General Problems facing Kenya Today

, Albert Karubiu

1. Unemployment.

 In Kenya today, the literacy level has risen rapidly in the recent years yet Kenyan youth find it almost impossible to secure reliable job opportunities. There are about 500,000 youth who graduate from various tertiary institutions ready to enter the job market every year. However, due to the slow economic growth, corruption, nepotism and demand for experience by potential employers, 75% remain unemployed. This has brought frustrations among the youth as you find university graduates and other skilled manpower unutilized, raising a thousand questions among the youth as to the benefit of acquiring it at all if any.

 A possible remedy to this is equipping these young men and women with entrepreneurial skills that will enable them establish their own businesses and become self-employed. The government and corporate world should be encouraged to avail a cost free capital or enable these youth form Self Help groups that can acquire funds at lower interest rates. Conditions for setting up and running businesses should be made favorable to common citizens.

2. Lack of Youth development programs.

Most youth today indulge in anti social activities such as alcoholism and drug abuse, crime due to lack of proper utilization of their time. Corporate world, as part of the corporate social responsibility, should tap in and provide these youth with projects intended to develop the capabilities among the youth.

Leisure, recreation and community service are important for the psychological and physical
development of the youth. It contributes to their personal development by promoting good health, personal discipline, leadership and team building skills. It also provides opportunity for appreciation, participation and creative experience in leisure, music, art, dance, drama crafts, novelty events service and cultural activities. This helps engaging the youth to make good use of their leisure time, express their beliefs and values as well as promote and preserve local art and culture for the benefit of the future youth.

However, current investment in leisure and recreation has not reflected its importance. The sector suffers from inadequate funds and facilities while the talented youth lack motivation and are often exploited by organizations. Due to these constraints, it has not been possible to tap fully the talents of many youth.
3. Poverty.

As a developing country, Kenya is faced with a big challenge when it comes to poverty eradication. At least 46% of Kenyans live below the poverty line. This means they basically earn less than one dollar a day.

Poverty can be linked to certain regions based on political or social influence. Despite agriculture being the backbone of the country with about 79% of the population practicing farming, the same people however remain the poorest.
The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, with the rich getting richer aat the expense of the poor lot.
4. Alcoholism.

A large number of people die annually, and many more succumb to illness and injury, as a result of harmful alcohol use. Statistics shows that alcohol increasingly is affecting younger generations and drinkers in Kenya and developing countries at large thus experiencing these negative repercussions from alcohol abuse.

 In a recent report, the Kenyan National Campaign against Drug Abuse Authority, or NACADA, says alcohol and drug abuse are the major social problems in Kenya, with serious public health ramifications. And, the consumers are starting young. NACADA estimates that half of all alcohol and drug abusers in Kenya are between 10 and 19 years old.

 The availability of cheap, home brew, called chang’aa - literally meaning “kill me quick” - often contains methanol, a toxic, non-drinking type of alcohol that can cause blindness and even death. Drinkers in poverty-stricken rural and slum areas are particularly vulnerable to its effects as experienced in various parts of the country recently.

 Kenyans also are drinking brand-name spirits and beer, though, in addition to traditional liquors and cheap manufactured alcohol. No matter the type, when alcohol consumption is taken too far, the user’s family feels the effects. Neglect, misuse of funds and increased domestic violence are all too common results.

A favorite explanation of young people’s alcohol and drug taking behavior is that it is a result of social pressure from their friends that is the peer group. Peer groups teach new skills and attitudes that are sometimes different from those learnt from the family.

The manner in which alcohol is acquired is an important factor that contributes to this abuse and consequently addiction. Research has revealed that drugs such as tobacco and alcohol are widely and easily available. The availability of these substances highly correlates with adolescent alcohol use.
Social acceptance of the use of alcohol has led to is uncensored use and abuse. Individuals learn form an early age that alcohol can be a source of pleasure and relieve, both privately and socially.

Advertising equates alcohol with pleasure and relief, fun, fashion, friendship, and happiness. This makes alcohol use seem like an adult initiation rite.

Use of alcohol, as anesthesia to combat stressful lifestyles is another dangerous trend that is drawing many to the alcoholic lifestyle. Economic stresses, unemployment, poor access to health are among the major factors.

5. Health.

 The uneven distribution of health facilities in the country continues to widen disparities in affordability and access to medical care. Statistics indicate that only 42% of the population has access to medical facilities. Medical personnel are also too few to sufficiently address the health needs of the population, let alone those of the youth. Currently there is one doctor for every 33,000 people in the rural areas and 1,700 in urban areas.

Health has become a major issue among the youth. Apart from the traditional health problems like malaria, tuberculosis and the more conservative sexually transmitted diseases, the exponential spread of HIV/AIDS and drug abuse have become issues of major concern. Mental health is increasingly becoming a common problem among the youth. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse are also becoming leading mental problems among the youth.

Furthermore, reproductive health is one of the issues with the greatest impact on the youth. Some related problems and side effects include teenage pregnancies and abortion. Other common health problems are malaria and acute respiratory infections, which account for about one half of outpatient cases. Other diseases the youth grapple with include skin infections, intestinal worms and diarrhea.
Current health facilities are also not youth-friendly. As such, there is a need for facilities that offer preventive and curative health services for the youth. Information on health should be made available to the youth too.

6. Education and Training.

The 8-4-4 system of education was geared to imparting appropriate skills to enhance self-employment. However, due to the high costs, poverty and lack of facilities, there have been high school dropout rates. Most of the youth either drop out of school or graduate without necessary skills for self-employment. Many girls drop out of school due to pregnancy.

The country’s training institutions are also either inadequate or lack the essential facilities and technology to prepare students for the challenging market demands. Recently, sub-standard training institutions have come up to take advantage of shortage of training opportunities to exploit desperate youth. In most cases, there is no linkage between the training institutions and either the formal or informal (jua kali) sector. The youth trained in these institutions cannot, therefore, be immediately absorbed into the job market. Besides this, society’s attitude towards the Jua kali sector discourages many youth from venturing into it, as they do not want to be regarded as failures in life.

7. Environmental issues.