportunities to the detriment of the youths.

Indulgence in drugs and drug abuse

.Indulgence in drugs and drug abuse

Declaration from 2003 UN general assembly on drugs

“drugs destroy lives and communities, undermine sustainable human development and generate crime.

Drugs affect all sectors of society in all countries; in particular, drug abuse affects the freedom and development of young people, the world’s most valuable asset.

Drugs are a grave threat to the health and wellbeing of all mankind, the independence of states, democracy, the stability of nations, the structure of all societies, and the dignity of millions of people and their families” (General assembly, 2003)

Drug situation in south africa


  • studies indicate continued increase in drug abuse especially by the youth (Pretoria News, 2000; Department of Education, 2000)..

  • Studies by Dube (2007) indicated that students’ abuse of drugs made their performance to deteriorate; had negatively affected their relationships with other people and their lives in general, and they had been arrested for criminal offences,

  • Drugs commonly abused in South Africa includes

  • Alcohol,

  • tobacco and

  • cannabis ( marijuana , Bhang)

  • Whoonga- an addictive, dangerous new drug - made from AIDS-medicine: the mixture with heroin and/or marijuana . It causes violent behaviour among the users.

  • (MRC Research Brief. June 2009).

Students drug experience in south africa


Among learners in a high school survey conducted in 2002,

  • 49.1%) reported ever having drunk alcohol,

  • 30.5% reported ever having smoked cigarettes,

  • 12.8% ever having used cannabis in their lifetime.

  • (Reddy et al, 2003)

Youth drug use in botswana


Use of illegal drugs among the youth is also on the increase.

The drugs commonly abused are

  • Alcohol is the most ( heavily used in Botswana).

  • Dagga (Pot) is second but the ratio of use is about 95% Alcohol and 4% Pot

  • Ecstacy (MDMA)- an illegal drug that acts as both a stimulant and an energizing effect, as well as enhanced enjoyment from tactile experiences. MDMA- is taken orally, usually in a tablet or capsule, and its effects last approximately 3 to 6 hours.

  • Glue sniffing ( about 1%).

  • Studies by Weiser et al (2006) reported a strong relationship between heavy drinking and multiple high risk sexual behaviours such as HIV and AIDS, including intergenerational sex, among both men and women in Botswana.

  • a qualitative study undertaken in liquor outlets in the towns of Mahalapye and Selebi-Phikwenoted that heavy alcohol consumption reinforce myths, misperceptions and fears about sexuality and condom use (PITSO, 2004).

Kenya s youth drug use


  • drug abuse is one of the factors behind the increase in crime in Nairobi and Mombasa (UN-Habitat, 2002a; Gatonya, 2009; Karen, 2006)

    Drugs abused includes:

  • bhang (Marijuana or cannabis sativa),

  • heroine

  • coccaine

  • Changaa (illicit alcohol brew made from sorghum, maize or millet) believed to be even more dangerous than drugs and other substances.

  • Changaa in Kenya generally is responsible for many deaths, disabilities and other social problems in the country (such as impotence or erectile dysfunctions)

  • It is locally described as ‘kill me quick,’ reflecting its strength, or ‘kumi–kumi,’ which is literally translated as ten–ten, reflecting its cheapness/affordability.

  • Chang’aa is sometimes mixed with other concoctions/ingredients/substances to make it even stronger. For example, in 2000 at least 137 people died, 500 were hospitalized and 20 were blinded in Nairobi after drinking chang’aa laced with methanol (Rowan, 2000)

  • Khat

  • Mandrax

  • Glue and petrol sniffing

Youth hiv and aids infection rates globally

Youth HIV and AIDS infection rates globally

  • In many parts of the world, it is the younger persons or youth who are increasingly becoming vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.

    Youth AIDS statistics in Africa

  • Of the 15-24 year old young people living with HIV, 63 per cent live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Youth vulnerability to hiv and aids globally


Estimated hiv prevalence among antenatal clinic attendees by age in south africa age group years

Estimated HIV prevalence (%) among antenatal clinic attendees, by age in South Africa Age group (years)

Age group 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

  • 10-14 N/A N/A 7.3 7.9 9.1

  • 15-19 13.7 13.1 14.1 13.7 14.0

  • 20-24 28.0 28.0 26.9 26.6 26.7

  • 25-29 38.7 37.5 37.9 37.1 37.3

  • 30-34 37.0 39.6 40.4 41.5 42.6

  • 35-39 29.3 33.0 32.4 35.4 38.4

  • 40-44 21.3 22.2 23.3 25.6 30.9

  • 45-49 15.5 20.6 17.6 23.9 28.2

Female hiv prevalence from antenatal women aged 15 29 years for botswana

Female HIV prevalence from antenatal women aged 15-29 years for Botswana

Year 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009

15-19 24.7 21 22.8 18.1 17.5 17.2 13.2 15-24 35.1 31.6 32.5 26.1 25 24.6 20.8 20-24 38.7 37.4 38.6 31.2 29.4 27.9 24.1 25-29 48.4 50 49.7 44.5 42.8 39.7 36.2

Botswana Sentinel Surveillance, 2001-2009 (Government of Botswana, 2009).



  • Unemployment rates in most African countries are very high. These countries have been robbed of their human resource potential embedded in the youth.

    South Africa

  • According to South African’s 2010 third quarter Labour Force Survey, 42% of the young people under 30 were unemployed compared with less than 17% of the adults (Sunday Times, 2012).

    K enya

  • As per 2011, Kenya’s unemployment rate stands at 40 per cent,

  • Youth unemployment is 64 per cent

    (Government of Kenya, 2011)

Feasibility opportunities for youth empowermrnt

Feasibility/ Opportunities for youth empowermrnt

Their physical strength and COGNITIVE potential

  • In many African countries, youth age bracket ranges from 12-35. This is the age where these people are strong, can be directed by the parents or other adults to do productive activities. They are physically strong and their minds are still growing

  • Adoption to new technology

  • The youth are fast in adopting to new dynamics of information technology and globalization. They can tap and exploit the resources OF THE WORLD faster than the adults

  • Most are still single and explorative

  • A greater number of youth is still flexible, can easily migrate and explore new economic frontiers

  • State of education

  • Most youth have the opportunity to access good and sophisticated education that can expedite economic development

The way foward


Strengthening policies for free education in both primary and secondary levels

  • This is likely to retain a bigger population in school.

  • Allow knowledgeable youths to lead youth programmes

  • Adults should play a facilitative/advisory role to youth programmes.

  • Having a nominated youth minister in the governments would be a good gesture for youth empowerment.

  • The youth need to be given skills in entrepreneurship and small business. This is to tap especially the indigenous untapped resources in many countries of Africa.

    Govt/ donors to support NGO Programmes such as Social Entrepreneurship 101 (SE 101) IN KENYA that trains Nairobi slum dwellers in proposal writing and business skills. (UN-(Habitat, 2002).

The way forward ctd


Political goodwill to stifle supply sources of drugs.

  • There needs to be a stronger political goodwill for strong policies to control and suffocate the source of drugs

    Government and bodies fighting against drug abuse should invest in illicit drug demand reduction programs.

  • Strengthen and advocate for ICC execution of those involved in crimes against humanity

  • The international criminal court to punish those recruiting children and teenagers as crimes against humanity; AND DRUG TRAFFICKERS

  • Countries crafting comprehensive youth policies.

  • For example in South Africa, the 2009-2014 National youth policy has a holistic approach supporting key interventions in education, health and wellbeing and economic participation and social cohesion. It has also targetd young women, youth with disabilities, unemployed youth, aged-out-of-school youth, youth in rural areas, and youth at risk.

  • The policy needs to be implemented

The way forwatd ctd


Adults to treat the youths as responsible human beings

  • Adults and youths to be involved in brainstorming, dialogue, and discussion pertaining to different aspects of youth development.

  • Adults should not think for the youths.

  • ADULTS should offer youth a platform to come out with solutions to their problems.

  • adults should take cognizance of the youth’s stage of identity crisis at their mid and late teenage and handle them with caution ( the stage of experimentation).

  • More political inclusion of the youth

  • Lowering the voting age to 16 can reflect the demographic structure and political participation and inclusion.

  • Many African countries should borrow a leaf from Austria, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua which have lowered the voting age to 16;

  • While Indonesia, North Korea, Timor-Leste and the Seychelles whose voting age is 17.

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